Sunday, January 27, 2013

More Chicks

The albatross chicks are hatching all over the place now.  I'd say only about 1 out of 10 nests are hatching so there's a quite a few more to go.  I like them when they are tiny because they don't try to snap at you yet.

We found a dead duck the other day, so we're back to checking the seeps every day for ducks that are sick or have died from botulism.  So far we haven't found any more.  That means a trip to Eastern Island every day too.  

We'll be short on people for the next couple of months, so we've got a person here to fill in for Greg, Sue, and I when each of us are off island.  I'm glad that Larry will be here on detail, especially since we've got the seep checks to do now, so if you hear me mention Larry, that's who it is.

This adult is letting the chick get warmed up in the sun.

 Here's a chick that's only about 2 days old.

A White-tailed tropicbird flies around checking out possible nesting trees every afternoon.

 I showed you a photo last week of the glass float that Greg found in the water.  A set of two green glass floats tied together washed up on Eastern Island yesterday.

I've showed you this view before, but I never get tired of it.  This is from the pier on the north side of Eastern Island looking toward Sand Island.  It's nice and calm inside the atoll.  The next few photos are on the south side of Eastern Island looking to the reef outside the atoll.  The waves are always a bit more dramatic when there's a good wind because you get a lot of spray off of the top.  The waves were 10 to 20 ft today.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chicks are Hatching!

It's another 3 day weekend.  How do they expect us to get any work done when we keep getting days off?  The albatross plots have been keeping us busy lately.  We go around and read all of the leg bands to find out how many have come back from previous years. At least it gives me a good chance to get out of the office.

I've got another source for information on that airplane wreck that I told you about last week:

There's a lot of info on other WWII airplanes as well as all of the shipwrecks in the monument for you history buffs and a lot of other general info too.  You should be able to find interesting things on there no matter what kind of buff you are.

While we were checking the albatross last week, we found this egg starting to hatch.

 The Black-footed albatross chicks are now hatching all over.  This chick is yawning.  They aren't too active at this stage and just being out of the egg seems to wear them out.

 Greg found a large glass ball floating in the lagoon last week.  It's about 16" in diameter.  It has a tiny hole in it, so it's got water and sand in it, kind of like a terrarium.

 This is one of the algae covered seeps at radar hill.  I put this photo up more for you to see how the Bonin petrels have dug up the side of the hill.

 We've only seen one bird of prey here so far this winter.  A White tern is harassing the juvenile Peregrine falcon.

 This Pacific Golden Plover caught a centipede in front of the office.  I watched it shake it around and slam it on the ground for a few minutes, but it looked like it was going to be a while before the bird ate it.  I'm sure it didn't want to try to eat it if it could still bite.

 There was a nice sunrise last week.  This is a picture of the reflection of the sunrise in the window of the office.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I'm a bit late this week because our internet has been kind of non-functional lately.  You'd think that would give me more time to go out and take pictures, but it didn't. There was some recent news about Midway though. Last summer, the NOAA marine debris team found a plane wreck in the lagoon.  Here's a link to a short article about it.  I haven't seen it yet.

I neglected to tell you about some other news from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI).  Tern Island got hit with a microburst/wind event and caused a lot of damage.  There are photos on Flickr.

When I was manager out there, I had one wall blow out in the warehouse, but this was a lot worse.  It must have been pretty scary when the walls were coming down on people.  At least everyone is ok.  They ended up evacuating everyone from the island last month since the facilities were ruined.  Laysan was also evacuated a couple of months earlier, so now Midway and Kure are the only islands currently inhabited in the NWHI.

Here's a couple of the pics I took this week, and one fish from a couple of weeks ago for a bit of color.

A few albatross nesting in the parade field.

 This was a curious Laysan albatross wondering what the camera was. 

This is the old fuel farm.  The shed is still used for storage, but there's no power there anymore, and the tanks have been replaced.

Another picture with the dramatic setting on my little point and shoot underwater camera.

This is a milletseed butterflyfish that I saw on our Christmas snorkel.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone is having a great new year so far.  It's been good on Midway.  Our albatross nest counters left on Thursday, so it's quiet again, except for the birds.  I'll have the total number of nests for you sometime soon, but we have to go through and check the numbers first to make sure all are in order.  The island population is back down to the usual residents, except for two visiting researchers.  Scott Shaffer is here from San Jose State Univ. with his grad student, Cory.  They are back doing a multi-year project, tracking albatross to find out where they go to forage for food at various stages of their nesting cycle.  It has been very busy, but we've still had a bit of time for some fun.

 We didn't have fireworks here on New Year's Eve at the All Hand's Club, so I took some pictures to simulate them.  This picture is straight out of the camera, with no computer effects (other than rotating it a bit for a flat alignment).  I just used the zoom and a slow shutter speed on the Christmas lights.

This one looks a bit more like fireworks.  I didn't change this photo at all.

The band played on New Year's Eve, until our champagne toast at midnight.

Ek tends the bar at Capt. Brooks on another night.

The albatross nest counters helped us out doing albatross survival studies during their spare time.  They are looking for birds that were banded in previous years that have returned to nest.

We went for another snorkel under the cargo pier on New Year's Day.  It was fairly clear that day.

I also had to catch a Laysan duck on New Year's Day.  This duck somehow got its leg tangled in the strap of a dust mask.  It could still get around, but I removed it so it didn't get stuck on a branch or something.

All new island people need to be checked out on kayak safety before they can use them.  Scott, Cory, our newest firefighter Dave, and our new Physician's Assistant, Tracy, are practicing flipping their kayak and getting back in.  Airport manager Tim and I joined them for a short paddle.