Sunday, 3 April 2011

Lady Elliot island - 2


Two species of Noddy nest on Lady Elliot Island, the White-capped (Black) and the Common (Brown), and despite their clearly different names they are rather similar when first seen.

The most common species on the island is the White-capped and they build flimsy nests of rotting leaves in the lower forks of the trees, many right next to the paths in the centre of the resort complex. The adults are a bit darker than the Common Noddies, but it is their smaller size and habits which distinguish them better from the Commons. 
I find it interesting how their chicks, even when downy, also have white-caps and their body down is sooty black.

The larger Common Noddies (on the right below) are more brown in general, but this can be difficult to discern in poor light, and the difference between the amount of white on each species' crown is also similar.

When nesting, the two species are easily identified because the Common Noddies nest on the ground, on the storm beaches,   
or in the shorter grasses at either end of the runway. The birds fly up whenever an aeroplane passes overhead, but they return immediately to their nests every time.

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