We went on a mission yesterday, to find an endangered bird on St. Helena, the wirebird. When we met our guide in town a local came up as we were leaving and asked us if we had our insurance paid up. He wasn’t kidding, Eddie was a maniac on the road, wheeling the Land Rover around the blind twisting corners like a madman.
|Boer cemetery, Boer's prisoners were brought here by the English|
It was quite the ride, bumping and thumping over the undulating terrain, Barry had to hop out and open all the gates so we could have access to some of Eddie’s favourite spots and to the wirebird habitat. The wild rugged scenery of this remote island in the South Atlantic is breathtaking. We walked to the edge of a cliff and gazed down a vertical drop to the water where you can spot manta rays at certain times of the year. A lot of the endemic ground cover has been eaten by the cattle and sheep that are on the island and erosion has created some unusual vistas, the earth in places is bright red and then where the erosion has occurred , the earth looks bluish gray.
Eddie works for the National Trust on the island, they are in the process of getting rid of the introduced plants, brought by well meaning English settlers and replacing them with endemic plants. We had a tour of the nursery where they are growing these plants and then went out to the area where they are planting the millennium forest. We spotted the elusive wirebird, it is so well camouflaged that if the bird is not moving it is virtually can’t be spotted by the untrained eye. Thankfully though it runs about on the ground hunting for beetles and worms, It can really move on it’s spindly little legs.
Katrina from Sea Level spotted one form the car and we stopped and walked back to see if we could spot it’s nest. I almost stepped on it!! It was one that had not been noticed before and Eddie got out his notebook and his GPS to record it’s location and gave credit to “the yachtie girls” for the find. We cruised across another field and came across parents with a young chick.
The chick just freezes on the ground while the parents try and lead you away. Eddie showed us how he would pick up the chick and band it. Apparently the recovery program is working and the wirebird population is growing every year.
|View from the cliffs|
Eddie was born and raised on the island so it was interesting to here his view points and stories about growing up on St. Helena. At the moment the only access to this island is by boat, but there is an airport that is being built. I wonder how the influx of tourism that will come with the planes will affect this gem of a community.
|View of the Jamestown Harbour|
|Donkeys used to be beasts of burden on the island|