I’ve been on Cousin Island for a week now and I’m completely in awe of it. It is awesome. I never use the word awesome, because the ubiquitous use of it has completely belittled its purpose and made it really annoying. There’s no point saying something is awesome when you’re talking about a frozen pizza. In this instance though, I reckon the word is justified.
Arriving on the boat from Praslin we were met with a cacophony of bird sound, louder than I have ever heard in my life, including what I heard in the world’s oldest rainforest in Malaysia. The smell is obvious as well, not unpleasant, but distinctive: it smells like birds. I climbed out of the boat into the noticeably warm water and felt like I was stepping into another world, or back in time. Jurassic Park. We continue on to the volunteer house, where on route we were eyed by literally hundreds of noddys sitting on their miniature nests, the odd tropic bird nestled in tree roots, the ghostly and utterly beautiful fairy tern and dozens of skinks and crabs seeking shelter from our foreign feet. They watched as we walked through their world, occasionally flying down to get a closer look at us, but never far away. I was completely knackered after the 33 hour journey to get here, which added to the dreamlike state I felt as the birds announced our arrival to each other through the trees.
It wasn’t long before we needed to cook something. The abundance of life inside the research house became clear. Leaving anything unattended means fodies will arrive, a small sparrow like bird that seemingly never stops eating. Leave a piece of bread on a plate whilst you put water in the kettle, and you can guarantee a fody will be standing on said bread when you turn around. Ants are an obvious problem too, miniature brown ones that I’m brushing off my keyboard as we speak, I’ve probably eaten a million of them already. Skinks too. The aptly named ‘Bin Lizard’ is a Wrights skink that seems to arrive daily to raid the bin, and it’s a good foot or so nose to tail, cheeky chap. There are two of the smaller Seychelles skinks in our room that seem to be happy there, and we need them to eat the mosquitoes anyway so they can stay as long as they want. There’s a crab in the kitchen what am I gonna do?
I gave myself a few days recovery from the journey before I opened my camera bag, and I needed to get my bearings too. Getting footage of animals is one thing, but the most obvious obstacles are the potential issues that come with the location. Sweaty, sandy, salty, sun-creamy and rife with insects of all sizes. I’ll be a very happy man if I make it out of here with everything I brought, along with tons of ace footage, obviously.
I’ve already been suffering a bit mosquito wise too. I’ve often little choice than to stay very still to get the footage I need, but when I’m in the middle of the forest next to a swamp that means just watching the mosquitoes dig in and enjoy. Luckily there’s no malaria here….