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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Green Parrots

NORFOLK ISLAND | Monday, 1 September 2014 | Views [707]

Joel opening a parrot's nest

Joel opening a parrot's nest

Joel Christian would take me out today on a volunteer project. The Norfolk Island green parrot is one of the world’s rarest birds, and only found on Norfolk Island. We set out early for a monthly check of 23 green parrot nesting sites. These are nests that have been specially modified; some are tree trunks covered with concrete, whilst others are covered with a sawdust mulch. This is to prevent rainwater from filling the nests. Using a “snake cam” we probed down into the first nest and saw nothing. How did I get to volunteer with the national park service? Last week I registered with the park office to possibly go out to Philip Island but the next trip won’t be happening for at least a few weeks. Joel then offered to let me volunteer with the parrot nests, and in doing so I get to see areas of the national park unseen by other visitors. We use a “snake cam” to peer down into the nests to see if there are any chicks; it’s actually really cool. Up and down many hills we went (some of them muddy) checking site after site, but we kept coming up empty. Some of the nests had mushrooms, ants, and even an old beehive, so Joel unscrewed a metal plate on the back of the nest to clean them out. After all, you don’t want parasites in the parrot sites (get it?). The call of the green parrot sounds like a kookaburra. As I headed home the other night I heard that call and we heard it again! As we drove toward Mt. Bates we heard three green parrots, and one was straight in front of us! It couldn’t have jumped out and bit us any better, and I got a good photo!

The experience was nearly shattered by a fellow ranger roaring in on a quad bike. The parrots camouflage well with their surroundings. The introduced Australian red parrots are far more numerous and are considered pests because they compete with the green parrot for nesting sites and food. If parrot chicks were found in a nest, Joel would have to carefully weigh them and monitor their progress. Only last year, the green parrot population was less than 100, but now it’s up to around 140. The green parrot program has nearly doubled the population in only seven months! After a short break in town after the Mt. Bates sites, we drove up to Pine Glen to check nearly a dozen more nesting sites. It was again, another area of Norfolk that I’ve seen very little of, and again, we saw no chicks in any of the nesting sites! It’s the second month in a row that all of the nesting sites are inactive when checked. It was well after noon and my radio interview with Louci was at 1:30. First I stopped at the customs office to find out what percentage of visitors to Norfolk are not Aussie or Kiwi. Juliette said likely less than 1% but customs said it’s actually around 5-10%. The vast majority of those are Aussie or Kiwi residents on British or other passports and people coming for conferences of some sort. All other visitors are likely those, like myself, spending an extended period in Australia or New Zealand. Slowly I made my way to the radio station, and I had to think of the best shout-out I could give Racheal. With a call I made sure she was tuned in. First I talked a bit about what I’m up to whilst here and my plans for Japan in a couple of weeks. When I gave my shout-outs I first thanked Bindi & Gotty, Doosy (Carli), and “Diesel” for, respectively, hosting me, putting me in touch with Bindi & Gotty, and inviting me to the fish fry at the golf course. Then came the most out there and loving shout-out of all. On Radio Norfolk, I described Racheal as the most amazing and brilliant girl I’ve ever met, explaining she’s extremely talented, very smart, and well-versed in history. The whole island now knows how much I love and care about Racheal! Fix-it-Dave would later tell me I’ve either won her heart or she’s like “thank you Chris, but I’m with Alan.” He said he’s never heard a man speak that highly of someone on radio, and that Racheal has likely never received words like that from a man. In retrospect I would have liked to talk a bit more and share a bit about geocaching and the plan for my next book, which shall be about Norfolk. The tentative title is Norfolk Island: an Isle of Love. On Norfolk time I made my way to the office of Duncan Evans: owner of Endeavour Lodge and Norfolk’s top geocacher. In fact, Duncan has travelled to some out-of-the-way places to search out geocaches: Falkland Islands, Ascension Island, St. Helena, and many others. He has been to many Pacific islands, being the owner of the shipping company Trans-am Argosy. Norfolk has one puzzle geocache and I enlisted Duncan’s help in figuring it out. Some of the puzzle caches are “brutal” in his words, and in a few of them it’s taken him more than a year to figure them out! With some helpful hints by Duncan I set out in search of Norfolk’s only puzzle geocache. To the netball court it would take me, and with my somewhat inaccurate GPS I had to search. “Exercise stealth” is one of the hints, so Duncan said now is a good time to search but not on a Saturday when kids are out playing netball. Underneath Rawson Hall was a small alcove where a small, soaking wet cache is stored. With my name recorded in the book I found my first puzzle geocache! And my sixth geocache on Norfolk. It was well after 4:30 by then and I was beat. Cristina was going to interview me at Ball Bay but she had to postpone it, and I slowly slogged my weary self toward home. First I wanted to call in at the home of John and Florence Anderson. Natalie, the customs official, and her husband gave me a lift in the back of their ute up to Mission Rd. John and Florence were happy to see me, and little did I know that John is a film producer. He’s been to Pitcairn Island twice and has done two documentaries on his time there. In 1984 a team of 25 Norfolk Islanders visited Pitcairn in which he was a part of. As I had a cup of hot chocolate I was feeling really tired. I just had to come back when I was feeling better and more alert. Walking around in the bush made me really tired today but it was absolutely rewarding volunteering in the national park today! I’ve yet to speak to a number of classes at the school this time but, as I mentioned on radio earlier, there’s a strong chance I’ll be back on Norfolk for a third time in either January or February. There’s a better chance to speak at the school and get to Philip Island then. At home it was a light tea of fish & chips. I wasn’t in the mood to really do much tonight. I was going to go camping but Joel didn’t have time to show me the site by Anson Bay. When I returned home, Bindi called out “I thought you were going camping” and Gotty said “I heard you were up to mischief on Saturday night, you yelled in a girl’s face and told her to fuck off.” That’s not how I wanted to spend my evening, but it would be the start of a falling out between Bindi and I.  

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