Working for birds in Africa

Important Bird Areas

Fri, 25/01/2013 - 11:42 -- abc_admin

Sperry Island with Salt Rock behind left, St Helena

Image Credit: 
Beau Rowlands

The St Helena Plover Charadrius sanctaehelenae is the only extant endemic bird on St Helena. Its population currently numbers some 350-400 individuals (McCulloch & Norris 2001). Its breeding range is highly fragmented with around 30 nesting sites occupied (McCulloch 1991). The species utilises two main habitat types: dry pastureland, mainly between 300 m and 600 m above sea-level; and the peripheral semi-desert areas known as the Crown Wastes. Densities are considerably higher on grassland, with approximately two-thirds of the population occupying this habitat. Deadwood Plain in the north-east of the island is the most important nesting site supporting around 25% of breeding pairs.

The sea-cliffs of the main island and a number of outlying stacks constitute important nesting habitat for a variety of seabirds, especially Madeiran Storm Petrel Oceanodroma castro, Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus, Masked Booby Sula dactylatra, Black Noddy Anous minutus and Fairy Tern Gygis alba. The island may also support a small breeding population of Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii, as the remains of an adult and a recently fledged juvenile were found at Gill Point on the east coast in 1995. Any additional records would be valuable (Rowlands et al 1998).

Most of St Helena is covered by two Important Bird Areas (Rowlands 2001). North-east St Helena IBA includes the main St Helena Plover Charadrius sanctaehelenae site at Deadwood Plain and several adjacent sites for this species. The north-east IBA also covers the most important semi-desert areas for the St Helena Plover C. sanctaehelenae, centred on Prosperous Bay Plain. This area also contains substantial deposits of sub-fossil bird bones from which the island’s extinct endemic species have been identified. The principal bone sites are at Prosperous Bay Valley, Dry Gut and Sugar Loaf. Significant seabird colonies at Gill Point, George Island and Shore Island are also included in the IBA.

The South-West St Helena IBA covers major St Helena Plover C. sanctaehelenae sites at Botley’s, Man and Horse and Broad Bottom in addition to seabird colonies at Man and Horse cliffs, South-West Point, Speery Island and Egg Island. These sites include the largest Black Noddy Anous minutus colonies.

St Helena is listed by BirdLife International as a secondary Endemic Bird Area as it falls short of the minimum criterion of two endemic species for full citation.

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

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