January 2019 has brought very warm weather and plentiful rain to Mahé, the largest and most populated island of Seychelles. Towards the end of the month, low spring tides left vast areas of the foreshore inside the coral reefs free of water, allowing the sand, coral and seaweed to bake in the hot sun within … More Banquet for fish-eating birds
Part of our work on Bird Island involves walking slowly through the Sooty Tern colony looking for birds that we have ringed in the past, some as long ago as 1972. It is not an easy task. It involves long periods of intense concentration and patience while being subjected to attacks to our heads and … More Return of an old friend
When Andy Paterson and I arrived at Fuente de Piedra on Saturday 12 May 2018, we were astonished to find the car park full and over-spilling to the extent that it occupied both sides of the entrance road. In addition to the wealth of birds mentioned in my previous blog, the visitor centre and the … More World migratory bird day, 12 May 2018
After several years of drought in southern Spain, the 2017-2018 winter, especially later during the season, brought huge downpours of rainfall. On my arrival on 9 May the countryside had a distinctly green hue and cereal crops already sported ears of ripening seed, with a few fields already beginning to turn brown. Many wildflowers were … More Water returns to Andalusia’s lagoons
In the northern hemisphere, the autumn southward migration of birds is well underway as many species head for regions where food remains more plentiful than in their breeding areas. Birds from northern Europe and Asia head mainly for Africa and south-east Asia but some arrive, either deliberately or … More Bird Island beware – the onslaught is about to begin!
After a very long gestation period, my book “Orange omelettes and dusky wanderers” has now been published by Calusa Bay Publications, Seychelles. It describes my experiences in Seychelles from late 1971 to the present. Based around the biology of my beloved Sooty Terns, it also embraces other areas of conservation in Seychelles, illustrating the leading … More Orange omelettes and dusky wanderers
Mid-April saw me back in Andalucía for a week. Predictably my first venture into the countryside was to Fuente de Piedra, one of my favourite birding haunts. On 18 April a vicious but warmish wind howled in from the south, piling huge clouds upon the mountain tops to the south of Antequera. The mass of … More Spring fever in Andalucía
Sooty Terns are long-lived; many of the birds we ringed on Bird Island in 1972-3 lived for more than 30 years. Young birds take a long time to mature, the vast majority not returning to breed until they are 5-6 years old. About 91 percent of breeding adults survive from one year to the next … More Sooty Terns – the next generations?
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
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!