Working for birds in Africa

A birders guide to Mauritius and Reunion (with seabirds of the western Indian Ocean)

Sat, 12/29/2012 - 14:39 -- abc_admin
Dave Sargeant. Privately published. £6,00
page 104

This well-produced 14-page report is based on a ten-day cruise from Durban, South Africa, of which two days were spent ashore on Mauritius and one on Reunion. Many seabirds were seen, including such little-known species as Jouanin's and Reunion Black Petrels Bulweria fallax and Pterodroma aterrima, but it is for the endemic landbirds of the Mascarene Islands that this report will be most used. The report includes some background information, an itinerary, site guide, systematic list and checklist. It is very much a twitcher's guide, giving minimal (but adequate) details for the visitor to find nearly all the endemics on both islands; Sargeant found all but two. There are various minor inaccuracies, although most annoying is the statement that the Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra and Olive White-eye Zosterops chloronothos (not Z. olivacea) are 'likely to become extinct in the near future': it is not for the two-day visitor to make such judgements. Intending visitors should note that they should not enter the Black River Captive Breeding Centre on Mauritius without making prior arrangements. These factual errors could have been avoided, all the endemics of Mauritius seen, and the Captive Breeding Centre legitimately visited, had the author contacted the Mauritian Wildlife Appeal Fund (address: MWAF, Tamarin, Mauritius) first; MWAF are always happy to help visiting birders in return for a donation towards their conservation work. This is a useful and entertaining report. It is the only one of its kind for the area, and I recommend it, but contacting MWAF is an essential step for any birder visiting Mauritius. Unfortunately, for the threatened Cuckoo-shrike Coracina newtonias well as for visiting birders, there is no such active body on Reunion.

Roger Safford

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