Rarotonga roundup

Birds of the islands and waters of the South Pacific.
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Liam Ballard
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Location: Mt Eden, Auckland
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Rarotonga roundup

Postby Liam Ballard » Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:33 pm

Hey all,
Just returning from five days in Rarotonga with my family. While this wasn't a specifically bird-oriented trip, we still managed to see a few cool species, totalling 19.

Mynas, White Terns, Brown Noddies and Red Junglefowl were the most common birds by far - noddies and terns were present in about equal numbers.

Reef Herons were quite common around the coast. Curiously, despite seeing 10+ individuals, only one was a white phase.

Pacific Imperial-Pigeons were seen every day, most commonly in Takitumu Conservation Park where about five were seen. Otherwise they were alone or in pairs.

Pacific Golden-Plovers were widespread on lawns, sports fields and on the rocky coastline.

Wandering Tattlers were also quite common. All tattlers positively identified were Wandering - chances are, there were some Grey-Tails that I missed as well. They were found mostly on the northern coast and there seemed to be a pair on every stretch of rocky shoreline.

White and Red-tailed Tropicbirds were both seen, with White-tailed being much more common. Around 10 WT were seen around the island, and only one RT in Avarua.

Great Frigatebirds seemed to be everywhere some days, and nowhere to be found on others. It appeared that there was a main flock of around 12 birds that hung out at different places around the island. Amongst them was a single Lesser Frigatebird.

Only one Red-footed Booby was seen on the island itself, in Muri Beach area. However, we took Russ's tip and went as spectators on an Akura fishing charter, where the boobies were frequently seen.

The same charter was the only time we saw Herald Petrels (two dark phase birds) and Tropical Shearwaters (also two birds).

Takitumu was fantastic, giving us Raro Monarch and Starling, Cook Islands Fruit-Dove and at least four Long-Tailed Cuckoos. The latter were interesting, as I expected them to all be breeding in NZ. Funnily enough, female Raro Monarchs are kind of similar to Whiteheads in both appearance and call - is there something in this? Our guide said that the cuckoos did often display breeding behaviours but there was no evidence to suggest eggs had been hatched or monarch chicks evicted. Finally, there were a few Eastern Rosella around Takitumu, but we were told that the entire population was male and they did not breed.

Hope this helps! Brilliant place to visit.
Cheers,
Liam Ballard

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