3 Nov 2014

3 Nov 14 - Off To See Noddy (& Some Boobies)

Just got back from one of my best & most enjoyable trips to date which my Sister described as, the trip to see Noddy & some Boobies. Somehow I can't see Wildwings changing the official title of their tour, In The Wake Of The Bounty, to this alternative title. I met up with Chris Collins, who was leading the tour at Heathrow, a day earlier than most of the others were flying out. We had to overnight in a Los Angeles airport hotel, before catching an afternoon flight the following day to Tahiti. While this only got us into Tahiti the evening before the early morning flight the bulk of the group were arriving, it did mean I had 2 good nights sleep to get over the 10 hours time change. The official hotel complex was incredibly expensive, so I settled for the first night at the more moderately priced, Pension Armelle nearby. Whilst not in the same league as the Manava Suite Resort, it backed onto the beach & had far more Birds on view. Considerately, the Pension Armelle under-provided on the inclusive breakfast (which consisted of 1 small piece of French bread & marmalade, but plenty of coffee & orange juice), thus allowing me to focus on some photography from their beach balcony.
Pension Armelle: The beach balcony - ideal for beach photography, but don't get excited about the breakfast
Pension Armelle beach: The beach from the balcony (with another overpriced hotel in the distance)
Pension Armelle beach: The beach looking left (with a few dark clouds in the distance)
Pension Armelle beach: Like most tropical islands there is an offshore reef
Pension Armelle beach: The breakers on the offshore reef. While it looks fun for surfing, there will be sharp coral underneath to quickly stop that idea
Pension Armelle Beach: Is this Brian Gregory, practicing for the landings we had lined up later in the trip?
Whilst it looks great, what the photos don't convey is the high humidity, even about eight in the morning: the humidity even increased away from the coast. There was a good selection of Birds (for Tahiti) on the beach, until a few people started appearing after nine.
Eastern Reef Heron: Dark phase. This is also know as Pacific Reef Heron. This is the albolineata subspecies. The nominate subspecies was photographed in the Andamans. This photo isn't cropped, except to get to my usual 6:5 blog format
Eastern Reef Heron: Light phase. Both phases are found on Tahiti
Wandering Tattler: There were three of these delightful & common Polynesian Waders on the beach
Wandering Tattler: This species winters from Australia, throughout the Pacific & the Pacific coast of Central America
Wandering Tattler: Looks like some wing moult on the secondaries
Common Noddy: This is also known as Brown Noddy. The browner inner wing (compared to darker sooty black colouration) & less distinct white forehead separates this from White-capped Noddy. This is the pileatus subspecies which occurs from the Seychelles & Madagascar to Australia & the tropical Pacific including Pollynesia & Hawaii. Four other subspecies occur around the Red Sea, Galapagos, Pacific Coast of Central America & Caribbean to Cameroons
White-capped Noddy: Also known as Black Noddy. This was a fairly commonly seen Noddy on the trip, but not as common as the Common Noddies
White-capped Noddy: This is the minutus subspecies which occurs from Australia, New Guinea across to French Polynesia
Crested Tern: This is the cristatus subspecies which occurs from Malaysia, to the Philippines & the Ryukus Islands as well as Eastern Australia to French Polynesia
Zebra Dove: One of several common Introduced species in the populated parts of the Tahiti
Common Myna: Another Intro
Chestnut-breasted Mannikin: Yet another Intro, but at least it's a species, I've not seen any since my trips to Australia in the late 80s & early 90s. I wasn't expecting to see this species right next to the tide line
Indo-Pacific Gecko: I heard a few around the Pension, but this was the only one seen & the only photo I managed to get before it disappeared
Around late morning, it was time to head off to meet the others & check in at the luxury Manava Suite Resort (my room for this evening was included in the price of the tour so happy to move hotels).