27 Augustus 2009    
Mauritius - Grand Bay  
   
 

I got the opportunity to visit Mauritius for 9 days and although it was a business trip, I managed to squeeze in some early morning birding, before breakfast on the beach front of the La Mauricia Hotel on the most north-western part of the island at Grand Bay. After the third morning I have seen all the common birds close to the hotel, which included the bright red Madagascar Fody, Red whiskered Bulbul, Madagascar Turtle Dove, Common Myna and Zebra Dove. I also managed to see my first of the island's eight endemic species, the Mauritius Grey White-eye. During these early morning walks, I met a very cute stray dog, which followed me every morning along the beach. She would come running howling after me, if I would try to sneak away from her, because the birds would flew up when she was close, but she left a little soft spot in my heart and I just had to include some photos of her in the blog.

   

 
   
 

 
   
 

 
   
 

     
Common Myna House Sparrows Green backed Heron
     

   
Village Weaver ?not sure yet? Madagascar Fody
     

   

   
Village Weaver House Crow Red whiskered Bulbul
     
Mauritius Grey White-eye Mauritius Grey White-eye Mauritius Grey White-eye
     
Madagascar Turtle Dove Spotted Dove Zebra Dove
     
Madagascar Turtle Doves Spotted Dove Zebra Dove
     
Common Moorehen Yellow fronted Canary Mascarene Swiftlet
     
I miss this dog!
     

Black River Gorges National Park  
   
 
I visited the Black River Gorges National Park on a very wet and rainy day. The taxi dropped me off on the eastern side of the park at the "Pétrin Information Centre", where I was informed by the information officer that it would take me approximately 4 to 4.5 hours to reach "Piton de la Petite Riviére Noire" on the western side of the park via the shortest hiking trail that is a strenuous path with spectacular views of the gorges. I started my hike in misty rainy conditions on an off-road vehicle road. I had no jacket with me, because I forgot it at the hotel and equipped with only my camera bag on my back, with two litres of water, a camera and my binoculars and a map, which I got from the information centre, I started my day’s adventure alone. After the first hour, I have completed the easy part of the path in misty rainy conditions, with hundreds of blood sucking flies targeting my exposed arms and hands. If I only remembered my jacket!, but with the humidity so high, I was sort of glad as well that I did not have my jacket with me. The bites of these flies were intense and I slapped myself silly with a small branch with leaves on to keep the flies off my bare arms. About 10 minutes, before I reached the end of the broad hiking path and after about a 50 minute walk, I saw and photographed my first Echo Parakeets. I met a French couple there who could understand a little bit of English and they confirmed that I was still on the correct path, after showing them my starting point and endpoint on my map. The rain and the blood sucking flies chased me and I could not stand still for too long. After spending a few minutes at the first viewpoint “Macchabée View Point”, I started my descend into the gorge via a very steep and narrow path, with at some places only the roots of the trees for stairs. The roots were slippery like soap and I was glad for the walking stick I had picked up next to the path. It was a very slippery and a wet descend, with each little tree dripping big drops of water on me, as I grabbed onto them, to secure myself in case I should lost my footing. I felt relieved after reaching the bottom of the first steep path and spent a few minutes at the next view point, where I saw my first giant size fruit bats, with their broad wings. I saw my first ever White Tailed Tropical Birds flighing over the gorge at this viewpoint. I then followed the next set of steps and then followed the broad path until I got to a bulldozer, busy “ploughing” the nice flat road surface of the path, in the middle of the forrest, into a muddy pulp. After strugling my way through the muddy mess, I asked the driver of the bulldozer if I was still on the right track and he confirmed that I was about 1.5km from “Piton de la Petite Riviére Noire”, where I was heading to. After crossing a few very rough pathes, where the bulldozer had ploughed the flat lawn into a muddy mess, I reached a stream crossing the path, where a vehicle got stuck the middle of the river crossing. I then walked through a second stream crossing the path and found the first hikers on the other side of this stream, who hiked from the west side of the park, but was not prepared to walk through the water, because they did not have waterproof hiking boots like I had on. I felt relieved to reach the other side of the park and it only took me three hours. I got a glimpse of the Mauritian Kestrel in flight and some pigeons flew up, before I could identify them, but hopefully I will have another change to visit the island in the future, to find more of the rare, endemic species. I was just too happy to have at least seen the rare Echo Parakeet. I also got to see some frogs and the giant fruit bats were something to admire.
 

 
   
 

a Slippery path that took a lot of concentration not to slide or sprain an ankle.  
   
 

 
   
 

 
   
 

 
   
 

First stream of water that I have crossed  
   
 

Second stream of water that I had to cross  
   
 

   
Mascarene Swiftlet Mascarene Swiftlet Mascarene Swiftlet
     
Echo Parakeet Echo Parakeet ?Fody?
     
Fruit Bat Fruit Bat White tailed Tropicbird
     
J K L
     
M N O