Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's finally warm here

It's been pretty cool and windy here for the last couple of months. We're finally getting the warm breezes instead of the cool wind from the north Pacific. Cool is relative by the way. Cool for me means I sleep with a blanket, but I still wear shorts and short sleeves everyday. The volunteers all wear sweatshirts and long pants.

We finished our wedge-tailed shearwater mark recapture for the year. We caught and banded or read bands on over 600 birds. That's one of the ones that we do at night so although it's nice to see the stars, we are so busy crawling under the buildings and bushes that we don't get to look up until we walk back to the barracks. I think I mentioned before that the nearest lights are almost 500 miles away, so we get a pretty good view of the stars.

Another project we did last week was move big pieces of coral that are all over the island to the seawall. A lot of birds fall down between our double seawall and will die if we don't do our walk every morning and find them. By filling the space with coral, at least the birds can walk or fly out on their own. So hopefully, we'll have a lot fewer stuck or dead birds on that corner of the island.

Northwest corner of Tern Island seawall before filling with coral rocks.

Northwest corner of Tern Island after filling with coral rocks.

Here's a Potter's angelfish. They are pretty common and we see them alot while snorkeling.

We are starting to get a little island forming off of the SE side of Tern. It probably won't last too long and it gets covered up by high tide.

Just another shot of the sooty terns on Tern Island.

Friday night at the boat dock with a 30 second exposure. I hope this didn't get too pixelated when I shrunk it down to webpage size.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nothing Exciting this Week

This was a week of getting a lot of little projects done around the island (yawn!). We have mostly caught up with our bird studies, so now it's time to catch up on things like getting the rust off of tools and straps.

Ruth and Dasha are having a great time.

I usually don't show you all of the pictures of the tedius little maintenance work that we do here, because you can probably go to your neighbor's garage and see the same thing. But every now and then I should put these up so that volunteer applicants see that it's not all looking for marine debris with snorkel gear and interacting with the birds out here. But since you are on my blog looking to see things that you probably can't see in your neighbor's garage, here's some pictures from snorkeling last Sunday.

I haven't looked at what type of hermit crab this is, but it was a nice spot of color in the dead coral.

We don't see too many jellyfish around here (mostly Portuguese man-o-war's), but there were a couple floating around the boat dock last week. I took at least 30 pictures of these two and others, but this was the only one where they actually looked like jellyfish.

There is a boat hull upside down in about 15 ft of water and there are always some good fish around it. Usually a shark or two hiding underneath also. Here are 2 common longnose butterflyfish, a raccoon butterflyfish, and a bad angle on a Hawaiian dascyllus.

Here's another picture of Caitie taking a turtle picture. We see a lot of them this time of year since it is almost nesting time. The turtles are usually pretty curious underwater, and we try to stay pretty still to not bother them. They'll usually swim around us for about 30 seconds, then decide we aren't worth looking at anymore, then they go off on whatever business they had before we swam by.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Late Post

Sorry for the missed Sunday blog again, but the internet here has really been bad lately. I can only upload pictures late at night. Tonight we were out doing a mark/recapture study on wedge-tailed shearwaters and just got back in (it's 11:45 pm) so I was up. Normally this is past my bedtime. I think we only got around 150 of the birds caught tonight. So I think we'll have to go out at least one more late night to get the 600 birds we need.
Now that I have all of my volunteers here and my asst. mgr, I'm catching up on a lot of organizing and maintenance. It's nice to be able to be just a little bit behind, instead of way behind.
Everything is still beautiful out here. The green sea turtles are everywhere now and getting ready to start digging nests everywhere, and the seals are almost ready to start having their pups. The major bird nesting time is also starting for most of the species that are here, and the albatross chicks are getting their flight feathers in. I'll have to get you an updated albatross picture next week.
We had a good boat trip and saw some manta rays, no whales this time. So as usual, it was another great week (and a half).

Last week on our outer island trip, we saw a few manta rays. It's tough to get a good picture of them. This one was about 7 or 8 ft across.

We also saw a few spotted eagle rays surfacing near the boat house. Pardon my saying, but these are some goofy looking critters. This one is a female trying to get away from the 3 smaller males in the picture.

There are quite a few masked booby chicks hatching right now. They don't have feathers when they are born, so the parent will sit on them for a while.

This chick is almost to the age where the parent doesn't need to do this.

This masked booby has 5 eggs. I'm not sure they are all his eggs. It looks like the big one may be a frigatebird egg that it found. I'll keep an eye on this nest and see what happens.

Dasha and Ruth are fixing a band that was not closed all the way on this masked booby. If the bands aren't put on right they can catch on lines and branches and things. Notice the eye protection and leather gloves. These birds bite really hard.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

More internet trouble, so more pics this week

I didn't get a blog posted last week, as you probably noticed. Our computers are acting up again and it takes too long to upload photos. I finally got them all up so here you go.

The Kahana came back from its trip up to Midway. We loaded our recycling, trash, and a few other things going back to Honolulu. We also said goodbye to Greg, who was a great help with the invasive weeds for the last week. And Melinda also left. She's done satellite tagging her albatrosses for the season. Tern Island's population is now 6 and will be until the seal and turtle people get here in May.

The turtles are getting ready to dig nests. We are seeing a lot more on the beach these days. We've also seen a couple of pregnant seals, so we should be seeing some pups relatively soon.

Today, after our Easter egg hunt, we had a nice Easter dinner of fried spam (we're out of ham), naan (bread), Czech spinach, and pineapple casserole. It reminded me of my grad school potlucks when all the foreign students brought their country's random dishes. It was tasty, and we're all stuffed.

The NOAA seal crew's boat is being loaded onto the Kahana. The weather was windy, rough, and rainy. It kept things interesting.

We take two boats out when we go, so here is the other boat next to LaPerouse Pinnacle.
We had a picnic on Trig Island during our albatross chick count on the other islands. From right to left: Ruth, Dasha, Caitie, Sarah, Greg, Paula (Melinda is behind me taking other pictures). It was kind of a cloudy, but the wind was low, so it wasn't bad. We didn't get as sunburned as usual.

Here are the glass floats that we found so far this winter on the other islands within the atoll, with a pool ball and soft ball thrown in for scale.
This is another Laysan/Black-footed albatross hybrid. This one stays on East Island. We have one that likes to be on Tern. Hybrids don't seem to like each other though, they prefer one species over the other. They have a mixed species dance, so it's tough for them to get mates, although on Midway, I've seen them on nests. We don't know if it is their egg or not when we see that.

Humpback whale. This is as good as I could do with my little camera zoomed all the way, and zoomed some more on the computer. We passed by a couple on the way from East Island to LaPerouse Pinnacle.

This white tern chick couldn't figure out how to get this fish swallowed. It dropped it on the ground, so I gave it back, but head first, so it all worked out.

The Masked booby chicks are getting bigger than their parents.

Sarah gets to do the plot with the Tristram's storm petrels. They are finally old enough to band now. She just banded this little one and is about to put it back in its burrow.

This is a Grey-backed tern chick that was just hatched today. It's already walking around looking for a good hiding spot from the frigatebirds.