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The Fantasy World of Aride Island

When we first arrived on Aride Island, after just a few weeks, it felt like the birds and other wildlife made up their own rules. I mean, there were turnstones in the woods and moorhens on the beach – what’s all that about?

Two turnstones would scuttle around the paths and when they cam across an old coconut shell, just like birds at home would turn over stones on the beach – hence their name – they would try to turn over the coconut shell! I never saw them succeed, without enough leverage it kept rolling back onto the same side, which is maybe what kept them interested, but each time they waited patiently to see what it revealed.

Every available space on the island was taken up by wildlife, whether it was traditionally known for it or not. The roseate tern colony, made up of over 500 pairs, was in a woodland glade on the hill, not a shingle island, with our job just before the breeding season to clear some of the trees and create open areas! We not only had the largest colony in Seychelles, but one of the largest in the Indian Ocean, and the world’s only woodland-nesting colony – there must be something in the air.

Then there were the all white fairy terns, of which there were over 4,000 pairs, which was also the largest single population in Seychelles. They lay just one egg on the nub of a branch; it was very bizarre to see a tern incubating an egg on a branch, knowing they too normally prefer a scrape on the ground. However not the easiest environment for either parents of chick...

Want to hear more...

Look out for 'Island to Island' to be released 23rd August and now available for review at Waterstones, Foyles and on NetGalley

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