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Trip report sent in by Paola Ricceri & Marco Salvioni

Dear Ian & Ruth Traynor, first of all we would like to thank you for the many helpful informations found in your Seychelles's bird-trip report (Dec. '98). Following your instructions we could manage to have a great trip in these beautiful islands, together with very good birding.

We've been there from July 24th to August 5th 2000, a bit too early for migrants but good for breeding seabirds and residents. You wrote that you're interested in other birders's experiences, so here is our own one!

La Digue
Exactly like you, we arrived on Mahé early in the morning with Air Seychelles, from Zurich-Switzerland. Then a short flight took us to Praslin, and a ferry to La Digue where we stayed in Bernique Guesthouse. This is a nice place, inland but not far from everything else. We didn't find a room in Paradise Flycatcher Lodge, even though there weren't so many tourists around. I must say that we did book 10 days before departure only!

Bernique has a nice forest surroundings where we got our first male Seychelles Paradise flycatcher the following morning, just outside of the room's door. We spent three nights there and we only had one single pre-breakfast walk, not because of the rain but because of heavy sleep!! Anyway we managed to see 7 S. Paradise flycatchers (male,female and juv.). The only species we've been looking for but couldn't find was the Yellow bittern.

La Digue Bird-list :
White-tailed tropicbird, Great frigatebird, Green-backed heron, Moorhen, Turnstone, Sooty tern, Lesser noddy, Fairy tern, Feral pigeon, Barred ground dove, Madagascar turtle dove, S. Cave swiftlet, S. Bulbul, S. Black paradise flycatcher, S. Sunbird, Indian mynah, Common waxbill, Madagascar fody (also seen in the bright-yellow, pale bill & feet form).

We then moved to Praslin and Colibry Guesthouse, where we stayed 6 nights. In Praslin, at the Jetty, we saw our first S. Blue pigeon. We've been on the tour to Cusin, Curiouse and St. Pierre islands, something we would also recomand being an excellent opportunity to watch the birds at such a close range and the Giant tourtoise as well.

Cusin Island Bird-list:
Wedge-tailed shearwater (at nest), White-tailed tropicbird (at nest), Great frigatebird, Moorhen, Turnstone, Sooty tern, Bridled tern, Brown & Lesser Noddy (both at nest), Fairy tern (at nest), Madagascar turtle dove (grey + red-headed sub.), S. Magpie robin (absolutely tame...), S. Warbler (at nest), S. Fody.

From Praslin we tryed to go to Aride but failed, the sea was a bit rough a these season and no other tourists-birders interested to go. The island is only open on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday and to have somebody taking us there, maybe just for a loop round the island without landing (max 3 hours), we sould have payed an absolutely crazy price for the boat! We did some snorkeling in Coco Island instead, quite an experience with big waves and a little boat, but we saw our first and only male Lesser frigatebird flying pass, White-tailed tropicbird and Bridled terns, as well as a sea turtle and many colourful fishes.

The coral reef round the Seychelles looks almost completely dead, it seems to be nobody fault but El Nino, it is a pity but fortunately here and there little life is coming back. On Curiouse Island we added Crested and Common tern.

We spent 6 nights in Praslin, did walk all round the island and also rented bikes for two days. The roads going uphill could kill our heart and not only going up, the way back down is even more breathtaking! The bikes were handy to bird in the good marshy area at Fond de l'Anse. Where the road to Zimbabwe starts we had good views of S. Black parrot but no S. Kestrel, unfortunately. The Coco-de-mer forest is an amazing place and we've got many S. Blue pigeons in there and also heard S. Black parrot's funny call (quite unlike other parrots).

Praslin Bird-list:
Wedge-tailed shearwater, White-tailed tropicbird, Great frigatebird, Green-backed heron, Cattle eagret, Moorhen, Sandplover (Greater or Lesser? we couldn't tell the few of them apart!), Grey plover, Common greenshank, Whimbrel, Turnstone, Bridled tern, Sooty tern, Lesser & Brown noddy, Fairy tern, Feral pigeon, Barred ground dove, Madagascar turtle dove (grey + red headed sub.), S. Blue pigeon, S. Black parrot, S. Cave swiftlet, S. Bulbul, S. Sunbird, Indian mynah, Madagascar fody.

We spent the last three nights in Mahé Sun Resort guesthouse at Beau Vallon, again we didn't find a room in the place you suggested even though everything looked quite empty. This is another good place to stay, very nice new rooms with kitchen facility, swimmingpool and restaurant. Bus stop and beach nearby. Not far was the popular Boat House restaurant, excellent and quite crowded... always a good sign! In Sun Resort's garden we saw a Black-crowned night-heron.

In Mahé we rented a Mini-moke for two days, a very noisy and gas-consuming car but it took us round the island with no problems.

The Northern part of the island, the promontory, was not very interesting at this season, no sea birds at all, as well as along the East coast south of Victoria. On the West coast, at Anse aux Poules Bleues, we saw our first ever Crab plover, a juv. feeding in the low tide together with Wimbrels (many), Turnstones (5-6), Green-backed herons (12 at least), a single Common greenshank, Crested terns (8-10) and a single Black-naped tern in breeding plumage.

The big pond at Plantation Club Hotel gave us excellent sight of two Yellow bitterns, together with Green-backed heron and Moorhen. We tryed the road La Misère and Sans Soucis for S. White-eye, S. Kestrel and S. Scops-owl with no success. Beautiful landscapes anyway! We missed the S. Kestrel, we did check every single church on the way but saw none.

Our flight back to Zurich was late at night, so we did invest the last morning with Basil Beaudoin near Cascade, in search of the S. White-eye, a pretty little bird we saw very well (two adults and a juvenile) thanks to him! (Almost no chance without a local guide!)

At Victoria's Jetty, near the Tuna factory, there's a Cattle egret breeding colony, including some Grey and Green-backed herons and Black-crowned night heron but unfortunately the island is no more an island thanks to the reclamation area that now absorbs it. We do assume that very soon the whole colony will have to move somewhere else!

Mahé Bird-list:
White-tailed tropicbird, Great frigatebird, Yellow (Chinese) bittern, Green-backed heron, Cattle heron, Grey heron, Black-crowned night-heron, Moorhen, Crab plover, Grey plover, Common greenshank, Whimbrel, Common sandpiper, Turnstone, Crested tern, Black-naped tern, Brown noddy, Fairy tern, Feral pigeon, Barred ground dove, Madagascar turtle dove, S. Blue pigeon, S. Cave swiftlet, S. Bulbul, S. Sunbird, Indian mynah, Madagascar fody.

General comments:
Has been an interesting, beautiful, relaxing and quality bird-trip but honestly crazy expensive!! Fruit bats were present in all the three main islands we visited and were really amazing, looking like Buzzards in flight! We hope to be somehow helpful to other birders on the way to the Seychelles with our recent bird-trip report and in case you need more detailed informations, please let us know!

Greetings from Switzerland Paola Ricceri & Marco Salvioni
Email: tropicbird@bluemail.ch


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http://www.tka.co.uk/birds/seychell/trip-report-1.htm Last updated 21 August, 2000