Byrd Island, Oyster Bay – click any image for full size
The homestead region of Oyster Bay is a regular stopping-off point on my rounds of Second Life. This is because Sera Bellic, the region holder, uses it to demonstrate her region design skills, changing the layout several times a year, thus periodically offering all of us something to new visit. This is currently the case with the regions latest iteration as Byrd Island, which Caitlyn and hopped over to explore as the start of our weekend.
Visitors arrive at the island’s ferry pier, located on the island’s north-west side, where birds circle overhead, the first indications of how – spelling allowing – the island may have come by its name. Herons patrol the sandy tongue of land on which it sits, the only low-lying point of the entire island, which otherwise stands as a 30-metre high tower of rock rising from the surrounding mist-laden sea.
Two routes to this high plateau are offered: a wooden elevator occupying a steel girder tower, or a rope ladder. The former gives visitors the option to stop off at a rocky observation shelf on their way to the top of the island, whilst for the adventurous, the rope ladder presents a climb directly to the platform at the top of the cliffs serving both it and the elevator.
From the platform, an arched hedge sitting between tall firs presents itself as a gateway to a gently undulating, and in place rugged, plateau with rolling grass, rocky outcrops and a mix of tress and bushes offering scattered places to sit and paths to wander. It all makes for a pleasing landscape well-suited to soft sunlight settings.
The paths, cut from the trunks of fallen trees, wind across the landscape, point the way towards the three buildings occupying the island: the tall lighthouse with attached lodgings; an expansive house to the south-east and a small stone-built lodge to the east. Across the landscape birds wheel and caw, sing and sit … and watch.
“The lighthouse keeper and his family abruptly left the island never to return.” Sera states in the land description. “Could it have been the birds, or something else?” Whatever might have caused the departure, the birds weren’t telling, but had one of the raven keeping an eye on things spoken up with, “Nevermore!” as Caitlyn and I passed, I really wouldn’t have been surprised; there is a faintly Hitchcockian edge to the island under its default windlight which naturally gives rise to thoughts of certain films, or of Poe on spotting the ravens.
Which is not to say that just because the island has this slightly mysterious edge to it, it is deeply sinister. Take away the misty look with an alternative windlight – I found Annan Adored’s Morning Dream worked really well (among several others!) – and Byrd Island becomes the kind of place where get-away-from-it-all weekends should be spent. A place where late breakfasts in bed are the only way to start the day, followed by leisurely strolls across the island and afternoons lazing in the shade of trees, before seeing out the evening quietly, watching the sun set over the rippling ocean.
In all my visits to Oyster Bay, I’ve rarely been disappointed in the designs Sera has offered us; each one has been special, from the Adirondacks, back through the likes of Bellack House and The McFly Project and beyond. However, I admit to finding Byrd Island perhaps her best yet. It has an elegance and openness about it which makes exploration a pleasure, and is presented in a way not often seen in island design in-world, complete with a sprinkling of atmosphere and back story to add further flavour.
- Byrd Island (Rated: Moderate)