My Birding Blogs

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tahiti Trip 2007 - Day 5 - Mon 06 Aug 2007 Rangiroa

Today's itinerary is the main purpose of the whole trip. The weather is clear and the sea is calm in the morning. At 9pm, we hopped on a small boat heading to an uninhabited islet (Motu) owned by an extended local family. Permission must be obtained before hand. This is the tiny islet where the critically endangered Polynesian Ground-dove was discovered in 1990's.

Polynesian Ground-dove (Gallicolumba erythroptera) - Male foraging on scrub floor

Polynesian Ground-dove (Gallicolumba erythroptera) is originally found widely throughout Society Islands and Tuamotu Archipelago. It soon became extinct in Tahiti after arrival of Europeans as it fell prey to black rat that came together with the ship. Later it had also become extinct on many Tuamotu islands where it was formerly reported by locals.

See BirdLife's link for more information (
The islet is very pristine with lots of seabirds hovering over it as well as many nestings on the island. Due to shallow corals fringing around the islet, we had to get off the boat and waded for 100 meters before reaching the sandy coral shore. It was the first-timer's luck that I found my first stunning and tame male Polynesian Ground-dove within 5 minutes of reaching the scrubs. It was feeding nonchalantly on the buds and seeds on the floor. All together I counted 4 males and 1 female where one male has some pink paints on its breast done by researcher earlier for monitoring purpose as well as one male with paler grey head and nape, probably suggesting old and worn plumage.

The very rarely photographed female Ground-dove

Two Bristle-thighed Curlews (Numenius tahitiensis) were found along the beach were very reluctant to fly. So much so that I had 'herded' them for 150 meters along the beach. One tried to tucked under the beach scrub. One finally took off when I wanted to prove if there were really flightless during wing moult at wintering ground.

Bristle-thighed Curlew is a threatened species. More information can be found in BirdLife International link:-

The larger Brown Noddy

The smaller Black Noddy (below)

Other seabirds seen on this islet are Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor palmerstoni), Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), White Tern (Gygis alba), Black Noddy (Anous minutus) and Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus).

We then headed to a touristy site which is called Le Lagon Bleu (Blue Lagoon). This is an idyllic shallow turquoise blue lagoon (lagoon within lagoon) fringed with islets of coconut grove. We landed on one of the small islet and heard the Blue Lorikeet (Vini peruviana) even before we came ashore.

Juvenile Great Frigatebird

Once on this small islet, the lorikeet is very easy to find but difficult to have a decent photograph because it flew from one coconut tree to another. Feeding on coconut nectar, the lorikeets often moved in pair and became very quiet when feeding. While chasing after the lorikeet, I also found a quiet Tuamotu Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus atypha) as well as few nesting Brown Noddy.

Blue Lorikeet (Vini peruviana)

Being very satisfied with so many sighting in a day, we finally got back to our boat and called it a day. Unfortunately the weather became windy and even the usual calm lagoon became rather rough. We had to put on special raincoat as it was both bumpy and splashy on our last leg back to the main Avatoru island. There was no need to wipe my face as I was constantly sprayed with sea water - nice drinking of Tuamotu's very clean sea water too!

Tuamotu Reed-warbler picking up left-over rice??


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