The south-east trade wind season, roughly from May to October, is not the best time to see glorious sunsets on Bird Island. Nevertheless, sitting on the western beach as the sun goes down, feeling the south-east breeze after a hot day in the sun, is a great way to pass the last hour of daylight with ever-changing colours and patterns in the sky.
On moonless nights the sky transforms into star-studded blackness, with the handle of the Plough constellation visible to the north and the Southern Cross to the south, while above hovers the constellation of Scorpio. And spanning the sky from south-west to north-east the vastness of the Milky Way becomes apparent as darkness intensifies.
With moonlight the Milky Way is less clear but the moon’s brilliance is sufficient for hotel guests to leave their torches in their chalets. The rising full moon, which we witnessed emerging over the silhouetted coconut trees in a clear sky on 19 June, is also spectacular on Bird Island. And all of these phenomena are accompanied by the background choruses of the Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies and Lesser Noddies, whose conversations continue throughout the night, moon or no moon.
During the north-west monsoon season sunsets can be more colourful and on some clear nights, just as the last rim of the sun disappears over the horizon, it is possible to see the “green flash”, when for an instant the sliver of the orange disk transmutes into bright green. This is best seen through binoculars but this must be done with extreme care as looking at the sun with optical aids can be extremely dangerous. But through binoculars the so-called flash appears in apparent slow motion, with the green appearing initially at the edge of the descending disk and gradually moving to the centre as the sun finally disappears.