Posts Tagged ‘Solomon Islands’

Birding the Pacific

May 15, 2014

I am wiser now and definitely in need of a better pair of binoculars. The men with long lenses called them “bins”.  I was immensely impressed by the real birders on this trip, who were totally dedicated and on the job day and night it seemed. I was also very impressed by the young couple who were experts on cetaceans. I was reminded constantly that my background was in a lab full of small, disposable test tubes and automatic pipettes. My observational skills need considerable improvement, but luckily people remained patient with this bumbling reproductive cell biologist with the small bins…

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The Expedition turned out to be remarkably successful biologically, with recordings of 96 species of bird, including the Fijian petrel and the Vanuatu petrel, plus three types of Monarch (birds not butterflies…), 10 species of marine mammal and 30 species of flying fish. Yes – I learned a huge amount about flying fish and spent hours trying, largely unsuccessfully, to photograph them as they took off out of the way of the Spirit of Enderby’s prow.

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By far the best thing I gained over the 16 days on the blue blue blue Pacific Ocean, was a renewed sense of wonder and awe at our world and an optimism that there are still wild, unknown parts of this planet where life just goes on evolving and developing.  I met wonderful people on tiny islands, saw young children totally at home in deep water in a dugout canoe, swam off the ship in the deep Pacific, walked the jungle and waded through mangrove swamps, in search of small, shy birds that apparently hadn’t been seen for years. And when we found them (and we found all of them on the list it seemed), I experienced a sense of total satisfaction that I’ve never felt before.  It was the perfect way to start retirement and will take me a while to describe, bit by bit. Bear with me then, over the next few weeks.

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