Crab Plover (adult / immature, non-breeding migrant)
More photos from our annual visit to Bird Island | Seychelles - a privately owned, remote, coral sand cay island situated in the Indian Ocean just south of the equator, some 1200km off the East African coast - the northernmost island of the Seychelles archipelago.
Crab Plover (Dromas ardeola)
An unusual black and white wader with a large black bill and long, bluish-grey legs. Adult birds have a pure white head, body and wings, but with black flight feathers and mantle, whereas immature birds have dark streaking on the back of the head, grey mantle, wings and tail. Breeds on islands from Somalia, to the Red Sea and Persian Gulf between May and July, which is later than other shorebird species that may compete for its specialist food source. Outside the breeding season, the birds move south along the East African coast (mainly Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania) with some reaching the Seychelles, Comoros and Madagascar.
Given that these birds have such a relatively restricted range we consider ourselves lucky to have seen and photographed them on each of our last few annual visits to Bird Island. On each previous occasion there have only been 3-6 birds present on the island, whereas this year there were 7 birds during our first week with another 4 joining them towards the end of our stay. They generally keep together in a mixed group of sub-adult and immature birds, mainly just standing around, or patrolling the shoreline at low tide for crabs. They’re normally on the remotest part of the beach keeping themselves well away from human presence.
Last year I noted that the various shots we have of these birds may give the impression that they are easy to photograph – they’re not! Without doubt that was the same situation this year. In fact I managed far fewer shots than in previous years and hardly a single good flight shot. But, one afternoon I got lucky, and found the original group of 7 birds together on a part of the beach that catches the late afternoon sun. I was very fortunate as I was totally alone with these birds for almost an hour, slowly gaining their confidence as I edged closer. I managed to get quite a lot of pretty decent photos with detail I have not previously achieved. I will be lucky to have that opportunity again. I’ve limited myself here to just six photos - the first five were all taken within a few minutes of each other during that one session, with the other being a group photo of 5 birds, which shows the normal long distant quality of shot that you get.