Our three weeks on North Island came to an end on 1 June. A choppy sea gave our return boat trip to Mahe an exciting edge and we had wonderful views of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters at their best as they soared at the margin between wind and wave.
During the morning trap round on 1 June we caught our 100th myna. This achievement was made possible by modifying our approach to trapping with more frequent changes in trap location than we had used before. Our Reading University volunteers, Bethan Searle and Sarah Fenn, have adapted well to life on the island and its climate, although they would welcome fewer mosquitoes! Their training has gone well and in addition to the eradication progress they are collecting new data on myna behaviour that will hopefully help future programmes. They are obtaining interesting video clips of some aspects of myna behaviour, which we hope will help in the selection of decoys. We wish them
well for the duration of their stay, and also in the write-ups, which will form their theses for their Masters degree in Reading. There are still some questions relating to facilities for the eradication but solving these will be further good experience during their project work.
Equally important, they are having a unique opportunity to experience a lifestyle very foreign to that of Reading, working with people of many different backgrounds and interests, and seeing exciting facets of the biological world in the tropics. They are fascinated by the Giant Tortoises that roam free on the island and it was a joy to hear their account of their first encounter with a nesting Green Turtle on one of North Island’s beautiful beaches. They responded with gasps of delight when Christine and I showed them their first bright green Praying Mantis.
We feel that the eradication has got off to a good start and look forward to regular updates from Bethan and Sarah. We are grateful to island management for the services provided and hope that they sustain their commitment to the project so that its success can lead to further exciting conservation measures on North Island.