Tahiti Trip 2007 - Systematic List of Birds Observed
Papenoo Valley, Tahiti: 11, 12 Aug. Single birds seen flying in the valley 10 kms from coast. They probably nest in this area.
Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster plotus)
Private islet, Rangiroa: 06 Aug. Small number of juveniles roosting on shrubs. Only one adult seen when our boat approached the islet.
Great Frigate Bird (Fregata minor palmerstoni)
Private islet, Blue Lagoon islet, Rangiroa: 06 Aug. One male seen gliding above the private islet and a juvenile seen gliding above Blue Lagoon islet.
Pacific Reef Heron (Egretta sacra sacra)
Blue Lagoon islet, Rangiroa: 06 Aug. Single white morph.
Papenoo Valley, Tahiti: 10 Aug. Single dark morth. 7 km inland from coast.
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)
Papenoo Valley, Tahiti: 09 Aug. Group of 3 swimming in Papenoo River, about 3km away from coast.
Red Junglefow (Gallus gallus)
SW Valley, Tahiti: 04 Aug. Heard once and also a fleeting view of a flying cock. If this is a wild bird, then it must have been introduced by ancient Polynesian long time ago.
Bristle-thighed Curlew (Numenius tahitiensis)VU
Private islet, Rangiroa: 04 Aug. Record 3 birds. One bird was very reluctant to fly and at one time it tried to tuck under the beach scrub when I walked towards it along the beach. The calls 'ki-wi' give it the local Puamotu name as 'Kivi'.
Private islet, Blue Lagoon islet, Rangiroa: 04 Aug. Common but less abundant than Black Noddy. Nest more sparsely than Black Noddy. On Blue Lagoon islet, it nests on coconut tree.
Black Noddy (Anous minutus minutus)
Private islet, Blue Lagoon islet, Rangiroa: 04 Aug. Most abundant seabird on the private islet. Nest in congregration but not recorded on Blue Lagoon islet. One followed our boat for a few minutes.
White Tern (Gygis alba pacifca)
Private islet, Rangiroa: 04 Aug. Common and breeding with nestlings found. Some white birds found on the shore of Radisson Resort east of Papeete are suspected to be this bird.
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) FERAL
Tahiti: 03,09 Aug. Common in the Papetee and resorts. Some individuals are very dark. While at the cafe of Sheraton Hotel, I had noticed one individual without a plain gap on the breast. This may indicate that this is the form from Australia, rather than from Southeast Asia. Anybody who knows the taxonomy or the actual origin of the dove, please advise me.
Polynesian Ground-Dove (Gallicolumba erythroptera erythroptera) CRITICAL
Private islet, Rangiroa: 06 Aug. Rare, counted 4 males and one female. They were very tame and did not go away from observer if we remain calm. All were found foraging lonely on the ground, although the female are only about 3 meters away from the other 2 males . The 4 males were confirmed to be 4 separate individuals based on subtle differences on plumage after analysing the photos. One male had traces of red paint on its white breast for identification. I had covered almost 3 quarters of the periperal of the islet but only found them on the spot where I first started the survey.
This population in Rangiroa Atoll is peculiar as being different from the white-headed subspecies which is found in nearby Central Tuamotu Archipelago. Rather it looks closer to the nominate form that is found in Society Islands (now extinct) as well as the southern Tuamotu islands. Blood sample has been extracted by researcher from this population recently for DNA analysis.
[My own hypothesis: This population is an escapee population descended from Tahiti or Moorea that is now extinct. Rangiroa Atoll is peculiar among other Tuamotu Archipelago in having strong association with Tahiti as the native language commonly spoken here is Tahitian and rather than Paumotu, the native dialect in Tuamotu. Polynesian Ground-Dove was caught by local people for food and it is possible that the ground-dove was brought in as live food supplement many centuries ago. The islet where the Ground-dove is found today is also facing Tahiti in the south. Don't buy my story yet but there has to be a reason to explain why the Ground-Dove in Rangiroa is not the same as the other population in nearby atolls.]
Nowadays, only two disjunct populations survive - This tiny population in single islet in Rangiroa as well as in a small number of atolls in the other southern end of Tuamotu Archipelago.
The Ground-dove in Rangiroa was said to be extirpated by a bad storm in 1990's when the islet was totally submerged. Apparently they survived the storm. However it is not known whether they will be lucky again if the current global warming problem continues that will cause sea level rise and bring more frequent as well as stronger tropical cyclones. Today, there are only about 12 Ground-doves living on this tiny islet
More information can be found from BirdLife International's link.
See more information in PDF format from official website of The Ornithological Society of Polynesia - "MANU"
Also I personally like some old paintings during Cook's voyages, see links from Natural History Museam
Grey-green Fruit-Dove (Ptilinoptus purpuratus purpuratus)
SW Valley, Tahiti: 04 Aug. Papenoo Valley: 10 Aug. Singles seen on tree canopy.
Rock Pigeon (Columba liva) FERAL
Papeete, Tahiti: Common
Blue Lorikeet (Vini peruviana) VULNERABLE
Blue Lagoon, Rangiroa: 06 Aug. Very vocal when flying between coconut trees, feeding on nectar. At least 2 pairs found on the tiny coconut grove islet which is only slightly bigger than a basketball court. Liked to play hide-and-seek with us. Luckily most coconut trees were not too tall so I did not strain my neck too badly. Occassionally one would glide on the tropical breeze as if it tried to behave like a seabird - very playful behaviour!!
See more information in PDF format from official website of The Ornithological Society of Polynesia - "MANU" http://www.manu.pf/PDF/OSB55.pdf
Tahiti Swiftlet (Collocalia leucophaea) VULNERABLE
SW Valley, Tahiti: 04 Aug. A small number flied above the forest canopy at the valley where the Tahiti Monarch was found. Later I was led to a canyon where about 20 nests were clustered on a overhanging cliff. The nest does not look edible at all, with mud and fibre - which is good. An overal dark brown swiftlet.
This is also an endemic swiftlet. Found on Tahiti island only with total global population estimated less than one thousand.
Refer to link to BirdLife International for more information.
Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) INTRODUCED
Papeete, Suburbs, Papenoo Valley, Tahiti. A very common bird at Resort. Also found in Papenoo Valley. Hence it can be easily confused with the dark morph of Tahiti Reed Warber.
Tahiti Monarch (Pomarea nigra) CRITICAL
SW Valley, Tahiti: 04 Aug. 3 black adults seen in the a 2 adjoining territories along a mountain stream. By no means an attractive bird, the adult bird is entirely black with white bill. As the area is almost birdless except for the monarch, it is easier to locate them once they started singing. From time to time, the trio formed a mini birdwave of their own and swooped past us at eye level. With only slightly more than 40 individuals ever surviving on this planet, it was my great priviledge to have a close encounter with one of the world's rarest bird.
Introduced Black Rat is the Monarch's greatest threat as it preys on nesting birds. Rat poison was laid in areas where the Monarch is found. It is hoped that with intensive rat eradication program, the Monarch's population will increase. However, Tahiti Monarch still face with several other threats such as habitat degradation and competition with introduced birds.
See more information in PDF format from official website of The Ornithological Society of Polynesia - "MANU" http://www.manu.pf/PDF/OSB25.pdf
Tahiti Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus caffer caffer) VULNERABLE
Papenoo Valley, Tahiti: 09 Aug, 10 Aug. One yellow morph was seen and photographed on 09 Aug at 10km road inland and a rarer dark morph was glimpsed the next day at 9km road inland. In both cases, the birds had to be located first by their 'chrrr....chrrr' unmelodious call in the morning. On 09 Aug, I could only record 2 other calls along the road. On 10th, the dark morph bird vanished soon after I have discovered and there were no calls at all for the rest of the late morning. Such a scarcity of the bird was probably either due to the intermitted rain on that morning, the birds do not often call or simply the bird are genuinely rare.
According to the review from BirdLife International, there are only a few hundreds of them found in Tahiti.
Blue Lagoon islet, Rangiroa: 06 Aug: One lonely bird was found scavanging on some left over rice on the ground while I was photographing the Blue Lorikeet. Later one more (probably the same individual) was found lurking on the crown of a coconut palm.
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) INTRODUCED
Papeete, Papenoo Valley: 10 Aug. I could only remember clearly seeing one individual in Papeeno Valley at road side where I found the Tahiti Reed Warbler.
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) INTRODUCED
Some dips worth noting:
Although I am very familiar with the form (abbotti) found in Malaysian and Singapore. I was still very curious to see the form found in Tahiti as it has both the species name and subspecies named after the island I was visiting. Unfortunately I did not see any eventhough I was looking hard for any birds that behaves like Pacific Swallow or Barn Swallow.
Tahiti Kingfisher (Todiramphus veneratus)
Chattering Kingfisher (Todiramphus tuta)
Atoll Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus coralensis)
Also no raptors were seen in this trip.