Birds and Children on the Move

Bird migration is one of the most amazing events on the planet. It is one reason why birds have been so successful in living in all sorts of climates and landscapes. But migrating birds have received bad publicity recently because it is mistakenly believed that they are spreading the dreaded bird flu strain known as H5N1.

Terence Vel, Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles Coordinator introducing the World Migratory Bird Day

Nirmal Jivan Shah in blue T-shirt and white cap giving a talk about migratory birds to the wildlife club members

Rachel Bristol, Nature Seychelles' Science Coordinator showing wildlife club members to identify birds

A young wildlife club member drawing his bird poster on set

Poster contest on the day was participated widely among wildlife club members.
All photos © Dao Nguyen

International organisations notably BirdLife International, the Secretariat of the Convention of the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS),  and the Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), have found it the moment to start an offensive information campaign to give a more balanced picture. These organisations launched the first ever World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) on the weekend of 8th of April with the motto, Migratory Birds need our attention now.

On this weekend at 9am, Nature Seychelles (BirdLife in Seychelles) and Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles (IUCN Member in Seychelles) joined forces to launch this event locally. On Praslin, 30 Wildlife Club members visited Cousin Island where they had an exciting time observing the number of waders and sea birds and touring the Reserve under the expert guidance of the local Wardens.
On Mahe, 21 Wildlife Clubs with about 250 young members and some 40 Leaders and parents met at La Promenade opposite the Inter Island quay to observe shore birds and an exhibition on bird migration set up by Nature Seychelles Outreach coordinator Dao Nguyen. Although the Seychelles is not directly on the migratory flyways into Africa we do receive some birds either as vagrants or as regular visitors. The young people were able to observe 11 species of waders and coastal birds and 3 species of seabirds. Amazingly, they also spotted 3 endemic Seychelles birds, the Blue Pigeon, the Sunbird and the Kestrel.

Scientists and educators present were able to discuss the many features of the birds the kids were observing.  Nirmal Shah, the Chairperson of Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles, delivered a talk on bird flu and migratory birds at the request of anxious parents. The younger children were taught about the mysteries of migration through various fun-filled migratory bird games.  The Banyan Star Wildlife Club from Anse Etoile school also used the occasion to set up a fund raising food and drinks stall. “The children had a lot of interesting things to do and it was a great way to spend Saturday morning,” said a parent.

An exciting poster competition was launched using materials donated by the BirdLife Africa regional office. Two local artists coordinated this competition and top prizes of environmentally friendly canvas bags filled with gifts were awarded to 6 young members from various clubs. Not to disappoint the children 10 runner-up prizes were also distributed.  Terence Vel, the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles Coordinator who put the event together, said he was very satisfied with the high level of enthusiasm from both children and parents and thanked BirdLife International for providing funds for the event. He said more events could be organized in the future depending on resources available and he urged sponsors to come forward.

Nature Seychelles, April 15th 2006

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