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Source : John’s Birdwatching

Contacts :

Freddie Loenig,
Mauritian Wildlife Appeal Fund,
Grand River Noire. 438 6832

Mauritian Wildlife Service,
Port Louis
211 1749

Mauritian Wildlife Appeal Fund

Contact the MWAF at Tamarin for permission to visit the rare bird captive breeding centre at Grand River Noire.

Guides

At MWAF Grand River Noire I met Frederique (Freddie) Loenig. Freddie kindly took me with her to Lower Gorges near the National Park Visitor Centre to feed released Mauritius Kestrels which now breed in the wild. However, MWAF staff will not currently offer to guide visitors as has sometimes been the case in the past. Several lines of enquiry failed to turn up a wildlife guide. I therefore had to do my birdwatching in the customary solo fashion but with less success than usual. It was not the ideal season for birdwatching and I allowed myself insufficient time in the National Park.

Useful Addresses

Boattrip to Round Island:
Captain Lindi Vencatassin
Noblys Road
Grand Baie Mauritius Telephone 2637275
(The captain can also be contacted at the harbour of Grnad Baie, in front of the Caltex Filling Station)

 Pointe aux Piments

Walk the beach and the areas around and behind the beachfront hotels from Pointe aux Piments to Citron River for an hour or more early most days. Striated Heron, Brown Noddy, Curlew, Mauritius Grey White-eye, Mascarene Swiftlet and introduced passerines and doves.

 Black River Gorges National Park


Starting point is La Petrin National Park Information Centre where maps are available.

1. From the east/airport: Leave the northbound M1 “motorway” around 15km from the airport and go left to the west and south towards Souillac. After 4 or 5km, turn right or west for Grand Bois and Grand Bassin. Go beyond Grand Bassin to the junction at La Petrin where the Information Centre is to the left.

2. From the north: Leave the southbound M1 by the Phoenix brewery and go south through Vacoas towards Souillac. The large reservoir Mare aux Vacoas is seen to the left around 15 km from the M1. The Information Centre is on the right after another 4 or 5km.

3. From the west: From the west coast road at Case Noyale turn inland (eastward) for Chamarel and beyond towards La Petrin, passing the Gorges Viewpoint on the left some after 10 km. After another 6km turn left at a “T” junction to go north to the Information Centre on the left after some 2km.

Bassin Blanc

A volcanic crater lake in the forest towards the southern edge of the National Park.

Take the road due south from La Petrin Information Centre for 5km. Bassin Blanc is on the right at a gravel layby off the road as it descends with sharp bends. Birdwatch from the road for up to 1km above and below the lake. With the former track now improved and regraded to a good tarmac surface, there is much more disturbance from passing traffic and from car occupants entering the forest edge to pick fruit.

Species

White-tailed Tropicbird
Grey Francolin
Common Moorhen
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Madagascar Turtle-Dove
Spotted Dove
Zebra (Striated) Dove
Mascarene Swiflet
Paradise Flycatcher (very rare here)
Mauritius Cuckoo-Shrike
Common Myna
MASCARENE MARTIN
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Mauritius Bulbul
MASCARENE GREY WHITE-EYE
Mauritius Grey Wite-eye
Mauritius Olive White-eye (can be difficult to find)
House Sparrow
Common Waxbill
Scaly-breasted Munia
Red Fody
Mauritius Fody



Black River Gorges Viewpoint

Go south from La Petrin Information Centre and take the right turn (westward) towards Chamarel after 2km. The viewpoint is on the right (north) side of the road after another 6km. It looks north over the Park. Saw White-tailed Tropicbird. Mauritius Kestrel may also be seen hunting over the trees and endemic passerines may be in the forest near the viewpoint.


Macchabee Forest Road

Park beside the La Petrin Information Centre and take the unpaved road westward. Use of this road is now barred to unauthorised vehicles. It is very rough and a high ground clearance 4-wd vehicle would be preferred if permitted.

The Macchabée Forest trail lets you experience the Mauritian tropical forest at its best. Do not visit the park without prior arrangement with the Mauritian Wildlife Appeal Fund. The staff at the Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary are doing their utmost to ensure the continued survival of the great rarities Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon and Mauritius (Echo) Parakeet.

No permit is required for visiting this park and the birding is done from the main trail, by looking out over Black River Gorges or by walking the small tracks interconnecting the main trails.

Walked the first 1km and saw several Mauritius Grey White-eye but nothing else of note. More time further along the road would locate Mauritius Cuckoo Shrike and Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher. Continuing to the end of the 4km track, you would find the Mauritius Wildlife Appeal Fund camp where released Pink Pigeons and their wild progeny are fed. Speak to MWAF HQ at Tamarin beforehand. You need directions along the track as various maps give different information about the turnings to take at junctions along it. Towards the end of the track you also hope to see Echo Parakeet.
Macchabee-Bel Ombre Nature Reserve

Details : Macchabee-BelOmbre Page

Species
Echo Parakeet
Mauritius Kestrel
Cuckoo Shrike
Olive White-eye
Mauritius Fody

Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary

This is the place where the rare breeding bird centre (Maurtian Wildlife Appeal Fund, MWAF) is situated.

It is located at Grand River Noire on the west coast of the Island. Accommodation: a hotel along the south or west coast of the island.

The centre is on the seaward side of the west coast road. Opposite shops towards the northern end of Grand River Noire, turn westward at the signpost for “police station”. Down an alley on the right just past the police station, the centre is on the left behind high green metal gates.

Two released Mauritius Kestrels have returned to nest there for several years and could often be seen around a tree in the compound. The Mauritius Kestrel captive breeding programme has been highly successful. The wild population of only 4 birds in 1973 has now recovered to 700 released or 2nd and 3rd generation birds. The endemic Pink Pigeon is another similar success story. Currently bred at the centre for release are now the highly endangered Echo Parakeet whose population shows the first signs of a recovery as well as the recovering Mauritian Fruit Bat and the still endangered Rodrigues Fruit Bat.

The main reason for visiting this centre is to be allowed to go out with the staff to feed the captive bred but released Mauritius Kestrel at Black River Gorges National Park. At the sanctuary the captive birds here include Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon and Mauritius (Echo) Parakeet. At the sanctuary you can see a pair of Mauritius Kestrel which are are breeding now in a tree at the centre. Their captive-release programmes have already met with some success. For example, there were just 4 wild Mauritius Kestrels in 1973, today there are over 400 free-flying birds.

Petit River Noire Saltpans

On the seaward side of the west coast road south of Tamarin and Grand River Noire. The saltpans will hold wintering Asiatic waders in the Mauritian summer but they held 2 Greenshank when I called on my way past.

Tamarin Saltpans


Very obvious on the landward side of the west coast road where it runs through Tamarin. They will hold wintering waders during the Mauritian summer but none were there on the occasions I passed these saltpans.

Casela Bird Park
Here the Pink Pigeon can be seen
Domaine des Chasseurs

Domaine des Chasseurs is a magnificent park covering 2,000 acres in the South of the island, near Grand Port.

Kestrels can be seen there

Serpent Island
Serpent Island (which has no snakes) is the habitat of colonies of seabirds, including the blue faced booby the noddy and the sooty tern.
Round Island
Colonies of the wedge-tailed shearwater, the Trinidade petrel and the graceful red-tailed tropic bird nest on Round Island.
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