7 Nov 2014

7 Nov 14 - Another Day, Another Reed Warbler Tick

This day was originally scheduled to have been a seawatching & chumming day with Henderson Island scheduled for the 8th. But having heard that we were likely to be sharing Henderson Island with another expedition ship on the 8th, the plans were rejigged and we woke up to see we were offshore at Henderson Island. While we were having breakfast, the Braveheart checked out the beaches. Henderson Island is a coral island which has been pushed out of the sea and has steep cliffs to the central plateau.
Henderson Island: The sea conditions were not in our favour, but at least we got ashore
There are two narrow beaches where it is possible to land. Frustratingly, the sea conditions at the main North beach site were too rough for us to get ashore. But fortunately, Matt reckoned we would be OK on the West beach. We were told this would be a wet landing & like the rest of our landings in the trip, we landed on the coral edge (fortunately smoothed a bit by wave action over the years). We then had to wade up to our upper legs in water to get ashore. Elliott & Billy did a good job helping us as we landed to avoid us getting knocked off the coral in the breaking waves. Playing safe, we had all the camera gear carefully stored in dry bags, so there are no photos of the landing.
Matt, Elliot & Billy go to scout out the chances of landing in another of their big boys toys
Time to change into some dry clothes & get the cameras out: Henderson Island has plenty of Coconuts. It is a holiday destination for the Pitcairn Islanders. They come over in the longboat for an occasional, extended stay
The Braveheart: Before She moved further out for the day
I'm ready to go to look for the four endemic Landbirds: Henderson Island Crake, Henderson Island Fruit-dove, Stephen's Lorikeet and Henderson Island Reed Warbler
The West beach is fairly narrow: It got even narrower as the tide rose & we ended up climbing over the rocks to get to the far end later in the afternoon
There were a lot of Coconut trees next to the beach
Parts of the forested edge are fairly open
But other areas are very dense & hard to get through
Getting ready to look for Henderson Island Crake: Unfortunately, we had no luck. Throughout the day we had short showers, but fortunately, none of the heavy rain that we experienced on Pitcairn the previous day
A wet looking Henderson Island Reed Warbler: The first of 7 individuals I saw around the West beach area
Henderson Island Reed Warbler: Another individual seen later in the day
All around the beach area we saw good number of Crabs. Most were orange-red coloured Strawberry Hermit Crabs, Coenobita perlatus, which fitted into shells that were a few inches across. But other, larger & black Forest Hermit Crabs Coenobita spinosus were using smaller Coconuts as shells. Thanks to a reader of this Blog called Tony, I now have a latin name for this terrestrial Hermit Crab.
Strawberry Hermit Crab: This is a common species occurring from the tropical Indian Ocean Islands to the Southern Pacific
Forest Hermit Crab: Thanks to Tony (see Comments) for identifying this Crab
Forest Hermit Crab: Thanks to Tony (see Comments) for identifying this Crab
Grapsid Crab sp.: A more typical looking Crab. The picture shows how much care was needed when walking over these 'coral rocks' as a slip could have been painful with potentially a lot of blood being lost
Another fairly common species seen was a small white Moth about 3/4 inch long. However, when seen well, it was stunning & closely resembled the Crimson Speckled Moth which is an African & Mediterranean species & a vagrant to the UK. Since I have been back, I have managed to identify it as the Heliotrope Moth, Utetheisa pulchelloides. This species occurs from Seychelles to Borneo, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand & various tropical Pacific Islands. It is a well known long distance migrant & therefore, it is likely that it has naturally introduced itself to the Pitcairn Islands group.
Heliotrope Moth: I also saw this species on Pitcairn, but failed to get any photographs