Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another Busy Day

The Walnut came today and took most of our nets. They couldn't quite fit them all in the shipping container, so we've got a little pile left. They'll pick them up some other time I guess. This afternoon we did some more chainsawing and then had a BBQ at the Walnut. The island residents and even some of the visitors came out to have some food and drinks and meet the crew. It was a good time and we also got a tour. The plane came in tonight and 3 new volunteers came in for the summer, a few other people came in too so I'll meet them over the next few days.
Here's the Walnut. All of the Coast Guard buoy tenders are named after trees.

This was the scene at the BBQ.

Greg and I found this albatross about to drown in the harbor so we pulled it out. It probably won't make it, but at least it has a chance.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Busy Day

It was a busy day today. We started out with a weed pull at the field where the Pan Am Hotel was. The visitors and volunteers came out and we got it all done. We then tried to get a big net off of the rocks by the fuel farm, but it was too heavy and it looks like we'll need some of the heavy equipment to pick it up. We wanted to get it out because a Coast Guard ship is coming in tomorrow morning to pick up all of our marine debris nets and ropes. The "Walnut", which is a buoy tender, is coming in for a day and will take the nets back to Honolulu.
And speaking of the Coast Guard, a medevac plane (C-130) is coming in tonight. A person was sick on a cargo ship and we went out and picked him up outside of the atoll a couple of hours ago. They'll take him to Honolulu tonight.
We also went through our big marine debris pile and separated out all of the ropes and lines, glass, metal, and plastic. It was sort of fun to go through all that junk and see what has washed up over the last 2 years.

The visitors are pulling the verbesina.

We needed the big telehandler forklift to sort through the net pile.

Here's me, Greg, Brent, and Dana.

This is the cargo ship waiting outside of the atoll for the Safeboat to get there. I took this picture next to the power plant looking south over the runway.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

66th Preparation

We are starting to get ready for the 66th aniversary of the Battle of Midway. We'll have a ceremony a week from today (Wednesday). There will be a Continental charter flight bringing out a bunch of people for the day. They will only be here about 8 hours, but it should be nice. I just missed it last year when they had about 2,000 people out here. A cruise ship pulled in as well as the flights. Greg and I have really been concentrating on spraying the town area to make it look good. We'll do a lot of hand pulling the weeds in the visible places too.

It was a perfect day today. I went for a swim at lunch and took this picture of Capt. Brooks' Tavern on the left and the Clipper House on the right.

A monk seal swam by just after I got out of the water.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


The patanque tournament went until 11:00 last night. Willie and "E" won. Next time we'll have to start early in the morning.

Two of the visitors here now are sisters and attended school on Midway between 1976 and 1978 so it's been fun to talk to them. We have a yearbook from 1976 that has pictures of them in 3rd and 10th grades. They have some great stories and have a lot of information about where things were. They are really glad to be back and they said they have been reading my blog, which prepared them for things like the school being torn down. They are also disappointed that there aren't seashells all over North Beach like there were back then. They are happy they have the chance to bring their families to the place that they have such great memories of.

This white tern was sitting near the harbor waiting to feed its chick.

I left for about 30 minutes and found another tern (or maybe the same one) in the same spot with another meal for its chick. This is a little cuttlefish or squid.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

This morning we had a little Memorial Day ceremony at the Navy Memorial. Barry read a message from The President, Darlene read a poem she wrote, and we had a moment of silence. Bob and Pong made a beautiful wreath and some leis for for the George Cannon memorial.
At 1:00 we started a patanque (pronounced patak) tournement. It is pretty much the same as bocce ball. It's 10:15 and still going on. Dave (airport manager) and I were partners and got knocked out at 8:30 so it was a good activity for the day.

Here is the wreath at the Navy memorial made from plumeria, hibiscus, spider lillies, and even a couple of verbesina flowers and castor bean seeds.

This is the George Cannon memorial. As I've said before, he was the first Marine in WWII to be awarded the Medal of Honor. He was killed Dec. 7, 1941 when a bomb bounced off another roof and came through the window (I've heard it's the one on the left in the picture). The 4 ft. thick roof probably would have stopped the bomb, but it was a lucky shot.

Barry is looking for his next shot at patanque.

The game is still going on with work lights and golf carts.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rainy Day

A new group of visitors woke up to rain today. This is our last tourist group for this year. They will start again next year when the chicks hatch. I stayed in today and did some job search work. Greg and I also watched some old Midway home videos from 1973 and '74. A lot of things are different, but the birds are exactly the same.
I hope tomorrow gets nice since we will have a little Memorial Day commemoration over at the Navy Memorial. Since today was rainy, I'll give you some pictures from yesterday.
The spotted eagle rays are coming in to the shallow water for breeding. There were 13 of them in this group.
A brown noddy is sitting on some rocks in the ironwoods. They are ground nesters so it might be looking for a good spot to nest.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Message in a Bottle

I found an old wine bottle in the harbor today with a note inside. I had a tough time fishing it out of the harbor, but finally got it out with a marind debris crate and some rope. I opened it up at Capt. Brooks' tonight, a lot of people were curious so they showed up too. It said it was part of a scientific ocean current study and it gives an address to send it to. My guess is that it's probably at least 15 years old, so I'll do a little internet research to see if the address is still good. I wish they would have put a date on it. At least they protected the note inside a ziplock bag in the bottle because the cork leaked. The bag had deteriorated and the note was still wet, but at least it was still readable. A lot of times, the notes are unreadable from leaky corks, I hear.

This is where I found the bottle.

Here's the soggy note. I'll let you know if I find anything out.

Friday, May 23, 2008


The "Oscar Elton Sette" came in this afternoon. They dropped off some stuff for a NOAA scientiest who will be coming up later in the summer, and are taking John and Tammy off to their respective islands. There were also a couple of familiar faces on board. Jaime, one of the coral reefers that was here last year, and Angie who was out here doing seal work last year, were on board. It was fun to see them again. I took a tour of the ship after dinner and then a bunch of us sat out on the pier with the crew and chatted for a while. They'll be leaving at 7:00 tomorrow morning.

Here's Aaron checking out the ship.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another Chainsaw Thursday

This morning we did more spraying in the field behind the new fuel tanks. Last year that area was so thick that the tractor got stuck. It was very difficult for the birds to get in and out. It looks thick from afar, but we are keeping it open enough that we shouldn't have too many dead chicks. We also cut down quite a few more ironwoods, but there will still be enough after I leave to keep Greg and John busy.

A canary made a nest in our tool room. I hope no one needs jumper cables anytime soon.

Here's a view from Bulky Dump toward Frigate point along South Beach.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More Weed Pulling

Today we got some help pulling verbesina from the field where the Pan Am Hotel was. All of the visitors came out to help, which was great considering they paid to come out here on vacation. I also had time to go mark some mowing hazards on the GPS at Bulky Dump. The verbesina is getting tall enough that it took Greg and I about 2o minutes to find one old well.
We are expecting a ship on Friday. The NOAA ship "Oscar Elton Sette" is stopping by to pick up John and Tammy, who have been helping us out and are now going to Laysan and Tern Islands, and will also drop off some supplies.

Here are the visitors and volunteers pulling the verbesina.

Here's a red-tailed tropic bird chick that was under one of the trees. It looks like it hatched yesterday or the day before.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday Night Football

After a rainy day of pulling weeds, we watched a football game. Brent played football for Stanford and brought a DVD of a game they played last season. It was the game where Stanford beat #2 ranked USC when they were 41 point underdogs. It was called the second biggest upset in college football last year (Next to Appalachian State beating Michigan). We got to watch it with the commercials, time outs, and other stoppages taken out, and it still took about 2 hours. It was fun to watch.
Here is an old barracks building that isn't used anymore.

The ceiling is falling in on the pool table.

Here's a bird picture for the day. This is near the old fuel farm.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Building Pics

Today was a usual Monday. We started out with our Mon. morning meeting, followed by some chainsaw maintenance and office work. This afternoon, Greg and I did some spraying and more GPS work on invasive species.
One of our visitors was in the Marines and was stationed here in 1958 so it's been very interesting to talk to him. He can't believe how many weeds have grown here, since back then they either kept up the grounds or had buildings and cement everywhere. He also said his favorite snorkel spot was off of the south beach, which is closed for the seals now.

Here are pictures of the harbor buildings near the finger piers. This is the old harbor office.

This is a view of some of the junk that's left in this building. Most of the buildings have at least some junk, and some have a lot. Some of it is useful, but most isn't.

This building was where the old contractor had their scuba office. We just use it to store life jackets for the boats.

There still is a hyberbaric chamber in the back of that building. It needs some work but is probably fixable.

While I was taking the building pictures, I saw this frigate bird sunning itself on a branch.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Again, it was a beautiful day. I didn't do much, but that's what weekends are for, I guess. Tonight, Murray and I are watching the movie "The Battle for Midway". It is a National Geographic movie, mostly about the search for the wreck of the aircraft carrier "Yorktown" by Robert Ballard. I've seen a lot of the battle footage before, so I enjoy seeing the differences in the island that have occurred since then.
Our old landing craft finally got put in the boneyard last week. There is no more money for maintaining it and it was getting unsafe to use it. Now we won't be able to take any heavy equipment over to Eastern Island anymore.
Here is a wildlife shot, since I didn't give one yesterday. Some of the red-tailed tropic bird chicks are becoming partially feathered now.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

More Visitors

It was another beautiful weekend day. I took a couple more pictures. I took the suggestion from the comments and took some building pictures. I'll spread them out a little though.
The visitor groups are back again. I think there are about 13 on this trip. There will only be one more group after this for this season. The FWS wanted to kind of start slow and make sure everything goes alright.

Here's the "Parachute Building". I guess this is where they used to hang parachutes to prepare them. Now we use it for the recycling center.

This is the old machine shop. This building has a serious lead paint problem. A few people came out a couple of months ago to see what it would take to clean it up. That's why there's one little painted section. Someone came out last week to train the Chugach guys on lead paint removal, so sooner or later we'll get it cleaned up I hope. The albatross chicks around the buildings with lead paint die frequently from developmental problems.

Inside the machine shop there are the usual tools such as drill presses, saws, etc. I doubt if any of them are functional because they are very rusty. This picture shows a big lathe and a shark cage. I assume that's here from the days when people were allowed to scuba dive here. It's really interesting to check these places out.

Plane Night

Another week and another new bunch of people. The bug guys, marine debris gals, Ben, Alex, and Kristin all left, and Dave, two volunteers who will be going to Laysan & Tern Islands next week, and the new hydroponic gardener from Thailand all came in. For being such a remote island, we get a lot of activity.
We've been seeing Laysan ducks everywhere lately. A pair of ducks followed me around for about 20 minutes today while I was walking through the field. I even walked faster, and took a few turns to see if I could lose them, but they kept up. I don't know what they were expecting, or why I was so interesting to them, but it's great to see that this endangered species is doing so well. Normally, the endangered species etiquette is to stay 150 ft. away, so maybe these ducks were just trying to get me in trouble for being too close.
I took this picture a while ago, but since I talked about the ducks, I'll give you a picture of them. These two were on Eastern Island.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Going Away Thursday

Another day of getting rid of weeds and chainsawing ironwoods followed by a jump off the cargo pier. We are having a going away party for a few people tonight. Kristin is done volunteering here. Alex the firefighter is out of here tomorrow. And Ben, the airport manager is leaving to learn to fly. The airport manager that Ben replaced, Dave, is coming back out here, and Dave O. the firefighter, is also coming back, for those of you who know them.

This white tern found a decent spot to lay an egg on Eastern Island.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Albatross Painting Again

This morning we went back to Eastern Island to paint some more of the decoys. The other short-tailed albatross was not there right now, but again, we are hoping for more next year. We also brought the two guys over there who are here to study moths.
This afternoon, Greg and I did some spraying and the volunteers checked the albatross plots. So it was a usual Wednesday afternoon.

The red-footed booby chicks are hatching now. It will take a while to get the red feet.

The mullets swim around the piers on the surface looking for food. This fish looks like it's about 3 pounds or so.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dolphin Pics

I forgot to tell you about the short-tailed albatross. We painted them up on Friday, and on Saturday a group of people saw one of the real birds hanging out there. It was the one I showed you last week, so it apparently likes the new, colorful decoys.
I took quite a few pictures on Saturday, so I am still putting them up from then.

Here are two consecutive pictures of the same dolphin spinning out in the harbor. I just zoomed in a little on the computer on the second.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Marine Debris

Today was a usual Monday, checking our weather station, preparing the chainsaws, spraying some verbesina, and marking some more invasives on the GPS. Two people came in on the plane to study marine debris on Friday, so the volunteers helped them with that. The idea is to clean up certain areas of the beaches and monitor them over the next year to catalog the types of debris, and how much there is. Dow chemical is even getting involved and will analyze the plastics to find where they were made. Some of the debris will be marked and left on the beach to see the rate that it gets washed out again. So if any future volunteers are reading this right now, be ready to do that.

Here's another shot from Saturday. Ben, Kristin, and Brandon are coming back to the beach after some kayaking.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another Nice Weekend

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. And congratulations to Phil & Lisa on your wedding (my brother got married in Chicago on Saturday). Don't forget to send pictures.
It was beautiful again this weekend. Just a few clouds and not much wind. The albatross chicks are trying to find shade and panting like crazy to cool down.

I was over at the cliffs on the north beach taking pictures. The cliffs are only 2 feet tall, but it's still interesting to see the same erosion patterns as real rock cliffs.

I love the colors of the water.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Painting Short-tails

The short-tailed albatross decoys on Eastern Island needed painting, so that was one of this morning's projects. It had been a few years since they were painted, so maybe they'll be more noticeable with brighter colors. We also took some bunch grass plants over on the boat and planted them in the short-tail plot to spruce it up a little.
We finally got our mail today. It's been 3 weeks since we got anything, since the Navy plane that came last time, didn't bring any. Thanks for the packages Mom & Dad and Dasha.

Dana is putting the blue on the bill.

Kristen is painting the pink on the bills.

Here's one that's almost done. We didn't get all the black done, but they are a lot more colorful now, and more like the real thing.