(een keertje in het Engels, sorry Nederlanders!)
Let’s say you are a big fan of Prince, George Clooney or Justin Bieber. And they are working on a project in your area…imagine your excitement when you are accepted to help! Of course you pay for the privilege, work like crazy and even when you don’t get to meet them in person. On top of that, it turns out a lot of his friends also choose to join him there, so you get to hang out with the likes of Madonna, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Lorde and Elton John.
Wouldn’t that just totally BLOW YOUR MIND???
Well, we just had a similar experience on Little Barrier Island. Replace your rocking superstar with walking kakapo Heather, and add all the native, endemic birds that just hop around you on the island which are close to extinction on the mainland and I’m seriously still on cloud nine.
I became a fan of kakapo after seeing the famous BBC series “Last Chance To See” by Mark Cawardine and Stephen Fry where, in their New Zealand episode, kakapo Sirocco tries to mate with Mark, which leads Stephen to some hilarious comments. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must! (if you’re in Europe, you can view it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p004m51b , otherwise just google).
We got as close to Heather as any non-island staff will ever come: to the site where they monitor her nest. With our group of ten volunteers our job was to bring all of the monitoring gear (connected by a 50 meter cable to her nest) back to the ranger station, including the tent the ‘kakapo monitors’ were sleeping under and the solar panel which kept all the equipment going. This tent site looked very much like the set up shown on ‘Last Chance to See’, which enhanced my feeling of being on a film set even further!
Back at base, we saw a couple of kokako hop around like chickens on the lawn. KOKAKO!!!! For the past five years we’ve been walking, 3 – 4 times a year, our bait line in the Waitakere Ranges, in the middle of the Kokako territory, only to have seen one of these illusive birds, one time… Here on Little Barrier four of them gave us a dawn chorus more beautiful than any musical performance possible. (google this too, it is worth it!).
Two weeks before our trip here, we visited Bushy Park sanctuary. An amazing place, with and abundance of Saddlebacks. Even so, it took me hours to get a good picture. On Little Barrier there were so many Saddlebacks that I forgot to take a picture… I feel I relate to these black and orange birds, which are bold, loud and clumsy (see below). And they have a hard time sitting still as well 🙂
Add to that the magic of an unspoiled, untouched native forest, blue skies and the most beautiful boulder beach imaginable and I think I fell in love…with an island!
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