Aride Island in the Seychelles is the northernmost granitic island in the Seychelles. It is a nature reserve managed by the Island Conservation Society (ICS) of Seychelles. A bird ringing course was held here, following a similar course in 2017. This was followed by a 1.5 day visit to Cousin Island.
Birds on Aride
Over one million seabirds breed on Aride, including the world’s largest colonies of Lesser Noddy and Tropical Shearwater, the world’s only hilltop colony of Sooty Terns and a colony of Roseate Terns (race arideensis, named after the island). There are also large numbers of Brown Noddies, Fairy (White) Terns and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. From the vantage point on the northern cliffs, hundreds of Great Frigatebirds with some Lesser Frigatebirds soar, the only place in Seychelles where so many of these birds can be closely seen at eye-level.
Five of the Seychelles endemic species breed on Aride. This includes the world’s largest population of Seychelles Warbler, the rare Seychelles Magpie Robin, once one of the rarest birds in the world but now on the way to recovery. The Seychelles Fody, Seychelles Blue Pigeon and Seychelles Sunbird also breed on Aride.
Ringing course, 12-18 August 2019
A ringing training course was conducted by Dieter and Manuel for the staff and volunteers on Aride. With a few mistnets, a handnet, and lots of hands, we managed to catch over 800 birds including recaptures. Both seabirds and landbirds were caught, ringed and measured. The Lesser Noddy was the top species to be ringed, but more Seychelles Fodies were caught as there were a large number of recaptures.
Most birds were caught in standard mistnets. Manuel brought a handnet from Spain to try out for the first time, and it proved to work exceptionally well, although not necessarily always easy! Moorhens can be caught by mistnet in the correct conditions, but on this trip all Moorhens were caught by handnet. Seabirds could also be caught by handnet (as well as mistnet).
Greater Frigatebirds roost on the trees on the cliffs on sunny days, so we put up a large mesh net, but only a Noddy was caught. Pablo managed to creep up to Frigatebirds 3 times with a handnet, but the net did not hold the birds. Manuel then tried putting rope nooses on the rocks, and together with a handnet, success was eventually achieved! This could be the only time a Frigatebird has been caught by this unique method!
Large mesh net
Manuel also brought a large mesh net which worked well for catching Brown Noddies (also Lessers), and Sooty Terns.
Tropical and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were caught by hand and handnet on one night excursion. These birds were also ringed when they landed on our porches at night!
Some recaptures were from earlier of the course, while others were from several years previously (33 from 2017). Of the recaptures, some birds had been ringed with Spanish (n=24) or British rings, and the details are not yet available. Of the SAFRING recaptures, one very interesting record was found – a Seychelles Fody had been ringed on Aride nearly 14 years previously (ring FA41377)! A Seychelles Magpie Robin (4A51905) was recaptured about 9 years after it fledged. (See more about these recaptures here).
Table. Ringing totals on Aride, 12-18 August 2019
|Seychelles Fody||Foudia sechellarum||120||76||196|
|Lesser Noddy||Anous tenuirostris||163||163|
|Common Noddy||Anous stolidus||92||4||96|
|Sooty Tern||Sterna fuscata||42||5||47|
|Fairy (White) Tern||Gygis alba||38||2||40|
|Audubon’s Shearwater||Puffinus lherminieri||30||30|
|White-tailed Tropicbird||Phaethon lepturus||22||2||24|
|Madagascar Turtle-Dove||Nesoenas picturata||19||5||24|
|Wedge-tailed Shearwater||Puffinus pacificus||17||17|
|Seychelles Warbler||Acrocephalus sechellensis||9||5||14|
|Seychelles Sunbird||Cinnyris dussumieri||6||6|
|Seychelles Magpie-robin||Copsychus sechellarum||0||6||6|
|Greater Frigatebird||Fregata minor||1||1|
|Seychelles Blue Pigeon||Alectroenas pulcherrina||1||1|
Thanks to Nasreen for organising the course, to Manuel for his help, to ICS for hosting and supporting us on Aride, and to all participants for a great week!
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