The view from our breakfast table at Azure.

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Food on Hayman Island was absurdly expensive. I plan on writing an entire post about it, but it actually causes me physical pain to think about the prices of our meals there, so I’m procrastinating on that.

Breakfast, however, was included with our stay, so we gorged ourselves every morning. The buffet was expansive, and beautifully laid out.

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They even had a honeycomb in a wooden frame, from which you could get honey. This was all a bit showy for me (I prefer my honey is a little plastic bear, thank you very much), but I appreciated it nevertheless.

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The restaurant, Azure, was right on the beach, with massive glass doors that could be opened up entirely. Every morning, we’d sit and look at the water as the sun began to creep over the hill, and eat pancakes with butterscotch syrup (whoever came up with the idea to pass dessert off as breakfast food is a friggin genius).

I added some blueberries in a half-hearted attempt to be healthy.

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We’d sip our cappuccino and tea on the beachfront deck and talk about what we wanted to do that day. Things were very nearly perfect.

And he was stupidly handsome.

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Except for the goddamn birds.

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When we first saw them, we were somewhat delighted. Look! Cockatoos! And they come right up to you!

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Soon, though, their fearlessness became unsettling. They’d land on tables, swiping sugar packets and little plastic containers of jam.

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If you turned your head away from your food for just a few seconds, your croissant or slice of toast would suddenly take flight in the beak of one of these winged thieves.

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Sometimes, they’d leave you something in return.

Awww! A pile of crap! How’d you know?

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“Careful,” one of the staff warned. “They have the intelligence of a four-year-old human.”

She offered no follow-up to this comment. I was suitably terrified (the birds were each roughly as long as my arm). Another explained that since the birds were swiping sugar packets out of the porcelain bowls on the tables, the management decided to order lids for the bowls.

“What happened?” I asked.

“One bird figured out how to get the lid off in about two minutes. Now they can all do it.”

I shuddered. Looking around, I realized we were outnumbered.

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It was like … (crap, I hate to draw such an obvious parallel, but …) it was like a scene from The Birds.

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You could tell how long a guest had been at Hayman by their reaction to the birds. Delight and amusement? Usually no more than 1 day. Slight annoyance?2-3 days. Crazed horror or on the brink of avian homicide? 4 days and up.

After a while, we simply tried ignoring our feathered nuisances. We ate our breakfast and pretended that everything was fine. And most of the time, it was.

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But every now and then, I’d get the creepy feeling that I was being watched …

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In the end, the birds managed to steal their fill of breakfast. It seemed only fair – they were on the island first, after all. We’d invaded their home. We’d no right to complain, to wave our arms at them, screaming “SHOO! SHOO!”. Though in fairness, whenever anyone did that, the birds sat, unperturbed, and continued munching on pilfered pastries.

Still, we figured we were entitled to a little peace, given how much we were shelling out to stay on Hayman. So you can imagine my relief when we returned to our little cabana room and found that there were no birds there.

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Until one morning …

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Goddamn birds. I should have made them pitch in on the nightly rate.

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Comments (14)

  1. 09. May, 2013 / Poe:

    They had one of those honeycomb things in the lounge for Turkish Airlines in Istanbul and I just about peed myself. Then I proceeded to eat about half of it slathered on amazing white rolls with some sort of cream cheese stuff. Since it was pretty much my final memory of an otherwise fantastic trip, it has pushed out all of the other great memories and become the highlight.

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  2. I love the photo of the cockatoo peeking under the umbrella, scoping out the scene, waiting for his/her chance. Our last encounter with larcenous birds was with the keas on the Milford Track in Fiordland National Park on the South Island of New Zealand. Keas are alpine parrots. Yep. There you are on the top of a mountain you just climbed. Your legs are all wobbly, your muscles crying out for calories, so you’re munching down on the peanut butter sandwich you packed that morning keenly aware that a brownish blackish parrot is just waiting for his/her chance to relieve you of it.

    BTW, I also feel like a poser at high end restaurants, hotels and restaurants. I’m trying to get over letting the price of things diminish my enjoyment. If we paid the money, why ruin the experience by fretting over it? — assuming it wasn’t the rent money.

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  3. 09. May, 2013 / Christan:

    I went to Australia for the first time in November, and was absolutely delighted when a flock of 20 or so Cockatoos flew past the car–I couldn’t believe my eyes! I have been fond of them ever since–though if they had been swarming constantly around my very expensive breakfast/lunch/dinner, my reaction may have altered. Love the pictures!

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  4. 09. May, 2013 / Michael Cottam:

    You fear the cockatoos swarming…stealing your food. In the Seychelles, on Desroches Island, we had hermit crabs on the sand at night. Here we are having a fabulous honeymoon all-seafood extravaganza all by ourselves at a private table on the beach, and there’s this scratching sound…coming from all directions. The little buggers are rattling in their little shells, crawling across the sand towards our table, undoubtedly thinking “hey! They’re eating Billy!” in their wee little brains. Here’s a pic of a couple of them–they were an inch or two across, and there were literally a hundred within a 20 foot radius.

    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-XtGKt_boTLY/TjBZCDjDwdI/AAAAAAAAmdA/0MxaNYiUujw/w927-h669-no/Hermit+crabs+-+Desroches+Island.jpg

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  5. 09. May, 2013 / Janice:

    Thanks to this post you’ve made me very afraid about being around cockatoos now. And that picture of the one peeking out from the top of the umbrella is priceless. But despite the high prices, this seems like a beautiful place to visit.

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  6. 09. May, 2013 / Mike:

    Hayman Island is still on my list to go to. But, I am not a fan of birds being around my table when I’m eating. Especially while on an expensive vacation.

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  7. 09. May, 2013 / Amy:

    Food in Australia is all expensive – I can never believe it when you talk about a whole meal for $10! I need to be in America

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  8. 10. May, 2013 / Jay:

    I’m terrified of birds – I cannot judge their distance from me and I get ridiculously jumpy when they fly near me often ducking when they’re several feet away. It’s embarrassing. Those birds would, even though they look prettier than damn pigeons, would have me in a straight jacket by the end of my stay.

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  9. 11. May, 2013 / Stacy:

    Haha! This post cracked me up, especially the photo of the bird watching you from the umbrella. What a hilariously scary breakfast experience!

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  10. 13. May, 2013 / heather:

    I freaking love the pic of the bird peeking his head out over the umbrella! I’m listening to birds chirping right now (outside)……hum…….

    :)

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  11. 13. May, 2013 / Lee Moran:

    I have followed your blog for ages and love it, thanks.
    This is my first post, I live in Victoria, in the southern part of Australia, and we have lots of cockatoos, and we love them. They have huge personalties and lots of humour( if a bird can?)!!
    But I understand your issues!
    Saw a perfect answer to this bird problem in Palermo Sicily a year or so ago, In a sidewalk cafe they had their own dogs that patrolled the area and scared the birds(pigeons) away. They were perfectly behaved with the humans but went nutso at the birds, lots of fun to watch

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  12. 13. May, 2013 / Kendra:

    OMG, too funny! We had a bone to pick with the laughing cockatoo breed while campng in Oz. Woke us up every morning like a bad dream. They sound like a choir of monkeys, not in a good way, and it is not fun when they decide to congregate in the tree right over your tent.

    Great blog in general.

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  13. 14. May, 2013 / Bianca:

    I had a pet cockatoo when I was a kid so, I hate to admit, I’m one of those people who encourages them by feeding them the complimentary packets of biscuits that are always in hotel rooms.

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  14. 28. May, 2013 / Nathan DePetris:

    Thanks for the great article, this was the perfect way to start my day. I always enjoy cute animal stories but who can resist that awesome picture of the cockatoo peeking his head under the umbrella. You would have to have a heart of stone to not crack a smile at that adorable photo.

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