Paradise, am afraid, is slightly wet. The south east monsoon season is here and it’s been accompanied by some rain. I have been surprised to wake up to a cloudy morning and cooler temperatures. I even spotted one or two souls walking around in sweaters! The hills on Mahe look stunning in the early morning mist, and can stay that way throughout the day.
This is also the breeding season – starts May to October – for many seabirds and is therefore the best time to see them. The Sooty Tern or golet in Creol is the best known as their colonies number in the millions. The Sooty Tern colony on Bird Island for example where Nature Seychelles has helped the owners previously is spectacular and attracts many local and foreign tourists.
Saying hello to an old friend on Bird Island
However, many species such as the Fairy Tern and White tailed Tropic Bird remain outside the breeding season. On Cousin Island for instance its so easy to spot stunning Tropic Birds with their chicks nesting on the ground at the base of trees all year round that people are astonished by the tameness of the birds. Young tropic birds are cute and fluffy like this one below and as Cousin is predator free, and the birds are not used to harassment, it’s quite easy to approach them and take pictures.
This White tailed Tropic Bird chick is not camera shy
Seychelles small islands are nesting grounds for about 12 species of seabirds. During the breeding season species like the Lesser Noddy and Sooty Tern form large breeding colonies, with many thousands of birds all breeding at the same time in the same location. Before people settled on the islands of Seychelles, nesting sea birds were found on all of the islands. Killing by humans, nest disturbance and the introduction of predators like rats and cats have have now limited breeding. Some species like the Wedge tailed Shearwater or fouke in Creole, only breed on predator free islands such as Cousin and Aride.
Sooty tern eggs are prized in Seychellois cuisine but in the past over exploitation has ruined many colonies. Now the harvest is controlled although poaching still occurs. This year, 2009, the government decided not to harvest any eggs.
The monsoon also brings with it rough seas. Traveling by boat can be uncomfortable, terrifying or exhilarating depending on who you are. On Cousin, the landing site has been moved to a more suitable area on the North. Because of poor visibility and bad sea conditions activities on reef monitoring have been scaled down.
Read about the different species of Seabirds on our website here and the work of the Seychelles Seabird Group coordinated by Nature Seychelles here.