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Archive for June, 2016

Another post from Chris on Bird Island. Terrific place, and even more so in nesting season!

Wild Bird Conservation

Sooty Terns nesting at high density on Bird Island - June 2016 Sooty Terns nesting at high density on Bird Island – June 2016 (Chris Feare)

The Sooty Tern colony is now densely packed with birds. The first birds that laid are now about half way through their 28-day incubation period and these parents are already becoming more aggressive towards us as we visit our study plots. Our ankles are being regularly pecked, sometimes drawing blood, and more and more we experience adult Sooty Terns settling on our heads or, more frequently, delivering a heavy blow with their feet, bills or even deliberately flying into our heads with the full force of their diving bodies. This behaviour will intensify as incubation progresses toward the hatching of the egg. This is their defence against human intruders.

Christine under attack Christine under attack (Chris Feare)

This determination to protect the egg is immensely useful to us as researchers, since it results in the nesting birds being remarkably…

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A post from Chris on a worrying observation …

Wild Bird Conservation

A female Palm Spider in her web, photographed on Bird Island, May 2016 A female Palm Spider in her web, photographed on Bird Island, May 2016

During my two-year residence in Seychelles in the early 1970s I was forever finding myself entangled in the huge sticky webs of Palm Spiders (Nephila inaurata). The female spiders are large, with dark brown bodies up to 3 centimetres long and long spindly legs, banded orange and black, giving the spider a total span of around 12 centimetres. The webs could each reach a span of over three metres in diameter and sometimes extending over seven metres. These enable the females to catch their prey but the much smaller males, and even some other small spider species, also live on the webs and capitalise on the insects and other prey that are caught. Bushes, tall trees and artificial structures were used by the spiders to support their webs. Such was the spiders’ abundance that almost…

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