The Indian Ocean Territories boast an interesting range of endemic and visiting avifauna. See our checklist below.
There are 23 breeding or resident species of birds on Christmas Island. Most of them are readily seen all year round and are in easy to access areas. Apr – Sep, many of the seabirds can be seen on or around nests, making this time of the year ideal for good views of the birds, and also if you are into your bird photography.
Our annual Bird & Nature Week runs in early September. A number of specialist guides show you the absolute best the island has to offer. If you have a passing interest in birds, but an avid interest in all things unique in nature and on this unique island, we cannot recommend this event highly enough! Places are limited to keep the group manageable and packages are generally released just before Christmas.
Oct – Mar is the annual wet season when we get our regular visitors, plus a few rare and special birds. If you are trying to expand your Australian birding list, this is the best time of the year to visit. There are intensive twitching tours available in late November and March. Please visit Bird Tours Australia website for more details.
The Cocos Keeling Islands play an important role in the routes that shorebirds take during their annual migration. There are 39 breeding or resident species of birds on the atoll. Cocos only has 1 endemic sub-species, the Cocos Buff-banded rail and at this point in time, can only be viewed on North Keeling Island, Cocos' only National Park area. North Keeling National Park supports many of the vagrant species as it is remote to the other 26 islands. Travel to this island is limited and the best possible months are November to July. Birding Tours Australia do try to include this on their itinerary when weather conditions are favourable.
There are plenty of other islands, coastal regions and the odd swampy area that attracts birds and still gives the average birder plenty to keep busy with. Cocos Keeling has boasted several new sightings for Australia in the last few years, including Mugimaki Flycatcher and Common Teal.
Local operators of the glass bottom boat and motorized canoes are invaluable services to utilize to get to the remote islands and coastlines to look for birds. These operators now have many years experience working with the Birdwatching fraternity and can take you to the hard reach places of the lagoon to find rarities and regular visitors. Combine your birding with a great day out on the lagoon.
Bird & Nature Week guests are offered the option to extend their stay on Cocos Keeling Islands after the event to experience all that the region has to offer. Bird Tours Australia runs intensive twitching tours in late November and March. Please visit their website for more details.