Trip to Mauritius 22.04.2001 - 04.05.2001

© by Mark Piazzi; mpiazzi@gmx.de

Basic facts about Mauritius

Mauritius; often called the pearl of the Indian Ocean, lies almost 2000 km below the Equator, 805 km from Madagascar, 1800 km from Africa, 5800 km from Australia and 3200 km from India. The island is 62 km long and 48 km at its widest point.

Population is about 1,3 million.

Capital City: Port Louis

Currency: Mauritius Rupee (1US$ was roughly 26 Rupees at the time of my trip)

Literature used:

  • Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands by Ian Sinclair and Olivier Langrand. All birds names used are taken from this book. It is possible that other literature may use other names for certain birds.
  • MAURITIUS Jumbo Guide from Nelles Verlag (Germany): Very good on general information as well as Zoological and Ornithological tips.

Special Birds:

8 endemic species to the island

  • Mauritius Kestrel
  • Mauritius Fody
  • Mauritius (Echo) Parakeet
  • Pink Pigeon
  • Mauritius Bulbul
  • Mauritius Grey White-Eye (Sometimes treated as a subspecies of the Reunion Grey White-Eye)
  • Mauritius Olive White-Eye
  • Mauritius Cuckoo Shrike

2 species which are endemic to the Mascarenes

  • Mascarene Swiftlet
  • Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher

1 species endemic to Mascarenes and Madagascar

  • Mascarene Martin

Mascarene Swiftlet

Birds shown in black were new for the trip.


Left Munich at 18:30 with Mauritius Airlines


Arrived at Mauritius airport punctually at 07.40 in the morning (05.40 am. MET) after an 11 hour flight. Common Mynahs, Feral pigeon and House sparrows greeted us at the airport. On the drive to the hotel (Trou aux Biches, N.W. coast) many Red-whiskered bulbuls joined the list, as well as a flock of about 15 House Crows as we drove through Port Louis. The next 3 days were spent lazing around the hotel, with the odd short trip around the vicinity. Birds seen here were:
  • Common Mynah :
  • Madagascar (red) Fody:
  • Red-whiskered Bulbuls:
  • Zebra Doves:
  • House Sparrows:
  • Striated Heron:.
  • Madagascar Turtle Doves:.
  • Yellow-Eyed Canaries:
  • Village weavers:
  • Spice Finches:
  • Common Waxbill:
  • Mascarene Swiftlet:
  • Masked booby:
  • Common Noddy:
  • Madagascar Turtle Dove

  • Common Mynah


Booked a Catamaran trip from La Croix du Sud to Ile aux Cerfs and back (East Coast). A very pleasant trip through the lagoons. No birds seen until we stopped to visit the Waterfall at Grande Riviere Sud Est where there was a White-tailed Tropicbird which flew around the falls. We stopped off at Ile aux Cerfs for one and a half hours. This island has beautiful beaches and (at least on the day we were there) a mosquito ridden woodland. Many Common Mynahs, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Madagascar Fodys, 1 House Crow, a couple of Spotted (Ground) Doves and 3 Mauritius Grey White-Eyes were seen in the course of trying to avoid the mosquitoes and still being bitten 12 times.


Caught a taxi to Domaine du Chasseur, on the West of the island. This is a beautiful area to walk around and can produce a number of good birds. Besides the usual species I saw another 3 Mascarene Swiftlet and had beautiful views of the bird I had come here to try and find, the Mauritius Kestrel

Mauritius Kestrel

If you are not lucky enough to be able to find this bird yourself , then wait until about 15:30 when one of the wardens comes and lures 1 or more of these elusive birds to the parking lot with a mouse so that tourists can take Photos.


We had booked an organised trip to the south west of the island today, which would take us into the areas where all the endemics can be found. The problem with organised trips , however, is that you have very little time at any one spot and do not really get a chance to have a look around the area. First stop was Trou aux Cerfs which is an extinct Volcano. After short visit to Curepipe (the highest city in Mauritius at 550m above seal level) we moved on to Grand Basin which is a very important Hindu gathering place. Here you can be almost certain of seeing Mascarene Martins, which tend to sit on the telephone wires around the lake. There were 3 Mascarene Martins whilst we were there.

Mascarene Martins

Besides the Martins, Mauritius Grey White-Eyes were about, along with a baby Tenrec which is a hedgehog like animal brought across from mainland Africa and a number of Java Macaques. We then moved on to the Black River Gorges National Park and more specifically to the Viewpoint which overlooks the canyon and waterfall. Many White-tailed Tropicbirds to be seen from here. We then travelled onto Chamarel and the seven coloured earths after which we started our return trip and had the privelege of seeing 3 Fruit bats which slowly flapped their way across the wooded mountainside. A really awesome sight if you have never seen these creatures before.


Day trip with a Catamaran to Gabriel Island which lies about 15 km N.E. of Mauritius. On the trip there which lasted about 2 hours, we passed by a small rocky island called Coin de Mir on and around which there were many Red-Tailed Tropicbirds, 2 Masked Boobys, 6 Sooty Terns, a couple of Common and 2 Lesser Noddys.

Red-Tailed Tropicbird

White-Tailed Tropicbirds

On Gabriel Island, there were the ever present Red-Whiskered Bulbuls, a number of Striated Herons and many White-Tailed Tropicbirds which allowed very good and close views.Gabriel Island is a fantastic place to snorkel as well. Back at the hotel in the evening a Whimbrel flew by.


Took a taxi to Bassin Blanc and then to Black River Gorges National Park. Due to my late start I was not able to make the most of this trip, which, had I organised it a little better would have probably given me all the remaining endemics on the island. As it was, my only new bird at Bassin Blanc was a Ring-Necked Parakeet, but at Black River Gorges I did manage a female Mauritius Cuckoo Shrike as well as many Mauritius Grey White-Eyes, Striated Herons, Macarene Martins and Swiftlets and the usual other birds.

All in all I saw 27 species of bird which is not bad seeing as it was the beginning of Winter and it wasn’t primarily a birding trip . There are about 70 species of land and sea birds (a number of which are rare visitors) which can be seen. With about4 days of intense birding, depending on the time of year, and including Black River Gorges National Park, Bassin Blanc and a trip around Round & Serpent Island you should get about 40 to 45 species, including all endemics.

Zebra Dove (One of the tamest birds you will ever meet)

Spice Finch


Take a Taxi: If you do not want to rent a car, this is the cheapest and most practicable way of getting around the island especially if there are more than 1 of you. The taxi drivers take you wherever you want to go and will wait for you how ever long it takes. Price depends on exactly how far you want to drive but will probably be between Rupees 1.200 and 1.600 for a day meaning from about 09.00 am to 18.00. You can of course arrange to start earlier if you like.

Visit Domaine du Chasseur: This is probably your best bet of getting to see the Mauritius Kestrel and possibly a lot more. Mauritius Fody, Mauritius Bulbul should also be here if you are patient enough. This is located in the east of Mauritius at Anse Jonchee, Tel 634 5097

Round Island/Serpent Island: If you want good chances of seeing seabirds and especially the Round Island Petrel you should try to charter a boat from Grand Baie to visit these islands. Although you probably will not be able to land on them the journey around them, especially if you manage to time it so that you reach them just before sunset, should be very rewarding.

Gabriel Island/Flat Island: For those who want to bird and releax at the same time a trip to these islands is very pleasurable, offers a fair number of birds on the way and is a must for snorkellers.

Visit Bassin Blanc: Travelling directly south from the Visitors Centre at Le Petrin, you will hit a hiking trail at the end of the Les Mares road which leads after about 2 km. To Bassin Blanc. Going up and down this trail should get you Mauritius Fody, Mauritius Bulbul, Mauritius Cuckoo Shrike, Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher if you are lucky and Mascarene Martin and Swiftlet.

Visit the Black River Gorges National Park: Arrange to have a guide take you through the park to be almost certain of getting the rarities amongst others the Pink Pigeon and Echo Parakeet which basically can not be found anywhere else. I was told to call 252 3742 or 253 2511 and ask for Paul, if possible at least two days before wanting to visit the park. I wish I had known this before visiting the park on my last day.

List of birds seen and where

(I)= Introduced or escaped

Red-Tailed Tropicbird: Common on Coin de Mir

White-Tailed Tropicbird: 1 at Grande Riviere Noire and common on Gabriel Island

Masked Booby: 1 at Trou aux Biches Hotel and 2 around Gabriel Island

Striated Heron: 1 at Trou aux Biches Hotel, Common on Gabriel Island and Black River Gorges National Park.

Mauritius Kestrel: 2 seen at Domaine du Chasseur

Whimbrel: 1 flew over Trou aux Biches Hotel

Common Noddy: Daily off coast at Trou aux Biches and 3 seen by Coin de Mir.

Lesser Noddy: 2 seen near Coin de Mir.

Sooty Tern: 6 seen near Coin de Mir

Feral Pigeon (I): Common around habitations

Spotted (Ground) Dove (I): 3 seen at Ile aux Cerfs and a couple around Bassin Blanc

Madagascar Turtle Dove (I): Fairly common at Trou aux Biches Hotel and Black River Gorges National Park

Zebra Dove (I): Common over most of the island

Ring-Necked Parakeet (I): 1 seen at Bassin Blanc

Mascarene Swiftlet: relatively common over most of the Island

Macarene Martin: Seen in small groups at Grand Bassin and Basin Blanc

Red-Whiskered Bulbul (I): Very common over the whole island.

Mauritius Grey White-Eye: Small groups at Ile aux Cerfs, Bassin Blanc, Chamarel, Black River Gorges National Park

Mauritius Cuckoo Shrike: 1 female seen at Black River Gorges National Park

Common Mynah (I): Common over the whole island.

House Crow (I): Common in Port Louis, 1 seen at Ile aux Cerfs

Madagascar Fody (I): Common over the whole island

House Sparrow (I): Common over the whole island but more near to habitations.

Village Weaver (I): Common over most of the island.

Yellow-Eyed Canary (I): Seen all around Trou aux Biches Hotel. Probably overlooked elsewhere.

Spice Finch (I): Common at Trou aux Biches Hotel.

Common Waxbill (I): 1 seen in Grand Baie and 2 at Chamarel

If you have any questions please contact me at mpiazzi@gmx.de

Zebra Dove

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