Heading out!

Alright, this is a little passé now that I’m back, but I think I’d be remiss talking about all of our adventures on Redonda, Antigua, and Great Bird Island without at least mentioning some of the preparations.

Harvard Prep-1

Photo: Geoffrey Giller

Preparing for the Redonda expedition was some of the most challenging fieldwork prep I’ve ever done. Geoff, a science write and nature photographer friend from Yale was joining the team from NYC to help with data collection, Anthony (a longtime cast member on the blog) was flying to Antigua from Paris (despite mistakenly thinking he was heading to Anguilla). We were going to be camping completely off the grid for a week and had only one shot to get this dataset. Somehow we needed to be sheltered, fed, watered, and in lizard catching shape for the whole thing, and we had to bring just about everything needed to do that from our respective home bases.

That made for a lot of careful packing, lists of lists, and so much gear. That box I’m packing below ended up weighing 85 pounds at the airport. Sigh.

Harvard Prep-2

Photo: Geoffrey Giller

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So much camera gear! Also, FYI carrying multiple pelican cases through public places is pretty fun. With the tripod on his back, Geoff got a lot of excited questions about what kind of nature documentary he was making.

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One of the big question marks of the trip was food on Redonda. We opted for these Backpacker’s Pantry dehydrated meals and boy was it a good choice! They’re delicious and so easy! You can see Pesto Salmon with Pasta there at the top – that was one of the best! We highly recommend them!

One of the big challenges of the trip was power. We knew we’d have lots of camera batteries to charge, a drone, and a spectrophotometer that needed an outlet and a computer to run. Plus myriad conveniences like walkie-talkies, headlamps, and lanterns. Whew the list went on and on. We ended up investing in this massive Goal Zero setup with multiple solar panels. Spoiler: it was amazing! We made it to the end with just enough power. Again, we really lucked out with good gear.

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Finally, preparations were made and Geoff and I made it to the airport just before 6 am. We were so excited, got on the plane, got our seats, and all of a sudden, fog rolled into JFK. The first leg of our flight, BOS to JFK got delayed. We deplaned. We were very sad:

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We had a tight connection in JFK so we were pretty worried at this point, but amazingly, after a total of about 3 minutes in the terminal and just after taking the photo, we heard an announcement that we all should re-board. They were going to try to get us in after all.

And we made our connection! We were very happy:

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Photo: Geoffrey Giller. (The medical emergency seemed to be well-resolved after a check-in with some paramedics)

From the plane we also managed to spot Redonda, our next destination.

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Photo: Geoffrey Giller

Yup, that little bump on the ocean is Redonda. Just you wait, the next pictures are from a lot closer.

 

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