The Seychelles is all about beautiful sandy beaches, the bluest ocean and palm trees swaying in the breeze. Or is it?
The wildlife on this island is one aspect that should not be overlooked, especially the birds that call these islands home. The Seychelles has 12 endemic bird species which means it is truly a bird-watchers paradise. The birds include: the Seychelles black parrot (the national bird of the Seychelles); Seychelles blue pigeon; Seychelles black paradise flycatcher; Seychelles magpie robin; Seychelles warbler; Seychelles scops owl; Seychelles white-eye; Seychelles sunbird; Seychelles fody (also referred to as ‘Tok Tok’); Seychelles kestrel; Seychelles swiftlet; and Seychelles bulbul.
Its location in the Indian Ocean makes the Seychelles an important winter stop-over for many migrant birds. Whimbrels, sandplovers, and unusually large flocks of crab plovers spend their whole non-breeding season on the islands.
In the interior of the islands, the bright Madagascar fody (or ‘Red Cardinal fody’), Indian myna, and zebra dove (or ‘barred ground dove’) are the most commonly seen birds. Beautiful red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbirds, and dazzling white fairy terns are other spectacular species to look out for when birding in the Seychelles.
But the highlight for any birdwatcher is Bird Island which was named a wildlife sanctuary in 1986. There are opportunities for birders to observe sea, shore and land birds here which breed on the island in tremendous numbers.
Land birds are of course present year round but some are at their best during the breeding season, mainly October –March. Some seabird species are also present year-round but others breed either during the southeast monsoon from May-September or the northwest monsoon from October-April. October-December is the best time to see migrants, some lingering until April, particularly the Crab Plover.
If this is a birding trip of a lifetime, the best time is mid-October to end-November combining the end of the southeast seabird season with the beginning of the northwest and the height of the migration season together with calm seas and settled weather.
The Seychelles bird life promises to delight and deliver a show like no other.