11 What was that passing by ?

The Seychelles Magpie-robinThe Seychelles Magpie-robin, a black and white thrush suddenly appeared. In 1990 only 23 of these birds were left. Then it was introduced on this island along with three other islands as a part of a breeding project and the number grew up to 90, 25 of which were in Cousin. On this island, as the food was sufficient they were not fed by people, although the population on the other island had to be fed.

A white bird was sitting at the bottom of a tree along the path. It was a White-tailed Tropic Bird sitting on some eggs. Then I found there were many old palm stumps the center of which had rotted so a hole was created. Most of the holes were occupied by White-tailed Tropic Birds. About 3000 pairs of the birds breed on this island all year around.

@A White Tern flew away close by. There was a White Tern chick left, which was fluffy and round with cute eyes perching in a small shallow hollow on a tree branch. The hollow was tiny and I wondered how it could hang without sliding out.

The rain was easing up. The track we were walking on was one meter in width and in tropical rainforest. Pebbles made of bird guano were scattered at our feet.

Something white was flying towards us. When it passed by us we felt a puff of air. It was a White-tailed Tropic Bird with a long tail flying by at a distance of only 50 cm or so. There were also some other White-tailed Tropic Birds sitting a short distance away incubating their eggs. But the true charm of the bird is when it is flying which was so elegant that I sank in a reverie.

To all birdwatchers across the world, I recommend Cousin Island as a dream come true. You should go there.

An Aldabra, agiant tortoiseThere was an Aldabra, a giant tortoise, with its shell one meter in length, in a small open area in the forest. Once, it had become extinct because of excessive hunting and had been reintroduced on this island. The tortoise, which was said to be more than 100 years old, was slowly moving and eating grass. According to the guide, this tortoise can only stay afloat but not swim so it is thoroughly terrestrial. But sometimes the tortoise goes to beach at night to avoid mosquitoes. It was unbelievable that a mosquito could bite and penetrate the tortoise's skin as it seemed very hard like elephant skin. The guide taught us how we could distinguish between males and females. The shape of male and female shells are different and females are much smaller than males so when they mate the body of the female is almost covered by the male.

Sea turtles also come to spawn eggs on this island. We found the marks they left when they buried eggs. It was the middle of egg-laying season. The eggs hatch at approximately 6 weeks and small turtles emerge from the beach and go to the sea when many crabs wait to catch and eat them.

The guided walk started at 10:55 and finished at 12:30. Although the guide said that he was sorry we did not enjoy the tour as it rained, we had a good time. The White-tailed Tropic Bird passing by us at a short distance was so wonderful and fascinating. Of course if the weather had been good and we had been able to take pictures, it would have been much better.

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