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Republic of Seychelles

Seychelles Magpie Robin Copsychus sechellarum ©Adrian Skerrett Website

Birding Seychelles

The islands of Seychelles lie between approximately 4ºS and 10ºS and 46ºE and 54ºE in the western Indian Ocean. A small landmass and geographic isolation limits the number of species compared to continental areas but size isn’t everything. For a start, the main islands (in terms of population and accessibility) are both the world’s only granitic ocean islands and the world’s oldest ocean islands. Antiquity means a high level of endemism while oceanic isolation means huge seabird colonies. Added to this, there is a remarkably high number of migrant species making up almost three-quarters of the species on the Seychelles list.

Most birders will only visit the inner islands of the Seychelles Bank (the granite islands including Mahe, Praslin and La Digue plus the coral cays of and Bird Island and Denis). The outer islands require more time and money with accommodation available only on Desroches and Alphonse in the Amirantes and access elsewhere only possible by joining a cruise.

There are 12 endemics in the granitic islands, seven of which can be seen on Mahé (including Seychelles White-eye and the only opportunity to see Seychelles Scops Owl). The other five can be seen by staying on Praslin (home to Seychelles Black Parrot) and arranging trips to La Digue for Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher and either Cousin or Aride (or both) to see Seychelles Magpie Robin, Seychelles Warbler and Seychelles Fody.

Trips to Cousin are very easy to arrange. They are well organized if somewhat regimented due to numbers and of fairly short duration (about 2 hours). Nevertheless all five endemics on the island are pretty well guaranteed (including Seychelles Magpie Robin, Seychelles Warbler and Seychelles Fody). Aride has the same five endemics but requires a full day trip and is often closed due to high seas in May-September. At other times it offers more time and space and more birds than Cousin; attractions include the world’s largest colonies of Lesser Noddy and Tropical Shearwater, the only breeding Red-tailed Tropicbirds east of Aldabra plus thousands of frigatebirds (mainly Greater but some Lesser). An alternative possibility is an excursion to Cousine which has the same endemics as Aride and Cousin plus Seychelles White-eye. This is sometimes possible by special arrangement, but this will only be granted when the private villas on the island are unoccupied. When available it is a superb opportunity to see birds away from the crowds of non-birders and still enjoy a cold beer at the island’s bar.

A visit to Bird Island (two nights stay) is a must for the serious birder. It is named after the enormous Sooty Tern colony present April-September but October-December is the most exciting time to see rarities, when almost any Eurasian migrant could turn up, due to the location of the island on the northern perimeter of the Seychelles Bank.

A trip to the outer islands requires joining a cruiseship or one of a few live-aboard schooners based at Mahé. However, opportunities have become more limited since the rise of Somali piracy and currently require special permission and security arrangements. Most of the outer islands are very young, only a few thousand years, so have few land birds and no endemics except in the Aldabra group, which is more ancient. Nine of the twenty IBAS of Seychelles are in the outer islands mainly due to huge seabird colonies. The World Heritage Site of Aldabra accounts for around one-third of the landmass of Seychelles, but is uninhabited except for the warden and staff of the research station. Avian attractions include 11 seabird species and nine endemic species or subspecies, including the last flightless bird of the Indian Ocean (Aldabra Rail).

When to go

Land birds are of course present year round but some are at their best during the breeding season, mainly October –March. Some seabird species are present year-round but others breed either during the southeast monsoon (May-September) or the northwest monsoon (October-April), mainly the former. October-December is the best time to see migrants, some lingering on to April (especially waders including Crab Plover). If this is a birding trip of a lifetime the best time is mid-October to end-November combining the end of the southeast seabird season with the beginning of the northwest and the height of the migration season together with calm seas and settled weather.

Contributor

Adrian Skerrett

Co-author Birds of Seychelles

pangaea@sky.com

http://www.seychellesbirdrecordscommittee.com

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 225

National Bird: Seychelles Black Parrot Coracopsis nigra

Endemics

Number of endemics: 14

Seychelles Parakeet Psittacula wardi Seychelles Swiftlet Aerodramus elaphrus Seychelles Owl Otus insularis Seychelles Blue-Pigeon Alectroenas pulcherrima Seychelles Kestrel Falco araea Aldabra Drongo Dicrurus aldabranus Seychelles Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina Seychelles Magpie-Robin Copsychus sechellarum Seychelles Bulbul Hypsipetes crassirostris Seychelles Grey White-eye Zosterops modestus Aldabra Brush-Warbler Nesillas aldabrana Seychelles Brush-Warbler Acrocephalus sechellensis Seychelles Sunbird Nectarinia dussumieri Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum

Useful Reading

Birds of the Seychelles

Adrian Skerrett & Tony Disley - 176 pages, 65 col plates, b/w illus, maps. Christopher Helm 2011
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 1408151510

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Bird Sounds of Madagascar, Mayotte, Comoros, Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues

P Huget and C Chappuis Series: AFRICAN BIRD SOUNDS SERIES 116 pages, 4 CD's. Societ? d'Etudes Ornithologiques de France 2003

ISBN: 145891

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands

Ian Sinclair, et al. Softcover. Struik, 2003
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 1868729567

Buy this book from NHBS.com

DVD - Birding Seychelles - Fairy Terns in the Frangipani Tree

Buy direct from the filmmaker:
http://www.wildlifevideos.net/birding_sychelles.html

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Rainbow Tours

Tour Operator

…The Seychelles have 11 endemic birds, 7 of which can be found on Mahé. However, although many are vagrants, more than 220 species have been recorded for the Seychelles. Our 10-day private tour visits the islands of Mahé, La Digue, Aride, Cousin and Bird…

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Birdwatching in the Seychelles

Report

A welcome - and a caution! This is not a comprehensive account of Birdwatching in the Seychelles. It is a personal account of a 2 week vacation in the Seychelles in 1998 by two ordinary mature (middle-aged) English birdwatchers! If you are thinking of visiting the Islands and hope to do some birding, you may find it of some help. But don`t expect to find everything you need here!

2008 [07 July] - Chris Hall

Report

After welcome drinks, unpacking and a lazy afternoon around the Villa gardens, our list has notched up four of the world’s rarest endemics in one afternoon! Namely, Seychelles Swiftlets, darting silently back and forth below tree height, lively Seychelles Sunbirds, flitting between the flowering shrubs, black-crested Seychelles Bulbuls, with deep orange beaks and legs to match, and stunning red, white and blue Seychelles Blue Pigeons…

2007 [10 October] - Mark Finn

Report

…The birds of Mauritius were also very good especially a pair of Mauritius Olive White-eyes preening themselves on a branch. An excursion to the geographically isolated Rodrigues Island was an enjoyable experience with its laid back feel and relaxed atmosphere a million miles away from the hussle and bustle of Mauritius…

2013 [09 September] - Tadeusz Kawecki

Report

Annotated list…

2012 [10 October] - Oscar Campbell

Report PDF

…Seychelles Kestrel, whilst not really common, is still much more likely on Mahe than anywhere else and can be found on your own with a bit of legwork. Happily, everything else is much easier. The second essential island is Praslin. Valle de Mai in the centre of the island is a pre-requisite for Seychelles Black Parrot and phenomenal, ancient Gondwanaland forest. Further, from Praslin, you can easily do day trips to the smaller islands of Cousin and / or Aride (preferably both) where Seychelles Fody, Seychelles Warbler and the Magpie-Robin are all slam dunks, and you will be greeted by a seabird extravaganza of (nearly) South Georgian proportions, albeit at a rather more benign temperature…

2011 [10 October] - Mark Van heirs - Seychelles, Mauritius & Reunion

Report PDF

…Everyone knows the Dodo and maybe the Rodrigues Solitaire, but who has ever heard about Broad-billed Parrot, Mauritian Shelduck, Red Rail, Réunion Flightless Ibis or Réunion Owl? Even today, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues are home to an astounding number of endangered birds and luckily major conservation efforts are in place to save these….

2014 [10 October] - Mark Van Beirs - Seychelles, Mauritius, Réunion & Rodrigues

PDF Report

The islands of the Seychelles, Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues in the western Indian Ocean are true paradise islands for western tourists and offer exotic holidays on palm-fringed beaches lapping turquoise seas. They are however also one of the world’s main centres for bird extinctions as at least 30 species of birds (and a whole range of reptiles) have gone extinct there since man first visited these wonderful islands just 350 years ago. Everyone knows about the Dodo and maybe the Rodrigues Solitaire, but who has ever heard of Reunion Kestrel, Reunion Swamphen, Broad-billed Parrot, Mauritian Shelduck, Mauritus Night...

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

SeyVillas

http://en.seyvillas.com

Your holidays should be a unique experience.
We advise you and together we will create an individual dreamlike holiday package. The Seychelles are one of the most attractive destinations worldwide, set in the beautiful Indian Ocean. We are looking forward to introducing you a very special offer. We have visited all of our accommodations personally to ensure high quality and to come up to your expectations…

South Point Villas - Cerf Island

Accommodation

We have three beautiful, fully equipped villas here on Cerf Island that we've designed around you. Whether you are looking for a romantic honeymoon in the Seychelles, a family holiday or a truly luxurious break, we have something for you…

Organisations

BirdLife Seychelles - Nature Seychelles

Website

BirdLife International is represented in the Seychelles by Nature Seychelles…

Nature Protection Trust

Website

The Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles works to preserve the species and environments of the Seychelles islands through practical conservation, research and publication. The establishment and management of the Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuary was the first project undertaken by the NPTS but it is now managed by Nature Seychelles…

Seychelles Bird Records Committee

Website

News of all birds recorded in Seychelles… Seychelles Bird Records Committee (SBRC) was formed in 1992 to collect and assess sightings of all birds recorded in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Seychelles. As at 1st April 2012, 258 species have been accepted to the Seychelles list maintained by SBRC. More information is needed and this is a subject to which anyone with an interest in birds can contribute by sending a record form to SBRC with details of any rare visitors to Seychelles…

Seychelles Islands Foundation

Website

Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) manages and protects the World Heritage Sites of Aldabra and Vallée de Mai. The foundation was established as a public trust in 1979, with the President of Seychelles as patron. The Board of trustees, appointed by the President, has 14 members, including not less than five representing organizations concerned with the conservation of wildlife and natural history or national academics of science.

Marine Conservation Society Seychelles

Website

The MCSS~SRIS promote the conservation of the marine environment through education, research and through the GEF Marine programme. Current projects include Whale Shark, Turtle and Coral Reef monitoring and an environmentally protective mooring programme.

African Bird Club

Website

Seychelles is world-renowned for its idyllic tropical beaches and, among birders, for its endemics and its seabird colonies. Seychelles comprises over 115 islands scattered across 1,374,000 km2 of the western Indian Ocean. Once sandwiched between Africa and India as part of Gondwanaland, Seychelles split off from Africa some 127 million years ago and from India about 65 million years ago. The 40 central islands are granitic ­ not only are they the only granitic oceanic islands in the world; at 750 million years old, they are also the oldest islands in the world…

Nature Seychelles

Website

The primary objective of Nature Seychelles according to its statutes is to improve the conservation of biodiversity through scientific, management, educational and training programmes…

Seychelles Seabird Group

Website

A volunteer from Germany has been helping out with counts of birds on Cousin and Cousine. Harald Legge spent the months of May and June engaged in the project, which has provided vital data for Seychelles Seabird Group. His work programme took him to Cousin island to carry out counts of Lesser Noddy, Fairy Tern, White-tailed Tropicbird and Brown Noddy…

Island Conservation Society

Website

Seychelles lies in the western Indian Ocean between approximately 4ºS and 10ºS and 46ºE and 54ºE. The number of islands listed in the Constitution is 155, the majority of which are small and uninhabited. The landmass is only 457 sq km, but the islands are spread over an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1,374,000 sq km. About 90 percent of the population of 82,000 live on Mahé, 9 percent on Praslin and La Digue. Around a third of the land area is the island of Mahé and a further third the atoll of Aldabra…

Reserves

Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve

Website

Satellite View

The most noteworthy bird is the endemic subspecies of black parrot Coracopsis nigra barklyi (E); restricted to Praslin Island and totally dependent on the Vallée de Mai and the surrounding palm forest. A census in 1994 recorded 108 birds. Other birds include: the endemic Seychelles Bulbul Hypsipetes crassirostris, Blue Pigeon Alectroenas pulcherrima, Seychelles Sunbird Nectarinia dussamieri, Seychelles Kestrel Falco araea and an endemic Cave-nesting Swiftlet Collocalia francica elaphra. Exotic birds include Indian Mynah Acridotheres tristis and Barn Owl Tyto alba affinis

Aride Island Nature Reserve

Website

Satellite View

Aride is the northernmost island of the granitic Seychelles, it is roughly 68 hectares in area (approximately 0.67 km 2), and 1.6 km long and 0.6 km wide and alongside Aldabra, Aride has one of the most important seabird populations in the Indian Ocean. Eighteen species of native birds (including five only found in Seychelles) breed on Aride, this is far more than on any other granitic island. The island is leased and managed as a nature reserve by the Island Conservation Society of Seychelles but is presently owned by the UK Registered Charity Island Conservation Society UK The only human inhabitants are the reserve's staff, currently four Seychellois rangers and two Island Wardens. They live in small plantation houses close to the beautiful coral sand beach overhung by palms on the south side of the island…

Cousin Island Special Reserve

Website

Satellite View

Cousin Island is a granitic island covering 27 hectares and lies approximately 2km from Praslin island. It became the world’s first internationally owned-reserve when it was purchased in 1968 by the International Council for the Protection of Birds (ICBP), now Birdlife International. The objective was to save the last remaining population of the Seychelles warblers…

IBAs

Website

Seychelles is of great ornithological interest. It has 30 currently recognised endemic forms of landbirds and waterbirds, including 12 terrestrial species, which show biogeographic influences from Africa, Asia and Madagascar. Eleven species of global conservation concern occur which include 9 of the endemic landbirds while one other is an endemic warbler from Aldabra, Aldabra Warbler Nesillas aldabrana, which has not been seen since 1983 and is now considered extinct…

Veuve Reserve, La Digue

Satellite View

Veuve Reserve, La Digue was established by Christopher Cadbury to protect territory of the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher, endemic to La Digue. It is now owned and managed by Seychelles Government. …

Other Links

Birds of Aldabra

Website

Due to its remote location, lack of freshwater, dense scrub, difficult terrain and no small degree of good fortune, Aldabra's ecosystem has survived relatively intact…