NEW CALEDONIA  14-17 December 1999


I made a short trip to New Caledonia from Sydney to see as many of the mainland specialities as possible. I was satisfied with my 19 ticks, including stellar views of the incomparable Kagu, missing only the difficult Grassbird and White-bellied Goshawk, the latter probably due to continuous rain on my third day. Three other endemics appear to be extinct, although a sighting of the owlet-nightjar was claimed earlier in the year. With an extra day, I would have flown to Lifou for the two endemic white-eyes and Red-bellied Fruit-Dove.


Flight: South Pacific airpass $440 plus tax = c£280. Car hire: c£70 from Avis ((3 day rental, 150 km per day free, extra km would have been expensive) using ABA discount no. AWD A843000; petrol £13.

Drink, tolls, Parc entrance fees and food bought on New Cal (most was taken with me from Oz) c.£12 including 2 beers for nearly £5.Beat that for a budget tour of this expensive island.


Dec 14

Arrived 01.15, 6 hours late due to an Air Calin plane failure (discovered before I left for Sydney airport fortunately). Picked up Avis car, despite late hour, and drove to Riviere Bleue. After 3 hrs sleep in car outside entrance, was directed at 06.55 by the Parc chief to the Grand Kaori where Yves Letocart awaited me; Dark-brown Honeyeater and New Cal Cuckoo-shrike en route. 07.30-14.30 with Yves in that area, seeing 13 of the specialities including great views of Kagu, Cloven-feathered Dove, and Crow Honeyeater. Rest of day birding alone without additional specialities, overnighting in car at Pont Germain “camp site”. Sun and cloud, dry all day.

Dec 15

05.00-11.00 birding in the Parc, only adding Myzomela, Red-fronted Parakeet and poor view of Barred Honeyeater. Slow drive out with stops failed to give expected Parrotfinch. Drive to Mt Koghi. Walk up Grande Piste to Belvedere and Vue Pointe, adding New Cal Flycatcher and Barred Honeyeater, before heavy rain stopped play. Overnight in car (thought of going to the recommended YHA in Noumea but couldn’t be bothered) after 2 beers at the Auberge. Cloudy in morn, rain most of afternoon.

Dec 16

05.00-10.00 Mt Koghi in the rain, trying for Grassbird (not even heard) but only adding Melanesian Cuckoo-shrike and poor view of Red-throated Parrotfinch. Drove to Noumea, checking coast at Magenta Bay and Anse Vata, for waders (Bristle-thighed Curlew possible according to Wheatley), only seeing Wandering Tattler, and looking for fresh water without success. Drove to Mt Mou but too wet to be worth climbing. Tried coastal strip at Nde – still no Parrotfinch but an accipiter caused brief excitement till I found it was Brown Gos. Overnight in car below Mt Mou. Rain all day, heavy at times. Half wished I’d gone to Lifou but later learnt there was 56mm of rain there compared to only 7mm in Noumea!

Dec 17

05.00-06.20 Mt Mou 350-550m, dry at last, finally spotting single Parrotfinch in tree amongst a flock of Waxbill. 08.00 flight to Sydney.


Parc Provincial de la Riviere Bleue

Holds all the existing endemics although some are difficult to see, especially the grassbird. Essential to contact Christophe Lambert, Yves Letocart’s boss for permission for Yves’s help – fax 243256. He will contact Yves and presumably tell you if he is not available. Make sure you ask for a day during Tues – Friday and bring red wine for Yves. Permits unnecessary, pay at gate which is open 07.00-17.00.

Mont Koghi

Cuckoo-shrikes, New Cal Fly, Striated Starling and in my case Barred Honeyeater seem to be easier here than at Riviere Bleuee and Grassbird is possible. If dry, raptor watching from vicinity of Auberge would probably give the Gos. 

Mont Mou

This site might be better than Mt Koghi. Take the road to the international airport (45km from Noumea) and as it winds upwards some 30km from Noumea, at the highest point take an unsigned unmetalled road on the right to the Sanatorium. After 2km park at a pull-in just before a bridge over a stream, perhaps 500m before the Sanatorium entrance. Walk back c100m to an inconspicuous track, steep at first, which goes up the hillside. It soon enters good forest, then stunted forest with an excellent view-point at 550m – the Gos should be a certainty from here on a decent morning. The grassland higher up looked good for the Grassbird but I did not have time to reach it.


Many thanks to Neil Bostock, Peter Lansley and Jan Vermeulen for helpful advice, but especially to Yves Letocart for helping me find the birds at Riviere Bleue.



Little Pied Cormorant                           Phalacrocorax melanoleucos

Singles Riviere Bleue and Noumea


White-faced Heron                                Egretta novaehollandiae

1 Riviere Bleue


Pacific Reef-Egret                                 Egretta sacra

2 Noumea


Whistling Kite                                      Haliastur sphenurus

4 Riviere Bleue


Swamp Harrier                                                 Circus approximans

1 Riviere Bleue and 2 near Noumea


Brown Goshawk                                   Accipiter fasciatus

Singles near Noumea and Mt Mou


Kagu                                                    Rhynochetos jubatus

8 Riviere Bleue on 14/12 and 4 on 15/12, including 3 feeding at the campsite late pm and early am.


Wandering Tattler                                             Heteroscelus incanus

2 on rocks Noumea


Silver Gull                                            Larus novaehollandiae

Common on coast


Great Crested-Tern                               Sterna bergii

1 Noumea


Black-naped Tern                                 Sterna sumatrana

2+ Nde


Metallic Pigeon                                    Columba vitiensis

2 singles Mount Koghi


Emerald Dove                                                  Chalcophaps indica

2 singles Riviere Bleue


Spotted Dove                                       Streptopeia chinensis

Fairly common Noumea area


Cloven-feathered Dove                         Drepanoptila holosericea

Singles Riviere Bleue and in flight Mount Koghi with several heard including 1 on Mt Mou


New Caledonian Imperial-Pigeon         Ducula goliath

3 Riviere Bleue and 1 Mount Koghi with others heard


Red-fronted Parakeet                            Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae

Only 1 Riviere Bleue 15/12


Horned Parakeet                                               Eunymphicus cornutus

Only 1 Riviere Bleue 14/12


Rainbow Lorikeet                                 Trichoglossus haematodus

Fairly common throughout


Fan-tailed Cuckoo                                Cacomantis flabelliformis

Heard Riviere Bleue and Mt Koghi with 1 seen at the latter


Shining Bronze-Cuckoo                       Chrysococcyx lucidus

2 heard Mt Koghi


Barn Owl                                              Tyto alba

1 near Noumea at night


Glossy Swiftlet                                     Aerodramus esculenta

A few throughout


Uniform Swiftlet                                   Aerodramus vanikorensis

Only 1 identified, at Mt Koghi


Sacred Kingfisher                                            Todirhamphus sanctus

3 Riviere Bleue and 2 Mt Koghi and near Noumea


Fan-tailed Gerygone                             Gerygone flavolateralis

Fairly common Riviere Bleue and  Mt Koghi with a few elsewhere


Dark-brown Honeyeater                        Lichmera incana

Common throughout


New Caledonian Myzomela                  Myzomela caledonica

3 Riviere Bleue and 2 Mt Koghi and Mt Mou


New Caledonian Friarbird                     PhileMou diemenensis

Fairly common Riviere Bleue but only 2 seen Mt Koghi, heard Mt Mou


Crow Honeyeater                                  Gymnomyza aubryana

Only 1 Riviere Bleue


Barred Honeyeater                                Phylidonyris undulata

2 in flight Riviere Bleue and 2 Mt Koghi


Yellow-bellied Robin                            Eopsaltria flaviventris

6+ Riviere Bleue and Mt Koghi


New Caledonian Whistler                     Pachycephala caledonica

2+ Riviere Bleue and Mt Koghi


Rufous Whistler                                               Pachycephala rufiventris

10 Riviere Bleue and 2+ Mt Koghi, Mt Mou and Noumea


Grey Fantail                                         Rhipidura fuliginosa

3 Noumea and 2 heard Mt Koghi


Streaked Fantail                                   Rhipidura spilodera

2+ Mt Mou and near Noumea, with 2 heard Mt Koghi


Southern Shrikebill                              Clytorhynchus pachycephaloides

Only 1 seen Riviere Bleue but 3 heard there and 1 heard at Mt Koghi


New Caledonian Flycatcher                  Myiagra caledonica

2+ Mt Koghi


New Caledonian Crow                                      Corvus Moueduloides

4 Riviere Bleue on 14/12 only – using stalks to extract grubs from trunks


White-breasted Woodswallow               Artamus leucorynchus

6+ Riviere Bleue, 4 Mt Koghi and 1 Noumea


Melanesian Cuckoo-shrike                   Coracina caledonica

2+ Mt Koghi and 1 Mt Mou


New Caledonian Cuckoo-shrike            Coracina analis

1 in flight and 2 heard Riviere Bleue, and an imm. Mt Koghi


Long-tailed Triller                                Lalage leucopyga

6+ Riviere Bleue and singles Mt Koghi, Mt Mou and Noumea


Striated Starling                                   Aplonis striata

Only 1 Riviere Bleue but 8+ Mt Koghi


Common Myna                                     Acridotheres tristis

Common Noumea and beyond


Silver-eye                                             Zosterops lateralis

Common Noumea and beyond


Green-backed White-eye          Zosterops xanthochrous

6+ Riviere Bleue and 10+ Mt Koghi and Mt Mou


House Sparrow                                                Passer domesticus

Common around Noumea


Common Waxbill                                 Estrilda astrild

Common around Noumea (introduced) and beyond including Mt Mou


Red-throated Parrotfinch                      Erythrura psittacea

4 in flight at Mt Koghi and 1 Mt Mou


Chestnut-breasted Munia                      Lonchura castaneothorax

2 of this introduced sp. at Magenta near Noumea


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