A chain of 1192 small low lying coral islands grouped in clusters or atolls, 600km south-west of Sri Lanka. None of which rise more than 3m above sea level or is longer than 8km.
The North-east monsoon blows through December to March and are the drier months, the South-west monsoon brings some storms and strong winds. The temperature stays consistant throughout the year ranging from 30C-31.8C with the nights being slightly cooler at 25.1C to 26.3C, the almost continual sea breezes make life bearable.
Probably known for its magnificent marine life than its birds but several seabird species nest on the islands and migrant birds often stop off too.
We stayed at Lily Beach Resort, basically the island of Huvahendhoo part of the Ari Atoll, some 500m long and reached by a 25 minute seaplane journey from the main island and capital Male.
Superb beaches but sparse vegetation meant few birds, the marine life was superb, so when you cant tick off birds, the next best thing was the fish. So armed with mask & fins and a copy of Fishes of the Maldives we managed to identify over 118 species. The food and accomodation was superb and all inclusive, so no money worries.
Although the bird list only amounted to 14 species two were lifers for me, Black-naped Tern of which several fished just off the house reef and a Sooty Tern seen after some heavy overnight rain.
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
2 seen daily throughout our stay along the beach.
Striated Heron (Butorides striatus)
2 seen daily usually feeding from the breakwaters surronding the beach.
White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)
2 seen with 3 small chicks on 05/02.
Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos)
2 seen daily usually feeding from the breakwaters surronding the beach.
Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica)
12 seen regulary fishing just offshore.
Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia)
2 feeding close to the north side of the island 05/02.
Lesser Crested-tern (Sterna bengalensis)
4 feeding over a shallow reef 05/02.
Great Crested-tern (Sterna bergii)
Up to 6 seen almost daily.
Black-naped Tern (Sterna sumatrana)
A minimum of 12 seen regularly feeding over a reef just offshore.
Saunders' Tern (Sterna (albifrons) saundersi)
At least 6 feeding amongst other terns offshore most days.
Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata)
A single on 05/02 after overnight rain and a strong breeze.
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
8 daily on the island usually close to the main reception area.
Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea)
At least 2 seen on the island most days.
Eurasian Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
An intriguing sight of 2 birds hawking low around the island for about 20 minutes before moving on.
Marine Systematic List
Honeycomb Moray (Gymnothorax fevagineus)
Peppered Moray (Siderea picta)
White-eyed Moray (Siderea thyrsoidea)
Gold-spot Herring (Herklotsichthys quadrimaculatus)
Robust Hardyhead (Atherinomorus lacunosus)
Silver Hardyhead (Hypoatherina barnesi)
Reef Saury (Saurida gracilis)
Grey-streak Lizardfish (Synodus dermatogenys)
Crown Squirrelfish (Sargocentron diadema)
White-tail Squirrelfish (Sargocentron caudimaculatum)
Silver Squirrelfish (Neoniphon argenteus)
Trumpetfish (Aulostomus chinensis)
Smooth Flutemouth Fistularia commersonii)
Common Lionfish (Pterois volitans)
Spotfin Lionfish (Pterois antennata)
Coral Scorpionfish (Sebastapistes cyanostigma)
Snowflake Soapfish (Pogonoporea ocellata)
African Reef Basslet (Liopropoma africanum)
Squaretail Coral Grouper (Plectropomus areolatus)
Black-saddle Coral Grouper Plectropomus laevis)
Peacock Rock Cod (Cephalophilis argus)
Lunar-tailed Grouper (Variola louti)
Small-spotted Grouper (Ephinephelus caeruleopunctatus)
Flower Grouper (Ephinephelus fuscoguttatus)
Blacktip Grouper (Ephinephelus fasciatus)
Yellow-tailed Basslet (Pseudanthias evansi)
Yellow Dottyback (Chlidichthys inornatus)
Glass-eye (Priacanthus blochii)
Narrow-striped Cardinalfish (Apogon angustatus)
Tapered-line Cardinalfish (Apogon exostigma)
Slender Suckerfish (Echeneis nauciates)
Giant Trevally (Caranx ignobilis)
Blue-fin Jack (Caranx melampygus)
Black Jack (Caranx lugubris)
Blue-spinned Trevally (Carangoides caeruleopinnatus)
Mackeral Scad (Decapterus macarellus)
Black-spotted Pompano (Trachinotus baillonii)
Short Pursemouth (Gerres abbreviatus)
Orange-finned Emperor (Lethrinus erythracanthus)
Blue-line Large-eye Emperor (Gymnocranium grandoculius)
Oriental Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus orientalis)
Black Snapper (Macolor niger)
Moon Fusilier (Caesio lunaris)
Yellow-back Fusilier (Caesio xanthonota)
Yellow-saddle Goatfish (Parupensis cyclostomus)
Square-spot Goatfish (Mulloidichthys flavolineatus)
Black Pyramid Butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys zoster)
Racoon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula)
Yellow Butterflyfish (Chaetodon cf. Plebeius)
Citron Butterflyfish (Chaetodon citrinellus)
Yellow-head Butterflyfish (Chaetodon xanthocephalus)
Long-nose Butterflyfish (Forcipiger flavissimus)
Very Long-nose Butterflyfish (Forcipiger longirostris)
Reef Bannerfish (Heniochus acuminatus)
Schooling Bannerfish (Heniochus diphreutus)
Regal Angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus)
Three-spot Angelfish (Apolemichthys trimaculatus)
Blue-face Angelfish (Pomacanthus xanthometropon)
Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)
Forsters Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri)
Blackfoot Anemonefish (Amphipron nigripes)
Clarks Anemonefish (Amphipron clarkii)
Humbug damsel (Dascyllus aruanus)
Two-tone Puller (Chromis dimidiata)
Indian Damsel (Pomacentrus indicus)
White-saddled Damsel (Chrysiptera biocellata)
Sergeant Major (Abudefduf vaigiensis)
Warty-lip Mullet (Crenimugil crenilabis)
Fringe-lip Mullet (Oedalechilus labiosus)
Variegated Wrasse (Coris batuensis)
Ringed Wrasse (Hologymnosus annulatus)
White-blotch Razorfish (Xyrichtys aneitensis)
Blue-nose Wrasse (Pseudojuloides kaleidos)
Lemon Meringue Wrasse (Halichoerus leucoxanthus)
Adorned Wrasse (Halichoerus cosmetus)
Checkerboard Wrasse (Halichoerus hortulanus)
Blue-streak Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)
V-tail Tubelip Wrasse (Labroides xanthonota)
Six-bar Wrasse (Thalassoma hardwicke)
Two-colour Parrotfish (Cetoscarus bicolor)
Humphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum)
Sheephead Parrotfish (Scarus strongylocephalus)
Dusky Parrotfish (Scarus niger)
Maldivian Grubfish (Parapercis signata)
Thousand-spot Grubfish (Parapercis millipunctata)
Maldives Triplefin (Helcogramma maldivensis)
Blue-barred Shrimp-goby (Vanderhorstia ornatissima)
Moorish Idol (Zanclus cornutus)
Powder-blue Surgeonfish (Ancanthurus leucosternon)
Night Surgeonfish (Ancanthurus thompsoni)
Yellow-fin Surgeonfish (Ancanthurus xanthopterus)
Lieutenant Surgeonfish (Ancanthurus tennenti)
Lined Surgeonfish (Ancanthurus lineatus)
Brown Tang (Zebrasoma scopas)
Orange-spine Unicornfish (Naso lituratus)
Big-nose Unicornfish (Naso vlamingii)
Spotted Unicornfish (Naso brevirostris)
Blue-spine Unicornfish (Naso unicornis)
Starry Rabbitfish (Siganus stellatus)
Coral Rabbitfish (Siganus corallinus)
Pebble Sole (Paradachirus spp.)
Long-nose Filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris)
Mimic Filefish (Palaluteres prionurus)
Striped Triggerfish (Balistapus undulatus)
Clown Triggerfish (Balistapus conspicullum)
Titan Triggerfish (Balistapus viridescens)
Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus)
Black Triggerfish (Melichthys niger)
Indian Triggerfish (Melichthys indicus)
Yellow Boxfish (Ostracion cubricus)
Black Boxfish (Ostracion meleagris)
Saddled Pufferfish (Canthigaster valentini)
Starry Pufferfish (Arothron stellatus)
White-tipped Reef Shark
Grey Reef Shark
Other wildlife: Several species of lizard were seen, as were Flying Foxes of which several roosted on the island, a Sea Snake was also seen, the species of which is unknown.