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Newsletter June-July 2017

The Birds are back...

This year the south-east trade winds began earlier than usual and Sooty Terns, whose breeding activities are generally linked to the onset of this season, had begun nesting on Bird Island earlier than the long-term norm with a few eggs appearing by 27 May (generally, they do not begin laying until early to mid June). On his first walk around the colony, researcher Chris Feare, found that laying was well under way and that the colony was already looking spectacular. Despite this however, many parts of the colony nesting grounds were still unoccupied, indicating that many birds were yet to arrive.

By mid June many more our winged friends had made their entrances while others were laying in full force. Chris recaptured the first marked bird of 2017 and via a Google Earth map we were able to see where the bird went during its 38 hours away from the nesting colony. It traveled west from Bird Island following the northern boundary of the shallow Seychelles Bank and eventually spent most of its feeding time where the Bank drops off over deep water, about 170 km from Bird Island.

Chris, in collaboration with Bird Island are now in the third season of investigating where Seychelles Sooty Terns feed during their breeding season. Data of this kind will continue to be gathered as the breeding season progresses, providing an overview of feeding areas used by Sooty Terns. It is hoped that these data will be used to determine marine areas of importance to Seychelles seabirds and thereby identify areas that should be protected to preserve the archipelago’s marine biodiversity.

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