24
March
2016

Cousin Island a place like no other

A report from Nature Seychelles International Volunteer Program

My decision to come to Cousin Island was extremely last minute. I was so eager to run away from cold Europe to go to the paradise that is Seychelles that within a week I managed to make the necessary arrangements with Nature Seychelles’ Science Officer Cheryl, pack and leave. I left Italy the day after New Year’s, and I couldn’t have chosen a better way to start 2016!

After a hideous trip of almost 24 hours caused by a variety of delays and missed flights I finally managed to jump on the boat that took me to what would be my new home for the next 3 months. I have had the best sleeps in my life, with the waves singing me lullabies that would take me to dream-world every night.

The main reason I came to Cousin was because of the hawksbill turtles that nest in large numbers in this tiny island that only takes about one hour and half to walk around. As soon as I arrived I was taken on patrols and had the chance on my very first day to see two nesting turtles and a few baby hatchlings that were being excavated from a nest that had hatched a few days before. 

Every time I see a nest hatch it’s the same emotions as the first time because seeing these tiny creatures, smaller than the palm of my hand, crawling all the way to the sea and imagining the amazing trip they will undertake in the oceans to return a few decades from now, as majestic reptiles is just everything I could dream for. 

But the beauty of Cousin is that it never stops surprising you. In fact, it is in this tiny island that I discovered my new absolute favorite bird: the white tailed tropic bird!

Two South African volunteers, Chris and Michelle, are to be thanked for introducing me to this species I had never heard of before. They were undertaking a study on 30 nesting tropic birds around the island and were following the process from the egg stage to the fledging chick to monitor chick survival. They gave me a lot of information and taught me how to hold, measure and ring these beautiful creatures. 

Below is number 26, which I have had the fortune to see hatching and I have been taking pictures of it every day to have a long term memory of this cute little fluff ball.

Unfortunately, Chris and Michelle had to leave after two weeks therefore they instructed me to everything that needed to be done on a weekly basis in order for their study to continue also in their absence. The first couple weeks after they left were pretty hard as I could not remember where some of the nests were and because the forest always looks the same! But now I know where all of them are giving me the amazing opportunity to observe from very close the quick growth of the chicks I am getting very affectionate of. 

But why do I like them so much? Well, you just got to give a quick look at the funny expressions they make for you to fall in love with them such as with these fellows below.

Sometimes I also have the opportunity to make some friendly encounters with tropic birds that I am not following in the monitoring study, such as this super cute stage 3 chick that randomly decided to take a sunbath on beautiful main beach and was happy to be in my company!

Just to end this amazing trip…here is a beautiful photo of how five crazy ladies look in a mask.

Categories: Living on a nature reserve, Turtles, Volunteering, Seabirds