After several days of preparation on Mahe, on 9 June Christine and I flew to Bird Island. We had heard that Sooty Terns had begun laying on 25 May. This is unusually early for the start of their nesting season, which does not normally begin until June. We are here to continue our studies of … More We return to Bird Island to find further erosion
The 22 July new moon generated high spring tides, which is normal. The return of strong south-east trade winds, however, generated roughening seas with heavy ocean swells. This combination led, during the evening of 24 July, to large waves crashing on to Bird Island’s western beach, sending massive … More Evening trauma but morning shows all is not lost
While Bird Island’s sands are highly mobile (see blog post of 23 June), within seasons some areas of beach can remain relatively unaffected by wind, tides and currents. Some plants have evolved to capitalise on this by producing fruits or seeds that survive well in seawater and are dispersed by it. These are the first … More Sand stabilising plants
In my blog of 11 June, I mentioned the erosion that had occurred on Bird Island’s north-west beach. Bird Island is a sand cay, a low-lying island formed by the deposition of sand of animal and plant debris derived from a coral reef. The calcareous deposits vary considerably in coarseness, ranging from shell and coral … More Ever shifting sands
On 9 June Christine and I disembarked from the Twin Otter that brought us on the short flight from Mahe to be welcomed by a very green Bird Island, betraying an unusually wet start to the “dry season”. Our ears and eyes were immediately filled with the sounds and sights of a multitude of Brown … More Sooty Terns return to Bird Island – and so do we
On 20 June Christine and I left Bird Island and returned to Mahe. The growing chicks in the Sooty Tern colony were becoming much more mobile and thus prone to move away from their nest sites at any disturbance, putting them at risk of attack from neighbouring adults when they try to return. By the … More Farewell to Bird Island, 2016
The south-east trade wind season, roughly from May to October, is not the best time to see glorious sunsets on Bird Island. Nevertheless, sitting on the western beach as the sun goes down, feeling the south-east breeze after a hot day in the sun, is a great way to pass the last hour of daylight … More Bird Island sunsets and starscapes
Taking the old road south from Antequera to Malaga takes you around the southern fringe of El Torcal, a Jurassic limestone massif that is an ancient sea floor that has been uplifted by tectonic activity to the extent that it now lies some 1200 metres above current sea level. The massif has been subjected to … More El Torcal: A sea floor more than 1000 metres above sea level!