Kangaroos and shearwaters

October 27

It’s easy to tell that we are in Australia, just look at the kangaroos on the headland! Last night a very young joey was tearing around the campground at near warp speed. Then at one point it seemed he forgot where his mother was and started making grunt-like whimpering sounds. He looked so lost and would explore around people’s campers, seemingly hunting for his mother. We were a bit concerned that something had happened to the mom, but a short while later we noticed the reunion and our worries were over.

Today, we were mostly around “home” working on field notes and all of a sudden someone was knocking on our door. A young couple had scooped up two exhausted sooty shearwaters that they found floundering on the beach and since they had seen us birdwatching earlier, figured that we’d know what to do. Well, the birds were pretty far gone and one died in my hands as I was trying to give it some water to drink. The woman was visibly upset and tears came to her eyes. The other bird we put in a cardboard cereal box, after having fed it a bit of tuna fish. It’s prospects are not good.

This week we have seen many dead shearwaters on the beaches. People say that this happens once in a while for the birds are returning from epic migrations from Russia and are tuckered out. They come here in the spring and breed on nearby islands. Odd that they’d get this far and then collapse. I think they are starving. One day while I was out surfing, I saw one in the water and so I paddled over and when I reached out with my hand, it came over and pecked at my fingers. I wonder if something is wrong with the ocean here. Is it possible that a dependent food source is missing? The winds this month have been crazy, blowing strong but changing directions daily. Locals say it is a bit unusual and that the contrary winds may have led to the exhaustion of the migrating shearwaters. It all makes me think that climate change could be having an impact.

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