St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

South Atlantic Islands

Ascension Island together with St Helena, the many smaller islands that surround them and the Tristan da Cunha archipelago cover a total land area of 394 km²


Approximately 65 recorded species on St Helena (S), 60 on Ascension Island (A) and 50 on each of the Tristan Islands – Tristan da Cunha (T), Inaccessible Island (I), the Nightingale Islands (N) and Gough Island/Gonçalo Álvares (G)
Mostly seabirds and vagrants, with introduced species on St Helena and Ascension Island

Tristan Albatross (Kevin Ravno)
White-faced Storm Petrel (Gareth Knass)
Band-rumped Storm Petrel (Gareth Knass)

Endemics (E)
Inaccessible Rail (I) (VU)
Gough Moorhen (G) (VU)
Tristan Albatross (breeding G, I) (CR)
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross (breeding T, G) (EN)
Atlantic Petrel (breeding G) (EN)
Spectacled Petrel (breeding I) (VU)
Ascension Frigatebird (breeding A) (VU)
St Helena Plover (S) (VU)
Tristan Thrush (T, I, N) (NT)
Gough Finch (G) (CR)
Inaccessible Finch (I) (VU)
Nightingale Finch (N) (VU)
Wilkins’s Finch (N) (CR)

St Helena Plover (Brenda Hotham)

Other taxa of interest
Red-billed Tropicbird
White-tailed Tropicbird
Northern Rockhopper Penguin
Sooty Albatross
Grey-backed Storm Petrel
White-faced Storm Petrel (marina)
White-bellied Storm Petrel
Black-bellied Storm Petrel
Band-rumped Storm Petrel | Madeiran Storm Petrel
Kerguelen Petrel
Common Diving Petrel (dacunhae)
Broad-billed Prion
MacGillivray’s Prion
Soft-plumaged Petrel
Great-winged Petrel
Grey Petrel
Great Shearwater
Subantarctic Shearwater
Red-footed Booby
Brown Booby
Masked Booby
Brown Skua (hamiltoni)
White Tern
Sooty Tern
Antarctic Tern (tristanensis)
Black Noddy

Ascension Frigatebird (John Holmes)
Red-billed Tropicbird (Lionel Sineux)

Short grasslands, shrublands, sea cliffs, stacks, coastal waters

Gough Island Endemic Bird Area (EBA)
Tristan Islands EBA
St Helena Secondary Area
13 Important Bird Areas

Deadwood Plain on St Helena for St Helena Plover
Egg Island off St Helena for breeding seabirds
Boatswainbird Island for Ascension Frigatebird and other breeding seabirds
Green Mountain on Ascension Island for breeding White Tern, and Mars Bay area for breeding Sooty Tern
Tristan Islands for most endemics and breeding seabirds

Any time of the year is fine to visit Ascension Island, but the peak breeding season of Ascension Frigatebird is Oct-Dec
Most seabirds on St Helena breed throughout the year, with the peak breeding season varying for different species, but Sep–Oct is probably best overall
Best to visit the Tristan Islands in early summer (Oct-Dec), when it is warmer and most birds breed
Avoid winter (May-Aug) on the Tristan Islands

Field guides
A Guide to the Birds of St Helena and Ascension Island by Neil McCulloch (2004)
Field Guide to the Animals and Plants of Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island edited by Peter Ryan (2007)
Seabirds: the New Identification Guide by Peter Harrison, Martin Perrow & Hans Larsson (2021)
A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife: the Birds and Marine Mammals of the Antarctic Continent and the Southern Ocean by Hadoram Shirihai (2007)

Further reading
Birds of the UK Overseas Territories edited by Roger Riddington (2020)
Important Bird Areas: Ascension Island by Nicola Weber & Sam Weber (2019)
Important Bird Areas: St Helena by Tony Prater (2012)
Important Bird Areas: Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island by Peter Ryan (2008)
Ascension, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha (including Gough Island) in Important Bird Areas in the United Kingdom Overseas Territories: Priority Sites for Conservation edited by Sarah Sanders (2006)
St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, including Gough Island by Beau W Rowlands in Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation edited by Lincoln D C Fishpool & Michael I Evans (2001)
St Helena Wirebird: the Forgotten Plover by Neil McCulloch (1999)
The Birds of St Helena: an Annotated Checklist by Beau W Rowlands, Trevor Trueman, Storrs L Olson, M Neil McCulloch & Richard K Brooke (1998)
Britain’s Treasure Islands: a Journey to the UK Overseas Territories by Stewart McPherson (2016)
Ascension: the Story of a South Atlantic Island by Duff Hart-Davis (2016)
Gough Island: a Natural History by Christine Hänel, Steven L Chown & Kevin J Gaston (2005)
St Helena and Ascension Island: a Natural History by Philip & Myrtle Ashmole (2000)
Articles in Marine Ornithology, British Birds, Bull. ABC, etc.

Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP)
UNESCO World Heritage List: Gough and Inaccessible Islands
The Gough Island Restoration Programme
South African National Antarctic Programme: Gough Island Gallery


The BirdLife Partner for St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

Other bird or conservation organisations active on St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha include –
UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF): Ascension Island, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha
Ascension Island Heritage Society
St Helena National Trust
Friends of St Helena
Tristan da Cunha Association
Army Ornithological Society (AOS)

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