Monday, September 5, 2011

Revisit Mauritius 4–11 Aug 2011

Our previous visit was in July of 1993, so quite a bit of water has passed under the bridge since then.  Therefore we jumped at this opportunity to revisit when a birding buddy, PB, said she was arranging a trip with a friend, EK, and had room for two more.  We stayed at La Plantation hotel on the North West coast, not far from Port Louis. 
La Plantation Hotel
On arrival at the hotel PB arranged a rental car and the following morning we were ready to go with PB doing the driving.
The weather was mostly cool and dry with a little rain, mainly in the highlands.
Over the next 6 days we covered most if not all of the island.
The highlights were L’Aventure du Sucre, where we sampled all kinds of flavoured Rum, and of course, ended up taking some home, Madagascar Fody
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens
and a morning coffee with Rum, what else. The birds joined us for coffee although they seemed to be only interested in the different types of sugar on offer.
We followed up with a visit to the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens where a Striated Heron was making full use of the Giant Amazon Lily pads to hunt on the lake surface.
We drove to Grand Baie for a late lunch and a bit of shopping.
The Black River National Park was our destination the next day where we were lucky to see the endemic Mauritius Kestrel as well as the Tropicbirds,usually,far away in the valleys.

Mauritius Kestrel
Next day was Chamarel, the Falls and the Seven Coloured Earth then on the to Gris Gris to see the Roche qui Pleure
A “must see” was next: We drove down to Mahébourg for a visit to Ile Aux Aigrettes and were lucky to be shown around by Hugo, a volunteer, on his last tour before returning the UK for Uni.
He showed us the endemic Mauritius Fody as well as the Aldabran Giant Tortoise, Gunther’s GeckoMauritius Ornate Day Gecko, Pink Pigeon and also the Mauritius White Ebony.
Mauritius Fody
It was a very good, if somewhat short visit. We continued on to Kestrel Valley which was previously called  le domaine d'Anse Jonchée.
We found it in the middle of renovations, but by good luck we ran into the manager, Dominique,  Dominique, being extremely hospitable, drove us around the area and explained their future plans, and even invited us in for a cup of tea before we left.

Village Weaver

Our next day was spent at Labourdonnais & The Black River Gorges.
The last day was a drive to Cap Malheureux and  Trou aux Biches, with a quick stop-off at L’Aventure du Sucre on the way.
It was a very full and enjoyable 8 days and some new birds were seen, Tropicbird, Fody, Kestrel and the ubiquitous Village Weaver were some of the 16 bird species seen on this “birding” trip.
Coin de Mire Island