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Bird Island:
2 - 4 Oct 1998
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Bird Island is mind-blowing! At the same time, it's also a place that encourages just lounging around. We managed to resist this temptation - some of the time!

Birds around the Lodge area were generally very confiding. Everywhere there were Barred Ground Doves and Turnstones. Both Brown and Lesser Noddies were common in the trees, and are easily separated when seen side by side. Curlew Sandpipers (in non-breeding plumage) were foraging in the short grass in 2s and 3s and, a few feet away from our chalet, a White-tailed Tropicbirds were rearing a chick in the roots of a tree. The chick was visited by both adults, and on one occasion, they both managed to cram themselves into the small nest hollow. Fairy Terns were also plentiful, both around the Lodge, and throughout the rest of the island.

At the Sooty Tern colony, the activity was still frenetic, both on the ground and in the air. A figure of 200,000 birds was mentioned, well below the number at the height of the breeding season!. Most of the chicks were well developed juveniles, with white spotted dark brown mantles.

Other terns on the Island included Bridled Terns (20 roosting in the casuarina trees near the air strip), Crested Tern - 6 on the North Point - where there were also 25 Saunders Little Terns. This North Point seemed to be a favourite entry point for migrants. Early one morning we saw 4 very tired-looking Pacific Golden Plovers here, along with a Greater Sand Plover. We also saw both these species near the Lodge, along with Lesser Sand Plovers.

Other memorable waders for us included two Crab Plovers (3 were reported whilst we were there); one of these, at the South Point of the Island in the failing evening light, presented a striking and atmospheric picture. We also saw our first Terek Sandpiper, a very distinctive small wader. We failed to find the Grey-tailed Tatler (2nd record for the Seychelles), which had been present for a few weeks, but did include Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover in our list of Bird Island waders. We saw several Cattle Egrets not far from the Sooty Tern colony. Apparently, in the terns' breeding season, the egrets predate the terns' eggs.

One of Bird Island's spectacles was the evening roost of Greater Frigatebirds - about 150 of them, circling lower and lower in the evening light. They were all females / juveniles, with the exception of one all-dark, smaller male, which was constantly mobbed by several females. We were also certain that we picked out a few Lesser Frigatebirds, distinguished by their smaller size and two white spurs on the underwings.

Another spectacle, at 5.30 am, was watching the Wedge-tailed Shearwaters leaving their burrows and flying out to sea. We saw them at the S. end of the air strip, and before it was properly light, the small fast birds were skimming at knee-height over the air strip, sometimes missing us by only 20 feet or so.

We only recorded 25 species of birds on Bird Island, but the avian spectacles were superb!


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http://www.tka.co.uk/birds/seychell/di_birdi.htm Last updated 30 December 1998