Seychelles Ornithology

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Bird Watching in Seychelles

The Seychelles is the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean. Many tropical species of birds are not afraid of man and can be approached from within a few feet (less than a meter). Colonies of over 200,000 sooty terns can be found nesting on some islands. For keen birders, these islands offer an opportunity to add several species to their lists. Two species found only in Seychelles are rare black Parrot (found only on Praslin) and the Seychelles black paradise flycatcher (found only on La Digue). Other rarities include magpie robins and the Seychelles fodie. On Aldabra is the only flightless bird in the Indian Ocean, the white-throated rail, and rare migrants from the Antarctic and Arctic fly in at various times of the year. Because of the islands isolation and the comparatively late arrival of humans, there are many species of birds unique to the Seychelles. Aride island has ten species of breeding seabirds and the world's largest colony of lesser noddies. Almost every island seems to have one rare species to its name. On Fregate and Aride are the magpie robins (known as pie chanteuse in Creole), on Cousin you will find the bush warbler, La Digue has the paradise flycatcher (or veuwe) and Praslin has the black parrot. The barelegged scop owl and the Seychelles kestrel live on Mahe, and Bird Island is home to millions of fairlky terns. In general there are plenty of herons, fodies, sunbirds, lovebirds , egrets, plovers, boobies, sooty terns and gulls.

Morne Seychellois National Park

This 11 square mile (30-kilometers) park covers much of northwest Mahe, with altitudes ranging from sea level to 2969 feet. Here there are many birds including the blue pigeon, Seychelles bulbul, Seychelles kestrel, Cave swiftlet, sunbird and Seychelles white-eye.

Cousin Island

This is a privately owned 175-acre (70-hectare) island situated between Praslin and Mahe Island. At certain times of the year, turtles come ashore during the day and night to lay their eggs. Over 200,000 noddy terns plus a host of other interesting seabirds such as tropic birds and shearwater roost and breed on the island. It is located 2 miles (3km) from Praslin and was bought by the International Council for Preservation with assistance from the World Wildlife Fund to establish a bird sanctuary, primarily to protect endangered species, including the Seychelles fody and Seychelles brush warbler. In April and May, thousands of seabirds can be seen nesting on the Island. The island can be visited on Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays with groups limited to 20 person.

Undaunted by humans, birds create a constant flurry while gathering twigs, leaves and anything else that looks suitable for nesting materials. Here there are thousands of skink and gecko, and plenty of guano. The rarest birds are the brush warbler and magpie robin. The most common birds are the black noddies. You may also have an opportunity to see the paille en queue which graces the emblems of Reunion and Mauritius.

Fregate Island

This privately owned granite island 56km east of Mahe and about 20 km south of La Digue, was once reputed to be a pirate lair but today it's a stronghold for birds. Where La Digue has the only black paradise flycatchers, Praslin the only black parrot and Cousin the only brush warblers, Fregate has the rare magpie robin. It is also the last home of species of tenebrionids beetle.

Bird Island

In contrast to the central Granite Island of Seychelles this is a coral island - flat, covered in palms and ringed by white coral beach. As the name implies birds dominate the entire island. There are spectacular seabird colonies here with millions of sooty terns coming to nest every year, but it takes a while to become accustomed to the sight, smells and noises of so many birds.

The privately owned island 96km north of Mahe is 1km long and 2km wide. Apart from being an obvious magnet for ornithologists, Bird Island is also good for snorkelling, swimming, diving, windsurfing, deep sea fishing and simply lazing around.

Reference Books

  • Birds of Seychelles and the Outlying Islands
  • Birds of Republic of Seychelles.
  • Adrian Skerrett and Ian Bullock's A Birdwatchers' Guide to Seychelles
Last Updated on Thursday 26th November 2009