Wednesday, 17 October 2007


A view of boat sheds on the way back from work today. As you can see it was grey old murky day - very cold. Snow has been predicted on the hills. The wind was so strong out at the heads, that the rain felt like hail on my skin.

I have had two days now at the Albatross Centre and have begun my training as a guide for the visitors. It has been a steep learning curve!

And no this isn't an albatross ...
Seagulls always know when they're getting their photos taken and pose beautifully, like this one, dirty feet and all.

What is causing the learning curve is trying to learn the many facts about the albatross in order to regurgitate the information back to the visitors. Sorry about the choice of word 'regurgitate'; however, it's hardly a surprising choice when you take into account that one of the facts I have had to learn is about how the parent birds feed their chick with 'regurgitated ventricular oils'.

No this isn't Shrek after getting caught in the rain, or a green Snufflupagus ... it's algae on a rock.

Feeding processes, glider-wings, salt glands and other fascinating facts about the albatross are all being shovelled into my brain in great dollops. And another thing - I must remember not to call their bills 'beaks'; albatross are a seabird and therefore qualify to have bills not beaks. I apparently do these majestic birds a great disservice by calling them beaks. Therefore, my mantra of the day has been: bills not beaks, bills not beaks, bills not beaks ... Along with about a hundred other facts to be seared on to my frontal lobes (or wherever in the brain such information is held for instant recall.)

Jetty at the inlet

I can feel my brain suddenly jumping into life. It's a bit like someone caught snoozing. As if a red light, something like a Fire Exit in a picture theatre, has suddenly lit up the words 'Facts Alert'.

Signal house at Taiaroa Head

And it was while I was in this mode that I listened to the car radio on the way back from work

Looking back towards Taiaroa Head

as someone on Nat Rad talked about the endangered Hector and Maui dolphins. They are so endangered they are on the Red Endangered List - and that is VERY VERY endangered - that is right up there with tigers. There are only 100 of the Maui dolphin left. Shame, shame on New Zealand for not banning gill nets which are killing them off slowly but surely. We fight to save the whales, yet have forgotten about these wee guys. Come on ! Not good enough. Anyway, as I was listening to this, I found myself beginning to start to memorise dolphin-facts. I had to virtually switch my brain off: "Come on neurons, this isn't albatrosses we're talking - this is dolphins. You don't have to regurgitate dolphins. Only albatrosses. Go back to sleep."

Blue boat-shed on the road to Taiaroa. Note, more green algae on rock.

And tomorrow we start to learn about a hundred more facts about another thing the visitors have come to see on this wind-blasted headland - the Historic Fort and Disappearing Cannon. And I didn't even know the difference between breech-loading and muzzle-loading until today.

Lighthouse at Taiaroa


Mama Llama said...

I have always wondered how the tour guides can do it...thank you for the personal insight! Sounds like you are having fun! Smiles to you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chief

I have just been having a lovely time reading your blog and catching up with all the news. I love the pictures! The moss IS very green, isn't it?


S. Kearney said...

It sounds like a very interesting job ... we may have been to the colony before, years ago. I'm glad you knew that seagull wasn't an albatross ... always a good start. :-)

dinzie said...

But what fun to learn about them .... Forest and bird are up in arms at the deaths of Chatham island albatrosses ... Thought you might be interested - i've emailed it over:O)

Kay Cooke said...

mapiprincesa - Thanks - it is fun.
But tiring trying to learn so much.

K - Hi ;) Yes verdi-gris? Very green? More of a lime methinks - vivid? violent? Hope all is ok with you - will email ya!

shameless- Yes the colony has been going a while so you could well have visited before.

dinzie - Thanks Yes I belong to F&B too and got the email update as well.

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