Bird ringing course, Fregate Island, Seychelles

12-22 July 2015

Fregate Island

Fregate Island

Frigate birds robbing a Lesser Noddy

Fregate tenebrionid beetle
Fregate Island is a private island named after
the former abundance of frigatebirds on the
island, bird pirates of the sea (In the 17th
century, pirates were among the first inhabitants
of this island).

The Fregate tenebrionid beetle is endemic to
Fregate Island.

Erin and Tanya ringing Fairy Terns

Ringing on Fregate Island

The conservation staff of Fregate Island invited me to provide a bird ringing training course on Fregate Island, Seychelles, in July 2015.

The training involved mist-netting of seabirds and land birds. A total of 397 birds was caught (including recaptures).

Birds caught are listed in a table at the end of the web report.

The participants were Tanya Leibrick and Erin Gleeson and, having had previous bird ringing experience, they qualified as ringers at the end of training.

Transport around Fregate is by walking or driving buggies - the electric buggy in the photo made a good ringing station!

Two previous bird ringing courses were held in the Seychelles:
Cousin Island, 18-23 September 2011
Cousin & Cousine Islands, 11-16 Feb 2014

Non-passerine birds

The Lesser Noddies and Fairy Terns had started breeding, and were thus easy to catch - they can also be extracted from the mist nets easily and quickly, and are great for training. The Moorhen were caught by dropping a net to the ground - the juvenile was too small to be ringed, however. A few doves and pigeons were also caught. The Zebra Dove is an introduced species to the Seychelles.

Lesser Noddy colony

Head of Lesser Noddy

Head of Fairy Tern

Webbed feet of Fairy Tern

Adult Moorhen

Moorhen juvenile

Seychelles Blue Pigeon

Zebra (Barred Ground) Dove

Passerine birds

The Seychelles Magpie-robin is an emblematic species of Fregate Island, the only island where it occurred for some time before being re-introduced to several other islands. As many Magpie-robins as possible are colour-ringed to monitor the population. The Seychelles Warbler is also being monitored on several islands, and a few have been colour-ringed on Fregate, with more intensive monitoring coming soon. Many Seychelles Fodies were caught in the agricultural area, where they were feeding on ripening figs - no Madagascar Fodies were caught at the figs.

Seychelles Magpie-robin, adult

Seychelles Magpie-robin, juvenile
(white feathers tinged with buff)

Seychelles Warbler

Seychelles White-eye

Seychelles Sunbird, male

Seychelles Sunbird nest

Madagascar Fody, male with body moult

Madagascar Fody, male

Seychelles Fody, male with white covert

Seychelles Fody, feeding on figs

Virtual Museum records

Fregate has a range of taxa that apply to the Animal Demography Unit Virtual Museum, especially reptiles and a few dragonfly species. Other taxa submitted to the Virtual Museum, but not shown here, include mushrooms (very few), Seychelles Fruit Bat, Palm Spider, and skinks. Fregate also has many animals not represented by the Virtual Museum, eg crabs, beetles, snails, millipedes and ants.

Please upload any photos you have (that are relevant) to the ADU Virtual Museum! To take part, register and upload at this web site (read the "How to" pdf for help).

Seychelles Wolf Snake

Seychelles House Snake

Phelsuma day gecko

Bronze Gecko

Phantom Flutterer

Vagrant Emperor (?)

Farewell to Fregate

Back: Desire (diving instructor). Front:
Cameron & Laragh (volunteers; see Laragh's blog
on island life here), Erin & Tanya

Rain over the Indian Ocean, off Fregate

Last days on Mahe

As there are not daily transfers from Fregate to Mahe, I stayed on Mahe at the Hilltop Boutique Hotel, from 19-22 July.

On Mahe I was able to find some Madagascar Fody nests. These were all submitted to PHOWN, PHOtos of Weaver Nests, also a Virtual Museum project, to collect and monitor breeding distributions and colony sizes of weaver birds globally.

Two Madagascar Fody juveniles were being fed by the female near a nest at the harbour. Other nests appeared deserted, although males were seen in their territories, and 2 different males were seen building nests. Read more about the Madagascar Fody, including a map with the distribution and PHOWN records.

Every morning and evening, the large Seychelles Fruit Bats soared in the sky.

Madagascar Fody male at nest

Seychelles Fruit Bat

Ringing totals on Fregate

Three birds that were ringed in 2011 were recaptured: a Seychelles Warbler (British ring), a Seychelles Fody (FA09035) and a Seychelles Sunbird (L51414). Several Seychelles Fodies were recaptured a day after ringing.

Species English Latin Caught
210 Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 1
302 Fairy Tern Gygis alba 30
939 Lesser Noddy Anous tenuirostris 159
1047 Madagascar Fody Foudia madagascariensis 20
1173 Zebra (Barred ground) Dove Geopelia striata 7
1174 Seychelles Blue Pigeon Alectroenas pulcherrina 1
1175 Seychelles Magpie Robin Copsychus sechellarum c4
1176 Seychelles Warbler Acrocephalus sechellensis 3
1177 Seychelles Sunbird Nectarinia dussumieri 5
1178 Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum 162
1860 Madagascar Turtle-Dove Columba picturata 2
3208 Seychelles White-eye Zosterops modestus 6
10022 Seychelles Turtle-Dove Streptopelia picturata 1
  Totals   397


A great thanks to the management of Fregate, especially Tanya and Erin, for a wonderful stay in the Seychelles!
Thanks to Max for great service at the Hilltop Boutique Hotel.