Sunday, 29 July 2007

Chicks to Juveniles and gone

The shorebirds fly from South America, China, and other exotic places, then quickly rebuild fat reserves, court mates and find suitable breeding territories, mate, lay eggs, incubate for about 20 days, brood their young, fledge their young, and then both independent young and parents restock fat supplies to head south, all in less than two months. So, its the end of July, and all the nests have hatched. The chicks have grown to juveniles, and can now fly. The plots are empty of the familiar displays and sounds of pissed-off birds, and even the staging areas are rapidly dwindling in numbers. Out over the ocean, we can see flocks of grey juvenile phalaropes head west, and out of the Arctic.

And so too are the shorebird biologists migrating. Our maximum crew of 11 has dwindled to only 3, and we leave in a couple days. Not much to do, just pack up the station, and wait for the flights.

I'm incredibly sensitive to life now: to its sounds, behaviour, plumage, the threats and boons of weather. Its a wholesome experience, being a biologist, being with life at its most honest and simple. I'll miss the birds and chicks.

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