WITH ITS CONVICT ruins and connections to the HMS Bounty saga, Norfolk Island is perfectly suited to ghost stories.
When I visited in 2009 shearwaters (see below) crooned over the ruined ramparts of the Norfolk Island prison; a reminder of times past, when this small 34.6 km² South Pacific island heaved with incredible numbers of seabirds and a rich endemic birdlife.
Since Cook first sighted the island in 1774, a total of four endemic bird species and five subspecies have become extinct. Among the losses were the Norfolk Island kaka and pigeon, which were so common when members of the First Fleet landed in 1788 that they described them as pests.
The kaka, a separate species to the New Zealand parrot, only survived until the early 1800s and the pigeon, a subspecies of the New Zealand pigeon, until 1901.
Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands have by far the worst record of bird extinctions in Australia, which continues to this day.
The kaka and pigeon were exterminated by hunting and forest loss, but the latest wave of extinctions has been largely from rats and cats.
The last island thrush (guavabird) was seen in the 1970s and the white-chested white-eye is on the verge of extinction.