to Mahe after visiting Bird Island might have seemed a bit of an
anti-climax. Certainly, the bustle of Victoria, after seeing nothing
bigger than a village for ten days, was overwhelming at first. But
the combination of the mountain and the sea scenery make Mahe special.
We had three full days on Mahe, which we roughly divided between
Northern, Central and Southern Mahe. Most of our birding was done
from the car, stopping off frequently at promising sites, both inland
and on the coast.
target bird for us was the Seychelles White-eye, and we cheated
and hired a guide to help us find this elusive bird! Our guide,
Basil Beaudouin, proved to be both knowledgeable and helpful, and
we can recommend him. His favourite site (not one listed
in any of the other guide books) was in the hills behind Cascade,
just inland from the airport. We drove up past Cascade Church (no
sign of Seychelles Kestrel, reportedly nesting here) to a small
water treatment plant. From there it was about an hour's steep walk
up a small path to a farm. We sat on rocks overlooking the alp-like
farm and waited for about an hour. During that time, Basil said
that he'd heard White-eyes, and pointed out a small, flitting bird
a few hundred yards away. Not a very satisfactory view! The, just
as we were about to leave, a White-eye landed in a low bush about
20 feet from us, giving excellent views. It was unmistakable, with
a very distinct eye ring, and a very plain-coloured dark
mantle, pale underparts and no discernable wing pattern. It was
slightly larger than a Sunbird, and much bulkier. An excellent "tick"!
only other possible White-eye sighting I had, was at the car park
2 km W of La Misere. This is a good place to scan both the distant
and nearby hillsides. I had a glimpse of a bird, paler below than
a Sunbird, and perhaps not as dark above, which could have been
a White-eye. It's certainly the right sort of habitat, and this
could be another place to try (the Cascade site is on private land).
We also saw Seychelles Cave Swiftlets at the La Misere car
park, along with many Seychelles Sunbirds.
along with almost every other place we went to in the Seychelles
(apart from Bird Island), was popular with the Madagascar Fody.
We've not mentioned this delightful little bird much in this diary,
but you can't ignore them! The males were just coming into their
brick-red breeding plumage (which gives them their Seychelloise
name of "Cardinal") and there was much chasing
of the drabber-looking females going on. If there was nothing else
to see at any particular site, there was usually a Mad Fody or two
land birds which we saw on Mahe were the Malagasy Turtle Dove
(also seen throughout the other Islands), Seychelles Bulbul,
Barred Ground Dove (also common everywhere) and, of course,
the noisy Indian Mynah.
had some good views of the Seychelles Blue Pigeon on Mahe,
particularly at the Slave Mission site on the Victoria to Port Glaud
road. This is another fine view point and, apart from the Pigeon,
the sight of White-tailed Tropicbirds flying across the forest
was spectacular. This site is also worth visiting for its unusual
memorial avenue of Sangdragon ("Dragon's Blood"
trees. Seychelles Cave Swiftlets were also seen here, and
we had a possible sighting of a Seychelles Kestrel.
did not see the Seychelles Scops-owl on Mahe - and we didn't
even try for it. We were told of people who would take you into
the forest and tape-lure the bird, but we didn't feel comfortable
with this procedure.
we looked for waders all along the Mahe coastline, the best places
we found were the Union Vale Mud Flats, just to the North of Victoria,
and the Columbage (Reclamation Area) to the South. Union Vale was
particularly good with Crab Plover, Terek Sandpiper,
Wood Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Pacific Golden
Plover, Greenshank (all single birds), Grey Heron
(11), Green-backed Heron (3), Cattle Egret (3),
Greater Sandplover (5), Grey Plover (4), Whimbrel
(3), and Turnstone (hundreds!).
also saw Terek Sandpiper at the Columbage, along with many
of the same waders, including a possible Lesser Sandplover
(still having difficulty separating Greater from Lesser!). Cattle
Egrets, somewhat scruffy, also frequent the old market in Victoria,
where we also saw our only Feral Pigeons.
on Praslin and La Digue we also searched in vain on Mahe for Chinese
Bittern. This, along with Seychelles Scops-owl, was another
'dip' of the holiday.
watching from Mahe produced very few birds. Fairy Terns,
of course, were regular sightings, and we were treated to some fine
views of their paired syncronised aerobatics. At Anse aux Poules
Bleues on the West coast we saw 20 Crested Terns (adults
and juveniles) loafing on a sand bank.
was on Mahe that we saw our only Common Tenrec. Unfortunately,
our only views of these large hedgehog-like mammals were two road
kills at Beau Vallon.
last views, as we left Mahe Airport, were of the ever-present Indian
Mynahs and several Cattle Egrets, not really indicative
of the splendid bird life on the Seychelles!