An African Spoonbill Platalea alba has been present in the vicinity of Providence, Roche Caiman and near STC Hypermarket for around one month. African Spoonbill breeds in tropical Africa and northwest Madagascar. It is probably nomadic throughout most of range, moving in response to rains but it is apparently sedentary in Madagascar, which suggests an African origin for our bird is most likely. Vagrants have been recorded in Oman, Yemen and several European countries (Spain, France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Czech Republic and Italy) including an instance of successful breeding in France.
This is the first record for Seychelles.
Madagascar Pond Heron at Alphonse
Chris Narty has reported a Madagascar Pond Heron near the beach at Alphonse on 15 November. This species breeds at Aldabra and is a vagrant elsewhere in Seychelles. SBRC has accepted 6 vagrant records, two from Farquhar, and one from each of Cosmoledo, Assumption, North and Bird.
Common Snipe at Grand Soeur
Gerard Rocamora has reported a Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago at Grand Soeur on 23-25 November. There have been 22 previous records of this species.
Host of vagrants at Bird Island
From top left to bottom right: Northern Roller, Black-winged Pratincole, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Black-tailed Godwit, Short-toed Lark, Yellow Wagtail without a tail! (all photos: Adrian Skerrett)
Bird Island has produced a long list of vagrant sightings so far this month. This includes all of the above pictured birds plus Osprey, Little Bittern, Little Stint, Sand Martin, Eurasian Hobby, White Wagtail and Collared Pratincole.
Garganey at Alphonse
Chris Narty has reported Gargeney at Alphonse on 10 November. Garganey is an annual visitor to Seychelles. SBRC collects all reports of this species. To date, 329 reports have been collected with a clear peak in sightings during November and numbers gradually declining through the season thereafter.
New Seychelles birds book launched
A new book, "Complete Birds of Seychelles" has been launched at a ceremony hosted by the Right Honourable Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, Prime Minister and Former President of Mauritius. Featuring the work of Nariansamy Ramen and Adrian Skerrett, the book is a large format photographically illustrated work celebrating the birds of Seychelles.
The book is now on sale in Seychelles at Antigone bookshop, price SR500. Profits from the sale of books will be donated to the observation work of Island Conservation Society.
Tree Pipit on Fregate
Tree Pipit at Fregate (Stef Houben)
Stef Houben has reported a Tree Pipit at Fregate on 7 November. Tree Pipit is an annual visitor in small numbers. SBRC has collected 352 sighting of this species to date, of which 91% occurred on southbound migration during the period October-December, with little evidence of a northbound migration apart from a slight blip in March (3.4% of sightings).
Stef Houben has reported a European Roller present at the airstrip, Fregate on 4 November. The bird was also seen by Naomi Lambrikx, Marcus Dubel, Janske van de Crommenacker and Sam Kendray. SBRC considered European Roller as a vagrant to Seychelles until 2014, when it was changed to annual visitor. The criteria for a species to be considered as annual is that it has been recorded in at least 8 of the previous 10 years with an average of at least 2 records per annum. European Roller now meets the criteria with 25 records 2007-2016 to date and present in every year.
Stef Houben also reports that a Pacific Golden Plover was present on Fregate on 2 October. This is another annual visitor in very small numbers to the granitics and Amirantes but a vagrant beyond and SBRC collects all reports from throughout Seychelles.
African Spoonbill at Mahe
On 5 October, Lilly Soerensen and Niels Bomholt reported a Grey-tailed Tattler at Providence, Mahe (see earlier in this blog). The sent a record form to SBRC, mentioning an African Spoonbill also present. Unfortunately at the time, they did not realise that this was first record for Seychelles and did not photograph it. Then on 28 October, Martijn van Dinther reported a spoonbill just outside Victoria. Finally on 31 October Catherina tracked the bird down and photographed it. The red face and base of the bill clearly identifies this bird as African and not Eurasian Spoonbill.
Remarkably it is less than 12 months since the first Eurasian Spoonbill for Seychelles was photographed at Aride Island.
Black-winged Pratincole at D'Arros
Clare Keating Daly has reported a Black-winged Pratincole at the D'Arros airstrip on 3 October and 1 November. Pratincoles can be difficult to identify in Seychelles as they are usually in immature or non-breeding plumage. However fortunately, Clare managed to capture a picture of the bird taking off with wings held aloft, revealing the all-black underwing, whereas the other three pratincole species recorded in Seychelles (Collared, Oriental and Madagascar all have chestnut underwing-coverts.
Also at D'Arros, Clare reports a Pacific Golden Plover on 1 November foraging with two Grey Plovers on the airstrip and on 28 October.
Clare also reports a Wood Sandpiper at the pond on Fouquet Island of neighbouring St Joseph Atoll, present on 28 October. Wood Sandpiper is annual visitor to granitic Seychelles and the Amirantes, but a vagrant to the Farquhar and Aldabra groups. SBRC has collected 178 reports to date, showing the number of sightings peaks in November, steadily declining through the season thereafter.