August 2019 Grey-headed Kingfisher mystery solved!
Brian Finch recently contacted Seychelles Bird Records Committee and requested details of Grey-headed Kingfisher records from Seychelles. In fact, there are only two such records and only one of these is accompanied by photos. This was the first record for Seychelles, seen and photographed by Camille Hoareau at Denis Island, where the bird was present from 30 December 2003 to 16 February 2004. The photographs were rather blurred but they were sufficient. Brian wrote:
"I think I am not imagining that the photos show a brownish cap contrasting with paler greyish cheeks and the underparts are very deep chestnut. It cannot just be a coincidence that this is the feature that I was hoping and expecting to find either.
The race involved with these characteristics is semicaerulea which is an endemic breeder to south Oman, Yemen and SW Arabia N to Mecca. The amazing thing is that although quite a common species in its range the entire population completely disappears for five months of the year and no-one knows where they go to! It is assumed they slip into Somalia, but there in nothing conclusive that shows it has even been recorded in Africa. So BOA didn’t even include the race in the Handbook [for mainland Africa] and even now HBW only have... possibly to Somalia. I believe I have the evidence to show that it is a very long-distance migrant even getting to South Africa, but has just been ignored. I had no idea that the GHK had managed to get down to Seychelles, but when I researched it, found that they had. I was looking for a place where they might be vagrant, and Seychelles looked ideal for picking out a migrant from that part of the Middle-east that had strayed into the Indian Ocean when on a southwards migration. So the chances were extremely probable that any GHK to reach Seychelles would be of that race. There was no reason for any of the other races to randomly fly out to sea in the wrong direction!"
Meanwhile, Brian has a semicaerulea (pictured above) in his back paddock which was the reason for starting all this! He is currently preparing to do a presentation to the East Africa Records Committee to get the race accepted as occurring in East Africa. He will use the two Seychelles images (pictured below) for the supporting argument.
February 2015: The next extinction in Seychelles? Adrian Skerrett highlights the plight of the Yellow Bittern. Wetland habitat in Seychelles is severely threatened by human development. Could bitterns become extinct in their only Afro-Malagasy home? Does anyone care, or is it expendable as it is not an endemic? For a PDF of the article click: Seychelles Nation article _____________________________________________________________________________
February 2015: Red-whiskered Bulbul eradicated Seychelles Islands Foundation has announced the eradication of the introduced Red-whiskered Bulbul from Assumption and therefore Seychelles. For more news click: Press releaseSeychelles Nation article. ____________________________________________________________________________________ January 2015: Birds of Aride Island featured An article by Adrian Skerrett in the January-April 2015 issue of Silhouette Magazine, the in-flight magazine of Air Seychelles, features Aride Island Nature Reserve, famous for seabirds and endemic land birds. For a PDF of the article click: Aride Island: an island restored ____________________________________________________________________________________ December 2014: New insights into Seychelles Black Parrot ecology Seychelles Islands Foundation has announced the publication of two new SIF-authored or co-authored papers on Seychelles Black Parrots in the journal Ostrich, in a special issue on African parrots. For PDFs click: Insights into the feeding ecology of the Seychelles Black Parrot andResearch and conservation of the larger parrots of Africa and Madagascar ____________________________________________________________________________________
November 2014: Major new wintering sight for Matsudaira's Storm-petrel Hadoram Shirihai and Adrian Skerrett have announced the discovery of a major new site for Matsudaira's Storm-petrel. A scientific paper is planned. For a PDF of the announcement in the local press click:Matsudaira's Storm-petrel. ____________________________________________________________________________________ October 2014: Unusual plumage colours in Seychelles birds An article by Adrian Skerrett in Seychelles Nation highlights two recent sights of common birds with unusual plumage For a PDF of the article click: Birds of a feather ____________________________________________________________________________________ April 2014: Seychelles Black Parrot confirmed as endemic Seychelles Black Parrot has been recognised as a distinct species by BirdLife International. See Seychelles News Agency. ____________________________________________________________________________________ January 2014: World record age for Bridled Tern The recovery of a ringed Bridled Tern age at least 20 years has been reported to SBRC. This appears to be a world record age for this species. SeeRinging Recoveries for more details. ____________________________________________________________________________________ November 2013: New site for breeding boobies A joint visit to Cosmoledo by representatives of the Islands Development Company, Seychelles Islands Foundation and Island Conservation Society has confirmed that for the first time in half a century, Masked Boobies are breeding at Grand Ile, the second largest island of the atoll. For a PDF of the article click: Conservation success confirmed at Cosmoledo ____________________________________________________________________________________