"All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds," said Dr Pangloss, echoing the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, in Voltaire’s novel Candide.
Seychelles Sunbird © J.Watson
Relating the tale of the trials and tribulations of Candide as he and his companion Dr Pangloss are buffeted by war, religious intolerance and disaster across eighteenth century Europe, Voltaire consistently spikes the simplistic view of Liebniz’s idea that everything is for the best and that each misfortune is balanced by an equal share of good luck.
But what if Dr. Pangloss was right?
What if turmoil and strife in one quarter is balanced by success and happiness in another?
In a week that saw commotion on Mahé, the undeniably good news comes from Bird Island, where a recent Sunbird translocation project is already starting to bear fruit.
Only weeks after their arrival on Bird Island the relocated Sunbirds have already settled into their new home and begun to breed, after being flown to the island thanks to a partnership between Nature Seychelles and the conservation oriented owners of Bird Island.
“There are currently four pairs who have successfully built their nests, one is already incubating and so we expect the chick to hatch next week and the others can’t be far behind!” said Bird Island’s Jo Savy.
“The nests are all at different parts of the island which is great – they must be happy here!”
Despite having found worldwide acclaim for its vast seabird colonies Bird Island had no endemic land bird species. With the translocation from Mahé of 20 male and 14 female Sunbirds, just ahead of the breeding season, hopes were high that the tiny, nectar feeding birds would colonise the island.
The 34 island migrants flown to Bird Island by Nature Seychelles were fitted with identifying leg rings before their journey. The dedicated Bird Island conservation team will now have the equally tricky job of catching fledgling Bird Island sunbirds and fitting them with rings so as to keep track of the population over the coming months and years.
Although Seychelles’ Sunbird population is far more secure than the critically endangered Magpie Robin, Fody and Warbler, which are limited to only a few hundred individuals, the sunbirds tiny size and need to feed at very regular intervals presented their own challenges
The project was led by Nature Seychelles Scientific Coordinator, Rachel Bristol, who started work with a team of volunteers early this year, catching and ringing the birds ahead of their flight to Bird Island.
“It’s still at an early stage, but so far we are all delighted at the progress the Sunbirds are making on Bird Island and the potential lessons it provides for future partnerships between conservation organisations,” said Ms Bristol.