As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Cyclone Winston decimates 'Bird Island’ (Vatu-i-Ra) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area

By Sialesi Rasalato, Thu, 10/03/2016 - 02:25

One picture is worth a thousand words.  In this case two pictures – a before and after of Vatu Island, or Vatu-i-Ra, one of the 28 internationally important bird areas recognized by BirdLife International for Fiji.

Vatu-i-Ra is a small uninhabited island approximately 100 meters by 300 meters. It is known locally as `Bird Island' because of the large breeding colonies of seabirds on the island.  Vatu-i-Ra is home to nine species of breeding seabirds.  Black Noddies (Anous tenuirostris) have the largest population of more than 20,000 pairs, identifying the site as globally important for this congregatory breeding species and so registering it as an IBA. In 2011, BirdLife’s Fiji Programme established an acoustic attraction and artificial nesting boxes on the island and has been maintaining the system to the current date. This was established to attract and recruit threatened seabirds that are known to fly across the Vatuira passage. Land birds such as Barn owls (Tyto alba) and Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) have been observed on the island but are not considered residents.  The island also hosts the Hawkesbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) during breeding season and is home to the Fiji endemic pygmy snake-eyed skink (Cryptoblecephalus eximius).

In 2006 BirdLife conducted an operation to remove Pacific rats (Rattus exulans), the only rat species present on the island.


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