The end. Most dreaded, but the inevitable end to our exhilarating ten week stay on Cousin Island Special Reserve is here.
It has been an amazing experience and the closest I have been to feeling like Robinson Crusoe. I get this proud feeling that I am one of not-so-many people who get the privilege to live and work and on this island. It’s a great feeling to walk around and know I am not going to see any strangers, any Hawaiian-shirted tourists; it’s just me and nature. This is apart from the two hours during the day when you we catch a glimpse of tourists on an island tour with one of Nature Seychelles wardens.
The show never ends on this island
I’ll miss living on the beach, hearing ocean waves lapping in the background, the cool breeze on my face after a hot day, sitting on the sand watching yet another stunning sunset and the excitement of spotting an eagle ray or dolphins leaping out of the water right in front of my eyes.
I can still hear the sound of hundreds of lesser noddys flying above the research house, settling down for the night in their nests, made out of carefully selected pisonia leaves, nodding to each other in very ‘polite’ acknowledgement; or the sunbird singing his heart out sitting on the washing line, watching me hang my clothes; or the Seychelles warbler’s beautiful trill when he’s trying to defend his territory; or ghost-like calls of wedge-tailed shearwaters coming from deep borrows under the rocks, while we’re trying to count how many eggs and chicks they hide in there; or the waking call of the brave and cheeky little Seychelles fody’s trying to pinch some breakfast from volunteers getting ready for their early turtle patrol.
Friends come in all shapes and sizes on Cousin
I will miss the early hours too, when it is still cool and the rising sun paints amazing colors in the sky and reflects this in the ocean. And my walks along the beach smoothed by the overnight high tide while I keep a look out for any signs of the distinct pattern of the hawksbill turtle track in the sand. The excitement when you spot a female emerging from the water to lay its eggs is hard to describe.
I’ll never forget the moment when, about fifty days after his mother had carefully covered and camouflaged the nest, a tiny hatchling head popped out and a whole 4cm of cuteness emerged and immediately set on his race towards the ocean. It instantly makes all the hard work we have been taking part in worthwhile and a priceless experience that I will cherish for life.
Getting up close and personal with wildlife is one of the many perks of volunteering on Cousin
As I head home, it is difficult knowing that I’ll probably not have to fight for my cup of coffee with a skink; or not have the chance to give my favourite Aldabra tortoise ‘George’, a scratch on the chin, which makes him lift his legs with excitement to the point when he almost topples over. I will miss the site of the most beautiful fairy tern chick, newly hatched.
All that is gone, but I am left with wonderful memories, experiences and stories to tell, and a big hope that the job I have done while volunteering with Nature Seychelles will help to protect this paradise.
by Liwia Webber