Seychelles Warbler and chick by Cas Eikenaar
Birds, that’s what I came to Cousin Island Special Reserve for. As a birder back home in my native England, I was seduced by such exotic beauties as magpie-robins and warblers. Throw in some noddies, the whiter than white fairy terns, plus the chance of such stonkers as crab plovers, well, why wouldn’t I leave my desk behind?
And they are all as brilliant as I had hoped for. My favourite part of the day is heading out into the mosquito-infested forest and searching out the magpie robins. These ever-inquisitive bundles of black and white are always on the lookout for an easy meal, and will follow us around once we have found where they are taking breakfast.
Whitetailed tropicbird by Jorge Fernandez
They remind me so much of the robins we get back home, the gardener’s best friend, always sitting nearby, looking for a tasty worm or other treat as a thank you for their company. The magpie-robins on Cousin are just the same, albeit with a juicy cockroach as their favourite snack.
It is great to study these wonderful birds that I had only previously only heard about, or seen on television. And here I am, slogging through a hot forest, being attacked by mosquitoes, with a massive smile on my face. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Seychelles Magpie Robin by Jeff Watson
I have been captivated by Cousin Island’s other residents too –. I love the giant tortoises, lumbering about the place. They look as happy as me. My Grandparents’ have had a small tortoise named Sam for over fifty years, so it’s fair to say I have a soft spot for them. These guys are leviathans compared to him, but still love being fussed over just the same.
And as for the turtles, I must admit, I am a turtle nerd too, as well as bird one. They are stunning creatures but, I will leave that for others to write about.
Bird ringing and biometrics by cousin staff
But back to birds, my reason for coming to this beautiful island. It just so happens that back home I am a ringer. So when the opportunity to ring some white-tailed tropicbirds came up, I could barely contain my excitement. Despite their docile (some might even say dopey) looks, these guys are hard as nails, with serrated bills. Nevertheless, as with all of Cousin’s birdlife, it too is wonderful. I still have a huge smile on my face, very happy to have been part of Nature Seychelles incredible conservation work while enjoying one of my favourite pastimes, birding.
Kevin Middleton (Nature Seychelles international volunteer program)