North Island – second changeover of the myna team

On 5 August Christine and I returned to North Island to welcome and train two new volunteers, who will carry the myna eradication forward for the next six months. The island is much drier than when we left in May. Badamyann trees (Terminalia catappa, commonly known as Indian Almond), are losing their leaves as is usual during the south-east trade wind season. This season is normally the drier part of the year and its impact this year is manifested in browning grass on the eastern plateau and the marsh has also dried considerably, now with muddy shores rather than standing water. Our research on Denis Island, Bird Island and here has shown that this dry season is the main time of moult for Common Mynas, and also a time when they appear to be in poorer body condition. This appears to be a good time to trap mynas, reducing the population when their natural food is scarce and when no birds are breeding to replenish losses caused by the trapping.

The new and the outgoing myna volunteers. Back, left to right Dyllis Pomponeau(outgoing), Maxine Little (new), Jeremy Waters (new), front, me, Krystel D'Offfay (outgoing), Christine Larose.
The new and the outgoing myna volunteers. Back, left to right Dyllis Pomponeau(outgoing), Maxine Little (new), Jeremy Waters (new), front, me, Krystel D’Offfay (outgoing), and Christine Larose.

Our two Seychelles University volunteers, Dyllis Pomponeau and Krystel D’Offay, appointed to fill the gap between the departure of Bethan and Sarah and the arrival of the longer term replacements, have proved to be very enthusiastic and dedicated students. They have mastered the art of trapping, data collection and database management and have caught a surprisingly large number of mynas during their stay on the island. Their enthusiasm boils over when they talk about their work! We thank them for their major contribution to the eradication programme and wish them well in their university course and future careers.

We shall spend a week on the island training Jeremy Waters (who has volunteered for the North Island conservation team previously and clearly enjoys life on this island) and Maxine Little, originally from Queensland, Australia but currently living in France, on her first visit to Seychelles. Neither of them have an invasive species control background but since their arrival they have shown clearly that they are eager learners. We hope they will enjoy life and work on a small tropical island and that they will continue the already good progress in eradicating mynas.

Having constructed new traps, volunteers old and new deploying one of them in the forest (Chris Feare)
Having constructed new traps, volunteers old and new deploying one of them in the forest (Chris Feare)

Through their contribution the volunteers will help to improve the fortunes of the Seychelles White-eye; One of Seychelles’ rarest and most endangered endemic birds, of which a 25 were introduced in 2007 To increase the number of islands on which they occur. The myna eradication could also pave the way for establishing North Island as a safe haven for more of Seychelles endangered endemic birds.

Christine and the new volunteers removing trapped birds and renewing food and water for the decoy (Chris Feare)
Christine and the new volunteers removing trapped birds and renewing food and water for the decoy (Chris Feare)
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