Raoul Island Diaries: Birds and bees and celebrations

DOC on Raoul Island —  01/03/2010

Raoul Island diary # 4 by Daniel Bristow

Battling the birds and insects

On Raoul Island, we have all acquired pet odd jobs to do around the hostel in our spare time. One of my personal favourites is helping to cultivate the vegetable patches. I find it really rewarding due to the perfect growing conditions here, but we have discovered there are many other critters around here who want to share in our nutritious veggies.

Polly, Lachlan and the author pricking out Hebe seedlings.

Polly, Lachland and me pricking out Hebe seedlings

The caterpillars here grow at a phenomenal rate, and have munched through numerous leafy greens and around 50% of our tomato crop.

Another 45% of the tomatoes are devoured by the beautiful kakariki/red crowned parakeets (I believe they are the culprits, but it’s still a debated issue!). They managed to get through the bird netting somehow, leaving us with a couple of precious tomatoes between the eight of us each week.

It’s hard to see these birds as a scourge though, as they always seem so cheerful and happy. Robbie found a distressed kakariki stuck in a parapara/ bird catching tree last week, which Polly cleaned and nursed back to health – one of Polly’s many bird rescues.

A small but interesting lesson Raoul has taught me is that it is irrational to dislike ants and, to a lesser extent, cockroaches. All I have observed them do is clear up all the tiny food scraps we messy humans leave behind, like millions of efficient little helpers. A revelation!

Those special experiences

Petrels swooping around in the golden sunset.

Petrels swooping around in the golden sunset - a great birthday treat

Lachlan decided on Christmas morning that it would be a great idea for us all to eat breakfast out on the verandah; this led to the dining table being promptly moved outside. Every meal since we have dined al fresco, gazing over the ever changing Pacific Ocean and pukeko-strewn lawn. What luxury!

Lastly, my birthday was a unique and enjoyable one this year. After talking on Skype to loved ones back home and receiving warm wishes from the rest of the team here, a few of us decided to camp at Hutchinson Bluff to watch the sunset on arguable the most perfect, warm and still summer’s evening since we arrived.

There were tropical birds, frigate birds and many petrels swooping and gliding around as the sun went down. We enjoyed chocolate cake, fine wine (kindly donated by Ian) and the seemingly endless ocean stretched out before us. It was a beautiful end to a perfect day on Raoul.

DOC on Raoul Island


The Raoul Island diary is written by "Raoul Islanders" - DOC staff and volunteers living and working on Raoul Island in the Kermadec Island group. DOC staff include a team leader, mechanic and rangers. Up to 10 volunteers spend approximately 5 to 6 months on the island helping DOC staff get rid of weeds.

One response to Raoul Island Diaries: Birds and bees and celebrations


    I really liked this post Dan. It sounds so idyllic there and you seem to be hinting at some sort of zen-like transformation in your appreciation for everyday tasks, or maybe you were always a little bit of a Buddha.
    In Auckland domain the arbourists took out the parapara tree because it was ruining people’s enjoyment of the park to see trapped birds. Its a mean tree.
    You’ll be jealous to know we had a bumper tomato crop at the big house this year and lost very little to birds ( but this could possibly be cos all the birds have been scared off by the felling of trees and construction work next door….)
    Keep on blogging, you’re getting good. I just handed in my dissertation on the convergence of journalism and blogging so I am an expert now.
    Looking forward to your next post.