Trip Report: Lord Howe Island (Australia, Southwestern Pacific Ocean), December 21-28, 1997

Trevor & Annie Quested, Sydney, Australia;

Lord Howe Island is 570 km east of New South Wales, Australia (31°33' south, 159°05' east). It is a popular tourist destination, and of interest to birdwatchers, has an endemic rail, and is the breeding ground of several species of seabird. Only 400 visitors are allowed at any time.

The island is 11 km long, maximum 2.8 km wide, is sub-tropical, and has a highest peak, Mt. Gower 875 m. Ball's Pyramid, a volcanic spire is 551m and is 23 km to the southeast. There are two distinct bird breeding periods, and some birds only breed on Ball's Pyramid.

Accommodation must be arranged before arrival, there are daily flights from Sydney and Brisbane, shops and restaurants abound. The return flight from Sydney, Australia plus one week's accommodation was $1500(Aus) each (high season). The commonest method of transport was bicycle which, with helmet, was $4 per day.

Birdwatching: About 130 species have been recorded. The island is excellent for photography. Weather permitting, daily activities e.g boat trips are organised which permit good views of the birds. We took a boat trip around the island, a glass bottom boat trip inside the reef, and a day trip to a picnic area. There is a fishing boat to Ball's Pyramid ($100) which is an all-day trip. We climbed Mt. Gower and did several walks. We snorkelled the coral reefs regularly.

Many well-made walking tracks go through the dry rainforest often to lookouts. We recommend the Malabar and Muttonbird Point (both Grade 3) before you attempt to climb Mount Gower (grade 10). In the rear of Simpson & Day's Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, there is a section listing every species, its measure of abundance and time of year. Some of the subspecies may well be elevated to full species.

Birds of Interest: