We had an inkling a hundred miles out of Chesterfield Reef that we would be in for a lot of birds—three red footed boobies roosted overnight on our bow, one slept on our spreaders turning our dodger, deck, and mainsail into a modernist masterpiece of black and white smears.
Around our current anchorage, four motus are continuously exposed, although the sandbars between them vanish at high tide. Masked boobies sit on eggs and raise their young on the sand; red footed boobies build rookeries in the bush-like trees; black noddies roost on low lying shrubs, raising their young in the shade below; two juvenile frigate birds haunt the skies, resting on whatever branches they can find.
The masked boobies, pictured above, have been my favorite. The young are completely exposed on the sand, using only their parent’s belly for shade. Such a lifestyle makes them super vulnerable to predators, but there are no mammals here (except us), so they’re thriving. There are bald, sticky, just hatched boobies, toddlers stretching their wings for the first time, teenagers still covered in goofy downy fluff, all eager to pose for photos.
We’ve taken a few hundred and can’t wait to share once we get to Australia and have some more data to play with. Float plan as of now is to depart tomorrow, Tuesday our time, and make landfall in Bundaberg on Friday.