Bird ringing course, Cousin Island, Seychelles

18-23 September 2011

Riaz Aumeeruddy of Nature Seychelles invited me to provide a bird ringing training course on Cousin Island, Seychelles, from 18-23 September 2011. The training involved mist-netting of seabirds and land birds. A total of 478 birds was caught (including recaptures).

The participants were Annesa Rath, Dorothy Jeannie, Jessica Moumou, Jakawan Hoareau, Mary Ledlie, and Riaz Aumeeruddy. They were all awarded certificates at the end of the course. Birds caught are listed in a table below, after some photos of birds caught.

Extracting birds



Ringing in the field

The Seychelles Magpie Robin: special project of Nature Seychelles

Jessica retrieving a chick from a nest box

Ringing the single chick

Several adults were recaptured in mist-nets

All adults are colour ringed

Lesser Noddy - most ringed species on the course
This species is easy to catch! A mistnet, even in the open, will catch this species. They are also easy to extract from the nest and easy to handle - the bill is not too powerful as they catch small fish.

Lesser Noddies nest in trees all over the island

Easy to catch

Lesser Noddy in the hand

Lesser Noddy in the hand

Seychelles Fody - second most ringed species
This species is the sparrow of the Seychelles, and is endemic to several small islands in the Seychelles. The species occurs throughout the island, and is very tame around the staff houses.
Several recaptures were made of birds ringed by PhD student L Vega in 2002, making these birds at least 9 years old - see here.
One nest of the Seychelles Fody was found - see the PHOWN record here. See a video clip of the antics of a pair collecting nest material - here
In the past two fodies occurred on the island: the Seychelles Fody, and the introduced Red Fody - the latter now only occasionally visits Cousin Island.
Many males, and some females, have some white primary coverts.

Adult male, full breeding plumage

Male with some white primary coverts

Adult female

Some females have white primary coverts

Juvenile - does not have white primary coverts


Seychelles Warbler , Seychelles Warbler Research Group
This species is easy to identify - any brown bird on Cousin with 3 colour rings is a warbler!
Martijn Hammers and Sjouke Anne Kingma from the Netherlands, and Dave Wright from the UK

Seychelles Warbler recapture

Seychelles Warbler, unringed

Martijn, Sjouke, Dave

Sjouke with the nets and poles of the warbler team

Some other birds that were caught:

Common Noddy, larger than Lesser Noddy,
two with French rings recaptured (one from 2005)

Bridled Tern

White-tailed Tropicbird

Fairy Tern

Wedge-tailed Shearwater, one trapped itself in tree,
ringed and released

Tropical Shearwater - flew onto our veranda at night
where we could pick it up and ring it

Barred Dove - introduced species

Madagascar/Seychelles Turtle Dove - hybrid
of two subspecies

Seychelles Sunbird male

Seychelles Sunbird female

Life on Cousin Island:

One of the staff houses

Launching the boat

Seychelles Skink eating Day Gecko

View of Cousin Island from top of the hill -
Praslin Island is in the background

Species totals ringed on Cousin, 18-23 September 2011

English Latin SAFRING no. Ringed Retrapped
Tropical (Audubon's) Shearwater Puffinus lherminieri bailloni 28 1 0
Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus 180 1 0
Lesser Noddy Anous tenuirostris 939 282 3
Common Noddy Anous stolidus 303 35 2
White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus 40 12 1
Fairy Tern Gygis alba 302 18 1
Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus 936 3 0
Seychelles Magpie Robin Copsychus sechellarum 1175 1 * 2
Seychelles Warbler Acrocephalus sechellensis 1176 0 1
[Seychelles] Turtle Dove Streptopelia picturata 1074 9 2
Zebra (Barred ground) Dove Geopelia striata 1173 6 1
Seychelles Sunbird Nectarinia [Cinnyris] dussumieri 1177 7 0
Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum 1178 61 29
Totals     436 42

* 1 Seychelles Magpie Robin chick was ringed


Nature Seychelles is thanked for funding my visit.
Riaz Aumeeruddy, Nature Seychelles, is thanked for organising all the logistics of my visit.
The warbler team (Martijn, Sjouke, Dave) is thanked for their help.