New Caledonia - searching for the endemics - 23 September - 29 September 2019

Published by Stephen Blaber (sblaber AT

Participants: Steve Blaber, Tessa Blaber



This trip followed our visit to Vanuatu. A trip about 20 years ago to Parc de la Rivière Bleu had netted many of the endemics, but six were not seen, including the renowned New Caledonian Crow and Horned Parakeet. Information was obtained from Dave Sargeant’s 2006 trip report as well the more recent ones of Gordyn & Rijkes (2018) and Mark Smiles (2018). Importantly, both the recent ones contain GPS co-ordinates for the Thicketbird site north of Bourail. The trip was successful, and we saw all target species. New Caledonia is a relatively easy place to bird, with good infrastructure and good roads, and of course good food!


23 Sep - Arrive Tontouta Airport, New Caledonia from Port Vila on flight NF64 at 1735hrs. After immigration and customs picked up pre-booked Avis car and drove to L'Hôtel du Centre in Noumea.
24 Sep – Birding Mt Koghis. Overnight at L'Hôtel du Centre.
25 Sep – Birding Parc de la Rivière Bleu. Overnight at L'Hôtel du Centre.
26 Sep – Drive to Farino. Checked into Refuge de Farino. Afternoon birding Le Parc des Grandes Fougères.
27 Sep - Morning birding Le Parc des Grandes Fougères. Afternoon birding grasslands north of Bourail. Overnight Refuge de Farino.
28 Sep – Birding Le Parc des Grandes Fougères. Overnight Refuge de Farino.
29 Sep – Drove to Tontouta airport, departing at 1600hrs on QF364 for Brisbane.


We pre-booked the Hôtel du Centre in Noumea as it offers easy access to the routes we needed for birding the southern sites. It is also self-catering with a good kitchen that gave us the flexibility needed for birding. Similarly, the Refuge de Farino, which is close to Le Parc des Grandes Fougères was pre-booked and has self-catering chalets. Purchasing food was easy as most towns have good supermarkets.


(Only new species mentioned here, full list at the end)

23 September

By the time we collected our hire car at Tontouta it was dark, but fortunately the route to Noumea is straightforward and the road good, so with the aid of the GPS on our tablet we reached the hotel with little trouble.

24 September

Set off early for Mt Koghis, stopping at the Boulangerie Moulin at the roundabout near our hotel to pick up croissants, baguettes and quiche Lorraine – all superb. Near the end of the road we saw two New Caledonian Crows (one of our target species) in a garden where they are obviously fed! Interestingly, they were colour-ringed. We reached the car park at the top just after sunrise. The forest was alive with many of the more common endemics, including more crows. After breakfast we set off for the forest. Payment for entry to the forest was by putting the fee in an envelope and placing it through a slot. We spent most of our time on the Waterfall Track. Here with judicious use of playback, we finally lured a pair of New Caledonian Cuckoo-Shrikes to within good viewing distance. We were hoping for Horned Parrots but there was no sign of them – either in the forest or in the car park area. At lunch time we drove back down the hill and stocked up on provisions at a nearby supermarket. Returned to Mt Koghis for the afternoon, but it got much quieter and little was seen.

25 September

A 5 o’clock start to get us to Riviere Blue in time to have breakfast before the gate opens at 7 am. After paying our fees we drove to Pont Perignon in order to catch the 7.30 minibus into the main part of the park. The bridge is still closed to all traffic, so this is the only option other than bicycles. The minibus travels the route every couple of hours and we were the only passengers on the first run of the day. We elected to get off at Grand Kaori where there is a wooden walkway through the forest. It was not long before we found two relatively tame Kagu. They were followed by good views of Cloven-feathered Dove in a Kaori pine across the river from the wooden viewing platform. This area also had most of the other common endemics. After completing the circuit, we walked for a km or so down the road towards Pont Germain, but by this time the forest had become quiet. We returned to the Grand Kaori site for lunch and to await our pick-up at 1.30 pm. While waiting for the minibus we had excellent views of New Caledonian Cuckoo-Shrike and Crow Honeyeater (the only one of the trip). The minibus was on time and we returned to our car at Pont Perignon – finally leaving the park at about 3 pm. Uneventful drive back to our hotel in Noumea.

26 September

Checked out of the hotel at about 6 am. Picked up breakfast at the Boulangerie Moulin and set off northwards along the main highway. Swamp Harriers were quite a common site as were Swamphens foraging beside the road. We arrived at Refuge de Farino just after 8 am, too early to move into our cabin. Fortunately, the manageress knew one would be available at 10 am so we just birded in the grounds until then. The gardens and surrounding forest are bird rich and we saw many of the endemics without leaving the grounds – certainly a good place to stay for any first-time birders to the island. After an early lunch we set off for the Parc des Grandes Fougères – only about a 20 minute drive. Excellent views of a White-bellied Goshawk in trees by the carpark at the top. The primary forest here is good, with the extraordinary giant tree ferns particularly noticeable. This afternoon we concentrated on the road going down from the HQ to the left. This had previously had grassland areas where the New Caledonian Thicketbird was commonly seen. The habitat has now changed with reforestation and there was no sign of this species.

27 September

We returned to the Parc des Grandes Fougères, waiting for the gate to open at 7.30 am. This time we concentrated on the Four à Pain trail, primarily searching for parrots. At 1.3 km along the trail we finally got on to a pair that responded to the Horned Parrot playback – but despite the call all we saw and photographed were New Caledonian Parakeets! This was very interesting, but also disappointing! We had lunch at the carpark and then set off for the Bourail grasslands, the home of the New Caledonian Thicketbird. Using the GPS co-ordinates from several trip reports we arrived at “Pepe’s site” at 1.30 pm. We parked the car at -21.4483, 165.5152, and duly walked the rough track opposite the parking place. Within half an hour a Thicketbird responded to playback and we had excellent views. The area contained a lot of birds, with Red-throated Parrotfinch common. A single Long-tailed Triller was seen in a tree, along with Striated Starlings, next to the area where we parked the car. This is an excellent site and highly recommended.

28 September

Returned to the Parc des Grandes Fougères. We did a 7 km walk which circled through the best looking forest, with enormous tree ferns. Plenty of birds, including two more New Caledonian Parakeets, but no definite Horned Parakeets, despite the call being heard.

29 September

Today we packed up to leave for Tontouta Airport. The best surprise was kept until last! At 6.20 am a Horned Parakeet came and sat in a Casuarina tree next to our balcony! We had been disappointed by not being able to get definite views of this species in the Park, so were overjoyed at the spectacle and the opportunity to photograph this endangered species! After breakfast we headed for the airport where we departed for Brisbane.

Species Lists

Annotated Checklist

Little Pied Cormorant Microcarbo melanoleucos
Parc de la Rivière Bleu

Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
Parc de la Rivière Bleu

Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo
Several on entrance road to Le Parc des Grandes Fougères

White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae

White-bellied Goshawk Accipiter haplochrous
Mt Koghis, Le Parc des Grandes Fougères

Swamp Harrier Circus approximans

Kagu Rhynochetos jubatus
Parc de la Rivière Bleu

Australasian Swamphen Porphyrio melanotus

Metallic Pigeon Columba vitiensis
Refuge de Farino grounds

Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis

Pacific Emerald Dove Chalcophaps longirostris
Refuge de Farino grounds

Cloven-feathered Dove Drepanoptila holosericea
Parc de la Rivière Bleu

Goliath Imperial Pigeon Ducula goliath
Parc de la Rivière Bleu, Mt Koghis, Le Parc des Grandes Fougères, Refuge de Farino grounds

Shining Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx lucidus
Le Parc des Grandes Fougères

Satin Swiftlet Collocalia uropygialis
Widespread in both secondary and primary forest areas

White-rumped Swiftlet Aerodramus spodiopygius

Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus
Mt Koghis, Refuge de Farino grounds

Horned Parakeet Eunymphicus cornutus
Refuge de Farino grounds

New Caledonian Parakeet Cyanoramphus saisseti
Le Parc des Grandes Fougères

Coconut Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus

New Caledonian Myzomela Myzomela caledonica
Mt Koghis

Grey-eared Honeyeater Lichmera incana

New Caledonian Friarbird Philemon diemenensis
Widespread in both secondary and primary forest

Crow Honeyeater Gymnomyza aubryana
Parc de la Rivière Bleu

Barred Honeyeater Glycifohia undulata

Fan-tailed Gerygone Gerygone flavolateralis
Widespread in both secondary and primary forest

White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus

South Melanesian Cuckooshrike Coracina caledonica
Mt Koghis, Refuge de Farino grounds, Le Parc des Grandes Fougères

New Caledonian Cuckooshrike Edolisoma anale
Mt Koghis, Parc de la Rivière Bleu

Long-tailed Triller Lalage leucopyga
Mt Koghis, Bourail grasslands

New Caledonian Whistler Pachycephala caledonica
Widespread in both secondary and primary forest

Rufous Whistler Pachycephala rufiventris
Mt Koghis, Le Parc des Grandes Fougères

Grey Fantail Rhipidura albiscapa

Streaked Fantail Rhipidura verreauxi
Mt Koghis, Parc de la Rivière Bleu, Le Parc des Grandes Fougères

Southern Shrikebill Clytorhynchus pachycephaloides
Mt Koghis, Le Parc des Grandes Fougères

Melanesian Flycatcher Myiagra caledonica
Refuge de Farino grounds,

New Caledonian Crow Corvus moneduloides
Mt Koghis, Parc de la Rivière Bleu, Le Parc des Grandes Fougères

Yellow-bellied Flyrobin Microeca flaviventris
Parc de la Rivière Bleu

Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
Common in Noumea

Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica

New Caledonian Thicketbird Cincloramphus mariae
Bourail grasslands

Green-backed White-eye Zosterops xanthochroa

Silvereye Zosterops lateralis

Striated Starling Aplonis striata
Widespread in forested areas

Common Myna Acridotheres tristis

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild

Red-throated Parrotfinch Erythrura psittacea
Le Parc des Grandes Fougères, Bourail grasslands

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin Lonchura castaneothorax
Le Parc des Grandes Fougères