Each year, conservation staff working at the remote Alphonse Group, look forward to the shift in prevailing wind from south-east to north-west, which coincides with the return of migratory birds. Many species fly back from their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere, to over-winter in the tropics. In particular, St. François Atoll is a magnet for many species of waders, including large flocks of Crab Plover, because the lagoons and mangroves are home to plentiful fish stocks and crustaceans.
In this relatively short period, the Conservation Team on Alphonse Island recorded 110 various bird species, but more migrating birds such as the Madagascar Cuckoo and Grey-tailed Tattler.
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St. François Research Expedition: Discovering Secrets of Red-footed Boobies and Greater Frigatebirds
The objective of our mission was to capture roosting seabirds on St François island and attach satellite tracking devices to them – quite a unique undertaking, as most tracking studies have focussed on breeding colonies where it is possible to check the attachment of the device and even retrieve it at a later date. Studying a non-breeding colony presents more of a challenge, but the resultant data should provide insight into their flight movements and the secrets of their preferred feeding grounds at sea.