Back from Palau

Just got back from another terrific visit to Palau.

I'll have some mind-boggling(!) underwater photos to post soon, but it'll be a while before I have a chance to sit down and edit; I'm embroiled in my normal post-trip chaos. Sigh.

While I was in Palau, I had a chance to spend some time with friends, including Ron Leidich, who took me to explore Palau by kayak last year. Glutton for punishment that he is, Ron traveled to Tonga in October to join me for some quality time with humpback whales, and then voluntarily chose to spend time with me again in November.

Go figure.

Anyway, one amazing thing Ron showed me while we explored the nooks and crannies of the beautiful Rock Islands was this humongous nest built by a pair of Micronesian megapodes (Megapodius laperouse), which are classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List:

Ron Leidich, Micronesian megapode mound, Palau
Ron Leidich with a gigantic Micronesian megapode nest

Most such megapode nests are nowhere near the scale of this one.

Just taking a normal photo of the nest wouldn't have done justice to the amazing avian architectural achievement, so (with considerable trepidation arising from the clear and present potential for personal trauma) I enlisted the help of seven of Ron's plethora of personalities to light it. (Those of you who know Ron will appreciate the magnitude of such an undertaking; those of you who don't...consider yourselves fortunate!)

We didn't see the birds, but they were definitely around, as we could hear their distinctive calls coming from the bush. Ron has managed to get photos like this one in the past:

Endangered Micronesian megapode (Megapodius laperouse), Palau
Endangered Micronesian megapode (Megapodius laperouse) in Palau

To round out (warning: bad visual/ verbal pun) the experience, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play the part of a tacky tourist...under the guise of providing context for the tremendous size of the mound of course.

Micronesian megapode mound, Megapodius laperouse, Palau
Foreground: Megapode mound; Background: Me the cheesy tourist