Holiday to Bird island in the Seychelles

April 29th - May 2nd, 2003 

Are you looking for information on Bird Island? Bird Island, a coralline atoll in the Seychelles Islands, is a natural paradise unique in the world, home to giant tortoises (including Esmeralda, considered the oldest living animal on the planet), as well as hundreds of thousands of terns that come every year to the island to breed. Bird Island has only one resort, which price is particularly expensive.

How to get to Bird Island? The day starts with a bus transfer from my hotel to Praslin airport, where I soon board a Shorts-360 with service to Mahe'. The flight is about 15 minutes long.
Praslin from the air
After taking off from Praslin, I see Anse Lazio beach and Curieuse in the distance.
DHC-6 Twin Otter
Once in Mahe', I shortly board a Twin Otter with direct service to Bird Island, my final destination of today.
DHC-6 Twin Otter
DHC-6 Twin Otter
Dornier 228
Unfortunately the airplane had a failure to the left thurst reverser, so we had to disembark and board another aircraft. On the left picture: ground personnel trying to repair the Twin Otter. On the top picture: the Dornier 228 where we will actually fly.
Bird island Bird Island airport
After 30 mintues of flying, Bird Island is in sight and the pilot makes a circling approach to the grass runway in the center of the island. We finally reach the air terminal, that is within a walking distance from the lodge.
Bird island beach
Photo of Bird Island: the immense beach surrounding Bird Island all around (it's about five kilometers of circumference)
Noddie terns
Bird Island is known to host hundred thousands of birds. In the pictures, some Noddie terns standing on a dead tree on the beach.
Bird island beach Baby shark
During low tide in Bird Island, it is quite easy (depending on season) to spot baby shark swimming very close to the beach.
Bird island beach
Even with overcast sky, the beach is still beautiful and the sea inviting.
Bird island beach
Bird island beach
Another beautiful Bird Island beach. There are no footprints on the sand.
Grass runway on Bird Island Deserted Bird Island beach
I continue to walk on the island. On the left, the grass runway of the airport. On the right, an immense white sand beach with no footprints from other humans.
Vegetation on Bird Island Vegetation on Bird Island
Photos of Bird Island vegetation: a forest growing on some parts of the inner island.
Esmeralda gian tortoise
Worlds oldest tortoise

But the real superstart of Bird Island is Esmeralda, a giant tortoise of an estimated age of about 200 years and a weight of 298 kilos. Although his name, he is actually a male and he is probably one of the world's oldest tortoise currently living.
Me near Esmeralda giant tortoise.
Jeremy Radiate Tortoise Jeremy Radiate Tortoise
Jeremy Radiate Tortoise is usually hard to be located because of its size (just a bit more than a coconut) and because she prefer to stay hidden in the shadow for most of the time. On the left picture, the carapace is damaged because she had an accident: a lot of years ago, when this island was used for copra production, she was confused for a coconut and "harvested" using kind of pickaxe.
Giant tortoises
Suddenly, Esmeralda start to run after turtle number 6... but... why ?
Giant tortoises
OK... I now understand !
Copulating tortoises
Giant tortoise
Photo of Esmeralda giant tortoise while eating some grass.
A turtle that I didn't see before. I don't know how that Noddie chicks went on the turtle's leg and why... and also why the turtle went inside the pool...
Another nice turtle, much more smaller than Esmeralda, marked as Number 6.
Sooty Terns Bird Island Sooty Terns Bird Island
Sooty Terns Bird Island Bird Island hosts anually a colony of about one million and an half of Sooty Terns, coming here to feed and then to grow the chicks. Normally they arrive in February: at this time of the year, they just fly over the island, until April, when they start to land after sunset. In May they begin to land also during the day and the chicks are born and feeded in the summer months. In October, they will go away and will disappear until the next February. Observing the colony is breathtaking, the most impressive thing is how much loudy they are!
Tropic bird Fairy Terns
In these pictures, a Tropicbird is incubating the eggs at the foot of a big tree (on the left), while Fairy Terns are having a rest on a big tree (on the right).
Fairy Tern chick
A lovely chick of Fairy Tern shows himself from its nest.
Fairy Tern Fairy Tern
Fairy Tern

The Fairy Tern is another very common bird here.
Noddie tern
Photo of a Noddie standing on a coconut.
Birds Birds

On Bird Island, birds are of course everywhere. After the breakfast, the table is assaulted by a lot of birds, which will eat all my remainders in less than a minute.
Other typical birds of Bird Island.
Noddie tern
Other Noddies
Tropical storm Tropical storm
At the dawn, the entire Seychelles archipelago was hit by a violent tropical storm, totally unusual for this period of the year. A big tree went down, damaging part of the roof of the lodge's resturant.
Broken papaya tree
The next morning the weather still doesn't improve and a young plant of Papaya is broken by the fury of the wind.

Several big trees lay on the ground, some of them has a trunk exceeding half a meter in diamater.
Noddie tern chick
A beautiful chick of Noddie Tern, probably fallen from its nest because of the terrible wind of this morning.
Noddie tern chicks
I then enter a narrow trail in the forest and I see something terrible. Dozens of chicks, most of them already dead, stands on the ground, probably after falling from their nests because of the wind. I don't know if they survived, I've observed them for quite long time, but no adult did come here to feed them.
Noddie tern chicks

Other chicks rambling on the ground.
Bird building a nest
An adult is collecting building materials to build or repair its nest.
Seaweeds carried by a storm
I continue to walk, turning around the island and soon I discover that, near Passe Cocos, what two days ago was looking like the picture on the left, today is almost totally covered by a thick layers of seaweeds, probably carried here by the combined action of wind, tide and ocean's currents.
Seaweeds carried by a storm
The new beach near Passe Cocos, with seaweed piled up by the tropical storm.
Bird island resort Geko
On Bird Island there is only one luxury resort, quite pricey. On the left picture, a bungalow at Bird Island Resort, at least as it was in year 2003. On the right picture, a geko in the bungalow eating so many insects.
Air Seychelles flight to Bird Island
Unfortunately three days run very fast and a Twin Otter aircraft is ready to bring me back to Mahe', where I will arrive at night, before continuing back to my country the following morning.

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