Day 1: Arrival
“Oh look,” I said as the pamphlet fluttered to the floor. “Christmas Island. That would be so much fun. I’ve often thought I should do that.”
“Well, why don’t you?” he asked.
And even though I could think of a hundred reasons why I shouldn’t, I did it anyway.
And arrived for Bird and Nature Week on Christmas Island a few months later, packing my camera, my biggest zoom lens, and a brand new flash card that would hold two and a half thousand images.
Right-oh, I thought, I’m ready.
Ready to leave behind the dull grey of a South Aussie winter and embrace the sunshine and tropical heat. Ready to be welcomed with big smile, a bag of goodies and a timetable which promised a good shot at capturing every one of the 23 bird species on the island and maybe a few vagrants as well. Ready for Lisa, the tour operator to whisk me away from the airport in the school bus to begin this big adventure.
I got my first bird around 20 minutes after the bus dropped me off at the Cocos Padang Lodge, my home for the week. Across the road, down a dirt track and there he was, an Island Thrush, ducking and diving through a bushy patch surrounded by sparrows. Not rare or even endemic to the Island, but hey, it was a first for me.
Then there were silhouettes of frigatebirds in the sky overhead, etched in black against the clearest blue, looking exactly like the David Attenborough doco’s I’ve been watching for years. And wasn’t that a booby in the distance, flying low over the ocean on some mysterious avian business of his own? A quick look through the bird guide for positive ID – no not the rare and endemic Abbot’ s Booby, more likely a red-footed specimen, but still a booby!!!
The thrill carried me through dinner at the waterfront Golden Bosun tavern and through meeting the other 35 or so birders signed on for Bird and Nature Week. A procession of birds flittered, fluttered and flapped across the horizon while we got to know one another, swapped birding yarns and compared lists. The expert guides outlined their programs for the week, (birds, birds, and birds), Lisa ordered a group photo for the morning and all too quickly, it was time to head back to the lodge.
Day one and the adventure has just begun …