As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A far-off place, all for the birds


HALL ISLAND — On this windy, misty August day, there are perhaps one million birds clinging to the cliffs that buttress this Bering Sea island. These seabirds, crazy-eyed and with bodies both sleek and clumsy, need solid ground for just a few months to hold their eggs. When their summer mission is complete, the birds scatter to the vastness of the sea.

The temporary human population on Hall Island is six — five biologists and me. We are intruding on a five-mile-long apostrophe occupied by birds in summer and padded upon year-round by a few arctic foxes that eat voles and birds and bird eggs and who-knows-what in winter. The only signs of people here are a collection of small World War II-era batteries on the interior tundra and a dark green square of turf that might show where a few Russians and their Aleut slaves dug in for a winter in the early 1800s.

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