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Wed, 02/06/2013 - 09:23 -- abc_admin

A field trip to Ascension on 7–20 February 2008 coincided with the Common Myna Acridotheres tristis breeding season. Since their introduction in 1879 mynas have adapted to the barren island and to shortages of invertebrates and fruit, and the lack of nest holes in trees and buildings. In addition to scavenging deserted eggs, they predated many hundreds of eggs of Sooty Terns Sterna fuscata. At the rubbish dump mynas were nesting communally and more than 20 nests, two containing chicks close to fledging, were discovered at the end of c.70 cm- long tunnels excavated (presumably by the mynas themselves) c.20 cm below a shallow lava crust. The ability to adapt to harsh conditions makes this aggressive species a serious threat to the island’s native avifauna.

In 2007, Masked Boobies Sula dactylatra successfully re-colonised the main island; this was facilitated by the recent successful feral cat eradication programme. On 3 May, 186 pairs were incubating eggs on ‘Letterbox’ peninsula, on the remote eastern side. On 22 May, a second expedition from the Army Ornithological Society found 151 apparently occupied nests. Twelve pairs had successfully hatched a chick, one nest contained a predated egg and in another nest the egg was missing (both predated by rats). An Ascension Frigatebird Fregata aquila was found dead at Waterside on 21 May, entangled in nylon fishing line and a fish hook through the lower mandible. A European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur was seen at Travellers on 17 May; this is a new vagrant to the island.

Ascension Island is so far off the main migration routes that vagrants are very scarce. The island is, however, very much under-watched and much is undoubtedly missed. A full list of vagrants up to 2002 is given below and see also (Bourne & Simmons 1998).

Herald Petrel

Pterodroma arminjoniana

Bulwer’s Petrel

Bulweria bulwerii

Cory’s Shearwater

Calonectris diomedea

Great Shearwater

Puffinus gravis

Sooty Shearwater

Puffinus griseus

Audubon’s Shearwater

Puffinus lherminieri

Wilson’s Storm-petrel

Oceanites oceanicus

Black-bellied Storm-petrel

Fregetta tropica

White-bellied Storm-petrel

Fregatta grallaria

Leach’s Storm-petrel

Oceanodroma leucorhoa

Squacco Heron

Ardeola ralloides

Cattle Egret

Bubulcus ibis

Purple Heron

Ardea purpurea

European White Stork

Ciconia ciconia

Allen’s Gallinule

Porphyrio alleni

American Purple Gallinule

Porphyrio martinica

Common Moorhen

Gallinula chloropus

Eurasian Oystercatcher

Haematopus ostralegus

Common Ringed Plover

Charadrius hiaticula

Greater Sand Plover

Charadrius leschenaultii

American Golden Plover

Pluvialis dominica

Grey Plover

Pluvialis squatarola

Sanderling

Calidris alba

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Calidris pusilla

Little Stint

Calidris minuta

Bar-tailed Godwit

Limosa lapponica

Upland Sandpiper

Bartramia longicauda

Whimbrel

Numenius phaeopus

Common Redshank

Tringa totanus

Common Greenshank

Tringa nebularia

Wood Sandpiper

Tringa glareola

Common Sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos

Ruddy Turnstone

Arenaria interpres

Long-tailed Skua

Stercorarius longicaudus

Kelp Gull

Larus dominicanus

Arctic Tern

Sterna paradisaea

Common Cuckoo

Cuculus canorus

European Nightjar

Caprimulgus europaeus

Common Swift

Apus apus

European Roller

Coracius garrulus

Common Sand Martin

Riparia riparia

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Common House Martin

Delichon urbicum

Red-backed Shrike

Lanius collurio

Common Starling

Sturnus vulgaris

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus (arrived on ship)

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