Aurelie Duhec and Richard Jeanne have reported a series of rare bird sightings from Farquhar. These are a White Wagtail 11th-14th December 2015 (40 previous records), Broad-billed Rollers on 2nd, 15th and 27th January (25 records east of Aldabra), Northern Wheatear on 31st January (69 records), Little Swift on 5th February (6 records) and a Yellow Wagtail on 9th February (49 records).
A Squacco Heron in breeding plumage has appeared on 14 February at the Providence marsh (at least I asume it's a new arrival, there has been no sign on my previous visits including just yesterday). SBRC has accepted 11 previous records of this species but none previously in breeding plumage (but hey, it's Valentine's Day!).
I visited Providence again in the afternoon with Steve Agricole. The Squacco Heron was still present and as a bonus Steve spotted three Common Snipe.
Tony Crocker, on-board ornithologist on the expedition ship MS ‘Island Sky’ has reported a Northern Wheatear at the Alphonse airstrip on 12 February
Unfortunately, the Western Marsh Harrier, recently reported on this blog was shot this morning, 11 February. It had strayed south from the small flooded area it had occupied at Providence, possibly due to disturbance or possibly in search of better wetland habitat. It reached the airport where it was spotted by the Safety Officer. A sharpshooter from the army was called and the bird was dispatched. The first ever record of this bird in 1888 was also shot by the collector J.J. Lister. So that means 50% of the four Marsh Harriers known to have ever reached Seychelles have been shot, something that is now illegal in many parts of the world, even trigger-happy countries such as Malta. Very sad.
I visited Providence this morning (6 February 2016) and found a Western Marsh Harrier. SBRC has accepted just 3 previous records, including a specimen record from 1888, one in 1978 and one in 1994. The bird was actively hunting, possibly for lizards. It buzzed a Yellow Bittern a couple of times, the latter wisely adopting the bittern's "brace position" with bill pointed upward at the harrier, which thought better of things. Even the Grey Herons looked a bit wary, Cattle Egrets kept their distance and the 16 Garganey here one week ago - and probably the only birds present to have come across a Marsh Harrier previously - had completely vanished.
White Wagtails have been present at the Ile Perseverance excavation site since 13 November 2015 with one present on this date rising to two on 17 November, three on 20 November and a maximum of four on 2 January 2016, declining to one by 31 January 2016. Peter Kaestner reports this single bird still present on 7 February. Birds have also been reported to SBRC by Steve Agricole, Catty Onezia, Joel Souyave, Adrian Skerrett and Mike Betts.
On 7 February, I visited the Marsh Harrier site with Peter Kaestner. We found the harrier still present and among the waders, saw a Marsh Sandpiper. There have been 11 records of this species accepted by SBRC, all but one from Mahe and its satellites, Cerf and Ile Perseverance.
I sighted two Common Snipe at Ile Perseverance on 6 February.
I was eating breakfast when I casually did a routine check of emails. I nearly choked on my cereal when I opened one from Catherina Onezia with pictures of this bizarre but wonderful first record for Seychelles. I dashed down to Ile Perseverance but no luck. I tried again in the late afternoon and same story...no show. Then Catherina and Joel turned up. Still no luck and I headed off home. I had not reached the end of the road before Catty called on my mobile. "You friend is still here". Doing a quick about turn, back I went and sure enough, thanks to the sharp eyes of Catty I saw and photographed the bird.