When first discovered Bird Island probably had few land birds and R W Coppinger, who visited in 1882, stated categorically that there were none. By 1907 John Fryer, as part of the Percy Sladen Trust expedition to the Indian Ocean, found that Madagascar Fodies and Barred Ground Doves had arrived on Bird Island, and Desmond … More Bird Island’s land birds – natural or out of place?
When Bird Island was first discovered by Europeans in the 1770s, it was described as being covered by “innumerable” birds and later visitors reaffirmed this, also mentioning scant vegetation. The discoverers did not name the birds they found but Sooty Terns were likely to have been the most numerous species. Other species, mainly ground nesting … More Bird Island is not just for Sooty Terns!
The Sooty Tern breeding season is progressing well. Laying began exceptionally early this year, with the first eggs being recorded around 10 May. This proved to be a false alarm, however, as the birds departed, only to return later when laying recommenced around 25 May – still early by normal standards but closer to the … More Bird Island’s Sooty Terns 2019
Between May and September Bird Island, Seychelles, hosts the world’s largest Sooty Tern colony that is readily accessible to tourists (there are a few larger breeding colonies of Sooty Terns in the Indian and Pacific Oceans but they are on islands that are not open to tourists). The approximate half a million pairs that breed … More New visitor facilities on Bird Island
Bird Island is renowned for the opportunities it often provides from September to February to see a wide variety of birds that have migrated south to avoid the northern winter. I first became aware of this in 1972-3. As the Sooty Terns were leaving the island with their fledged young, a variety of unexpected birds … More Visitors from the north
On 27 May we boarded a Twin Otter at Seychelles International Airport’s domestic terminal for the scheduled flight to Bird Island. There was little wind – the south-east trade winds have not yet really set in – and the blue sky had a few light clouds drifting slowly across. In his pre-amble the captain said … More A stormy welcome to Bird Island
July and August are months when the south-east trade winds normally reach their maximum in Seychelles, leading to large ocean swells that send waves crashing on to exposed beaches. These have the potential to cause erosion of sandy beaches, especially during spring tides that accompany new and full moons. In addition to shifts of vast … More A Bird Island spring tide “flood”
Towards the end of this year’s stay on Bird Island I was able to photograph a Sooty Tern in the colony with unusual (compared with the vast majority of birds in the colony) plumage. Instead of having a clear-cut line between the white forehead and black cap on the head, this bird had a gradation … More A young Sooty Tern makes an early return?
During our second period on Bird Island this year we have been helping our French friend and colleague, Dr Camille Lebarbenchon. Camille is a disease ecologist, specialising in viral pathogens found in seabirds of tropical islands. He is based at the University of Reunion. We first met at an Avian Influenza Symposium in Athens, Georgia, … More Noddies under investigation
As the Sooty Terns nesting season began early this year, hatching of the eggs also began earlier than usual. By the time we left after our first visit to Bird Island this year, on 26 June, hatching of the earliest-laid eggs had just begun. We returned to the island on 5 July to find that … More Bird Island’s 2018 Sooty Tern big hatch is under way