Our team on Desroches unearthed an exciting discovery recently!
Our Conservation Officer, Craig, found exuviae of a mystery dragonfly on blades of grass by the tortoise wallowing pool. As he watched the adult dragonflies zipping about the pool, he attempted to catch one to identify it, but they were too quick and would not stay still long enough for closer inspection. Craig was finally able to net one a couple of months later and confirm that this dragonfly was, in fact, the wonderfully named Ghost Duskdarter (Zyxomma petiolatum)!
According to our in-house experts, this is the first Seychelles record of Ghost Duskdarter outside of the inner islands that we are aware of. Described by John Bowler in his book, 'The Wildlife of Seychelles', the Ghost Duskdarter is known for its ‘rapid, darting flight low over water’ and is ‘rarely seen perched, so is hard to observe closely.’ These wonderful insects are also identifiable by their apple-green eyes and incredibly cryptic movements.
Between this and the discovery of Marsh Bluetails (Ischnura senegalensis) on the same pool this year, it would appear that an important micro-habitat is forming on Desroches, given that the wallowing pool is the only pool of its kind here!
By Desroches Island Conservation Officer, Craig Nisbet
Seychelles is a remarkable place for visiting birders throughout the year. It boasts an impressive list of endemic species; some of which may only be seen on a handful of islands. It also boasts some of the most spectacular seabird colonies in the world - particularly in the Outer Islands - where colonies of more than a million Sooty Terns can be found, as well as smaller numbers of boobies, frigatebirds, tropicbirds and other tern species. However, at this time of year - when the prevailing wind switches from the south-east to the north-west - many migrating birds in search of warmer locations after their breeding seasons in the northern hemisphere either head for these small isolated islands in the Indian Ocean, or are blown off course en route to their preferred wintering grounds in eastern and southern Africa. This means that from October onwards, the opportunity to discover new and unusual species in the region are increased dramatically.
On our most recent beach clean on Desroches Island in November, a total of 132.85kg was collected by our team and partners, which is encouragingly lower than previous months. This could reflect the change in the season, washing less rubbish ashore.
Miscellaneous items accounted for 74.45kg of the total amount of marine debris collected. Other prevalent items included: Glass (19.7kg), PET plastics (15.1kg) and Polystyrenes and styrofoam (10.2kg). Flip-flops accounted for 9.3kg, mooring buoys accounted for 2.1kg and ropes accounted for 1.7kg of all marine debris collected.
ICS Seychelles would like to thank the following partners for taking part and assisting in last month's beach clean: guests from Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island who spared a couple of hours of their holiday to contribute towards our clean-up efforts, the team at WASTEA for their logistical support, Kayleigh Hyslop from Blue Safari Seychelles and other individuals who joined the ICS team to sort the rubbish collected (which was completed in record time this month!).
Photos © Mila Sastradewi - Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island