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Seychelles Islands - BirdForum Opus

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Overview

Although the bird list for the Seychelles is not long these beautiful islands are home to a number of endemic species and subspecies, many of which are now extremely rare.

In addition there are breeding seabirds of interest and migrant Palearctic waders to be seen.

Birds

Notable Species

Mahe

Mahe is the largest of the islands, at 150km2 and has most of the accommodation. It also supports seven Seychelles endemics including Seychelles Scops Owl and Seychelles White-eye which occur only on Mahe.

The Scops Owl is best looked for in the Salazie Tea Plantation and La Misere areas in the centre of the island and normally calls most between 18.30 and 19.30 in the evenings.

The Fairview Estate and Tracking Station Road during the early morning offer the best chance of the White-eye. The remaining endemics: the Seychelles Kestrel, Seychelles Blue Pigeon, Seychelles Swiftlet, Seychelles Bulbul and Seychelles Sunbird, occur on other islands as well as Mahe.

Other birds of interest include Wedge-tailed Shearwater and White-tailed Tropicbird, Chinese Little Bittern and Green-backed Heron, waders including Crab Plover and Red-necked Stint, terns such as Saunders' Tern and Crested Terns, Malagasy Turtle Dove and Madagascar Fody.

Praslin

The island of Praslin, 40km north-east of Mahe, has the Valle de Mai National Park, unique for its Coco-de-Mer forest.

The main birding interest of the island lies in the Black Parrot, which can be seen in the Coco-de-Mer forest, the only site in the Seychelles for this species which also occurs on Madagascar and the Comoros. Other species on Praslin include the Seychelles Blue-Pigeon, Seychelles Swiftlet, Bulbul and Sunbird. The Seychelles Paradise-Flycatcher is also rumoured to still exist here.

The island has plenty of accommodation and is small enough to make birding easy. There is a coastal road around the island and a network of paths in the interior. Praslin can be reached from Mahe by air in 15 minutes or by sea in 2-3 hours. Black Parrot have recently colonised the nearby island of Curieuse.

La Digue

La Digue is best-known for Seychelles Paradise-Flycatcher which probably now occurs nowhere else. Seychelles Swiftlet and Seychelles Sunbird also occur as well as Chinese Little Bittern, Crab Plover and Common Waxbill. Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Bridled Tern, Lesser Noddy and Brown Noddy and Fairy Tern breed on the tiny island of Zave between La Digue and Curieuse.

Basic accommodation is available on La Digue and it can be reached by boat from Baie Ste. Anne on Praslin.

Aride

Aride is famous for seabirds with Wedge-tailed Shearwater and Tropical Shearwater, Great Frigatebird and Lesser Frigatebird, White-tailed Tropicbird and Red-tailed Tropicbird, Roseate Tern, Bridled Tern and Sooty Tern, Lesser Noddy and Brown Noddy and Fairy Tern. Seychelles Magpie-Robin and Seychelles Warbler have been introduced.

The island receives visitors only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays and can be reached by boat from Praslin.

Cousin

Cousin also holds seabirds in good numbers but is famous as the last home of the Seychelles Warbler (before its reintroduction to Aride and Cousine) as well as Seychelles Fody. The red-headed race of Malagasy Turtle Dove also occurs here.

This tiny island can be reached by boat from Mahe and Praslin on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Frigate

Frigate is a small private island and, apart from the introduction to Aride, the only remaining home to the Seychelles Magpie-Robin which is still indecline but can be seen behind the plantation house. Seychelles Fody and Seychelles Blue-Pigeon also occur and this is the best island in the group for vagrants.

The island can be reached by air from Mahe.

Bird Island

The remote Bird Island can also be reached from Mahe by plane and has colonies of very tame seabirds including Brown Noddy, Fairy Tern and hundreds of thousands of Sooty Tern.

Check-list

Birds you can see here include:

Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Tropical Shearwater, Red-tailed Tropicbird, White-tailed Tropicbird, Red-footed Booby, Masked Booby, Brown Booby, Great Frigatebird, Lesser Frigatebird, Chinese Little Bittern, Green-backed Heron, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Northern Hobby, migrant), Eleonora's Falcon, (migrant), Common Moorhen, Crab Plover, (migrant), Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Tibetan Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Caspian Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, migrant), Grey Plover, Sanderling, (migrant), Red-necked Stint, (migrant), Little Stint, (migrant), Temminck's Stint, (migrant), Long-toed Stint, (migrant), Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, (migrant), Common Snipe, (migrant), Bar-tailed Godwit, (migrant), Whimbrel, European Curlew, Marsh Sandpiper, (migrant), Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, (migrant), Wood Sandpiper, (migrant), Terek Sandpiper, (migrant), Common Sandpiper, (migrant), Ruddy Turnstone, Antarctic Skua, Black-headed Gull, (migrant), Brown-headed Gull, (migrant), Lesser Black-backed Gull, (migrant), Gull-billed Tern, (migrant), Greater Crested Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, migrant), Black-naped Tern, Roseate Tern, Common Tern, Bridled Tern, Sooty Tern, Saunders' Tern, White-winged Tern, Lesser Noddy, Brown Noddy, Fairy Tern, Feral Pigeon, Malagasy Turtle Dove, Barred Ground-Dove, Seychelles Blue-Pigeon, Black Parrot, Common Cuckoo, Little Cuckoo, (migrant), Barn Owl, Seychelles Scops Owl, Seychelles Swiftlet, Common Swift, (migrant), African Broad-billed Roller, (migrant), Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, (migrant), White Wagtail, (migrant), Seychelles Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Common Redstart, (migrant), Seychelles Magpie-Robin, Seychelles Warbler, Seychelles Paradise-Flycatcher, Seychelles Sunbird, Seychelles Grey White-eye, Madagascar Fody, Seychelles Fody, Common Waxbill, Eurasian Golden Oriole, (migrant), Common Mynah, House Crow

Other Wildlife

Mammals are very few in the Seychelles and apart from introduced Rat and Hare land mammals consist only of Common Tenrec and a few species of bat.

Cetaceans are frequently seen, however, and Dugong also occurs.

Reptiles and amphibians are much more numerous and varied with Seychelles House Snake and Seychelles Wolf Snake, Tiger Chameleon and various geckos, frogs and caecilians. Aldabra Giant Tortoise can be seen on some of the islands and sea-turtles breed on some of the beaches.

Site Information

The islands are very expensive to visit independently and most visitors come to the Seychelles on package deals.

As the endemic species are generally resident timing is not of great importance but a trip in April-May is best for breeding seabirds and October-December is the best time for waders.

Access and Facilities

Despite being so expensive the Seychelles are a very popular tourist destination and the endemics and rare species make the group of immense interest to birders.

Travel within the islands is easy and the sought-after birds are all easy to see.

External Links

Seychelles Official Website

Content and images originally posted by Steve

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