"Today was a good day at the Sanctuary," Robin said to me early this week. "There was a number of birds I have not seen here before that are now turning up or being seen regularly and in increased numbers." Robin Hanson is the manager of the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, the wetland reserve Nature Seychelles manages. He is referring to different species of birds called waders, which have been attracted by the big pools of water resulting from recent work at the Sanctuary.
Waders, sometimes called "shorebirds" are associated with wetlands and coastal areas.
They feed on invertebrates, crabs and even fish picked out of water or exposed mud and have elongated bills that enable them to probe sand and mud for prey. Their feet help them to "wade" through the water.
Robin has spotted Whimbrels (Korbizo), Ruddy turnstones (Bezros), Curlew sandpipers (Bekaso korbizo), Grey Plovers (Plovye sann) and Common Greenshancks (Sifler lapat ver). These are regular and migrant waders one is likely to see in wetlands, marshes and shores of Seychelles.
The areas where these birds can now be seen has been re-profiled under the "Mangroves for the Future" project that Nature Seychelles is undertaking. Apart from increasing the area under mangroves, the profiling was aimed at enhancing the site for wildlife found at the site.
Other resident bird species like the Grey heron (Floranten), Moorhen (Pouldo) Black crowned night heron (Manik lanwit), Green backed heron (Manik) Yellow bittern (Makak zonn) have also benefited from this work.
And visitors to the Sanctuary will now find that their viewing experience highly improved.
The old bird hide (platform for bird observation) has been taken down and a new one is being re-built. Robin, and Olly Pugh who has been working on the hide, also received some help from visiting US navy personnel.
The hide has been re-built using as much of the same material as possible, including the recycled boards made from PET bottles originally used for walls and the floor, as well as screws and nails saved during the demolition.
The bird hide now affords visitors panoramic views of the reserve. Viewing 'windows' are at a height accessible for everyone, children, adults and the elderly, who can also sit while quietly enjoying their bird watching.
It will hold new interpretative signage showing all the bird species and other wildlife and common plants that can be seen at the Sanctuary.
The wetland is a popular spot for edutainment - outdoors classrooms and leisure activities, and for tourists and bird watchers.
It is also a home to a host of mini-beasts like dragonflies, water boatman, terrapins, shrimp, water snail, and the endemic killifish.