Port Fairy -- the miracle of the Shearwater
Oct 19, 2004
-- On the Southern Coast of Australia, midway between Melbourne and Adelaide, named after a boat.
We found a Canadian who managed a well run high speed internet store -- Electric Dreams at 47 Sackville Street.
Rarely can I have what I want.
At this place, as with many others, we saw many beautiful and empty houses along the beach. Their owners were working to pay for them. So many places where we have gone, we see beautiful houses, lovely land, and good people. We want to own part of it, yet when we buy it, we become slaves to ownership, and we cannot enjoy it. It is one of the difficult lessons for me -- accepting places, people and things for their beauty now, and acknowledging that I do not need to own them. This has been a lifelong struggle.
When I accept today for what is is, and the beauty of here for what it is, I am accepting life one day at a time. This is not just about drinking; it is not about obsessing; it is about living in the moment, and being grateful for what is here.
It is my good fortune to have a partner who indulges me from time to time, and at those times, I enjoy the departure from reality -- especially on my birthday.
This bird is called the Shearwater or the Mutton Bird.
Adult birds arrive at Griffin Island within 2 or 3 days of September 22 every year, with individual pairs returning to the burrow they occupied the previous year, for Shearwaters mate with the same partner throughout their lives.
The following weeks are spent cleaning the burrows. After mating in early November, the entire population flies out to sea for about 2 weeks. Immediately on return, one white oval egg is laid by each pair, and incubated till hatching in mid-January. Both parents share the incubation period.
Then begins the ritual of feeding. The chicks are left during the day, till the parents return at dusk with full crops, when activity reaches its highest peak -- adults call their young once they have landed, nestlings clamour for food, and the whir of wings contrasts to the almost desolate silence that prevails during the day. By the latter part of the season, the chicks can wait up to two weeks to be fed, and the adults fly as far as 1500 miles to forage for food. Adults depart on the 16th of April, leaving the young behind. The young birds remain until hunger drives them from the nest, at night, when they beat their wings to gain strength.
This is the greatest miracle -- on May 3 (2 to 9), these young birds make their way to the sea and begin the most remarkable flight. Without the assistance of older birds, the four month old shearwaters follow exactly and by instinct alone, the Western Pacific route to the Bering Sea in the Arctic Circle.
Immature birds do not make landfall on breeding colonies -- most making their first appearance as four year olds, and they breed from 5 to 7 years of age.
I could not photograph the return of these birds --there was too little light. It is an amazing experience to hear the whirring of the wings, to see the thousands of birds, and to view the clumps of sand being tossed up as the burrows are cleaned.I have some pictures of the landscape, of dusk, and of a bird nesting, taken from a book.