12 Nov 2014

12 Nov 14 - Polynesian Ground Dove

There was a third potential Tick for nearly everybody on Tenararo which was Polynesian Ground Dove. Birdlife International has categorised this species as Critically Endangered with an estimated population based upon a number of surveys as only 100 - 200 individuals. With the species spread over a number of small widely scattered islands in the Tuamotu Islands, there aren't that many on each island. In 2003, the Tenararo population was assessed as a mere 50 individuals which is a significant percentage of the World population. We had managed to see Tuamotu Sandpiper & Atoll Fruit-dove from the beach with no effort, but the Polynesian Ground Doves weren't going to be so easy.
Most of the group heading off to look for the Polynesian Ground Doves
Away from the Coconuts, the island looked more interesting, although some parts were very dense bush
Chris's plan was we would walk through the Coconut plantation towards the central lagoon. However, Steve & myself ended up getting separated from the others (probably distracted by another Tuamotu Sandpiper which insisted on being photographed) and kept closer to the beach. After a couple of hours or so, I ran into Chris who said the rest of the group had seen several female Polynesian Ground Doves. Steve & I headed off towards the inner lagoon & it wasn't long, before I found a different Polynesian Ground Dove. I know it was a different individual as this was a male. It was quietly feeding on the ground, scurrying around in an slightly more open area at the edge of the Coconut plantation. But there was still enough ground vegetation to ensure it was often hidden from view. It wasn't particularly showy, just like the other Ground Doves I've seen in Micronesia, but at least it wasn't flighty like some of the Micronesian species. In total, the group believed we saw a total of 21 individuals.
Polynesian Ground Dove: Male have a white breast & deep purple patches on the slaty grey upperparts, whereas the females are a dull brown with buff underparts
Polynesian Ground Dove: Male
Polynesian Ground Dove: Male. It was feeding on small bugs on this plant
Polynesian Ground Dove: Male
Polynesian Ground Dove: Male. It's hard to believe it can't find something more substantial to eat
Polynesian Ground Dove: Male. But it seems to like these small buds
Polynesian Ground Dove: A close up of the flower buds
Polynesian Ground Dove: Male. Later I did see a couple of females, but one was in flight & the other scurried out of view before I could get any photos