Posted by: keepfishing | September 12, 2009

Lala salama

On Tuesday afternoon, I feel asleep in Leicester Square and got sunburnt. A little over 72 hours later, I found myself shin deep in esturine water, birds in bags around my wrist, with my feet disturbing phosphorescent algae, under a sky with stars so bright they had halos.

And this is essentially how my week has been – a total contrast. Tuesday evening, I got digestion eating a huge pizza with my good friend Ralph watching Three Kings (an underrated movie in my opinion), in his as yet, not-completely-converted basement warehouse, and by 5am Thursday morning, I was stumbling about in the dark drinking chai tea and trying to learn the basics of bird ringing.

Whilst the whole experience is alien to me (I don’t know my boobies from my tits), I’m learning lots and having an enormous amount of fun. So far, my life has entirely revolved around bird ringing, with two 5am starts in the forest, followed by a series of all nighters (5pm-5am) in Mida Creek, the estuary catching waders, the first of which was last night.

For those of you as unfamiliar as I was with the Twitcher’s pastime of bird ringing (which, much to my disappointment, didn’t involve a long session of talking to girls on the phone), it begins with the nets. Basically, you string a series of nets, which are relatively invisible against a dark background, or completely so in the dark, and leave them for a while. After 45 minutes or so, you go back and lo-and-behold, tons of birds are trapped (and some bats, if you’re especially lucky). You then gently remove them, place them in a bag and take them off to be ringed. The ringing part, as you might expect, means attaching an identification number to their leg, and then taking some weight and length measurements. Over the last couple of days, we’ve been pretty excited to recapture a couple of birds that were ringed over 10 years ago!

As for the rest of life here, I’m sharing a room with another vounteer, Sam, who as luck would have it is from Melbourne, and a big AFL fan. He’s even brought an Aussie Rules ball, so this afternoon we’re off to the beach to put some calluses on our feet. Accommodation is basic, with a rather dusty walk to the toilet and shower, with cold water only on tap, unless you’re lucky enough to have had the solar heaters working. Monkeys are also prevalent, and they seem to revel in waking you up by leaping onto your roof at around 6am, which  was especially unpleasant as this morning was the first time I was actually still in bed at that time!

Well, they say a picture tells a thousand words, so I’ll leave it at that and throw in some pictures of the first few days…

The view from our bedroom door..

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The bedroom:

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View from the veranda…

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Sunset and setting up nets at Mida Creek

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Ringing in the forest

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Some pretty green and red bird. I forget it’s name.

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