Working for birds in Africa

Mauritius and Rodrigues

News

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Rodrigues_Sooty_Tern

Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata, Ile aux Cocos, Rodrigues

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville
Rodrigues_Brown_Noddy

Brown Noddy Anous stolidus, Ile aux Cocos, Rodrigues

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville

The following largely unconfirmed records have appeared in recent Bulletins of the African Bird Club and are for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

An adult non-breeding Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii was photographed on mudflats between Port Sud Est and Parc Tortue on 27 May 2010. The only previously reported observations are of one at Port Sud Est on 25 April and two at Baix aux Huitres on 27 April 1999.

___________

During a cruise from Durban, South Africa, to Mauritius and back, from 29 December 2007 to 7 January 2008, the following were recorded in the seas of Réunion and Mauritius: six Mascarene Black Petrels Pterodroma aterrima, ten Trindade Petrels P. arminjoniana (both light and dark forms), 20 Barau’s Petrels P. baraui, hundreds of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus pacificus, 20 White-tailed Tropicbirds Phaethon lepturus at Black River Gorge, Mauritius, a Subantarctic Skua Catharacta antarctica in a large mixed flock comprising mainly Sooty Terns Sterna fuscata, a Roseate Tern S. dougallii in Port Louis harbour with a few Common Terns S. hirundo, hundreds of Lesser Noddies Anous tenuirostris at sea and at l’Île aux Cerfs, and 40–50 Brown Noddies A. stolidus.

Two adult and two immature White-faced Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna viduata were seen flying over Flic en Flac village in the Black River district on 13 September 2007. These birds were released from a local bird park and are frequently observed in the area; they are also breeding in the wild now and appear to have hybridised with Fulvous Whistling Ducks D. bicolor. White-faced Whistling Ducks are not known to have been native on Mauritius. Birds were introduced (from Madagascar?) in the 19th century, and prospered until well into the 20th century, but were rare by 1952 and disappeared, perhaps due to hunting, soon after.

A juvenile Shy Albatross Diomedea cauta brought in by a fisherman at Mahebourg on 19 August was the first record for Mauritius. A White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus at Terre Rouge Estuary on 16 January was the second for the island. Cyclonic weather in Jan/Feb resulted in several records of Barau’s Petrel Pterodroma baraui including 30 off Pointe aux Caves in one hour on 18 February. Biologists were able to make landings on Serpent Island in Nov 1992 and Sept 1993 and found c250,000 pairs of Sooty Terns Sterna fuscata plus Brown Anous stolidus and Lesser Noddies A. tenuirostris and a small but important number (50 pairs) of Masked Boobies Sula dactylatra.

Map

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References

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Mascarene_Paradise_Flycatcher

Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis, Mauritius

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville

BirdLife International (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

COHEN, C., SPOTTISWOODE, C. & ROSSOUW, J. Southern African Birdfinder: where to find 1,500 birds in the southern third of Africa and Madagascar. 

FISCHER, J.H. & Anna-Selma van der Kaaden (2013) Aberrant Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis in Mauritius. ABC Bulletin 21(2) pp 231-233.

GARRETT, L. (2009) Mauritian Wildlife Foundation Mauritius Fody Recovery Programme Annual Report 2008-09. Download copy*.

JONES, C., TATAYAH, V. & MAGGS, G. (2009) Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
Olive White-Eye Recovery Program Annual Report 2008-09. Download copy*.

Lonely Planet Website, www.lonelyplanet.com August 2004.

MICHAEL, C. (1992) Birds of Mauritius.Rose Hill, Mauritius.

NICHOLS R.K., PHILLIPS P., JONES C.G., and WOOLAVER L.G. (2002) Status of the critically endangered Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra ABC Bulletin 9(2) pp 95-100.

SAFFORD, R.J. (1997) Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis. ABC Bulletin 4(2) pp 130-131.

SAFFORD, R.J. Mauritius chapter pages 583-596 in FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS M.I. editors (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11).

SAFFORD, R.J. & BASQUE, R. (2007) Records of migrants and amendments to the status of exotics in Mauritius in 1989-93. ABC Bulletin 14(1) pp 26-35.

SINCLAIR I. & LANGRAND O. (1998) Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands Struik Publishers Ltd., Cape Town.

SHOWLER, D.A. (2002) Extension of breeding activity for Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalus rodericanus. ABC Bulletin 9(1).p 64.

SHOWLER, D.A. (2002) Bird observations on the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues, March - June 1999. ABC Bulletin 9(1) pp 17-24.

THORSEN, M. and JONES, C. (1998) The conservation status of Echo Parakeet Psittacula eques of Mauritius. ABC Bulletin 5(2) pp 122-126.

* In order to view and print this article, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Contacts

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African Bird Club representative

The African Bird Club is seeking to appoint a representative in this region. If you are interested in supporting and promoting the Club, have any queries or require further information relating to the ABC representatives scheme, please contact the Membership Secretary at membership@africanbirdclub.org.

Bird recorder and checklist compiler (Mauritius)

Vikash Tatayah
Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
Grannum Road
Vacoas
Mauritius

http://www.mauritian-wildlife.org
vtatayah@mauritian-wildlife.org

Tel: + 230 697 6097
Fax: + 230 697 6512

 

Bird recorder and checklist compiler (Rodrigues)

Dave Showler
24 Waldeck Road
Norwich NR4 7PG
UK

dashowler@hotmail.com

Clubs / contacts

Vikash Tatayah
Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
Grannum Road
Vacoas
Mauritius

http://www.mauritian-wildlife.org
vtatayah@mauritian-wildlife.org

Tel: + 230 697 6097
Fax: + 230 697 6512

Conservation

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 14:09 -- abc_admin
Mauritius_Kestrel

Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus female, Vallee de l'Est, Mauritius

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville
Pink_Pigeon_Mauritius

Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri, Combo, Mauritius

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville

Eighteen state owned Nature Reserves and one National Park cover a total of 7,413 ha, less than 50 ha of which are on Rodrigues. The Black River Gorges National Park protects 44% of the native vegetation and a larger proportion of the native bird species of Mauritius.

Native species and ecosystems on both Mauritius and Rodrigues are threatened by the invasion of exotic species, habitat destruction and predation. Other environmental issues are water pollution and the degradation of coral reefs.

Mauritius is party to a number of international treaties including Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution and Wetlands.

Work has begun on a new road which passes through the Mauritius East Coast Mountains IBA and an area of forest which is important for globally threatened species such as Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus.

Iles aux Aigrettes, a 26 ha offshore islet, harbours the last remnant of coastal ebony forest in Mauritius. The island reserve has at present 20% of the world population of Pink Pigeons Nesoenas mayeri and is equipped with a native plant nursery producing 45,000 plants annually.

The wild population of Pink Pigeons Nesoenas mayeri stands at approximately 350. Unfortunately, the population has been declining slightly since January last when there were 363 birds. This fluctuation is normal and not alarming but shows there is still much work to be done to increase the number of individuals to the target figure of 600. Source: Mauritian Wildlife Fund Newsletter No.2 (2005).

Conservation News

14th September 2007: More birds than ever face extinction – but success stories highlight way forward.

As the 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reveals the scale of the escalating extinction crisis occurring across the planet, an unobtrusive parakeet from Mauritius is showing that, with funding and dedicated fieldworkers, species can recover from the brink of extinction.

Released today, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reveals that unprecedented numbers of species are now threatened with extinction. For birds, the Red List is maintained by BirdLife International, who report that 1,221 species are considered threatened with extinction. The overall conservation status of the world’s birds has deteriorated steadily since 1988, when they were first comprehensively assessed.

189 birds are now listed as Critically Endangered - the highest threat category. Yet even among these severely threatened birds is a small number whose survival odds are improving, providing case-studies to others for how species can be successfully saved. The most encouraging recovery seen in the 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was Mauritius (Echo) Parakeet, once dubbed “the rarest parrot on Earth”.

Mauritius Parakeet Psittacula eques – a green parrot, males of which have a bright red bill - was once down to just 10 birds in the 1970s, but today saw the World Conservation Union (IUCN) announce its move from Critically Endangered to Endangered. “Mauritius Parakeet is an inspiring example of how species can be helped to recover even from the brink of extinction,” commented Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Global Species Coordinator.

In the last century the species has suffered from a multitude of threats all of which contributed to substantial declines; yet concerted actions, involving local and international conservationists, the government and people of Mauritius with support from an array of international funders has seen the species’ chances of survival improve.

“Our work in saving other Critically Endangered birds on Mauritius has taught us that you must tackle the root causes of decline and be prepared to address these issues first,” says Vikash Tatayah of the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation (MWF), the island’s sole terrestrial conservation NGO. For Mauritius Parakeet, these threats included introduced nest predators (in particular Black Rat), decline of the native fruits on which the parakeets feed (itself outcompeted by invasive non-native plants, and eaten by feral pigs), and a loss of suitable nesting sites.

“These parrots only naturally nest in old canopy trees, which are disappearing across the island,” Vikash explains. “Many years of hard work went into tackling the shortage of nest sites and finally we’ve come up with a design acceptable to Echo Parakeets and requiring less maintenance. The parakeets now nest in artificial cavities more than the traditional nest cavities.” “The artificial cavities also control for invasive nest predators – another long-term threat to the birds,” Vikash continues. “The boxes are rat-proofed, overhanging trees are trimmed, we poison for rats on the ground, and staple plastic sheeting around trees to reduce predation of eggs and chicks by rats. These are simple but essential measures to help get the population back on its feet.”

This is the third such downlisting to occur on Mauritius in recent years due to the efforts of MWF. In 2000, Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri, down to just nine birds a decade earlier, was downlisted to Endangered and now numbers 400 birds. Likewise, Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus, went from just four birds in 1974 and now numbers approximately 1,000 individuals.

On being asked the secret of their success Vikash answers: “It’s no use saying ‘a parrot is a parrot, a pigeon is a pigeon’; instead we must ask how we can use the lessons we have learnt on restoring populations of other threatened birds – we must pass information on, learn from our experiences and the experiences of other projects worldwide. We’ve needed fantastic support and that’s what we’ve got: both technical and financial but you also need excellent and dedicated people in the field. Whilst funding is crucial, equally so is having trained people in the field – people make the difference.”

The news is of encouragement to those working in conservation within the BirdLife Partnership, once again proving that with adequate investment and trained people on the ground, threatened species do recover. Two weeks ago the first Mauritius Parakeet eggs of the season were laid and MWF is confident that, due to good native fruit season, a sufficient number of young parrots will fledge to maintain the population. “Mauritius Parakeet is still Endangered – we still have lots of work to do,” states Vikash. MWF will continue conservation work on the species until the Mauritius Parakeet population is self-sustaining, but by working to maintain habitats, control predators and promote biodiversity they hope to improve the survival odds of other species that too depend on the island’s biodiversity. “People included,” adds Vikash.

“Like other species that have been saved from extinction, reversing the fortunes of the Mauritius Parakeet took painstaking research to identify the threats, sufficient funding and sustained efforts by dedicated fieldworkers to implement the necessary actions,” said BirdLife’s Dr Stuart Butchart. “Across the world there are dedicated people struggling to repeat this story for other species, but they need the resources to achieve this.”

Source: BirdLife International News

3rd June 2007: Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra

Mauritius Wildlife Foundation (MWF) celebrated the 100th Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra on Ile aux Aigrettes on the 20th February 2007. This species is unique to Mauritius and until recently was only found in the National Park. There was a decline from 260 to 93 pairs between 1974 and 2003.

This decline prompted MWF to initiate a recovery programme which involved transferring hand reared and captive bred birds to Ile aux Aigrettes, a predator free island. This has proved to be one of the most successful bird re-introductions with a current breeding population of 132 birds.

Source: MWF newsletter April 2007

3rd June 2007: Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri

5 sub-populations of Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri exist today in Mauritius with a total of 380 birds although there has been little growth in the last 5 years. Each sub-population is vulnerable to fluctuations triggered by factors such as disease, predation and cyclonic events. Additional sub-populations are planned at the Lower Gorges and Ferney Valley which will hopefully help to move towards the goal of 600 wild birds.

Source: MWF newsletter April 2007

3rd June 2007: Echo Parakeet Psittacula echo

Great progress has been made in the population restoration of the Echo Parakeet Psittacula echo although as the breeding period approached, a number of birds were noted with a fatal parrot specific virus called Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease.

Despite the uncertainties as a result of the virus, 2005/06 was a highly successful season with a total of 54 chicks fledging in the wild. The population is now estimated to be 343 birds in the wild.

Source: MWF newsletter April 2007

24th December 2005: Scientists find mass Dodo grave

Scientists have discovered the beautifully preserved bones of about 20 Dodos at a dig site in Mauritius. Little is known about the Dodo, a famous flightless bird thought to have become extinct in the 17th century. No complete skeleton has ever been found in Mauritius, and the last full set of bones was destroyed in a fire at a museum in Oxford, England, in 1755. Researchers believe the bones are at least 2,000-years-old, and hope to learn more about how Dodos lived.

A team of Dutch and Mauritian scientists discovered the bones in a swampy area near a sugar plantation on the south-east of the island. The bones were said to have been recovered from a single layer of earth, with the prospect of further excavations to come. Sections of beaks and the remains of Dodo chicks were thought to be among the find.

The discovery was hailed as a breakthrough in the Netherlands. This new find will allow for the first scientific research into and reconstruction of the world in which the Dodo lived, before western man landed on Mauritius and wiped out the species," the country's Natural History Museum announced in a statement.

Dutch geologist Kenneth Rijsdijk, who led the dig, said DNA samples from the Dodo bones could revolutionise understanding of how the birds lived.

Source: BBC News

16th December 2005: Mauritius highway plans shelved

In an important victory for conservation, plans for a road that would have devastated part of the forest heartland of the Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus, one of the world’s flagship conservation success stories, have been shelved.

The historic decision was announced in October following national elections when the Prime Minister of Mauritius was elected with promises to change the country within 100 days. One of his pledges was to cancel building of the section of the South-Eastern Highway that would have cut across the Mauritius east coast mountains Important Bird Area (IBA), damaging some of the last remaining quality forest in that part of Mauritius. Instead the highway will bypass Mahebourg then join the existing eastern coast road at Ferney.

"After more than 18 months campaigning against this road, which would have threatened the continuing recovery of the Mauritius Kestrel, we were delighted to learn the plans have been abandoned and the Ferney Valley will instead become a nature reserve," commented the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, the island's largest conservation NGO.

Source: BirdLife International News

Books & Sounds

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Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands covers Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Rodrigues, Seychelles and The Comoros Islands.

 

Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands, Ian Sinclair & Oliver Langrand, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Available from mid May 2012. This book is now reprinting and will not be available until May 2012 at the earliest.

The first field guide to illustrate all the 359 regularly encountered species of Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Rodrigues, the Seychelles and the Comoros, many of them endemic to the area. Colour plates by leading bird artists; Norman Arlott, Hilary Burn, Peter Hayman and Ian Lewington. 359 distribution maps. 184 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Photographic Guide to Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands, Ian Sinclair, Oliver Langrand & Fanja Andriamialisoa, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

A selection of the most commonly encountered and striking bird species of Madagascar, the Seychelles, the Comoros and the Mascarenes. The species accounts cover the bird's appearance, basic behaviour, preferred habitats, and geographical distribution. Each species account enjoys a full page which features a colour photo, distribution map, and text in English and French. 128 pages.

Book info: 
Bird Song of Mauritius (An Introduction), J Hammick, Mandarin Prodns., CD.
Book description: 

Recordings of 16 bird species, 2 bats and 1 frog. These recordings were made in February - March 2001 in and around the gardens of various hotels except for Mauritius Grey White-eye and Mauritius Cuckoo-Shrike which were recorded in the Black River Gorge as was the first part of Mauritius Echo Parakeet. The rest of the recording of the Echo Parakeet and Pink Pigeon were recorded in the Mauritius Wildlife breeding area as were the fruit bats.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Bird Sounds of Madagascar, Mayotte, Comoros, Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius, Pierre Huguet and Claude Chappuis, Société d'Études Ornithologiques de France, 4 CD set
Book description: 

Voices of 327 bird species. All recordings are extensively documented in the 115-page booklet (in French and English).

Visiting

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Mauritius_Black_Bulbul

Mauritius Bulbul Hypsipetes olivaceus, Black River Gorges, Mauritius

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville

Birding tours

Birdquest, Rockjumper and Safari Consultants organise tours to Mauritius.

Trip reports

A birder's guide to Mauritius and Réunion (with seabirds of the western Indian Ocean) (1993) by Sargeant, D. published privately. This a 14 page report based on a cruise from Durban. The report includes an itinerary, site guide and checklists.

Logistics

Flights The easiest and most popular way to reach Mauritius is by plane with many flights originating in France, however flights are available from several African, Asian and European destinations (Lonely Planet, 2004).

Travel Travel around the island can be done relatively easily using local buses and taxis.

Car Hire Cars can be hired in the major towns and at the airport, but local driving laws are used as a guide only, hence driving is not for the faint-hearted!

Safety

Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: (1) we believe that malaria is not present in Mauritius, however you should be aware of the risk if you are travelling to or from countries with malaria carrying mosquitoes (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling); (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; (4) although the prevalence of AIDS is very low, be aware of the general risks; (5) ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles. See the following website or your local embassy website for the latest safety and travel information: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Hotspots

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Mauritius_Pink_Pigeon

Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri Adult, Ile aux aigrettes, Mauritius

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville
Mascarene_Martin

Mascarene Martin Phedina borbonica, Black River Gorges, Mauritius

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville
Mascarene_Paradise_Flycatcher

Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis, Mauritius

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville
Rodrigues_Warbler

Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalus rodericanus, Grande Montagne Reserve, Rodrigues

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville
White_Tern_Rodrigues

White Tern Gygis alba, Ile aux Cocos, Rodrigues

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville

The following extracts are taken from “Southern African Birdfinder: where to find 1,500 birds in the southern third of Africa and Madagascar” by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Jonathan Rossouw, released by Struik Publishers in 2006. 

All of the endemic birds of Mauritius, with the notable exception of Mauritius Grey White-eye Zosterops borbonicus (which has adapted to exotic vegetation and is widespread in parks and gardens across the island), are restricted to relict patches of native vegetation, the largest of which is preserved in the rugged Black River Gorges National Park in the south-west. Even here, however, the most sought-after birds are by no means common and easily found, with many restricted to one or two localised areas within the park.

The first site to cover on your endemic quest is the roadside near Bassin Blanc. Although not incorporated into the national park, the native forest around this crater lake is readily accessible from the Pétrin Information Centre and is the easiest place to find most of the endemic passerines. 3.5 km due south of Pétrin, the tarred road drops off the plateau through scrubby native vegetation. Walk down the road and work through the numerous introduced Spotted Streptopelia chinensis and Zebra Doves Geopelia striata, Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus, Common Waxbills Estrilda astrild and Madagascar Red Fodies Foudia madagascariensis in search of Mauritius Bulbul Hypsipetes olivaceus (uncommon but conspicuous by call), Mauritius Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina typica (fairly common) and Mauritius Grey White-eye Zosterops borbonicus (plentiful). Mascarene Swiftlet Aerodramus francicus is usually frequent overhead. Spend time at the first stream crossing, where the increasingly scarce Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra may be seen hitching, woodpecker-like, through the taller vegetation. The real prize here, however, is the rare Mauritius Olive White-eye Zosterops chloronothus (probably now the most elusive Mauritian passerine), small numbers of which may be found in low roadside vegetation between the stream and Bassin Blanc. Pink Pigeons Nesoenas mayeri occasionally fly over the road and Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis is a straggler from valleys to the east.

To stand your best chance of finding Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis, return to the top of the hill and take the 4WD track that follows the edge of the plateau eastwards from the tarred road. After 1.2 km, this track becomes a footpath that winds down to Combo, the eastern-most sector of the national park. All of Bassin Blanc’s specials may also be seen along the trail and this is the most accessible and reliable area for Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher T. bourbonnensis. A few pairs frequent the valleys on either side of the ridge-top trail 2.2 km from the road (1 km beyond the radio tower), though the only sure way of finding them is to continue along the track down to Combo, where they are commonly found along the streams. An alternative is to ask MWAF staff at the camp 0.6 km east of the road if you can walk the trail that drops steeply off the plateau down into the valley of the River Patates, where a number of pairs of flycatchers are resident. Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri is also fairly common along this trail.

The fairly long (3-4 hr) Macchabée Ridge Trail leads westwards from the Pétrin Information Centre, following the Macchabée Ridge before dropping down to the Visitor Centre in the Black River Gorge. Mauritius Bulbul Hypsipetes olivaceus (uncommon but conspicuous by call), Mauritius Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina typica are both fairly common along the trail, but the main targets here are the critically endangered Mauritius Parakeet Psittacula echo and the handsome Pink Pigeons Nesoenas mayeri, both of which frequent the forest near their release site on Macchabée Ridge. If you fail to find them along the edge of the plateau, walk the loop trail to the north, listening for the low hooting of the pigeon and the strange screeching of the Mauritius Parakeet P. echo (obviously different from that of the Rose-ringed Parakeet P. krameri, which also occurs in the area). Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus should also be watched for here. Small numbers of White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus, Mascarene Swiftlet Aerodramus francicus and Mascarene Martin Phedina borbonica may be seen soaring over the Black River Gorge (and may also be found at the main gorge viewpoint along the Chamarel road.

If Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus has proved elusive in the higher parts of the park, head down to the Visitor Centre at the bottom of the Black River Gorge, signposted from the coastal road south of Grande Rivière Noire. A number of pairs breed along the cliffs south-west of the small Visitor Centre and the birds may also be seen along the steep road down to the coast from the plateau.

Whilst in the area, it is worth checking the salt pans visible from the coastal road in the villages of Tamarin (landward side) and Petite Rivière Noire (seaward side). These attract a variety of Palearctic waders, especially at high tide. Crab-plover Dromas ardeola may also be seen on the adjacent mangrove-fringed mudflats.

Another potential birding destination in the south of Mauritius is Ile aux Aigrettes. This small islet off the south-east coast is a popular tourist attraction, boasting one of the last remnants of native savanna habitat in Mauritius. Numerous captive-bred Pink Pigeons Nesoenas mayeri have been released and are easily seen.

Serious birders will definitely consider a visit to Round Island, lying off the north-east corner of Mauritius. It is the only known breeding site of the rare Herald (Round Island) Petrel Pterodroma arminjoniana and small numbers of both Kermadec P. neglecta and Bulwer’s Petrels Bulweria bulwerii have recently also been found breeding here. Boat excursions around Round Island and the nearby Serpent Island and Flat Island can be arranged in Grand Baie through any tour operator, taking 4-6 hours and costing approximately US $300 per charter. Herald (Round Island) P. arminjoniana, Kermadec P. neglecta and Bulwer’s Petrels Bulweria bulwerii are usually seen returning to their nesting burrows at dusk; wait off Round Island from about 2 hours before dark. The excursion may also produce widespread tropical seabirds such as Wedge-tailed Puffinus pacificus and Audubon’s Shearwaters P. lherminieri, Red-tailed Phaethon rubricauda and White-tailed Tropicbirds P. lepturus, Greater Frigatebird Fregata minor, Masked Sula dactylatra and Red-footed Boobies S. sula, Brown Anous stolidus and Lesser Noddies A. tenuirostris, Sooty Sterna fuscata and Roseate Terns S. dougallii and with luck, Mascarene Shearwater Puffinus atrodorsalis, Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel and Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus.

Though scoffed at by serious birders, the introduced avifauna of Mauritius is an interesting blend of species from Africa, Madagascar and Asia and the birds themselves are no less attractive for their alien status! Ubiquitous Zebra Dove Geopelia striata, Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus, Madagascar Fody Foudia madagascariensis, Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus and House Sparrow Passer domesticus usually announce their presence at your hotel breakfast table, with Spotted Dove Streptopelia striata, Common Waxbills Estrilda astrild, Scaly-breasted Munia (Spice Finch) Lonchura punctuata and Yellow-fronted Canary Serinus mozambicus being regular visitors to gardens. Grey Francolin Francolinus pondicerianus and Madagascar Buttonquail Turnix nigricollis (scarce) may be glimpsed crossing the roads on drives around the island, though Meller’s Duck Anas melleri is now vary rare (try Terre Rouge Bird Sanctuary).

Rodrigues is a tiny island which has two endemic birds, the Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalus rodericanus and Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans, which are common in forested areas and are relatively easily seen during the two hours it takes the aircraft to refuel. The best areas are at the Solitude Forest Station and Cascade Pigeon Valley, which can be reached by car from the airport. However, if you wish to photograph the birds and spend time looking at seabirds, we would recommend that you stay at least one or more nights. This would give time to go to Ile aux Cocos, a small island situated in the lagoon on the west of Rodrigues. It is a bird sanctuary, partly managed by the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation where you can see Brown and Lesser Noddy, Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata and the immaculate White Tern Gygis alba.

Note that the following introduced species are not included on the ABC checklist and scientific names have been taken from SINCLAIR I. & LANGRAND O. (1998).

Spotted Dove Streptopelia striata
Zebra Doves Geopelia striata
Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctuata

Species

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Mauritius_Fody

Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra male, Ile aux aigrettes, Mauritius

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville
Rodrigues_Fody

Rodrigues Fody Foudia falvicans Male, Grande Montagne Reserve, Rodrigues

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville
Mauritius_Olive_White_eye

Mauritius Olive White-eye Zosterops chloronothus, Combo, Mauritius

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville

Country checklist and status

iGoTerra

We are delighted that our Corporate Sponsor iGoTerra has made its country checklists, including subspecies (IOC or Clements) as well as all other species groups like mammals, butterflies etc. available through the ABC website. The only thing required is a Basic membership / registration which is free of charge. Go to Mauritius checklists. If you are already a member of iGoTerra, you will be taken directly to the country page. In case you are not a member, you will be redirected automatically to the registration form and from there can go straight to the country page.​​​​​​​

ABC and other checklists

You can download and print an ABC / Dowsett checklist for Mauritius. The ABC lists follow the taxonomic sequence and names of Birds of Africa Volumes I-VII and are kept up to date with published and peer-reviewed records.

Approximately 112 bird species have been recorded in Mauritius, with a high proportion of the taxa being threatened or endemic. The birdlife comprises 7 endemic land species on Mauritius and 2 on Rodrigues, 16 breeding native waterbird and seabird species, 43 regular migrants, 22 vagrants and 18 exotics.

SHOWLER, D.A. (2002)  gives a separate checklist of the birds of Rodrigues.

Endemic species

Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus M
Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri M
Mauritius Parakeet Psittacula echo M
Mauritius Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina typica M
Mauritius Bulbul Hypsipetes olivaceus M
Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalus rodericanus Ro
Mauritius Olive White-eye Zosterops chloronothus M
Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra M
Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans Ro

See the feature article “Extension of breeding activity for Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalus rodericanus” by Dave A. Showler, from Bulletin of the African Bird Club, volume 9.1, March 2002 and on the ABC website at Rodrigues Warbler.

Near endemic species (found in 3 countries at most)

Barau’s Petrel Pterodroma baraui Ro, Re
Mascarene Swiftlet Aerodramus francicus M, Re
Mascarene Grey White-eye Zosterops borbonicus M, Re
Mascarene Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis M, Ro, Re

Species found on M=Mauritius, Ro=Rodrigues, Re= Réunion.

Read the feature article Mascarene Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis by Roger Safford in the Bull ABC 4(2) 130-131.

Threatened species

Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus Vulnerable
Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri Endangered
Mauritius Parakeet Psittacula echo Endangered
Mauritius Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina typica Vulnerable
Mauritius Bulbul Hypsipetes olivaceus Vulnerable
Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalus rodericanus Endangered
Mauritius Olive White-eye Zosterops chloronothus Endangered
Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra Critical
Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans Vulnerable

Read the feature article “Status of the critically endangered Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra in 2001” by Rina K. Nichols, Peter Phillips, Carl G. Jones, and Lance G. Woolaver Bull. ABC, 9 (2) 95-100.

The lists of endemic, near endemic and threatened species have been compiled from a number of sources including the African Bird Club, BirdLife International, and Birds of the World Version 2.0 ® 1994-1996, Dr. Charles Sibley and Thayer Birding Software, Ltd. For further information on the threatened species of Mauritius, see BirdLife International (2000).

Important Bird Areas

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 13:54 -- abc_admin
Mauritius_Grey_White_eye

Mascarene Grey White-eye Zosterops borbonicus, Black River Gorges, Mauritius

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville
Rodrigues_Fody

Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans Female, Grande Montagne Reserve, Rodrigues

Image Credit: 
Jacques de Speville

Mauritius supports one of the densest concentrations of threatened bird species in the world. All seven endemic land bird species are threatened. Three other species are shared only with La Réunion. All these species are restricted range and belong to the Mauritius Endemic Bird Area (EBA) which covers the whole of the island. Large seabird populations on the northern islets include the sole Afrotropical and Indian Ocean colony of Herald (Round Island) Petrel Pterodroma arminjoniana.

Both native land birds of Rodrigues, Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalus rodericanus and Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans are threatened, single island endemics which belong to the Rodrigues EBA.

There are 16 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) designated by BirdLife International in the Republic of Mauritius. These cover 443 km2 or about 22% of the land surface area of the Republic.

The eight sites on the island of Mauritius cover 19,740 ha equivalent to about 11% of the area of the island. Five sites cover Mauritian islets and include all the important seabird colonies.

The two sites on Rodrigues cover the whole population of both endemic species, all exisiting and potential seabird colonies and islets suitable for rehabilitation and translocation of native landbird species.

The final site covers the whole of Cargados Carajos shoals and its seabird colonies.

The list of IBAs is as follows:

Site Name Administrative region
Fouge mountain range Black River
Southern slopes Savanne Black River
Macchabé­Brise Fer forest Black River, Plaine Wilhems
Relict forests of central plateau Plaine Wilhems, Moka, Grand Port
East coast mountains Grand Port Flacq
Plaine des Roches Flacq
Pont Bon Dieu Flacq
Moka mountains Moka, Plaine Wilhems, Pamplemousses
Ile aux Aigrettes Grand Port
Gunner’s Quoin Outer Islets
Flat and Gabriel Islands Outer Islets
Round Island Outer Islets
Serpent Island Outer Islets
Rodrigues mainland Rodrigues
Rodrigues islets Rodrigues
Cargados Carajos shoals Outer Islets

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.

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