Ringing on Aride

Lesser Noddy
Lesser Noddy on nest


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.

Aride Island
Aride Island (view from Praslin)


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.


Fairy Tern
Fairy (White) Tern


Sooty Tern
Sooty Tern


Greater Frigatebird
Large wingspan of the Greater Frigatebird


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.

Seychelles Blue Pigeon
Seychelles Blue Pigeon


Seychelles Magpie Robin
Seychelles Magpie Robin


Seychelles Fody
Seychelles Fody (with unusual pale bill, with Spanish ring)

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.

Ringing table
Ringing table in woodland


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).

Handnetted Moorhen
Pablo and Manuel with handnetted Moorhen


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!

Greater Frigatebird
Manuel and Pablo with Greater Frigatebird

Large mesh net

Manuel also brought a large mesh net which worked well for catching Brown Noddies (also Lessers), and Sooty Terns.

Sooty Tern
Nasreen and Manuel with first Sooty Tern of the week

Night trapping

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).

Ringing group
Group photo after a happy week of ringing (photo taken by Craig)


Table. Ringing totals on Aride, 12-18 August 2019


  Species   Latin  Ringed  Retrapped  Totals
  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
  Moorhen   Gallinula chloropus  3  3
  Greater Frigatebird   Fregata minor  1  1
  Seychelles Blue Pigeon   Alectroenas pulcherrina  1  1
  Totals  563  105  668

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!

Would you like to ring tropical birds in the Seychelles? Book a trip with Birds4Africa!

Dieter is a qualified Bird Ringer and trainer, registered bird guide, and Weaver expert. Dieter is able to act as a bird guide for day trips in Cape Town, and is able to customise birds tours in South Africa and beyond.