Tuesday, November 23, 2010
It was the strangest thing...I had wandered off from the group (well, no, that isnt at all strange actually) and sauntered down to the viewing platform. I was at Tairua Heads Royal Albatross Centre, an amazing facility just out of Dunedin. The foresight of Richdale in decades long passed had seen an incredible conservation programme based on the albatross, the penguins and other coastal avian gems sustained. The viewing platform gave you an excellent perspective on the wild coastal cliffs of the Peninsula.
Royal Spoonbill (they're all royal here dahling) stalked the kelp strewn foreshore. Spotted Shags lolled on ledges above and red billed gulls flapped noisily around your head. Their colony nearby was all rackets and guano streaks, but it was nice to see them so numerous.
Anyways....the strange thing was seeing the coastal cliffs alive with activity. The powerful wind blew the most unholy smell up your nostrils. You had a sense of nature being in utter control. And it was....as I put my beloved binoculars to my eyes and was suddenly splattered with a not insignificant amount of gull poop.
My new conference t-shirt, thermal undershirt, treasured cap from an Indian NGO and my binocular case all become gooey victims of the gulls unceremonious deposit. Fearing reeking of digested fish for the remainder of the lengthy field trip I quietly purchased half a new garb from the tourist shop and carefully stowed the soiled clothing in a sealed plastic bag.
Some of my more observant fellow conference participants noticed my freshly bared head (hat hair = HATE) and shiny new jacket in no time and reassured me that getting crapped on by a threatened species is actually amazingly good luck. Good...I was worried it was an indicator that my love of ornithology is profoundly misplaced. If you add to that the knowledge that seabird guano deposits are a historically rare ecosystem, then you see why I am feeling positively special....