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South Africa (ZA)   Mauritius Vacation December 2008  -  Categories: Mauritius- New  -  @ 10:02:42 am

Le Victoria Hotel north of Port Louis, Mauritius - December 2008

My family and I decided to spend 10-days on the tropical island of Mauritius before heading back to South Africa for Christmas. Le Victoria is a great family hotel situated on the western side of the island midway between Port Louis and Grand Bay. Certainly not a hard core birding holiday and most of my birding time was spent photographing the exotics within the manicured and artificial hotel gardens, which would only attract exotics. Images by Mike Pope

As is expected House Crows, House Sparrows and Common Mynas are the first birds encountered on the journey from the aiport to the hotel. At the hotel, the Mynas were quite prevalent
Common Myna

Zebra Doves can be heard and seen all throughout the day
Zebra Dove

Madagascar Fody males really do stand out in all the greenery
Madagascar Fody

The females are a little more cryptic
Madagascar Fody

Red whiskered Bulbuls are synonomous with Mauritius
Red whiskered Bulbul

Madagascar Turtle Doves are a little more secretive and skulking and take a bit time to discover their habits, usually found foraging early in the morning
Madagascar Turtle Dove

Scaly breasted Munia's were breeding in the hotel gardens
Scaly breasted Munia

As do Common Waxbills
Common Waxbill

One of the more easily found of the 8 Mauritian Endemics is the Mauritius Grey White-eye which I saw almost every day in small flocks gleening their way through the vegetation. This is one of the only, if not the only White-eye that doesnt have a white orbital ring
Mauritius Grey White-eye

A walk outside of the hotel manicured gardens gave me birds that I didnt find inside the hotel, this male Village Weaver was at the start of his nest building
Village Weaver

Under the watchful eye of this female Village Weaver

Village Weaver

Spotted Doves were seen sitting on the telephone lines along the road to the hotel
Spotted Dove

Yellow fronted Canary was only seen on a few occassions
Yellow fronted Canary

Very few birds were seen along the shoreline, my guess is that the food that used to be available on exposed rocks is long gone. I saw Green backed Herons only once on this vacation
Green backed Heron

Along with a single Whimbrel

My son was fascinated with this large Orb type spider which could be seen from our balcony. Every day we would check what it caught in the night

For my son's birthday, we did the catamaran trip to Gabriel Island, which passed Coin de Meur on the way where our first sea birds seen were the magnificent Red tailed Tropicbirds aginst the backdrop of the Coin de Meur cliff face
Red tailed Tropicbird

Red tailed Tropicbird

As we approached Gabriel Island Brown Noddy's made an appearance
Brown Noddy

Along with Sooty Terns
Sooty Tern

The stars of the show at Gabriel Island were undoubtedly the also magnificent White tailed Tropicbirds
White tailed Tropicbird

White tailed Tropicbird

White tailed Tropicbird

On the way back to Grand Bay at the end of the day, the weather deterioated a little but in the fading light I did see what I believe to be Wedge tailed Shearwaters. Do let me know if this is not the case
Whedge tailed Shearwater

Whedge tailed Shearwater

I did arrange a morning tour to Ile aux Aigrettes which is in the SE side of the island in Mahebourg Bay. This is a nature conservation site where with sustained effort, endangered endemic species of Mauritius are preserved as the island is restored to its original state. I can highly recommend a visit to this island to any conservation minded tourist, where your financial contribution will be put to great use. Do make sure you book in advance for the guided tour.

If you have time combine this visit with la vallee de ferney where you should have a good chance of finding the Mauritius Kestrel.

Once on Ile aux Aigrettes the tour will show you the extinct species and the Dodo is the most well known and then with the guide you follow a trail around the island. The first endemic we encountered is Mauritis Fody, distinctly different from the very common Madagascar Fody on the main island
Mauritius Fody

Mauritius Fody

Whislt savouring the Fody, a small group of the very rare Mauritius Olive White-eye made a brief appearance, with its long decurved bill and exaggerated orbital ring it is a stunning little bird
Mauritius Olive White-eye

Mauritius Olive White-eye

One of the more well known endemics is Mauritius Pink Pigeon and there are a few pairs resident on this protected island, another magnificent bird saved from the brink of extinction
Mauritius Pink Pigeon

Mauritius Pink Pigeon

Mauritius Pink Pigeon

Of course this island is not only for protected endemic species, so you will also find Madagascar Turtle Doves
Madagascar Turtle Dove

Ornate Day Gecko's are found here and on the main island and are beautifully coloured
Ornate Day Gecko

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