A similar profusion of light, a similar dawn ambush, but
I’m late. It’s late morning, yet I’m alone on the beaches
smudged by spindrift and blinding with reflections.
The Tasman is budging the beach, a marginal sea, part
of the Pacific washing out the past to New Zealand
and the Coral Sea to the north.
Reminder – Abel Janszoon Tasman was the first European to come across New Zealand and Tasmania. In 1642, he landed at Frederick Hendricx Bay (North Bay) and raised a flag to take possession of Tasmania, which he named Van Diemen’s Land after his patron. His voyages of 1642 and 1644 were in the service of that rapacious, monstrous Dutch East India Company (VOC). His mission was to discover new trade routes and trade opportunities. Half of the Australian coastline had been mapped by then. Cook filled in the east coast.
Three Sooty Oystercatchers are having a nap. A couple stretch,
get up, one preens. A few metres away, a Little Pied Cormorant
is looking around and eventually jumps into the swirling water,
rough white and blue. I look for the bird to surface,
but never see it again. I sense a fable.
One of the terns trails the beach and swoops
almost hitting the sand. I don’t get understand.
It looks like some construction work has taken place
in Old Man’s Hat. What do we need to keep?
What do we need to slough and float away in the breeze?
I grew on an uncomfortable shore among pebbles suckled by
the English Channel, a slip of the Atlantic with grey, baggy clouds
Constable approved of, converging at sea level in wet air.
Such a switch of colours and textures, spectacle, bird
and animal lives, much quieter than the famous beaches
we visited and swam – Cable Beach, Coral Bay, Sandy Bay,
Turquoise Bay, Shark Bay (unseasonally cold for Dugongs)
and Eighty Mile Beach (too early for twenty species
of migratory waders that gather in huge flocks).
That this is home is unbelievable, as fine a place
as anywhere and we didn’t see one Sooty Oystercatcher
over on the west coast, and the first Flannel Flowers
are gripping the steep sleeves of the sandstone cliffs.
Reminder – ‘The Sooty Oystercatcher is endemic to Australia and is widespread in coastal eastern, southern and western Australia [!?].’ The bird prefers rocky shores or islands, but is seen on coral reefs or sandy beaches near mudflats. Is rarely found more than 50 metres from the ocean. They use a long red stiletto to stab, lever, hammer or prise open molluscs, crabs and other crustaceans, starfish and sea urchins. They drink seawater. Salt glands near the bill remove salt.
The birds breed in colonies on offshore islands and isolated rocky headlands, nesting in a scrape on the ground among pebbles or shells. Both parents incubate the eggs and care for the young. They are home bodies, sedentary not migratory, with small local movements. The population is estimated to be about 4,000 birds.
Today, right now, the human population is estimated to be 8,045,311,002.Back home