Bird Week on Christmas Island

Day 6 - Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Today was Brown Booby banding day with Mark Holdsworth!


Just down the road from the settlement, quite close to the Silver Tropicbird colony which we visited with Julia, was a Brown Booby colony.  Brown Boobies are ground nesters and can be approached quite easily.

Mark, with his assistant called Mark so that we did not have to remember too much, had an easy time compared to Janos but no less interesting.


Above the raiding party successfully storms the Booby bastion.  At right Mark weighs the adult bird and then removes  him from the bag.  

Mark holds the bird while Mark measures its wing ....




And then its beak


But the bird does get a benefit for all this indinity - some free jewellery and a new identity.  Meet Mr B. Booby19.  Male brown Boobies have a blue tinge to their feet whereas the females' are yellow.



On the left, Mr B Booby19, his job done, gets the sack while on the right the chick weights in.  If the chicks are big enough to wear a band they get one too.  Below young Tim holds the chick while Mark operates.







People who do this all the time must often feel down.  Patricia holds small chick that is too small to band.



Katrina poses with the little one.  A bit of glamour and a cute chick.  But which is which?>


This little one is really popular.  Here Jean gets to nurse it.




Above, Katrina assists Mark but seems to me to be in danger of getting her own leg banded.

Left, some birds have no respect but chicks can get away with anything.




Here the little one gets to have a flap.  This is so much fun it should not be allowed to be called work.




After lunch there was time to have a look at the blowholes, a feature of limestone coasts.  A photograph does not convey the feeling of power as air and spray is forced out of the holes by the action of waves.





Then there was another (for me) highlight of the week and an excellent note to finish on.  The mission was to trap, measure and ring Christmas Island Goshawks.  The method used was to trail a soft toy as a lure on the end of a fishing line 30 or 40 metres behind a utility.  When the Goshawk appeared and swooped on the lure, we would stop.  The bird would wait in a nearby tree and watch proceedings.  Mark would then set up a prepared caged Tree Sparrow in a wire cage with fishing line tied to the outside of the cage in such a manner as to entangle the talons of the target bird.

The first bird we attracted with the lure had actually be caught and ringed previously in the week so we moved on and it was not long before we caught another.



While Mark set up the trap the Goshawk looked on enraptured.



Seconds later as Mark walked away from the trap the Goshawk swooped.  Bingo!  Mark removed him from the trap and showed him off for the cameras.


Birds of prey are truly magnificent creatures and awe inspiring.

Mark measured, recorded and banded the Goshawk. 








A final snap before the bird regained its freedom.



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