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Newsletter January to April 2012

With the stress of the festivities behind us, it is now time to pay a little more attention to Nature. Let us pick up from where we left off in our last newsletter.

The sooty terns chicks were doing well towards the end of August through to the beginning of October, when things started to go wrong. We noticed a gradual deterioration in the conditions of the fledglings. They were not getting enough to eat from their parents. By the end of the month, it was apparent that the adults had started to abandon their chicks and were heading out to sea. This was because the food source had moved out too far from the island and they were not getting enough to bring back to their fledglings. Sadly, it ended in disaster. The mortality rate among the chicks was very high. Hundreds of them ended their days not even having a chance to fly even once over the ocean.

You will remember from our last newsletter that the breeding season was at least a month late. We presume that the breeding disaster was due to that, Nature can be cruel at times.

MIGRANTS:

Our feathered visitors were many since September last year. Here is the list of those who dropped in. Some stayed for a week or so and then left, but the majority chose to stay longer.

  • Alpine Swift
  • Blue Cheek Bee eater 8
  • Common Cuckoo
  • Crab plovers 3
  • Curlew Sandpiper around 40
  • Greater Sand plovers 10 – 15
  • Grey Plover 20 – 30
  • Kentish Plover
  • Lesser Sandplover 15- 20
  • Little terns 100 - 150
  • Oriental Cuckoo
  • Pacific Golden Plover 4
  • Peregrine Falcon – had a real feast with so many birds around!
  • Pied Wagtail 6
  • Pipit Red Throated 5
  • Rose Coloured Starling
  • Sanderlings 8 – 10
  • Stint 2
  • Swallows 15
  • Teal 3
  • Turnstone 300 – 400 individuals
  • Wimbrels 30- 60
  • Wood Sandpiper 1


SEABIRD NEWS

The numbers of frigate birds have also increased after their breeding season in the southern islands. We have around 350 individuals at the moment, mostly lessers. Sunset time is the best time to admire these elegant flyers. You see dozens them gliding effortlessly in the thermals. On Bird, fregates roost on the north side of the island in casuarinas from June to October and south during November to May. This pattern changed late last year as one of the two roosting casuarinas trees fell due to coastal erosion. They are all now roosting on the north side of the island.

Hawksbill Turtle Season.
The first emergence was recorded on the 07th September last year. At the time of the writing this report, 203 nests have been recorded. Most of the nests are located on the beach facing the open ocean. Very few nests on the beach facing the lagoon. This is probably due to the drift wood on the beach making the access very difficult for them to reach beyond the high water mark. Hatching of eggs have already started. The ghost crabs are causing havoc, digging into the nests and destroying eggs and newly hatched turtles. Roby is working very hard digging up the nests already invaded by the crabs, giving a chance to the survivors.

Nesting Season / Number of Hawksbill Egg Clutches per Season
1996-971381997-98801998-992031999-001182000-011232001-022012002-031372003-041522004-051862005-061892006-071822007-082302007-091962009-101922009-11271

It is believed that only 1 percent of the hatchlings survives to adulthood. An average clutch is about 150 eggs. If you multiply the total number of egg clutches by 150 and divide to get 1pc. This will give you an idea of how many turtles will make it.

Bird Island has never looked so green in many years. This is due to the occasional rainfall since August last year. The island stayed dry with very little rain from February until the beginning of August. A record of 131mm was recorded in one night over Christmas. The last time we experienced that much rain was in August 1998, during El Nino.

OTHER NEWS

Internet wireless connection is now fully operational. Guests can now connect on the net from their chalets. Access cards to connect to the system are on sale from the reception. Promotional rates during our low season from May to September. Check with your travel agent or contact us directly.

We’ll be back in April. Best wishes for 2012 from the Bird Island Team.