Thursday 11 August 2016


I am in Mauritius for a short break before returning to Madagascar. I spent a full day birding in Black River National Park which is the rain forest stronghold for endemic birds. I also spent a morning birding along the coastal strip at resort of Flic en Flac. Both places are in Black River district council area and are arguably the best places to locate yourself if you have only a very short time on the island.

A pelagic trip or a visit to one of the small off shore islands is the next obvious move if you have more time which I don't. A visit to an estuary for waders should round things off. With those four trips, you could see pretty much all Mauritius has to offer depending on the season.

I entered the national park at the Black River entrance. In this area there are high trees with very little ground cover. My only sighting was a group of Mauritius white eye in the canopy. This was my only sighting of them on the island.

Most paths start to rise and once you have risen 200 or 300 metres or so, the trees are lower and bushes appear. It is in this higher zone that birding was more productive.

pink pigeon

Indeed almost the first birds I saw were a group of three pink pigeon. This is an endangered endemic and one of the main reasons to visit the park.

pink pigeon obscured

Near-by I came across two Mauritius bulbul. To me they looked very similar to Madagascar bulbul. I am a very anti-splitting person though.

Mauritius bulbul

In the guide book, the Birds of the Indian Ocean islands, it is stated that you are extremely inlikely to see them near Red-whiskered bulbul. While this may have been the case in the past, it is not true now. The area was full of red-whiskered bulbul. They have moved out of the lowlands into the forests.

Red-whiskered bulbul near the Mauritius bulbul

Of course they are abundant on the coast. The one below was on a chair in my hotel's outdood dining area.

red-whiskered bulbul at the hotel

In the bushes, several flock of Mauritius grey white eye were observed but they were mobile and mosly in cover. They are most easily separated from Mauritius (olive) white eye by their pale rump.

Another bird with a pale rump which can be seen in the area is Mascarene swiftlet. Several were flying in the highest part of the park. This is the only swift on Mauritius.

Mauritius parakeet were also observed quite easily in this part of the park. There noise gives them away but they are well camouflaged when they land.

record shot of white tailed tropicbird

On the way back down, a few white tailed tropicbird were seen drifting across the far side of the park. Unfortunately they never came close. You should just be able to see one in the centre of the picture above.

lower part of the rain forest

I was in the forst for nearly eight hours so I ad to work hard ofr my views. Unfortunately I didn't find any Mauritius kestrel even though this is their stronghold. 

Madagascar turtle dove

Back near the entrance, I saw two types of dove which I had missed in the morning. One was Madagascar turtle dove.

zebra dove
The other was near the car park itself and was a zebra dove also called barred ground dove. This introduced species is common in the disturbed parts of the island.

common myna

Sadly the common myna which was also introduced has found its way into the forst too though only in the areas with secondary and non-native growth.


An introduced species of a different type is the mongoose. They aren't difficult to see if you stay alert of what is ahead of you.

crab-eating macaque

And yet another introduction which is easy to see, at least near the Black River entrance information centre is crab-eating macaque.

The next morning I walked along the coastal strip at Flic en Flac. This was light relief compared with eith hours in the rain forest the day before.

House sparrow is common particualarly under the pine trees.

 common waxbill

However it is nowhere near as common was common waxbill.

some common waxbill

Some of the waxbill even spilt over not the beach.

Mascarene martin hawk over the waves at the shore line. They even ocassionally land on the beach and near-by grass.

record shot of a landed Mascarene martin

As well as feral pigeon there are other doves along the strip. These include a few spotted dove which were introduced near 250 years ago.

spotted dove

Zebra dove are extremly numerous. However I spent some time viewing the one below which was much darker (more pigmented) than the others. Even the blue on its bill appeared deeper.

dark zebra dove

The final bird I added to my small Mauritius list was village weaver. One was so busy eating bread it stayed in position for prolonged views.

village weaver

After this short rest and recreation, I am going back to Madagascar. I intend to visit a rain forest there which should more varied birds than the city of Antananarivo which I have already seen.

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