Thursday, January 14, 2010
No one ever mentions the fleas...
"Just lay down in the dirt there and you can get the penguins walking toward you!" said Iain.
There is a cacophony of sounds ranging from soft purrs to loud braying and high pitch shrieks. Shutter clicks punctuate the night accompanied by brief flashes of light from our camera strobes. We were in a sea cave on a tiny island in the Bass Strait (between mainland Australia and Tasmania) and the cave was filled with Little Blue Penguins and petrels. Every night the penguins make the journey from the sea, over huge rocks, through a small meadow and up a cliff to enter the cave where their babies are waiting to eat the haul from the days fishing.
Our headlamps and flashlights were equipped with red filters to minimize distraction to the birds and I'm certain that anyone viewing the uninhabited island from the sea might believe aliens had landed or the the rock was possessed by ghosts. It was just two crazy photographers, thousands of sea birds and who knows how many more thousand fleas! Judging by the bites on my knees and elbows... there are over half a million fleas... but it was well worth a bit of itching to spend the night with these wonderful birds. Next time I'll remember the bug repellent!