Saturday, March 28, 2009

Aldabra: Birds, Bats, and Other Critters

If you can pull yourself away from the sharks and tortoises, you discover that Aldabra hosts all sorts of other critters.

First, there are the birds. Within a few hundred meters of our landing, we saw ten new life birds: Aldabra Rail, Souimanga Sunbird (pictured), Aldabra Fody, Aldabra Drongo, Madagascar Coucal, Dimorphic Egret, Crab Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Fairy Tern, and Comoro Blue Pigeon, as well as old friends such as Madagascar White Eye, Grey Heron, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Greenshank, Wimbrel, Great Frigatebird, White-tailed Tropicbird, Madgascar Turtle Dove, and Pied Crow.

We particularly enjoyed the male coucal: he had caught a gecko and was calling in hopes of sharing it with a lady friend.

The birds weren't the only ones aloft. Fruit bats (aka Flying Foxes) periodically skimmed the palms, and occasionally alighted for a snack.

On the ground were legions of crabs, ranging from tiny hermit crabs to gigantic coconut crabs.

We don't know if these giants can really open coconuts with their bare claws, but we wouldn't want to tangle with one.

Returning to the water at the end of the day, we discovered that the sharks weren't the only predators swimming in the shallows. They were joined by schools of Bonefish, Trevally (a type of jack), and Barracuda. We even caught a quick glimpse of a Permit (which they call Dart in the Indian Ocean).

It's not often that you can walk right up to a bonefish to take his picture.


  1. That's a great shot of an Aldabra flying fox (Pteropus aldabrensis)! Would you add your photo as a citizen-science observation to the AfriBats project on iNaturalist?:

    AfriBats will use your observations to better understand bat distributions and help protect bats in Africa.

    Please locate your picture on the map as precisely as possible to maximise the scientific value of your records.

    Many thanks!