Working for birds in Africa



Wed, 02/06/2013 - 15:24 -- abc_admin

Olivaceous (Réunion) Bulbul Hypsipetes borbonicus, Réunion

Image Credit: 
Alain Fossé

The following information is from a correspondent who took a family holiday to Réunion in July 2005. The sightings are not of uncommon species but they include several endemic and near endemic species and as this is the first news we have received from this island, we felt that it should be included.

The following species were each observed on several days of the holiday: White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus; Madagascar (Réunion) Marsh Harrier Circus maillardi; Madagascar Turtle Dove Streptopelia picturata; Mascarene Swiftlet Aerodramus francicus; Mascarene Martin Phedina borbonica; Réunion Stonechat Saxicola tectes; Réunion White-eye Zosterops olivaceus; Mascarene Grey White-eye Z. borbonicus and Madagascar Red Fody Foudia madagascariensis.

The following species introduced to Réunion were also seen on several days: Zebra Dove Geopelia striata; Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus; Common Myna Acridotheres tristis; House Sparrow Passer domesticus; Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus and Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild.

In addition, species that were seen less frequently were Green-backed Heron Butorides striata, Madagascar Partridge Margaroperdix madagascariensis, Madagascar Buttonquail Turnix nigricollis, Subantarctic Skua Catharacta antarctica lonnbergi, Brown Noddy Anous stolidus, Olivaceous (Réunion) Bulbul Hypsipetes borbonicus and Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis.

Further information can be found at reunionreport.


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:27 -- abc_admin


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:25 -- abc_admin

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

BRETAGNOLLE, V. & ATTIE, C. (1996) Comments on a possible new species of Scops Owl Otus sp on Réunion. ABC Bulletin 3(1) p 36.

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

LE CORRE, M. & SAFFORD, R.J. Réunion and Iles Eparses chapter pp 693- 702 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).

HANDSCHUH, M. (2009) Unusual nest sites of Réunion Stonechat Saxicola tectes high in trees - a response to increased predation risk of ground nests? ABC Bulletin 16(2) pp 204-208.

RENMAN, E. (1995) A possible new species of Scops Owl Otus sp on Réunion? ABC Bulletin 2(1) p 54.

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

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


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:24 -- abc_admin

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

Bird recorder and checklist compiler

Société des Etudes Ornithologiques de la Réunion
377 Rue Dumesnil,

Ile de la Réunion
Indian Ocean

Tél / Fax:    0262204665


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:24 -- abc_admin

Since their permanent establishment in 1646, human colonists have brought about the loss of 75% of the native vegetation area (around 650 km2 remain) and 50% of the native vertebrate fauna including 55% of the birds. In addition, numerous species have been introduced of which 592 plants, 8 mammal, 20 bird and 12 reptile species have become naturalised. Native species and ecosystems are threatened by exotic species invasion and once established, active management is required if conservation is to be achieved.

There are four direct human threats to bird populations: illegal hunting; opening of new paths and tracks into forest areas; fire in the drier areas; and the disorientation of seabirds when taking their first flights, caused by artificial lights. A programme to rescue disoriented birds especially Barau’s Petrel Pterodroma baraui (500 birds in 1998) is carried out each year.

Several existing and proposed categories of protected area exist: Nature Reserve; Protected Biotope; State Biological Reserve; Other reserves; and Reserves to be established. Four of the Iles Eparses became Nature Reserves in 1975 although these designations have not been approved nationally. France has signed and ratified a large number of international environmental treaties.

Conservation News

20th September 2006: Implementation of the Réunion Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina newtoni action plan is producing rapid results.

Control of predatory rats and cats is a key recommendation of the plan, and already in Réserve Naturelle de La Roche Ecrite in northern La Réunion (Indian Ocean) it has led to four out of five pairs of Cuckoo-Shrike successfully rearing chicks, compared to just two out of six pairs raising young at a nearby site without control.

Although the population of Réunion Cuckoo-Shrike remained fairly constant at around 120 pairs between the 1970s and the 1990s, it has been declining over the last decade. Currently males outnumber females by almost two to one, and the remaining population is estimated at fewer than 50 pairs and the species is classified as Endangered. It is thought birds once primarily occupied lowland forest, but under the pressures of habitat loss and degradation, forest fires and predation by alien invasives, this species has retreated to a 16 km² patch of mountainous rainforest in the north of the island.

Source: Birdlife International news

Books & Sounds

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:22 -- abc_admin

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 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).

Book info: 
Birds of Mauritius. Michael, C. (1992) Rose Hill, Mauritius.
Book info: 
Mauritius, Rodrigues & Réunion: The Mascarene isles Ellis, R. & Schuurman, D., 4th edition updated June 2001, Bradt Travel Guide.
Book info: 
Oiseaux de La Réunion Barre, N., Barre, A. & Jouanin, C. (1996) Les Editions du Pacifique. Paris. 208 pp. (an update of the 1982 book).


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:17 -- abc_admin

Birding tours

Birdquest and Rockjumper operate tours to Réunion.


Birdwatchers on holiday in La Réunion can contact SEOR by post (see contact page for details). They can participate in a birdwatching day (the programme is on the SEOR web site), or if it is convenient for SEOR, it may be possible to carry out field work with permanent staff.

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.

Reunion trip report covers a combined wildlife and tourism trip to Réunion and Mauritius in July 1999 by Gerard Joannes.


One can fly to Réunion from Mauritius, the Seychelles, Comoros, Mayotte, Madagascar, South Africa, Kenya and France. The flights from France are generally more expensive between July and mid-September and at around Christmas time. There's currently no departure tax. Roland Garros Airport is located about 11 km east of St-Denis; an airport bus travels frequently between the airport and St-Denis, as do taxis.

The road system on the island is excellent and well signposted, and heading into the mountains via the cirque roads is a magnificent experience. As in the rest of France, Réunion drives on the right. To drive on the island, you must have either a valid French or international driver's licence.


Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: (1) although there is no malaria in Réunion, you should be aware of the general risk especially 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 risk of AIDS; (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.


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:16 -- abc_admin

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, to be released by Struik Publishers in 2006. Please visit or contact for more information.

All of Réunion’s land bird endemics can be conveniently found at just one site, La Roche Ecrite, a thirty-minute drive from St Denis. A hiking trail leading into the mountainous interior begins here, and the first three kilometres are best for birding. Réunion Stonechat Saxicola tectes, Olivaceous Bulbul Hypsipetes borbonicus, Réunion White-eye Zosterops olivaceus are relatively easy to find here and Mascarene Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis is easier here than on Mauritius. Réunion Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina newtoni can be more tricky and is best found in the vicinity of the three kilometre mark. Mascarene Grey White-eye Zosterops borbonicus can also be seen.

Barau’s Pterodroma baraui and Mascarene Black Petrel Pterodroma aterrima are best seen by chartering a deep-sea fishing vessel from either St Giles or St Pierre; the birds are best seen between 10 and 20 km from shore in the last few hours before sunset.


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:16 -- abc_admin

Country checklist and status


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 Reunion 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.

The avifauna of La Réunion is poor in species but has a high proportion of threatened and endemic taxa. 78 species have been recorded comprising 9 native landbirds, 8 breeding native waterbirds and seabirds, 32 regular migrants, 9 accidentals and 20 introduced species.

Endemic species

Mascarene Black Petrel Pterodroma aterrima
Réunion Cuckoo-Shrike

Coracina newtoni

Réunion Stonechat Saxicola tectes
Olivaceous Bulbul Hypsipetes borbonicus
Réunion White-eye Zosterops olivaceus

A possible new species of Scops Owl Otus sp on Réunion is an account of an unseen owl species calling. There are no known owls on Réunion. A second paper gives further evidence from different sources - RENMAN, E. (1995) and BRETAGNOLLE, V. & ATTIE, C. (1996).

Near endemic species (found in 3 countries at most)

Barau’s Petrel Pterodroma baraui Ro
Madagascar Marsh Harrier Circus maillardi Ma, Co
Mascarene Swiftlet Aerodramus francicus M
Mascarene Grey White-eye Zosterops borbonicus M
Mascarene Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis M, Ro

Species also found on Co=Comores, M=Mauritius, Ma=Madagascar, Ro=Rodrigues.

Little-known African Birds - Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis SAFFORD, R. (1997).

Threatened species

Barau’s Petrel Pterodroma baraui Endangered
Mascarene Black Petrel Pterodroma aterrima Critical
Madagascar Pond Heron Ardeola idae Vulnerable
Madagascar Marsh Harrier Circus maillardi Endangered
Madagascar Pratincole Glareola ocularis Vulnerable
Réunion Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina newtoni Endangered

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.

Important Bird Areas

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:15 -- abc_admin

La Réunion supports 4 endemic land bird species of which one is threatened. In addition, 3 landbird species are shared only with Mauritius. All seven of these species are restricted range which defines the Réunion Endemic Bird Area (EBA). Additionally, there are 3 further species of conservation concern of which 2 are petrel species plus Madagascar Marsh Harrier Circus maillardi which is shared with Madagascar and the Comores.

Iles Eparses support large populations of boobies, tropicbirds, frigatebirds and terns.

There are 12 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in total of which 8 are in La Réunion island itself and cover 216 km2 or 9% of the land surface and the remaining 4 of Iles Eparses cover around 40 km2 or 89% of the land surface. The site names and the administrative regions of the 12 IBAs are as follows:

Piton des Neiges—Gros Morne Salazie, Saint-Louis
Grand Bénard—Tapcal Saint-Louis, Saint-Paul
Plaine des Chicots—Plaine d’Affouches Saint-Denis
Mouth of the Cirque de Salazie Bras Panon, Salazie
Rivière des Marsouins—Grand Etang Saint-Benoit
Grand Bassin—Le Dimitile Entre-Deux, Le Tampon
Rivière des Remparts—Rivière Langevin Saint-Joseph
Ravine de la Grande Chaloupe Saint-Denis, La Possession
Tromelin Iles Eparses
Ile du Lys, Glorieuses Archipelago Iles Eparses
Juan de Nova

Iles Eparses

Europa Iles Eparses

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


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