Friday, February 29, 2008


We had cupcakes and other stuff this morning at work for Matt's birthday. It's not until tomorrow, but it was easiest to get everyone together at the office.

After cupcakes, we went and checked the red-tailed tropic birds. There was still only one nest so far on our plots. We also did a little greenhouse work after that. We cut down some more ironwoods today at Radar Hill. It was great to have help. We had 3 people chainsawing and 4 helpers, so we got a lot done.

Here's Matt, Barry, Greg, and Jen waiting for cupcakes.

Here's Elise, Dana, Lauren, and Kristin.

Dana is helping me check the tropic bird for a band.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another Rainy Day

It's been raining most of the day today. Greg and I took the volunteers out to check the albatross plots and we needed our full rain gear. It was pretty windy too but I don't think any trees got blown over this time. We decided to clean up the greenhouse and get some bunch grass cloned. We were still getting rained on in there because the walls are mesh. I hope it clears up by tomorrow since it's supposed to be "Chainsaw Friday".

Tonight was a game night at Capt. Brooks'. We played spades and Taboo. It was a good time.

I haven't taken any pictures the last few days since it's been so rainy, so Ill have to dig up one from before.

Here's a Black-footed albatross with a Laysan albatross in the background.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spray Day

Today the volunteers went over to Eastern Island for some petrel work with Janet and Jen. That gave Greg and I a chance to catch up on some spraying of verbesina. We also did a little work in our native plant garden. It was nice and sunny, but again, cool. It was a nice day to be outside. We had a volleyball game tonight at Capt. Brooks' for the first time in a while. Attendance is a lot better when it's warm though.

Here's an albatross chick picture taken with a wide angle semi-fish eye lens.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cool, Busy Day

We cleared some more umbrella sedges from the ballfield seep today. The ducks were watching, catching any bugs that we scared up. They left the 6" centipedes alone though.
I worked with the volunteers today to clone some bunch grass, did computer training, and got my tetanus shot. So it was a fairly productive day.
It wasn't very warm today, so most people are wearing jackets today. At least it didn't rain.

The verbesina is starting to surround the birds. It will start to get a little harder for the adults to get to the chicks.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nice Day, but More Rain

We're getting more rain tonight. At least it didn't start until work was over. It was nice while we were showing the new volunteers around. We had them do a little greenhouse work this morning, then showed them around the island and looked at the albatross plots. It's great to show new people around because they are so fascinated by everything. I'm used to it, but it still never gets old and the birds are always entertaining.

A chick and parent are surveying their flooded nest. At least the chicks are getting old enough to move a few feet if they have to.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nice Day

The day was finally nice enough to go jump in the water at cargo pier. The water was the coolest that I've seen it here with our strong winds and storms lately. But it was sunny, so a good day for it.

There was also a small Navy plane that came last night. They came to pick up some some people that were here for a week. Today we loaded them up with a bunch of old scrap computers that they'll get rid of for us. We still have at least 10 times the amount that they could fit, but it helps.
An albatross walked over and started pecking at the seal

Another bird flew over to see what was going on. The seal didn't like being bothered so it snapped at them and they went off.

Jimmy is jumping off the pier.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More Albatross Rescue

Today was pretty interesting. This morning I was walking up on North Beach and I found another glass ball. Dana, one of the new volunteers, also found one (the rolling pin kind) on her first day here. The strong north wind has been bringing them in.

I went to check the LCM to make sure no albatrosses were stuck inside, but on my way past the seawall I found a hole about 2' X 6' that opened up to a big space about 5' X 18'. There were 4 albatrosses stuck down there and at least 20 dead ones (4 from this year and piles of feathers and bones). The hole wasn't really noticeable from anywhere, especially if the weeds were full grown. I just happened to walk by. I had to crawl down there and throw them out. Luckily, a group of people walked by doing a 5k and I could pass the birds to them. The only bad thing is now I have to get my tetanus shot again (it's been 11 years) since I got all scratched up by the rusty metal.

Tonight we're having a birthday party for Dana (a guy who works at the fuel farm, not the volunteer) and Jack (one of the Thai's that works at the power plant). The band is playing and there'll be cake.

I don't have any pictures of getting the stuck albatrosses out since I was in the hole. Our P.A., Mel, took some so maybe I'll get some later. I did take some duck pictures today so here's one. Jimmy is back on the island now so it's good to have the duck expert here to answer questions. He says this is a male that just happens to have a really white head. It normally gets whiter as they get older, but this is whiter than most.

Stormy Day

We had another big storm today. First it rained all night (quite a few chicks drowned) then this morning we had 67 mph winds. At least we had some strong winds a couple weeks ago so the weak trees already fell. Greg and I still had to rescue some chicks that were trapped by the falling trees, but not as many as before. The branches were squashing a couple chicks, but they were still alive and as soon as we took the branches off of them, they were snapping at us like we were the ones that put the tree on them. At least they are still at the cute stage where their bite doesn't do any damage. The only fatalities of chicks that we saw, other than the drowned birds, were two that were killed when a bench got blown over. That was amazing considering that the wind even blew down a cinderblock wall behind one house (the blocks landed all around a chick that made it through without a scratch).

This is a chick in my yard during the big rain. They really don't look happy when they're soaked.

This is one I took yesterday. It's a Laysan/Black-foot hybrid and it's chick. I don't know if the hybrid is fertile or not, but it's been sitting on the egg and taking care of the chick.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More Petrels

Tonight I'm going out to catch more petrels. I've been doing that alot more now that the volunteers are gone. At least there are 4 more coming tomorrow, so I'll be able to get some more evenings off.
The chicks are getting big and starting to get a few feet out of their nests. There are very few eggs left (except the rotten ones that didn't hatch and will explode when it's hot this summer).

Here is a black-footed albatross chick. They are usually more white than the Laysan chicks, which is funny since it's opposite when they are adults.

Here's a Laysan chick for comparison.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Posting Again

I finally have my internet back in my house. It's been an interesting few days.
Tonight, we missed out on 2 events. We couldn't see the lunar eclipse because the moon hadn't risen here yet and it was cloudy. We were also wondering if we could see the satellite being shot down from here, but since it was cloudy, we couldn't see that either (I don't know if we could have anyway?)

On Sunday we had a small earthquake here. I thought someone was pushing down trees with some heavy equipment in my yard. It only lasted a couple of seconds and didn't do any damage. It must have been less than a 2.5 because it wasn't registering on the USGS website which logs anything bigger than that (we have a seismic monitoring station on the island). The tsunami warning people called to check on us though. We weren't in any danger from a tsunami because it would have started here and gone away. The big island has them all the time too, but our undersea mountain is a few million years older so it's a lot more stable here.

We also got an unplanned cargo flight. A 737 on its way to Saipan wanted to stop by and visit and refuel, so our airport manager (Ben) asked if they would mind bringing a few things. They brought 15,000 pounds of our supplies. As it turned out, they could only stay here for a couple hours in the dark. It was really amazing that they did that for us when they knew ahead of time that they couldn't stay. They did get some T-shirts and hats at least.

All that was interesting, but not really anything that I could take pictures of, so here's some that I took of other things.

The albatrosses have been getting stuck in our old landing craft. They can't get out because they need to run and lift off and there isn't enough room in there. We have to go by and get them out every few days.

An albatross made a nest on the path through the naupaka bushes. This red-tailed tropic bird was trying to get past and the albatross wouldn't let it. They squawked at each other for a bit, then the tropic bird went around on the far side of the chick.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


There's no big news to catch you up on yet. The plane came in on Thursday with a few people working on our monument plan. They stayed one day and left Friday. Our volunteers, Matt & McKenzie also left. We are expecting the next group of volunteers next week. That'll be good to get some help with the birds, and the chainsawing, and the seep cleanup.
It was a beautiful day today, so I went and walked along the west beach trail for the first time in a while. There's a nice trail there that looks over the beach in a few spots and winds through the trees.
We're expecting the internet to be out tomorrow, but back up Tuesday. So I hope I'll be able to post again then.
A black-footed albatross and chick have a pretty nice view near the west beach trail.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Phones and Internet

Today was a lot less windy so we got some weed spraying in. We also found out that we are losing internet in our houses until next week. They are changing out our current satellite phone system and going with VOIP (internet phone). The satellite quality was pretty bad, so I hope this does a little better. They need to change the hardware for the phones and internet in the houses so it will probably be out until Tuesday. I probably won't have a chance to blog much, since I would have to do it at the internet cafe. So just check back in a few days, I'll post only if there is something extra interesting. Until then, here's a picture of a Laysan albatross and chick.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tropical Storm

We're having a good storm right now. We're getting 30-40 mph winds and really heavy rain. At least it's not -30 too like it is for some of you. I would show pictures, but I'm not taking my camera outside. Just picture the usual storm scene with palm trees bending over and lots of water. It was very windy all day. In fact, this morning another tree broke in front of the Fish & Wildlife office and killed another 4 adults and one chick. There were 5 little chicks left alone this morning, but at the end of the day, there were birds sitting on all of them. It's hard to say if it's the real parents or just passers by. The tree was blocking the road so we had to saw it up and haul it away.

Here's some Red-tailed tropic bird pictures I took yesterday.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


It was another usual weekend day on Midway. I had a good brunch, followed by a little picture taking, and then a little more internet work.
The only thing out of the ordinary that I took a picture of (Midway ordinary, that is) was this Black-footed albatross with 2 chicks. They can't lay 2 eggs so another female must have laid the other egg in the nest. That happens fairly often, but normally one egg gets pushed out. It will be hard for the parents to feed both chicks, but if it's a good year for food and not too hot, they both might make it.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lazy Day

It rained on and off all day, so it wasn't a great day to be outside. I did some reading and internet stuff. Here's some pictures I took last night from the fuel pier.

I wasn't expecting too much, using my flash to get the turtles below the surface after sunset, but they turned out kind of cool.

Friday, February 8, 2008

New Chicks

This morning we checked the tropic bird plots. We found one White tern chick and one Red-tailed tropic bird chick. The tropic bird wasn't in the plot so we didn't have to do anything with it. We also found a Bonin petrel that got stuck in an oily bucket over in the boat house, so McKenzie and I had to wash it off with soap in the sink. We dried it off and put it under a plastic crate so it could dry off and get its feathers back in order. We kept it there all day and I let it go this evening. Hopefully it will crawl around in the dirt for a while to get the rest of the oil off and fix the rest of its feathers otherwise it won't make it when it lands in the ocean and isn't waterproof.
We also did chainsaw Friday today over on Radar Hill. It was the usual hard, satisfying work.

Here's an old picture of a tropic bird and it's chick. The chick we found today just hatched yesterday or today so it's smaller and white instead of gray.

I didn't take a picture of the white tern chick today, so this is also an old one, but it's still cute.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ducks, Petrels, & Towel Animals

Today we did some more cleanup of the ball field seep. The ducks sat and watched again and ate the bugs that we scared up. There were a lot of spiders and centipedes, but they didn't bite any of us.
We also went out again and caught petrels for banding. All of us have scratched up fingers from their sharp beaks, but it doesn't seem to be that tramatic for them.

Every day since I've been back from vacation, we've had new animals folded from towels up at the Clipper House. There have been dogs, lobsters, stingrays, monkeys, pigs, and more. So far there haven't been any repeats so that's pretty impressive. One of the Thai guys worked on a cruise ship and learned how to do all of these.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Albatross Plots

We went out checking the albatross plots today. There are still quite a few birds on eggs, but the majority have hatched. Some are even being left on their own already. We also got some weed spraying in today, so it was another typical day on Midway.

This is one of the chicks behind my house. It's getting big so the parent doesn't sit on it all the time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ilima and Petrels

Yesterday while we were spraying, Greg spotted an ilima plant. That's the one that we thought was extirpated from Midway (I showed a picture a while ago). It was growing next to the cement by the theater. We marked it off so no one accidentally kills it. I also took a clipping to try to get some more to grow in the greenhouse.
Tonight we did more petrel catching. We didn't catch as many as yesterday, but we got a few banded. The pictures are a little dark, but you get the idea.
McKenzie and Matt are untangling a petrel from the mist net.
Here's McKenzie, Mel, Jen, and Janet measuring and banding the birds.

Monday, February 4, 2008

More Petrels

Today was the usual Monday chainsaw maintenance and weed spraying. It was a nice day with a little rain in the afternoon.

This evening we caught about 70 more petrels for measuring and banding. They come in at sunset, so one minute you see a couple. The next minute you see about 50, and the next minute you see thousands flying above. About 7 to 9 is the time when they are coming down to land, so that's when we catch them with a mist net.

Here was a chick that fell out of the nest and was sitting in a petrel hole. The adult was just watching it. As soon as I put it back in the nest, the adult came and sat back on it.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Sunday

It was Superbowl Sunday today. Since we don't have network TV on the island, we had to get the game over the internet. We couldn't get a U.S. feed at first, so we had to watch a chinese broadcast of the game. We didn't understand it but at least we could see the plays. We found an American channel for the 2nd half so we could watch and hear the game.

Here's the crew at Capt. Brooks'.

Instead of Tom Petty for the half time show, we watched the gooney birds taking off and landing. Even though most of us have been here a while, we still had a good time watching the birds do their thing. It never gets old.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Volleyball, Snorkeling, and Petrels

A few of us went snorkeling today. We went over to the east side of the atoll. It was really nice again. Not quite as calm as last week, but still nothing to complain about. Usually I only see green sea turtles over at the cargo pier, but today I saw 4 and other people saw a couple more. 2 people found bullets and casings from a long time ago. It's hard to say if they were from WWII or not.

After dinner Janet and Jen had work to do. They came to do Bonin petrel research. So Matt, McKenzie, and I went out to help them net, measure, and band the birds. They don't come back to the island until sunset, so that's when you have to catch them. We'll have to help them out for the next few weeks.

After the bird work, I still had time to go play some volleyball. So it was another good day. I found this black-footed albatross chick copying whatever the adult did. I have more pictures of them, but you get the point from these 3.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tropic Birds

Today McKenzie, Matt, and I checked the red-tailed tropic bird plots. We've seen them starting to nest on a couple of spots on the island, but so far there are none in the plots. It doesn't take long with no birds there.
We had a plane tonight and changed out a few people on the island. A few went on vacation and a few came back to work.

It was a beautiful warm day today. I hope the weekend is as nice.

Here's something I haven't shown you before. This is the little enclosure that the original ducks were kept in when they were brought from Laysan Island. They were kept in here for a while to get used to Midway. Their wing feathers were also cut to make sure they wouldn't try to fly back to Laysan. They have a lot of food, plenty of nesting habitat, and no predators, so they love it here.