Tag Archives: RSPB

What is the point of long-term monitoring in conservation?

Endemic, Enchanting, Endangered

Endemic, Enchanting, Endangered

In a recently published scientific study in the Journal of African Ornithology, the authors of the report, conservation scientists April Burt and Julie Gane collaborated in an analysis of the long-term monitoring of the Seychelles Magpie Robin (SMR) using data collected in the last eighteen years. Read More »

An Experience of a Lifetime…

YvonneYvonne Boles (pictured here), volunteered on Cousin Island from 1st – 31st March 2010. She was on sabbatical from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the BirdLife International Partner in the UK. In this post she tells us about her experience on Cousin.

My one month being a volunteer on Cousin Island Special Reserve began one very early, snowy morning in Scotland at the end of February. After nearly 24 hours leaving Glasgow, I arrived in Mahe, via London and Doha. Having left temperatures around zero degrees Celsius, to walk out into 80 percent humidity and temperatures staggering around in the 30’s degrees was going to take some getting used to! However, more importantly I somehow had to survive until my bag arrived the next day from London! Thankfully with the help of another volunteer from Germany, whom I was sharing a dormitory with at the Nature Seychelles Office on Mahe, I did.

It wasn’t until sunset the following day that I finally arrived at my destination and home for the next month; Cousin Island Special Reserve. The opportunity to volunteer on Cousin arose because I got a sabbatical from my job back in Scotland. There I work as a Conservation Officer for the RSPB, the BirdLife International Partner in the UK. Now a month later it seems so long ago since that first mesmerizing boat trip and arriving on the beach at high speed, and yet the time has indeed flown! I take that as a sign of how welcoming the team on the island has been and how much I have enjoyed every minute of it!

The famous high speed boat landing on Cousin

The famous high speed boat landing on Cousin

One of my first tasks was to help with the island boat that brings visitors onto and off the island. I also went along on the tours of the island with the wardens and learnt about the plants and animals and after two weeks I was leading tours myself. In the afternoons when there are no visitors there is the monitoring of the endemic species and maintenance tasks to be getting on with.

Probably, most memorable was helping with the ringing of a Seychelles Magpie robin chick. I even got to choose the colour rings that will identify it from now onwards. Prior to coming to Cousin I had heard so much about this very charismatic black and white bird. Therefore, to actually get to monitor and learn about them on a weekly basis has been one of the highlights of this experience. Since my arrival two chicks have fledged; at present one has just hatched and a new egg has recently been laid. Once almost on the brink of extinction and now being found on five islands in the Seychelles; this certainly must be one of the most successful conservation efforts for any species in the world.

The endemic Seychelles Magpie robin

The endemic Seychelles Magpie robin

So what have I learnt from my time on Cousin? How to live the ‘island lifestyle’ with a great bunch of very dedicated local staff, a new wealth of knowledge about some of the plants and animals found in the Seychelles and how to survive with a dozen of mosquito bites!