I‘m beginning to love my walk through the open field of Lobularia. I had always dreaded it because I was guaranteed to collapse a burrow or two but now I have begun to appreciate the enormous amount of invisible and unsteady holes, for that is exactly the point of all our restoration efforts. The Bonin petrels have made their mark on the landscape in the most fantastic way by calling this place home. As annoying as it may be for us, it means that the years of hard work and care that have gone into restoring Kure have been remarkably successful. It also forces me to slow my usually speedy walking pace to one that means I’m taking in everything in my surroundings. I’m able to spot more birds and notice any movement in my peripheral vision. Every step I take is calculated and precise. Instead of walking, I am stepping, and the island is once again telling me where to put my feet down.
The field is home to some of the friendliest and most curious albatross as well. I will often be directly approached by a young adult, usually with the intentions of figuring out what sort of strange bird I am. When I notice that a bird is interested in me, I will slowly crouch down to its level. I let my arms hang loose as I gently wiggle my fingers in its direction, I let the bird do its own investigating. This was something that Chris Jordan had mentioned to do, to get up close and personal without invading their space or frightening them. It means their face will be less than inches from mine. I’m cautious not to make too much eye contact, but looking into the eyes of such an inquisitive bird is such a special and intimate thing to do.
The eyes of an albatross are as deep and dark as they are magnificent. They’ve seen sights and hold stories that I can only begin to imagine. If I were to look any closer, I would just about topple in and get swept into the churning North Pacific ocean and the crests of waves that roll behind their pupils. What a treat it would be to see what an albatross has seen; the wonders of the sea and the horrors of mankind. I drag my eyes away before I am lost completely. I wonder if they know just how incredible they are?
Today, I had one nibble on my boot, my pants, then my sleeve, a button on my shirt, then on the ends of my fingers as it slowly tried to figure out who I was. One albatross checking me out quickly became two, and then suddenly they were clacking beaks, dancing and singing about a ruler’s distance from the tip of my nose. I felt like they were dancing for me. I wished so hard that I could be an albatross in that moment and dance along with them. If it weren’t for the amount of ticks that infest the soil, I would spend all of my time lying in the grass, waiting to greet the albatrosses as they approach and dance away with each other. As they moved on, I wished them farewell and good luck, for what their next days will hold is as unpredictable as the ocean itself.