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BBC Radio 4 - 92 to 94 FM and 198 Long WaveListen to Digital Radio, Digital TV and OnlineListen on Digital Radio, Digital TV and Online

Science
THE SEYCHELLES SEASHORE
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Stuart Blackman discovers a treasure trove of wildlife on Aride.
Monday to Friday 23 - 27 June 2003 3.45-4.00pm

Sitting in the glittering waters of the Indian Ocean is the archipelago of the Seychelles. Every island is a treasure trove of different plants, wildlife and landscapes to explore. For six weeks the island of Aride, a nature reserve, was home to scientist and freelance journalist, Stuart Blackman. This series is Stuart's lively and amusing audio diary of his encounters with the wildlife, wardens and conservationists living and working on the islands.

The human cast: Colin, Mareike, Regis, Jimmy, Micky and Stuart
The human cast: Colin, Mareike, Regis, Jimmy, Micky and Stuart

Programme 1 - A Teddy Bear's Picnic

As a new arrival on the Seychelles, Stuart has to get used to sharing his living accommodation with a variety of beasts. Breakfast is a communal noisy affair - two Madagascar turtle doves battle over a territorial boundary which falls in the middle of the hut and as they flap and squawk, a skink (a lizard-like reptile) flops from the ceiling onto the floor and a bronze gecko, which Stuart thinks is a mixture of "a teddy bear with a psychopathic streak" casually licks the jam from his toast. One of the other hut residents is a whip-less tail scorpion usually seen at night. Stuart ventures out to a deserted lodge on the island in order to see more of them - what he calls "the scariest looking creature on the planet."

Listen again to programme 1 Listen again to programme 1
Tropic bird chick
   Tropic bird chick

Programme 2 - Desert Island Delights

The seas around the islands hold a treasure trove of species which sometimes get deposited on the shore. Rockpooling and beachcombing on Aride is not like rockpooling in this country - Stuart discovers a sea cucumber left stranded in a rockpool by a high tide to what resemble toasted teacakes left on the strandline after a storm. The soft white sands of the Seychelles are made up mainly of coral fragments from the reefs around the islands, ground down by the action of the seas - Aride easily fulfils our image of what a desert island should be - so it seems appropriate that at a lively birthday barbecue, Stuart should challenge the wardens and rangers of the island to pick their desert island discs with some unusual choices!

Listen again to programme 2 Listen again to programme 2

Programme 3 - Catching Flies in Paradise
Blue Pigeon It's the morning after the night before and another island resident is suffering from indulging in the consumption of intoxicating substances! A blue pigeon, a Seychelles endemic is recovering from gorging on the ripe fruit of an Indian almond. Stuart visits another of the Seychelles islands - La Digue - on the hunt for the extraordinary Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher.
   Blue Pigeon

With not many more than 100 pairs found across a few islands, the conservationists are investigating other Seychelles islands to see if they can be introduced to new islands as it's risky to have all the birds on one or two islands.

Listen again to programme 3 Listen again to programme 3

Programme 4 - When Robbie Met Maggie...

Magpie Robin
Magpie Robin

During Stuart's time on Aride, Robbie, a single male Seychelles Magpie Robin is translocated to Aride from Cousin Island in the hope that he will breed with females there. But will Robbie be able to find the females? Will they like him? Will he be able to breed? Stuart is witness to a heartening success and love story.

Listen again to programme 4 Listen again to programme 4

Programme 5 - All Good Things Come to an End...

Stuart's experiences on Aride and some of the other Seychelles islands have been memorable. In this last programme he visits the Vallee de Mai on the island of Praslin. Its claim to fame is that it's home to the coco-de-mer palm which boasts the biggest nuts in the world found nowhere else apart from on a few Seychelles islands. If that wasn't enough, it's also home to snakes that smell like the coat of a wet dog and energetic huge white slugs.
Fairy Tern But several of the Seychelles islands are also renowned for their birdlife - Aride is home to the raptor-like 1 metre long greater frigate birds and in complete contrast, the tiny delicate fairy terns.
   Fairy Tern

One of Stuart's favourite past-times during his stay on Aride was strolling along the beach at sunset - he's joined by row upon row of hermit crabs as they line up with him to watch the sun go down.

Listen again to programme 5 Listen again to programme 5

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