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Newsletter June 2013

Much time and energy were spent clearing and preparing the sooty tern colony this year. We bought a new "slasher" to mow the entire colony before the birds landed. Special attention was attributed to the reserve area of the colony to ensure maximum nesting dentity. Robbie spent many days there clearing dead shrubs and "unfriendly" plants for that purpose.

This year's concentration of birds is one of the highest in many years. The birds are everywhere, from the sandbanks and down to perimeter of the staff village facing north.

Mass laying started much earlier compared to last year. A valid reason for this behaviour could be attributed to abundance of food in the area.

The season started well. Only the weather and food availability will determine a successful breeding season.

Tropicbirds: Bit of good news, four new nesting territories identified during the last quarter. At the last count a week ago, there are now 25 pairs currently nesting at the moment.

Fairy terns: They are doing pretty well too with around 45 pairs nesting. Robbie reckons that egg loss at this stage remains rather low considering the precarious nesting habitats of these birds.

Common Noddies: their breeding season started rather late. No signs of any hatchlings as yet. The nesting area is mainly concentrated on the western side of the island near human habitats.

Lesser Noddies: They are everywhere, from the coast to the interior of the island where most of the pissonia trees are found. They started nesting well before the common noddies. Hatching has already started around 2 weeks ago on the eastern part of the island.

Fregates: The fregate population decreases during the south east monsoon as some birds migrate down south for nesting. The remaining population this year is much less compared to last year, according to Robbie.

Boobies: Very few birds recorded during the last three month. A maximum of 15 individuals recorded so far.

Migrants: Their numbers are the lowest during that beginning of the south east as most birds have already migrated north for breeding. The few remaining ones are mostly turnstones, whimbrels, curlews, sandpipers and grey plovers.

A lone crab plover was seen towards the end of June. It only stayed for three days.

Green Turtles: One hundred and thirty five nests recorded at the closing of the season at the end of June. Most nests were concentrated on the beaches facing the open water. We managed to tag a few of them during that period.

Rainfall has been below average during the last three months, with the highest recorded reading in April. The island coastline is slowly changing again with the South East monsoon.

The sand is now shifting up to the north point, where the sand bank will grow out for a couple of hundred meters into the ocean.