Lord Howe Island: Mutton Birds Coming Ashore

This was a bird spectacle akin to bats coming back to their cave! These birds are large seabirds known as Short-tailed or Sooty Shearwaters, but more commonly referred to as muttonbirds in Australia. They are big, meaty, bulky, and look quite powerful. They spend entire day at sea and after sunset come back to the coastal forest – all at once! I was told to wait at the Ned’s Beach (the colony is right behind the beach in the palm forest) and prepare for a show. One by one, these massive birds started landing, like jumbo jets descending at full speed to the ground and then rough-landing and running to a full stop – literally like mini-planes. They actually breed in burrows on shore in the forest, and when landing – they usually just pierce through dense vegetation in a crash-landing pattern just to end up within feet of their burrow. Totally insane and some of them almost crashed into me!