Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Volunteers

After a couple of days delay, our last set of volunteers got out of here on Friday. They were a couple of days late (another little airplane glitch), but got out ok. Brie, Kelli, Kevin, and Sarah left, and Cindy, Jim, and Mary showed up. These 3 will be a little busier since they'll be doing the work of the last 4. Jim & Cindy have volunteered on Midway counting birds for a few years and I met them there originally, so it's good to see some familiar faces. With a lot of people, we didn't get much food on the plane. At least the Kahana is coming next month with our big resupply. I'll be off island for training and vacation the first week in March, so be ready for a little break from me. I'll give you a few more details next time.
There wasn't much newsworthy going on this week, except for new volunteers. So I'll just show you some of the colorful birds hanging around. I'll show you the different boobies on the island right now (you can keep the jokes to yourself, since they are probably not that original). It's only bird pictures this time, since there's so many. Next time I'll give you some non-birds.
The male red-footed boobies get colorful bills at breeding time.

This is a male & female that found a good nest site.

One red-footed booby chick hatched a couple weeks ago. These aren't like most of the other seabirds here that are born fluffy and cute.

This is a dark morph of a red-footed booby. They are gray, but breed with the normal colored ones. There are only about 10 of these or so on the island.

Here's a masked booby sitting on the ground. They are always on the ground, while the red-foots are always in the bushes or on walls.

This is the Nazca booby that I showed you before. It has been here twice, but nests in the eastern Pacific. It's not here now. This one has an orange bill instead of a yellow one.

Here's another eastern Pacific visitor with a red-footed booby. It's an Eastern Pacific brown booby (aka, Brewster's brown booby). It is considered a subspecies of brown booby, but will hybridize with the regular ones. We only see it every few days, and it's usually at LaPerouse Pinnacle instead of here I think.

This is one of our normal brown boobies that live here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


This is the last week of this group of volunteers. They've been here for about 4 months and will fly out on Wed., if there are no plane troubles. We're losing 4 volunteers and getting 3, so it will be a little busier around here until a couple more show up on the Kahana in March. I've only got a few weeks left before I go off island for training and vacation too.

We got out for a boat trip on Friday, now that we've had a few days of good weather. We saw a few humpback whales on our way to and from LaPerouse Pinnacle. They were pretty far away, but we could see their spouts, fins, and backs every now and then. I didn't want to disturb them, so we just watched them from afar (too far for pictures with my little camera). We could hear them singing when we jumped in the water at LaPerouse to snorkel.

Here's some nice table coral out by LaPerouse Pinnacle.

I saw a big green sea turtle while snorkeling today.

These are bluefin trevally. They can get up to about 25 pounds and like to follow people around while they snorkel. I don't know if they're just curious or think we'll scare up some food for them.

Brie and Kelly are putting temporary bands on the albatross chicks. They are starting to wander away from their nests a little, so we want to know which chick came from which nest in the plots that we monitor.

This frigatebird got hit by the plane propeller a few weeks ago. It looks almost like it got chopped in half, but I think only the tail feathers got knocked off. It flies around fine, but might be a little less maneuverable. You can look at my older posts for what a full tailed bird looks like (the one back in Nov. shows the tails nicely).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Birds

There are even more birds here this week. The sooty terns are landing in the afternoons and evenings, and making a lot of noise. We have a plane next week for a volunteer changeout, so I hope the birds don't stay on the runway until after that.

The weather was finally nice enough to get out and make sure everything was good on the other islands. We did a marine debris pickup on East island and brought back a full boat load of bottles, floats, shoes, toothbrushes, lighters, and various other plastic things. I probably should have taken a picture. I'll get one next time. There's no shortage of trash to pick up over there. We also stopped by La Perouse pinnacle and tried to do some snorkeling. The swells were pretty big so the visibility wasn't very good. We didn't stay long. But it was nice to get out and look around the atoll.
The sooty terns are crowding onto the runway.
This isn't the place to come if you don't like birds.

The albatross chicks are starting to be left on their own.

Here's a vagrant bird that showed up recently. It's a Glaucous-winged gull in it's first winter plumage. I hope it does better than the ducks do when they accidentally fly here.

I've been taking a lot of frigatebird pictures lately, since they are pretty interesting right now. This male (on the shrub) is displaying for the female, who checked him out for a couple of seconds, but I guess she thought she could do better and flew off.

Here's another picture of the facilities. This is our "library", also where we eat meals. We've got a lot of pretty random books here that people have left. It's similar to Midway's library, where you have to make sure the bookworms/termites haven't started reading them first.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Good Week

This week went pretty smoothly. We did a lot of bird and nest counting and marking. We're still enjoying our new shipment of fresh vegetables. The weather has been a little windy and the ocean too rough to get out to the other islands recently, but we hope to get out to make sure everything is ok on the rest of the atoll as soon as we can. So this week was a good week for enjoying the fresh air and ocean view.

I thought I had posted a picture of actually landing on Tern island. Apparently I didn't. You can see a part of the pilots helment in case a bird comes through the windsheild.

The sooty terns are coming back by the thousands. There are big clouds of them above the island, and they are getting really loud. You can see why the pilots wear helmets.

A gray-backed tern is sitting on a rock. There's only a few of these around. They look the same as the sooty terns except what's gray on this bird is black on a sooty tern.

MMMM, fish and squid oil! This is a common sight around the island.

The frigatebirds are almost always puffed up now so they add a lot of color to the island.

This is what the kitchen looks like. This was a spaghetti night.