Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last blog for a while

As always, it was another busy week. On Wednesday, we had some visitors stop in from the office in Honolulu and the from the Regional Office. They hopped on the Kahana at Midway so they could see how things are going on Laysan, French Frigate Shoals, and Nihoa. After a tour of Tern Island, Ty and I got lunch on the Kahana, then took the group to East Island and snorkeling at LaPerouse Pinnacle. It's always good to give people a look underwater, since the atoll has only about 67 acres of land and 232,000 acres of coral reef. Sarah (volunteer) left on the Kahana too so now we have 4 volunteers to take care of business until Dec.

We had a plane on Friday. Another 10 minutes and we wouldn't have. It started pouring rain just after it landed. I'm sure they would have had to turn around like last week since the visibility would have been too bad. We don't have a full service airport here so pilots have to fly on visual flight rules. It's tough to land if you can't see the island. The runway got covered in water, but thanks to our high tech water removal equipment (the volunteers and a bunch of brooms), most of the water was swept off of the main takeoff path.

If all goes well, I'll be out on the plane tomorrow (Monday). On my time off, I'll be doing some first aid training in Bend, OR, working in the office in Honolulu, and hanging out in Cleveland, and whatever else looks good while I'm gone. I may or may not make any vacation posts, we'll see if there's anything interesting in the rest of the world. If not, then I'll probably post when I get back here in Dec. See ya!

This is Round Island. It comes and goes. I hope it stays around long enough for this pup to wean. You can see Tern Island on the horizon. I wish I could bring my nice camera in the boat, but I'm not taking the chance on it getting wet. This is about as good of a zoom as I can get with my little waterproof Olympus.

These are "Nenue". That's the Hawaiian name for various species of chubs, which all look very similar, so we'll stick with nenue. They are very common around here and every now and then we'll see a yellow one in a school of gray ones.

Here is a bluefin trevally swimming below me. They usually follow seals around to see if they scare up any food. They also follow people around, until they see that we aren't doing anything interesting. They are fairly big and get up to 25 pounds. The giant trevally, which also follow seals and people, get a lot bigger, about 5 ft and 150 lbs. My pictures weren't as good of those guys this time.

This is a blue-grey noddy on LaPerouse Pinnacle. It's a bit fuzzy since I had to zoom in a lot on the computer, otherwise it would have just looked like another guano spot.

This is what our warehouse looks like with no walls. It's probably a little more interesting for people who've been out here before. It should be all fixed up by the time I get back.

This is the runway today. It looks a little better than it did a couple of months ago.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New volunteers and rain

I got the new helpers on Monday. I'm glad that Adam and Sarah are still around to help show them the ropes. Ty is catching on quick for all the "acting manager" jobs that he'll have around here while I'm at training and on vacation. He says it reminds him of working on a ranch, with all the cooking, cleaning, and other chores that everyone has to pitch in on. He also said, "You have a really cool job". I know.
We finally got some rain. The problem is that it came the day the plane was bringing more construction workers. They got here and the visibility was terrible and there were big lakes on the runway. They flew over, took a look, then flew back to Honolulu. It rained again the next night, so we got up early and took brooms and spread all of the puddles around to dry them out. It was a pretty big job to get that done. It ended up being pretty dry so at least the plane could land on Wednesday. It was a bit muddy though. I'm hoping it doesn't rain on the 21st, since that's when I'm supposed to be flying off.
I finally got a Sunday off today, so I went snorkeling with the new people, went for a run, and watched "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels". So absolutely no work today. The construction guys worked a half day, and were glad they could get finally get off the hot roof for a bit.

Here comes some of our supplies and new volunteers. The Kahana is in the background.

I'm training Ty on how to get through the little channels to get to the other islands. We took our lunch along and ate it on Trig Island. I think we need one palm tree on this island. I believe some introductions are in order; Sarah, Erika, Alex, Ty, Adam, and Katie are in the picture.

Here is one of two Bristle-thighed curlews that are visiting right now. They usually prefer the other atolls for some reason. They nest in Alaska and take their winters on islands and atolls throughout the pacific. Last I heard there's only about 7,000 of them in the world.

This is the other curlew that's here. I'm glad it got this grasshopper. It's invasive and we're trying to get rid of them. It was interesting to watch the bird try to kill the grasshopper before it could eat it. It would shake it up to stun it, then slam it on the ground, and catch it again before it could get away. These grasshoppers are tough, this one is about 4" long and even a stomp with the old shoe usually doesn't phase them. These birds will also eat other birds eggs, which they crack open by hitting them with rocks.

Here's another uncommon shorebird I haven't shown you before. The little light colored bird is a sanderling. The other 4 are ruddy turnstones. The turnstones are always around but there are only a couple of sanderlings here each season.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Happy Labor Day

It's another working weekend for us on Tern Island. We had a plane today, which brought a runway inspector and John and Josh, who'll be working on the warehouse. They came today so that they can help unload the Kahana tomorrow. It's bringing the rest of the construction materials, plus 3 new volunteers and Ty, who'll be taking care of things out here while I'm gone. He usually takes care of Tern Island from Honolulu, so now he gets some hands on experience. We are losing 2 volunteers, Whitney gets to take the Kahana to Midway and fly back from there, and Therese will fly back to Honolulu from here in a few days. Sarah will stay to help train the new volunteers and take the Kahana back, and Adam will stay out here a while longer.
We'll have another plane the day after tomorrow with a few more construction workers. So we're well on our way to the 14 that'll be here when I leave. Things are really busy around here, but it feels good to see some results.

The plane is taking off for Honolulu.

Since I talked about the nice view I had while running my 10k's, I thought I'd show you. This picture shows the nice blue water, but it also makes it look like a desert island with all the dead vegetation. It has been really dry out here lately, but still beautiful.

Sarah and Whitney were watching the seal crew do their work. The sooty tern was just looking for a good spot for..... whatever they use their spots for?

This brown noddy chick is only a couple of days old and wandered out into the middle of the runway. Either that or a frigatebird dropped it before it could eat it (more likely). I put it off to the side, near the most likely parents, but its chances aren't good.

I haven't shown you a baby turtle for a few weeks. Here's one that we let go early in the morning and is almost home.