08
August
2014

La vie est belle à Cousin

An English woman, an Irish man, and a French woman sat down one day to write about working on a nature reserve...

La vie est belle à Cousin. Our working week gets us up with the sunrise and back home 2 hours before sunset. There’s always loads of work to be done here on the island but also lots fun to be had.

Most of the work we do involves exploring this beautiful little island. From scrambling over rocks to carry out seabird bird census to walking through the forest searching for skinks and tortoise nests. The diversity of our work allows us to cover the entire 65 acres and get to know the island and its wildlife intimately.

We’ve been spending some time catching and ringing the endemic Seychelles Magpie Robins with the deputy chief warden, Alex. We place the nets at strategic locations in the territory of the particular Seychelles Magpie Robin we hope to catch. To catch the Magpie Robin’s attention we have to whistle and find a few insects on the ground.

This task isn’t simple and we need Alex’s skills and experience with the bird. After attracting the Magpie Robin on the ground we encourage it to fly into the net and that does the trick. We put the new ring onto the Magpie Robin we caught and take a blood sample.

A lot of the time we catch other birds and this is a good opportunity to really look at the other species on this island up close and handle them. We caught White-tailed Tropicbirds, Seychelles Blue Pigeons, Lesser Noddies and Fodies. Lots of fun was had.

Outside the work schedule, there’s plenty of time to enjoy the island life. Last week saw a lull in the relentless south-easterly winds that we normally experience here. This resulted in a lovely flat calm sea.

We grabbed this chance by hopping in a luckily debarking boat with our snorkeling gear and getting dropped off about 150 meters from the north facing beach. 

Out there, on the far side of the coral reef that encircles the island, in water around 10 meters deep, it was magical to hang on the surface and observe this wealth of tropical marine life for the first time. The highlight was seeing a group of ten spotted-eagle rays swimming gracefully together near the bottom.

We also saw a large shoal of flying fish and many parrot fish, which we were tucking into straight from the barbeque only a few days before. We’re spoilt with the rich habitats that surround us but the one below the water line is much less explored and therefore thought about. This experience opened us up to the wonder below the waves and has inspired us to hopefully many more snorkeling trips before we leave. 

Weekends, free from work, give us the opportunity to visit other islands if we wish. A couple of weeks ago, we spent three days on Praslin, the largest of our neighboring islands. We spent the evenings at Breeze Garden, a local bar, watching the world cup on an outdoor screen with live band playing reggae and local music in the background. There weren’t many people paying attention to them as the Brazil – Chile penalties got very heated.

On one of the days, after a visit to the famous Valle Du Mai, we stumbled upon a local parish fundraising party. There was food, drink music and fun activities, not to mention a great atmosphere with locals lining the beach wall enjoying the sun with a beer and a curry. The food on display was incredible. We had no idea what was in our curries but they tasted delicious, and we purchased almost all of one stall’s banana cake. We couldn’t get enough of it!

by Tim, Hannah and Margaux

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Living on a nature reserve, Turtles, Conservation, Research, Birds, Volunteering, Seabirds