Welcome to Birdquest
Sunday 5th October - Thursday 16th October 2014
Mark Van Beirs
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 Heron, Red Rail, Reunion Flightless Ibis, Reunion Owl or Hoopoe starling. 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 try to save these. On this tour we saw no fewer than 19 species which BirdLife International considers as being in serious trouble. On our enjoyable circuit of these friendly, welcoming countries we recorded all of the known surviving endemics. Highlights included Seychelles Kestrel, Seychelles Scops Owl, Crab-plover, Seychelles Black Parrot, Seychelles Magpie-Robin, Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher and Seychelles White-eye in the scenic granitic Seychelles, Rodrigues Warbler and Rodrigues Fody on Rodrigues, Mauritius Kestrel, Echo Parakeet, Pink Pigeon and Mauritius Cuckooshrike on Mauritius and Barau’s Petrel, Mascarene Petre,l Red-tailed Tropicbird, Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher and Reunion Stonechat on Réunion,. We also visited magnificent seabird colonies brimming with Wedge-tailed and Tropical Shearwaters, Lesser and Brown Noddies, incredibly elegant White Terns, Sooty and Bridled Terns, White-tailed Tropicbirds and evil-looking Great Frigatebirds. A good selection of reptiles added to the fun, but only a few mammals were seen.