Thursday, January 31, 2008

Seep Cleanup

This morning we worked on cleaning up the ball park seep. We were getting rid of the umbrella sedge and non-native morning glory which was taking over the whole pond. I think we did a pretty good job, but there's a lot more to go.

The eggs that the volunteers and students saved when the tree blew down, hatched yesterday. I'm sure the new parents will treat the new chicks like their own.

John and Matt are taking out the umbrella sedges and morning glory. The ducks were there watching the whole time, making sure we did a good job, no doubt.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chainsaw Wednesday

Greg and I finally had some help chainsawing again, so we got a lot more done than usual. It's much nicer to get more done with the same amount of work. We still have to skip some of the trees because the birds are nesting under them, but once the chicks start walking around, we can get them to move while we cut.

The frigatebirds are starting to try to attract mates. I'll try to get some better pictures, but in case I don't, you can look at these.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cargo Plane and Chick Rescue

Today I at lunch I saw a few new faces in the Clipper House, which reminded me there was a cargo plane last night. Apparently there were some problems at their next destination and they couldn't leave last night, and of course they can't leave during the day with all of the birds around. The crew got to spend the day seeing the island, and they left this evening.

I also had to save a couple of chicks, including the one in my yard that I took a picture of the other day. Sometimes they fall or get accidentally pushed out of the nest and the parents just sit on the nest and look at the chicks. I don't know if the adults still think they are sitting on the chick, or what they are thinking, but they won't get out of the nest to keep the chicks warm. As soon as I picked up both chicks, the parents stood up and let me put the chick back without snapping at least. Both chicks were shivering because they were cold, and they'll have a lot more to get through to make it to fledge, but at least they didn't freeze to death today.

This is the cargo plane. I'd never seen it before because it usually comes after midnight and leaves long before sunrise.

Another chick is hatching in my yard.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Back to work today. I did the usual Monday work. Chainsaw maintenance to get ready for Wednesday and hitting the weeds with spray again. I'm also trying to set up and get familiar with our new GPS/GIS unit. It's pretty nice. It has a Midway satellite image so we'll be able to mark locations and weed areas even better. It was pretty pricey but will give locations of things to within 30 cm. It's also a mobile computer, but that's not that useful since we don't have wireless internet out here. I'll leave you with a picture from over at the harbor.

A red-footed booby on the rocks.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Another great day. Good brunch, as usual. A little coffee out on the Clipper House deck, followed by taking a few pictures of albatross chicks. I played some tennis with McKenzie, Matt, and other Matt. I'm skipping the bowling tonight since I've got a couple blisters from last week. So it was another nice weekend on Midway.

Here's a brand new chick in my yard. They'll get rid of the eggshell pretty soon.

McKenzie and Matt playing tennis under the hangar.

Nice Saturday

I took the opportunity to go snorkeling today since it was such a nice day. It was the calmest day I have seen so far out at the reef so the water was crystal clear. It was great. The water was cool but I still didn't need a wetsuit.

We also got some volleyball going tonight since the construction guys are back. It was fun to do that again. It's been a while since I've played.

A couple of turtles are swimming around next to the boat ramp looking for food.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Another Plane Night

Our visitors from Duke University left this evening after a beautiful day. This was class for them. I wish that I'd had classes like that one. They were taking turns doing blog entries each day so it's interesting reading and there are some great photos there too. They squeezed in a lot into their 9 days. Here is the website if you're interested:

I got a new camera lens on the plane tonight. One thing I wasn't aware of when I bought my digital camera was that the lenses have a different focal length than the film camera. So what used to be a wide angle lens with my old Canon is now a zoom lens. Now I'll finally get to take some wider angle pictures with the 18mm lens.

My roommate, Marc, left on the plane today. He got most of the albatross banded, counted, and studied, but I'll have more albatross work to do now that he's gone. At least Matt and McKenzie (the 2 volunteers who were helping with all the bird work) are still here for another couple weeks and they are up to speed on everything.

A seal is sleeping on a sunken slab of the old seaplane ramp.


Today we got alot of work done. We had the students from Duke University help us out with getting rid of ironwoods. That saved Greg and I many hours of work. We also got a lot of little verbesina plants sprayed.
There are a lot of albatross chicks hatching out right now so I'll finally get to give you some pictures.
Here's a few of the Duke students cutting down ironwood saplings.
A laysan albatross with it's chick.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Winter Storm

Today we had a big rain storm with strong wind. A few more trees and branches blew down. One tree tipped over, pulling the roots up. A few nests were tipped up and the eggs broken. There was also an albatross killed by the tree but the egg didn't break, so the volunteers made a little nest next to one of the birds whose nest was lost, and the bird sat on the egg and started to incubate it. So it looks like if that egg makes it, the chick will have foster parents. It should work since it seems the birds don't really recognize the egg.
This is a view from the FWS garage this morning.

This is the tree that was blown over that I talked about. You can see how the ground pulled up at the roots where the nests were.

One of our papaya trees didn't make it either and the banana trees are tipping.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Rainy Winter Day

Another rainy day at Midway. Our invasive weeds such as nightshade, spanish needles, spiny amaranth, and golden crown-beard (verbesina) are liking it. Especially because we can't get out and spray much now. We are getting a lot of building clean up and organizing done. There's really a lot of junk around here to get rid of.
The first Laysan albatross chick came out yesterday in the P.A.'s yard. I'll wait to get pictures of it when it starts looking around. Until then, here's some pictures of Laysan ducks.

The duck's head gets whiter as it gets older, so this one's been around a few years.

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK Holiday

Although it was a day off today, it really wasn't an outside day. It's been off and on rain all day and it was 57 this morning and only 64 degrees right now. I spent the day looking for jobs for June, mostly around Cleveland. If anyone's got a good job for me, let me know!

This seal and turtle are resting on the beach next to the cargo pier. This seal was born last year. The 5k course goes along that seawall in the background.

A zoomed in shot of the turtle next to a fishing net float.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Guess What? Another Nice Day

We tried to get the NFL playoffs online today like we did on Thanksgiving, but neither game was broadcast on the internet today so we had to just get the finals. I hope we can get the superbowl. So instead of watching football, I watched some Australian Open tennis. I also took some more pictures. This evening I did the usual Sunday night bowling. It was very crowded tonight with all the Duke people coming out. It was the first time that I've seen all the lanes used. It was nice to have it really hopping for once.
I stopped by the hibiscus tree in Barry's front yard today and found this canary and the 2 white terns there.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Chick Pic

I got out and took some pictures today. It was a beautiful, sunny day again (at least until this supper time when it started to rain). It looked like a good day for the animals to soak up some sun. I saw more turtles and seals than usual on the beaches. It seems like everybody was just taking it easy today.

That little white fluffy thing under the bird is the chick. It was sleeping so I didn't bother it. We use those little stakes to mark each nest in our plots, so when I say that I go check the bird plots, I check every nest to see which adult is there as well as the status of the egg or the chick.

This is one of the ducks that is visiting us this winter. It's a Shoveler just taking off from the ball field seep. There was also a Pintail there, but it flew before I could get a good picture.

Friday, January 18, 2008

3 Day Weekend

This weekend is a 3 day weekend for us federal people. The Chugach people take off the Thai king's birthday instead so it's a usual weekend for them. I'll get some pictures of albatross chicks for you this weekend.
I took a couple of pictures yesterday in the rain to show you the winter weather at Midway.
I took these pictures out of the front door of the office. Good thing the birds build those tall nests.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another Winter Day

Today it was windy and rainy again most of the day, but also beautiful for part of the day. I heard the visitors got soaked while they were getting a tour of the island. At least it's warm. I found out that these Duke students are graduate students in Coastal Management. I think this is a pretty good place to learn about that stuff with our endangered species and invasive species and all. I took some pictures of the rain today, but I left the camera cord at work so I'll give one to you tomorrow.
Here's a fat monk seal at frigate point (the western point of the island). That green stuff is naupaka bushes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

First Chick

Today Mark was out checking black-foot nests and found the first chick. He also found 2 eggs where the chicks were just poking the first holes trying to get out. They should be popping out everywhere now. I'll have to get out and get some pictures soon.
Today was another chainsaw day. It goes a lot slower when there are nests everywhere. We'll have to wait for the chicks to start wandering around before we can cut a lot of those trees.
We are also getting another group of volunteers tonight. This group is graduate students from Duke University. I'm not sure what they are studying, but I'll find out tonight. They'll be staying for 9 days.

I was out taking pictures by the fuel pier on Sunday.

This is looking toward the end of the fuel pier.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Usual Winter Day

It was a windy, rainy day today. I did inside work like mandatory annual computer training and cleaning up some of the gecko poo that’s all over everything. Sounds like fun, right? I haven’t had much bird work to do lately because my roommate Mark and the 2 volunteers, Matt and McKenzie have been doing it all lately. Mark leaves in a couple weeks so I’m sure I’ll have more bird work after that. I’ve still been taking pictures of them though, as you probably noticed.

Here's a small green sea turtle on the eastern side of the island.

This albatross is checking out the turtle in the water. It was only about 3 feet above the turtle.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Today was very windy, so we had to spray the weeds in areas with a lot of trees. At least it was a southwest wind so it was warm. It was up to 78 degrees today and the wind was about 20 mph. Saturday morning it was 56 degrees so I liked it a little better today. There's no big news to report today so I'll just give you a picture and let you be on your way.
Here's a Laysan albatross. That's Eastern Island in the background.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Typical Sunday

Today was a usual Sunday. I slept in a little, ran the 5k course that John mapped out, ate brunch, then took some pictures. Some of the albatrosses are pretty funny when I run by them. They snap their beaks at me as I run by and then think they did a good job protecting their egg since I ran off. Kind of like dogs barking at the mailman, except they don't run after me. After dinner I went bowling and now I think I'll just kick back and edit some pictures. So overall it was a nice relaxing day as usual on Midway.

This Laysan albatross found a pretty spot for a nest next to the hibiscus.

Yesterday the Chugach guys were shoring up the old seawall with cement that was too old to use for anything else.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Another Beautiful Day

The visitor group left last night. It went pretty well for the first time. They even bought some beer and drinks for the island residents as a thank you to have after they left. Thank you, and I hope that a few of you check my blog now besides Mary. Mary said she was reading my blog before she came out here, so it’s nice to get some feedback in person (I like the web comments too).
The pizzas came out on the plane and there were even some leftovers. We get pizza at brunch on Sundays but it’s not quite the same as Papa John’s and Pizza Hut.
Today was another beautiful day. I took a lot of pictures but most were birds flying and stuff so I’ll only post two for now and save some of the others for days that I can’t get out and take any.

Two Black-footed albatross are up on their tiptoes doing their dance.

Here’s another example of why we can’t have planes landing during the day. These are all albatrosses which have at least 6 ft wingspans.

Friday, January 11, 2008

News From Eastern Island

Today I heard that the short-tailed albatross on Eastern Island finally has a friend. Some pictures were taken and it looks like one of the birds that was on this island. At least that older bird finally gets to see another one of it's own species over there.
Other than the bird news it was fairly uneventful. I just sprayed some verbesina and did some computer work.
I heard that some pizzas were ordered and will be delivered on the plane tonight. I'll let you know tomorrow if we got to have a pizza party tonight.

One of the young short-tailed albatross is being harassed by a nearby black-foot so it's getting kind of mad. This isn't the bird that went over to Eastern island.

Here's a morning glory plant that I'm trying to identify. There are a couple of species that look very close to each other. I'm trying to find out if it is Ipomea indica. That species was native to Midway but was wiped out. We now have a few plants brought over from Laysan island and we are trying to get it re-established. I found this growing way back in the weeds so either it's the native Midway indica and we should save it or it's the invasive kind of morning glory that we need to spray. We'll see.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Beautiful Day

It was a very nice day today. Sunny, warm, and not too windy. It's good that it wasn't windy because we took the opportunity to get our flag unstuck from the flagpole. The flagpole is about 70 feet high and our lift only goes to about 60 ft. We tried yesterday and we thought we'd tip over in the 20 knot winds, today we got it down. This morning I also went out with the visitors (the education group) and cloned bunch grass with them. They went snorkeling this afternoon since it was the first nice day since they've been here and I think they all loved it.

Last night a visiting news columnist/bird counter (Susan Scott who writes for the Honolulu Star Bulletin) gave a talk on her sailboat travels to Palmyra and Tahiti. Palmyra is an atoll south of Hawaii and it looks a lot more tropical and rainy than here. There were a lot of great pictures.
After the talk, one of the teachers (Derek) brought a group outside and pointed out stars and constellations. I've forgotten a few over the years so I went out and did that too.

And I almost forgot, for those of you who wish you could work out here for a while, we are hiring a visitor services person who will take the visitors around on tours, snorkel trips and other projects. It's a 6 month temporary job. I'd think about putting in for it, but since I'm married now I think I'll spend some time with my wife and still take off in June. Here is a link to the job if anyone knows anyone who'd be interested. It would basically be showing other people all the things I've already shown and talked about on my blog. It's on if the link doesn't work.

Here's a view of the FWS office across the parade field that I took from the lift about 30 ft up.

This is the area we've been spraying the last couple of days.

This albatross found a spot in the Doctor's cemetary for a nest.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Cool Day

Everyone has been telling me how warm it's been here for the last month. Since I've been here it's seemed pretty cool. Only in the 60's and 70's. After the below zero temps in MN, I was kind of hoping for 90's. Oh well, you take what you can get. At least it was nice and sunny most of the day.
I got back to spraying the verbesina today. It's coming back in as a carpet over many of the areas we did in the fall. We're getting rid of the seed bank at least.
There's a lot more albatrosses here than when I left. The juveniles have come to look for lifetime partners so there's a lot of dancing going on. Sometimes it takes them a few years to find a mate that's good enough for the next 60 years. The older albatrosses are a lot more tolerant of others now since they've found their good nesting spots, so there are a lot fewer fights.

These Black-footed albatross looked like they were in Antarctica yesterday with the sand blowing drifts over them.
Here's the crowded parade field now. Sorry for the dark picture. I'll get a better one when it's sunny.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Back to Work

Today at work it was too windy to do any spraying, so Greg and I just around the island in the golf cart to evaluate and prioritize our efforts. Most of the big verbesina has died, but it's sprouting everywhere and it will grow like crazy with all of this rain we're getting. It will be impossible to keep up with it, but we'll do what we can. That's why it's low stress around here, there's way too much to get done, so we do as much as we can, and feel good that we even made a dent.

I only saw one short-tailed albatross today on this island. It's young so it doesn't have the adult plumage yet like the one over on Eastern Island. It will lose its dark feathers on it's head and get gold ones instead. You can check out the adult on one of my earlier posts.

This white tern looked like it was almost dead because it was so tired from hanging on to the branch in the strong wind. Greg and I put some bark in front of it as a windbreak so I hope it will get some rest now.

This Laysan albatross is liking the windy day as it flies over Rusty Bucket.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

6 More Months

I'm back to the warm weather. Thanks for all the messages and congratulations. Now I'm not planning on being off island until I leave in June.
It's been rainy here so far. That means the verbesina will be sprouting up like crazy soon.
We started our visitor program now and our first group of people came out yesterday. They are teachers and people in a position to educate others about Midway and the other Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. I think they're liking it so far.
We've got 2 short-tailed albatross on the island now. They are both juveniles and are dancing together, so that's a good sign. The one over on Eastern island is still there by itself.
Well I'll leave it there for now and give you a couple of pictures.

This was Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago.

This was Midway this afternoon.