Trip Report – October 2018
Comments: Reunion and Mauritius don’t have many species but what they do have are great and, because there is so little natural forest left on either island (depressingly!) relatively easy to see. We came here from Madagascar and continued on to UAE afterwards. As usual I have only listed life birds.
Day 1: Arrived at Reunion, picked up our rental car from Sixt right at the airport and drove to the Hotel Bellepierre which isn’t great but about the only choice in town.
Day 2: Left the hotel early and drove up to La Roche Ecrit. it is an interesting drive to get up there but it was worth it. We quickly got Reunion Stonechat and then Reunion Grey White-eye. Started hiking up a popular trail and Olive White-eye were quite abundant followed by Reunion Bulbul and Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher. A bit further up the trail we lucked out with Reunion Cuckooshrike and then a Reunion Harrier flew by. That was really all we could get here so nice lazy afternoon.
Day 3: We spent a while driving round to L’etang-Sale-Les-Bains where, with a bit of effort, we found a spot on the coast where we could do some sea watching. The birds come in closer to land later in the afternoon so we hung around until about 4.30 and then had great views of Barau’s Petrel and Tropical Shearwater, some of them right over our heads.
Day 4: Spent the day getting from Reunion to our fabulous hotel in Mauritius where we luxuriated in a private villa at the Shanti Maurice.
Day 5: A non-birding day spent enjoying the hotel. Our rental car was delivered to us at the hotel so we decided to check out our meeting spot for the next morning with our guide at Black River Gorge. We had fantastic views of Pink Pigeon so it was worth the drive. Night at Shanti Maurice.
Day 6: Met our guide in the car park and started our hike. Our guide was totally unfriendly and not at all engaged which meant that hiking 5 kms out and back was rather dull. In addition it really wasn’t very birdy. We did ultimately get our targets: Mauritius Grey White-eye, Mauritius Bulbul, Mauritius Cuckooshrike and Mauritius Parakeet, but we’ve had more enjoyable trips!
Tried La Roche qui Pluere in the afternoon for sea birds but very quiet. Back to enjoy the hotel – night at Shanti Maurice.
Day 7 : We left the Shanti Maurice and drove over to Ile aux Aigrettes where we had a private tour booked. Enjoyed the quick boat ride over to the tiny island and almost immediately started seeing Mauritius Red Fody. There was also a nesting Mauritius Olive White-eye so we got our targets quickly.
Decided to have a go at seeing the Mauritius Kestrel at Vallee de Ferney and the guys at Ile aux Aigrettes called ahead of us to make sure we would be in time. This is a bit tacky as they feed the bird but it is the only way to see it and it is a great bird and worth seeing.
After that we headed north up the coast to our new hotel The Residence.
Day 8 : This was our last day and we really didn’t want to leave one endemic on the table so we left early and drove to Bras D’eau park for the Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher. We found the park warden ( thank goodness!) and he told us where the best place was to see them was. We hiked a long way and we were just about to give up when a male and female flew in and we had fantastic views!. The walk back seemed endless but at least we had been successful. Last night at The Residence.
Guides & Resources
Guides: We did this without guides but did tap into local people in Mauritius – through Mauritian Wildlife Organization for both Black River Gorge and Ile Aux Aigrettes
Lonely Planet guide for points of interest.
Field Guides: Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands, Ian Sinclair and Olivier Langrand