New Caledonia 1998
I travelled to New Caledonia with Richard Fairbank and Garry Edwards from Melbourne on a Quantas flight returning to Sydney and the return flight cost less than £200. We hired a car through Avis at Noumea airport and as we had already found out that food was expensive here we decided to take most of our supplies with us apart for bread and fruit. We also had tents with us, which we were using in Australia,and we had no problems camping anywhere including close to the Airport on the final evening. We changed currency in the Airport terminal and the unit of currency is the French Pacific Franc (CPF).The weather was good, generally warm and sunny during the day with some light rain at nights. Although it became hot around mid-day it was not humid and we found we could bird-watch throughout the day. The day we spent at Mount Koaghis, it was very windy and this made birding difficult but the rest of the time it was calm. We had no problems from insects.
The language is French although we did meet some locals who spoke English. Visas not required for EEC passport holders. Driving is on the right hand side and although petrol was more expensive than in Australia, we found it still to be cheaper than in the UK, and anyway you do not have to do much in the way of mileage. During our five days we probably only covered 250 miles.There are over 20 endemic or near-endemics present on the Island including the endangered Kagu and therefore if you are planning a trip to Australia, a short side-trip of around five days to New Caledonia is well worth while, as you could expect to see twenty plus species which you would not see in Australia. I saw twenty-three new species in five days.
There is a local ornithologist Yves Letocart who has a house in the Riviere Bleau National Park. We made arrangements to contact him on our third day and by this time we had seen most of the endemics and therefore we could concentrate on the few species we still needed when we were with him. He had good tapes of the more difficult species. We contacted him by asking at the entrance gate and they told us where his property was and where we could find him.
Under the species list I have included some identification notes on the endemics as there are no easily obtainable field guides. In this respect, I have taken information from a trip report by Richard Thomas who visited the Island in 1992 and provided much useful information on the identification. I have used this information in this report and have supplemented it with my own observations. I would like to thank Richard for these extremely useful notes and we did not have any problems with identification.
16th Aug Riviere Bleue National Park, the Park closes at 5pm and does not open Mondays,so we had to leave the Park and we camped overnight near the Hotel at Mount Koaghis.
17th Aug All day Mount Koaghis birding along the summit track returning in the evening to Riviere Bleue National Park where we camped outside the entrance gate.
New Caledonian Whistler.
New Caledonian White-eye.