Saint Helena is located in the South Atlantic Ocean (15.95°S, 5.70°W; map). It is a small (122 sq. km; 47 sq. mi.) island and is extremely remote (1200 miles from the west coast of Africa, 1800 miles from Brazil).
It is difficult to access, being served only by the Royal Mail Ship St Helena (RMS) which provides a scheduled service to the island. The RMS sails from either the UK or South Africa. It is both a working cargo vessel and passenger ship.
Around Jamestown the Java Finches or Sparrows (Padda oryzivora) and Waxbills (Estrilda astrild astrild) are common. Both species are introduced species (non-natives). Ring-necked Pheasants (Phasiarius colchirus torquatus) can also be found on that island.
The species all birders are eager to see are:
- White Tern / Fairy Tern (gygis alba alba) – although a sea bird, nest in trees and on buildings as well as on cliffs. the almost translucent wings and large black eyes are characteristics
- Wirebirds or Saint Helena Plovers (Charadrius pecuarius sanctaehelenae). Found only on St.Helena. The wirebird lives on the plateau above Longwood. It has long legs which gives it its name. It runs fast and only flies when necessary.
Some endemic species – specifically ground-nesting species, such as the St. Helena Crake and the Giant Hoopoe – fell victim to alien predators like cats and rats which were brought to Saint Helena after 1502. Other species died out following deforestation.