One of my favorite pastimes (here and back home) is hanging in my hammock. Reading a book, listening to music or just enjoying the scenery, it’s all good. There’s plenty of scenery to be seen here! Finding the right spot is the tricky part. The only vegetation native to these Atolls is Naupaka bushes, some grasses and a couple other native plants but not trees. (Did you hear the gasp of my friends reading this? That I would go to an island without trees?? This treehugger??? Don’t forget that I lived on a continent without any trees!).
Fortunately for me on this sunny day in 2018 there are some trees here. They were planted when the Navy was here to act as a wind break. Around these Ironwood trees that are a cross between what something Dr. Seuss and J. K. Rowling would conjure up are nesting albatross chicks, curious albatross “teens” and those darn petral burrows. Once I found the right spot I needed to make sure there were no widow maker branches above me (I don’t want one to fall on me with a big gust of wind). The other factor is sun… too much and I’m too hot, too little and I’m too cold. Same goes for the wind but vice versa. (Insert your favorite Goldilocks joke here) I’ve been known to enjoy a spot for a little, take down the hammock and find a new spot depending on the sun and the wind.
So I found this really sweet spot the other day, it was the second spot of the day (the first got too hot). I had a great view of Eastern Island from Sand Island, and could watch the albatross fly overhead. While they seem graceful, they can be somewhat clumsy with their take offs and landings. Unfortunately I would occasionally hear the wings of some clip the branches of the tree I had hung my hammock on. Don’t forget, these birds have been around a long long time and It is in their DNA to fly around these islands in their native states… without the ironwoods the Navy planted.
Check out this video of the birds flying by. I slowed down part of it for a closer look bath them. It’s amazing how great their wingspan is and the pattern on the underside of their wings fascinates me. You can see the grayish-brown baby albatross blending into the foreground waiting for its parent (and it’s next meal).