Mauritius Stories and Tips

A beginners course in birdwatching

close up bird watching Photo, Mauritius, Africa

There were only half a dozen or so different varieties of birds around our hotel but it provided easy bird-watching and there antics proved to be fascinating. I took one step closer to fight my fear of birds. Over the last few years I've progressed from avoiding them at any cost and feeling my heart race if they got closer than a few metres.

A couple of years ago I forced myself to hold out a gloved hand for a hooded kestrel to be placed on it, then got quite close to the birds on Galapogas. I could, before this holiday, happily watch their antics from a distance. Here on Mauritius, close to the hotel all the birds seemed fairly comfortable with people and if I was going to enjoy relaxing in the gardens I needed to be comfortable with the close encounters that would certainly follow.

The "king" of the birds seemed to be the Indian Myna, who would easily see off the smaller birds, and they were all smaller than him. If this bird wanted easy access to the easily available food it would perch on the tree tops, before swooping and frightening off the smaller ones. When it had had its fill it left the ground available to the other residents of the garden. Over the fortnight the "pecking order" became very clear and we could almost predict where the territorial battles would be fought and who would win.

The most fascinating bird, in our view was the somewhat precocious red breasted "red fody". There were only a few of these "in town" but they were perching on nearby trees before swooping delicately down to the hedges and then investigating the ground and dining tables for crumbs. Indeed latterly in the holiday they were cheeky enough to take food out of the palm of your hand.

Alongside them were the brightly clad "green singing finch" and they like the Red Fody seemed to have pecking order rights over the plainer finches which won hands down on the number count but were clearly somewhat intimidated by their more brightly coloured cousins. However, it was the finch that gave us the best photographic opportunity of the holiday as the parents few away for food to bring back to their "starving chicks". I’ve never before been that close to a wild bird feeding its young. What a great site.

Walking at our feet we regularly saw the "zebra dove" which initially was hard to spot in the undergrowth, but once we got used to it we watched it meticulously covering the ground in search for food.

The punk member of the bird family in Mauritius is the attractive Red Whiskered Bulbul, with its punk styled "comb" on top of its head and its splashes of red. A strange looking bird on first glance but close up it was an attractive and intelligent looking bird. It never squabbled with the other birds, perhaps not wanting to spoiled its neatly coiffed hair do!

I guess the busiest bird on the block was the Village Weaver who had hardly a moment to eat as it seemed to be constantly occupied with building its intricate nests.

It’s easy to see how people become obsessive bird watchers and I have to confess it was probably more interesting than people watching!
Watch out I’m now looking for places I can visit with good opportunities for ornithology!

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