Some observations based on a one week birding trip to New Caledonia the first week of September, 2007…
You would have to have your eyes closed to miss this bird at Riviere Bleue. It seems to be attracted to humans or human voices. We saw at least 10 in two mornings.
If you ask Jean Marc Meriot at Riviere Bleue Park HQ, he will pinpoint on a hand-out map the most recent sightings of these birds. He might also alert the drivers of the shuttles on the other side of the bridge over the flooded section of the river that you are interested in seeing this bird. The drivers of the shuttles seem to know where these birds are and will rush you to their most recent feeding trees or recently reported locations.
New Caledonian Red-crowned Parakeet
We saw a few in the scrubby area between the turnoff to Riviere Bleue from the main road and the park entrance.
New Caledonian Grassbird
I dipped at Farino, but Luc attracted one to playback about 200 metres on the uphill road opposite the former “old gate” downhill road described by Dave Sargent.
This area has now been designated a national park named “Les Grandes Fougeres”. There are new gates to the roads, a maintenance building and an upgraded parking area. The underbrush is being cut back and it appears the roads are being extended into the forest. What this means for the Grassbird is unclear.
Refuge de Farino
We stayed at this hospitable retreat. One afternoon, while taking an afternoon off from field birding, I sat and birded from the veranda of the chalet from which I saw ten of the New Caledonian endemics – New Caledonian Goshawk, Horned Parakeet, New Caledonian Myzomela, New Caledonian Friarbird, Barred Honeyeater, Yellow-bellied Robin, New Caledonian Crow, Striated Starling and Green-backed White-eye and heard Cloven-feathered Dove. In addition, I saw Metallic Pigeon, Rainbow Lorikeet, Glossy Swiftlet, Melanesian Cuckoo-shrike, Long-tailed Triller, Streaked Fantail, New Caledonian Whistler, Fan-tailed Gerygone, Dark-brown Honeyeater and Red-throated Parrot-Finch.
Lifou – Noumea Ferry
Based on our experience, birders contemplating taking the Lifou – Noumea ferry for sea-watching are likely to be disappointed.
We took this five-hour sail on the very fast Betico boat. Given its speed with its great pitch, roll and yaw, makes it a very poor and unstable birding platform. Sitting in economy class gives you poor visibility through the windows due to the spray from the bow. Sitting in first class, visibility is restricted by the eye-level outside railing of the boat. You can get a better view if you sit on the table in first class but not good enough for the conditions.
Technically, one can go out on deck, but it would be foolish to do so. You would have to hang on for safety and even at that you risk injury or worse.
However, as we were nearing Noumea, Luc did see two Tahiti Petrels. Small reward for a rather tedious trip…
Feel free to contact me for any further details.