St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

South Atlantic Islands

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


Approximately 65 recorded species on St Helena (SH), 60 on Ascension Island (A) and 50 each on 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)
Gough Moorhen (G) (VU)
Inaccessible Island Rail (I) (VU)
St Helena Plover (SH) (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)
Tristan Thrush (T, I, N) (NT)
Inaccessible Island Finch (I) (VU)
Wilkins’s Finch (N) (CR)
Nightingale Island Finch (N) (VU)
Gough Finch | Gough Island Finch (G) (CR)

Birds occurring in only two territories of the ABC region but not near-endemic (1/2)
Northern Rockhopper Penguin | Moseley’s Rockhopper Penguin
MacGillivray’s Prion

St Helena Plover (Brenda Hotham)

Other taxa of interest, including endemic subspecies (ESS)
Brown Noddy (stolidus)
Black Noddy (atlanticus)
White Tern
Sooty Tern
Antarctic Tern (ESS tristanensis)
Brown Skua (ESS hamiltoni)
Pomarine Jaeger | Pomarine Skua
Parasitic Jaeger | Arctic Skua
Red-billed Tropicbird (aethereus)
White-tailed Tropicbird (ascensionis)
Wilson’s Storm Petrel
Grey-backed Storm Petrel
White-faced Storm Petrel (ESS marina)
White-bellied Storm Petrel (leucogaster)
Black-bellied Storm Petrel (ESS melanoleuca)
Snowy Albatross | Wandering Albatross
Sooty Albatross
Black-browed Albatross
Shy Albatross | White-capped Albatross (steadi)
Band-rumped Storm Petrel | Madeiran Storm Petrel
Southern Giant Petrel
Northern Giant Petrel
Southern Fulmar
Cape Petrel | Pintado Petrel
Blue Petrel
Broad-billed Prion
Kerguelen Petrel
Great-winged Petrel
Soft-plumaged Petrel
Grey Petrel
White-chinned Petrel
Cory’s Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Subantarctic Shearwater
Common Diving Petrel (ESS dacunhae)
Bulwer’s Petrel
Masked Booby
Red-footed Booby
Brown Booby

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

Introduced species
Common Pheasant (SH)
Chukar Partridge (SH)
Red-necked Spurfowl (A)
Rock Dove (SH)
Zebra Dove (SH)
Common Myna (SH, A)
Red Fody (SH)
Java Sparrow (SH)
Common Waxbill (SH, A)
Yellow Canary (SH, A)

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
Boatswain Bird 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 and Gough Island 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 and Gough Island in early summer (Oct-Dec), when it is warmer and most birds breed
Avoid winter (May-Aug) on the Tristan Islands and Gough Island

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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