|Copyright: Tom Conzemius (pirate)
|Date Taken: 2013-01-14|
|Camera: Canon 7D, 100-400L is|
|Exposure: f/6.3, 1/1000 seconds|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop|
|Date Submitted: 2013-01-30 3:10|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|This species breeds in the Seychelles, Mascarene Islands and Agalega Islands (Mauritius), Maldives, the Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory), and Houtman Albrolhos Islands and possibly Ashmore Reef (Australia) (Feare 1984, Higgins and Davies 1996). The Australian subspecies melanops may be resident. The nominate race is a winter visitor to Madagascar and the eastern African coast between southern Somalia and Kenya (Higgins and Davies 1996).|
The species has a large global population with an estimated minimum of 1,200,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006). In the Seychelles, populations were estimated at 100,000 pairs on Cousin Island in 1974 and 18,000 pairs on Aride Island in 1972, and 250,000 pairs on Serpent Island in 19752 and 5,000 pairs on Lizard Island, Mauritius (Higgins and Davies 1996). In the Houtman Albrolhos, populations were estimated at 7,665, 6,325 and 34,895 pairs on Morley, Wooded and Pelsart Island respectively in 1993 (Higgins and Davies 1996).
The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).
This species is largely sedentary (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and remains at its breeding colonies throughout the year, although it may also forage extensively out to sea (Higgins and Davies 1996) and regularly occurs off the coast of East Africa during the non-breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds from August to October (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in large colonies of up to tens of thousands of pairs (Higgins and Davies 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and also forages in vast flocks during this season (Higgins and Davies 1996). When not breeding it remains gregarious and is usually observed in groups of up to 45 individuals (Higgins and Davies 1996), often within larger flocks of Brown Noddy Anous stolidus (Langrand 1990). The species breeds and roosts in mangroves on oceanic coral-limestone islands with shallow lagoons (providing seaweed as nesting material), gullies, sink holes and salt-lakes, and may also occur on shingle or sandy beaches (Higgins and Davies 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996). It largely forages in inshore seas and reefs surrounding these breeding islands during the non-breeding season although it may also forage extensively out to sea (Langrand 1990, Higgins and Davies 1996). Diet consists of small surface-dwelling fish and invertebrates (e.g. squid) that have been driven to the surface by predatory fish (Feare 1984, Urban et al. 1986, Langrand 1990, Higgins and Davies 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Prior to breeding, adults also consume large quantities of coral fragments from beaches as a source of calcium (needed for egg laying) (Skerrett et al. 2001). The nest is constructed of damp vegetation and seaweed in a low bush or on a horizontal or vertical fork of a tall mangrove tree (Higgins and Davies 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Skerrett et al. 2001). It nests colonially, with neighbouring nests spaced between 0.3 and 5 m apart (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
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