Oxford student finds rare bird on remote isle

Eden Cottee-Jones and John Mittermeier took a picture of a Moluccan woodcock in flight

Eden Cottee-Jones and John Mittermeier took a picture of a Moluccan woodcock in flight

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

AN endangered bird living on two remote Indonesian islands has been snapped for the first time by an Oxford researcher.

Eden Cottee-Jones, from the university, and friend John Mittermeier, from Louisiana State University, camped for two months with a team of eight Indonesians to record sightings of the Moluccan woodcock on Obi island.

Oxford Mail:

Eden Cottee-Jones, left, and John Mittermeier

They managed to spot the bird 51 times. Sightings had only been recorded 10 times before.

The researchers say their sighting could mean a population of Moluccan woodcocks of 9,500 on the island, much greater than previously thought.

Mr Cottee-Jones, 25, of Long Ford Close, Oxford, said it was only on the last day of their 57-day trip that they managed to get the bird on camera.

The PHD student in the school of geography and the environment, said: “It was a relief. We were under pressure to get this picture. We had seen it so many times and still hadn’t managed a photo.

“But it was also frustrating as we didn’t feel we got the best photo.

“The challenge was that the bird spends most of its day hidden in the undergrowth so there were few opportunities to photograph it in the open.”

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Even when the bird came within camera range, the darkness and humidity meant the camera might not work.

The birds rarely came out of the undergrowth, appearing only briefly to perform territorial display flights over the forest for a few minutes at sunrise or dusk.

Oxford Mail:

An historic specimen of the bird

Mr Cottee-Jones said he was proud to have seen the bird.

He added: “They are unknown so it was rewarding to go out and start to answer some of the many questions about it.”

The woodcock is a forest wader with a long black beak, a golden-brown plumage with black mottled markings and has only been found on the islands of Obi and Bacan.

It is classed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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