The Sooty Tern colony is now densely packed with birds. The first birds that laid are now about half way through their 28-day incubation period and these parents are already becoming more aggressive towards us as we visit our study plots. Our ankles are being regularly pecked, sometimes drawing blood, and more and more we … More Sooty Tern progress
During my two-year residence in Seychelles in the early 1970s I was forever finding myself entangled in the huge sticky webs of Palm Spiders (Nephila inaurata). The female spiders are large, with dark brown bodies up to 3 centimetres long and long spindly legs, banded orange and black, giving the spider a total span … More Where have all the spiders gone?
Yes, even at almost 4 degrees south of the equator, Bird Island is affected by events in the arctic. In the northern autumn a variety of birds that breed in the arctic tundra arrive on the island and make it their home until the following spring. These are shorebirds and include especially Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, … More Bird Island’s connection with the arctic
In places around the edge of Bird Island’s Sooty Tern colony, a filamentous and leafless plant, vary ing from light green through to orange, can be found. This sometimes completely smothers other vegetation, including beach crest bushes like Velutye (Scaevola sericea), Bwamatlo (Suriana maritima) and Bwatabak (Tournefortia argentea), even killing them in the process. The … More Vine without end
Walking north from the hotel along Bird Island’s west beach during the Sooty Tern breeding season, one cannot escape from the birds’ presence. In addition to the incessant calls emanating from the nesting area, the sandy beach reveals a constant moving network of shadows, cast by over-flying birds as they criss-cross the beach. Some of … More Shadows on hot sand
Hosting a huge number of seabirds, it is inevitable that the air of Bird Island sometimes carries the whiff of bird guano, of which tonnes are deposited annually by the breeding hordes. This guano is, however, the source of the island’s fertility, without which little would grow. Two of the plant species that thrive on … More Perfumes in profusion
Yesterday evening we undertook our first search for Sooty Terns that we have ringed in the past, on Bird Island and in other colonies in Seychelles, beginning in 1972. Searching for ringed birds involves walking very slowly among the nesting birds, looking for birds with small metal rings that are individually numbered. By catching these … More Early days in the Sooty Tern colony
After a poor year for Sooty Terns in 2015, possibly connected with the unusually warm surface water of the western tropical Indian Ocean at the time, 2016 is currently looking more promising. The earlier advent of the south-east trade winds, accompanied by a cooling of the sea surface, has led Sooty Terns to return and … More Return of the Sooty Terns
On 8 June Christine and I returned to Bird Island, Seychelles. Bird Island is the northernmost island of the archipelago, situated on the northern rim of the Seychelles bank and close to the drop-off into the Indian Ocean abyss. As its name implies, it has been renowned for its large seabird populations since its first … More Bird Island, Seychelles – 2016
On North Island’s west coast is a narrow plateau on which Sunset Beach and Honeymoon Beach stand (the latter also called Anse Bonnen Kari, the Creole name for the Barringtonia trees that dominate the beach crest’s woodland). Inland of these beaches is it possible to find broken pieces of sandstone rock, very different from the … More Can North Island regain some of its lost seabirds?