Welcome to Birdquest
Monday 17th October - Friday 28th October 2011
Mark Van Beirs
These islands in the Indian Ocean are thought off as being paradise islands, perfect for exotic holidays on palm-fringed beaches. However, before the lavish hotels sprang up, they were home to at least 30 species of birds and lots of reptiles that have gone extinct since man first visited these magnificent places, just 350 years ago. 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. On our fairly relaxed tour of these idyllic dots in the Indian Ocean we recorded most of the known surviving endemics. Highlights included Seychelles Magpie-Robin, Seychelles Paradise-Flycatcher and Seychelles Kestrel in the scenic granitic Seychelles, Rodrigues Warbler and Rodrigues Fody on Rodrigues, Echo Parakeet, Pink Pigeon and Mauritius Cuckoo-Shrike on Mauritius and Barau’s Petrel, Réunion Harrier and Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher on Réunion,. We also visited magnificent seabird colonies brimming with Lesser Noddies, Common White Terns and Sooty Terns. On our enjoyable circuit of these friendly, welcoming countries we recorded 74 species of birds, of which no fewer than 21 are mentioned by BirdLife International as being in trouble!