Bird Week on Christmas Island
Day 5 - Tuesday, 5 September 2006
Today after breakfast we were scheduled for a general tour of the island with David James looking for 'rarities and elusive local specialities'. Tim Low came with us. First we checked out some Java Sparrows in the settlement area. There was only a small walk to the place where the flock was but I did not go and hence did not photograph any. I actually thought I had some photographs of Java Sparrows but on checking I found out they were Zebra Finches.
From there we walked around the golf course in a search of a particular rarity but it was so rare we did not see any.
Our next quarry was the Grey Wagtail which we eventually did see a pair but they were so far away it was impossible for me to get a decent photograph. The two pictures below are cropped and blown up so much that they are horribly pixelated but they are good enough to show the colour. If I ever go back to Christmas Island I think it would be a challenge to get a good photograph of these birds
The picnic lunch at the Cricket club was up to the standard we had come to expect. There was a large spider under the eaves of the building but, in keeping with the day, I managed to mess up the shot by failing to focus properly.
In the afternoon we visited a tree full of nesting Red-footed Boobies at the golf course. That yielded the two pictures at left. After that the plan was to revisit the beach near the casino where the Frigate Birds drink.
I had seen it before so I opted to walk the couple of kilometres back to the settlement. It turned out to be four kilometres but fortunately I was picked up and given a ride. After a welcome show and a constitutional couple of coldies at the Golden Bosun Tavern it was Chinese at the Season's Palace. A great meal.
The usual evening talk was given by Tim Low who spoke on conservation issues on selected Pacific and Indian islands. His talk was fascinating and his mastery of his topic was obvious. The only disappointing aspect for me was in the closing sentences. Tim discussed a proposed phosphate mining concession which would involve the destruction of habitat and removal of phosphate rich soil which would, I gather, would render it impossible to rehabilitate effectively. But he resorted to the slippery slope argument: "if we give them this what will they ask for next?". That argument leaves me cold; it is the argument that you use when you don't have an argument and that is unfortunate because I would have thought the scientific and logical arguments would be irresistible.
But that aside, and I have to admit that some people see nothing wrong with the slippery slope argument, it was an excellent, informative and entertaining presentation.
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