Approximately 110 nautical miles in the northwest of the northern tip of Madagascar there are two small islands – Ile Glorieuse, the bigger one, and Ile de Lys, the smaller one. The islands belong to France and after having been a military base they are now a protected area administered by Reunion. Since there are a few very interesting islands north of Madagascar and we were not sure which one we would visit - due to weather and wind conditions - we didn't apply for a permit anywhere.
So on our second day we were visited by the French police on a small boat full of military personnel. The police man was very friendly but due to the regulations pointed out to us that we were anchoring on French territory in a protected area so we need a special permit. In short: we should leave right away! After talking with him, where we tell him who we are and that we would really like to stay a little longer to look at the coral reef and the breeding colony of birds, he allows us to stay the rest of the day and another night.

00_Young_sooty_tern_(Sterna_fuscata)_welcoming_us_to_Ile_de_Lys
00_Young_sooty_tern_(Sterna_fuscata)_welcoming_us_to_Ile_de_Lys
01_Part_of_the_island_is_made_of_limestone
01_Part_of_the_island_is_made_of_limestone
02_A_lot_of_sandbanks_are_coming_out_of_the_water_at_low_tide
02_A_lot_of_sandbanks_are_coming_out_of_the_water_at_low_tide
03_Huge_sooty_tern_breeding_colony_on_Ile_de_Lys
03_Huge_sooty_tern_breeding_colony_on_Ile_de_Lys
04_Adults_and_juvenile_sitting_on_the_ground
04_Adults_and_juvenile_sitting_on_the_ground
05_Crab_burrows_on_the_beach
05_Crab_burrows_on_the_beach
06_Birds_everywhere_you_look
06_Birds_everywhere_you_look
07_Birds_also_occupy_all_the_trees_and_bushes_on_the_island
07_Birds_also_occupy_all_the_trees_and_bushes_on_the_island

We are anchoring in the big sandy lagoon of Ile de Lys behind the coral reef which connects the two islands. In the beautiful and deep turquoise waters we discover a little baby turtle which is swimming by our boat and is lifting it's head out of the water once in a while. We also see plenty of grown turtles swimming in the lagoon.

08_One_of_many_juvenile_sooty_terns_(Sterna_fuscata)
08_One_of_many_juvenile_sooty_terns_(Sterna_fuscata)
09_ Sooty_terns_oing_some_mating_dance
09_ Sooty_terns_oing_some_mating_dance
10_Mating_dance
10_Mating_dance
11_Some_black_noddies_(Anous_minutus)_breeding_in_the_limestone_formations_of_the_island
11_Some_black_noddies_(Anous_minutus)_breeding_in_the_limestone_formations_of_the_island
12_Black_noddy_(Anous_minutus)_with_juvenile_in_his_nest
12_Black_noddy_(Anous_minutus)_with_juvenile_in_his_nest
13_Part_of_the_big_breeding_colony_of_sooty_terns
13_Part_of_the_big_breeding_colony_of_sooty_terns
14_Hundreds_of_birds_flying_over_Ile_de_Lys_in_the_morning
14_Hundreds_of_birds_flying_over_Ile_de_Lys_in_the_morning
15_You_can_find_a_gfew_turtle_nests_on_the_beach
15_You_can_find_a_gfew_turtle_nests_on_the_beach
16_We_also_found-some_new_turtle_trails_in_the_sand
16_We_also_found-some_new_turtle_trails_in_the_sand
17_Some_empty_turtle_eggs_in_one_of_the_nests
17_Some_empty_turtle_eggs_in_one_of_the_nests
18_Saltwtare_pond_in_the_middle_of_the_island
18_Saltwtare_pond_in_the_middle_of_the_island
19_Sandläufer_at_the_little_seawater-pond_on_the_island
19_Sandläufer_at_the_little_seawater-pond_on_the_island
20_Mudcrab_looking_for_something_to_eat
20_Mudcrab_looking_for_something_to_eat
21_The_sand_is_mainly_made_of_the_skeletons_of_Halimeda_sp
21_The_sand_is_mainly_made_of_the_skeletons_of_Halimeda_sp

We are looking forward to visit the island since there are so many birds flying around. Ile de Lys has a huge breeding colony of sooty terns (Terna fuscata) which are currently feeding there young ones or mating again. They mostly sit on the ground or on bushes. The young ones also sit there waiting for the parents to feed them with fresh fish. Compared to the adults which have a distinct black and white pattern they have brown feathers sprinkled with white dots. On the rocks we also find some black noddies (Anous minutus) with there very small chicks. The chicks are sitting in a small pit on the limestone rocks and are guarded by one parent while the other looks for food. In the back country of the island there are mudflats with lots of crabs and waders. On the sandy shore we find some turtle nests of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) as well as parts of their skeleton and egg shells.  
The coral reefs seem to be in a good shape although we find evidence that there has been a bleaching event not long ago - maybe 10 to 15 years back. Because most of the coral colonies are small but healthy. And there are lots of fish around with only the sharks missing. Once in a while we see a shark fin on the surface but never under water.
We enjoy our time and go snorkeling as well us observe the birds on our first real bird island. The noise of the birds is very loud and sometimes lots of them lift up in the air like a dark cloud. A beautiful place where we would have liked to stay a little longer.

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