The Western visitors plunge into the welcome shade of the mangroves to give their pupils a chance to recover from the glare outside. Only the sharp eyed Seychelloise are able to spot the mottled brown eggs of the Fairy terns balanced on the branches, 7-9 feet above ground. Some are logged against a twig; others lean dangerously on a hummock of the bark. The number of chicks which matures from this hazardous beginning can be as low as 3%.
One of the young hopefuls is perched immediately overhead – a ball of white fluff, its disproportionately big feet with an important job to do. The tern’s young life is spent hanging on, and thus it will always be unless the species finds out how to build nests as the noddies have. All other nester terns lay their eggs on the ground. Have the ‘fairies’ learned that crab predation is too intense for this to work in their chosen haunts?