Tuesday, August 21, 2012

21/08/12 A visit to Bird Island

For a few volunteers this weekend was one not to be forgotten. We all returned to the airport for our flight, not out of the Seychelles, but to the most northerly point in the group of islands – Bird Island. It was amazing from the start, walking off the tiny airplane that seats a small and very cramped 20 people on board onto the landing strip which was just a stretch of grass and greeted by millions of birds everywhere. It’s not often that you are welcomed with an ice cold glass of juice and told that the island you just arrived on was yours for as long as you were there. So all in all a great start.

Once settled into our cabins and decided who got to sleep in the double bed there was only one thing to do, get out there and snorkel with the numerous turtles we’d all heard about. Oh and we weren’t let down by the snorkeling at all. We managed to bump into a few awesome creatures; turtles, bump bead parrot fish, mega barracuda and of course a guitar shark. The site of the shark settled it; so far this was my favourite place I’d ever been. Once we all vacated the water we dried off and set about exploring the island – which only takes 50 minutes to walk around – and checked out the bird colony of 1 million noddy terns that settles this time of year to lay eggs. Safe to say it was awesome. Nearing dinner time we all had the pleasure of encountering a very rare and exciting warm shower. It has to be the cleanest we all felt since being on the expedition. The food was amazing, all I have to say about it is you must try their ice-cream. Tasty wee beast.

The next day we were all up early with the intention of seeing everything the island has to offer, and yes we did. We spent the day snorkeling near the boats and had the pleasure of getting up close and personnel with many turtles. Each of us having our own experience with a different turtle. Some watched a large male and got some nice wide angle shots while others watched a small female, with a chip on the side of her carapace, for 40 minutes while she fed and surfaced for air. After a lengthy time in the water we all started to get pretty cold so there was only one thing left to do, have another warm shower and enjoy our evening.

We spent the last of our time enjoying the nature walk in the morning provided by the conservation officer on the island, Robbie. It was amazing listening to someone with such a passion for what he does and hearing first hand everything he had learned from his many years working on the island. We were shown the chicks of the tropics birds that nested in the base of trees, fairy terns and their ability to lay eggs on branches where they won’t fall and of course we met the legendary tortoise Esmeralda who got a very affectionate kiss off of one of the volunteers. After the tour we had a couple hours just to spend enjoying the island for a little bit longer before boarding the  small plane once more to head back to base for our last week of diving.