News about the Mascarene petrel !

Since the discovery of the first Mascarene petrel breeding colony on the 15th of November, 2016 above Saint-Joseph, things progressed!

As a reminder, the first colony was discovered thanks to the winning trio composed of thermal binoculars, bioacoustics recorders and pedestrian prospections (see article on the Mascarene petrel’s colony discovery). Motivated by this success, we went on a series of field missions and found sites where the presence of singing individuals was confirmed. We thus found the 2nd breeding colony on the 28th of February, 2017.

Finding is good, but not enough! Unfortunately, during the 2016/2017 breeding season, despite our intense research, we haven’t found a single fledgeling on either breeding colonies. We now need to protect these colonies against invasive predators so as to increase the species’ breeding success next season.

In order to do this, during winter, when the Mascarene petrels were at sea, we did a campaign of cat control and rat extermination on those two sites. We installed as well devices to start to remotely monitor the colonies: motion sensor cameras and acoustic recorders.

Since the discovery a year ago, our research progressed. This year, the first Mascarene petrels landed on the island in July. The first song was recorded on the 13th of July, 2017 and the 1st picture of a petrel on colony was taken on the 27th of July 2017. We also ringed 38 individuals on both colonies (only 53 individuals were known to science since 1834) and we are monitoring today 24 burrows – and some of them displayed signs of breeding.

I always used to say that “all we know is that we know nothing” but today, this sentence isn’t true anymore. I want to warmly thank all those who helped us get to this point. Thanks to them, we gathered in a single year so much information about this species which used to be an utter mystery. Yet, its conservation is far from being assured. The years to come will be decisive!!!

Jérôme DUBOS