Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bird Banding

This morning we started to put permanent bands on the albatross chicks. It will take a few days. We'll put metal bands and field readable plastic bands on all of the chicks in our plots. They are pretty snappy, and their bills are getting big and sharp. At least so far they haven't made me bleed yet (at least while banding). We only like to band them in the morning, when it is cooler. They get more upset when it's hot out and will throw up their food. So this afternoon was another half a day of spraying verbesina.

This turtle doesn't have anything to do with banding albatross chicks or spraying weeds, but it really had a beautiful shell and was pretty big. I would guess at least 250 lbs, probably more. A lot of times the big ones have algae growing on their shells so they aren't quite as nice.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Nice Day

Today was a beautiful day. Murray and the volunteers did research on new snorkeling spots to take the visitors. I guess they found a good one over by Eastern Island. Greg and I did the usual, get rid of weeds so the birds have more room.

This is what happens on sunny days. The juveniles and adults take the shade and all the chicks just roast in the sun. A few sneak in because the birds are a lot more tolerant of each other when it's hot.

The chicks give themselves shade too. They balance on their legs, lift their feet off the ground, and keep their feet in the shade. Their feet have a lot of blood vessels so they like to keep them off of the warm ground where the breeze can cool them off.

Monday, April 28, 2008

GPS Monday

After some chainsaw maintenance and a little office work, Greg and I went out to map some invasives. We took the GPS unit out and walked all around to map haole koa, castor beans, Guinea grass, and pluchia (sourbush). Those are some plants that we could possibly get rid of in the forseeable future. Not like the verbesina and spanish needles, which will take many more years.
We have no visitors, scientists, contractors, or officials. Everyone that was here last week left on Friday. It's nice to have other people here because it keeps things interesting, but it's also nice sometimes to kind of recouperate and catch up on things. It was good to have Sharon and Carol out here to check the lead in the ground. We found out that it is really high around the buildings and that we could save a lot of birds by cleaning it up.

Here's a baby red-tailed tropic bird taking a nap.

And a pair of white terns on a stick.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Resume Work and Fish

It was cloudy but didn't rain today. I worked on my resume some more today. I've been looking for jobs back in Cleveland, but there aren't to many that I'm interested in there. About 2:00, I took a snorkeling break. A few of us went near the harbor. We saw moray eels, porcupine fish, lots of goatfish, wrasses, and even a lobster. It was a good middle of the afternoon break.

Here was a chick in my yard yesterday drinking the water that was coming off of the roof.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


It finally rained today. That's good news and bad news. It's good because the native plants need it, but it's bad because verbesina needs it. The non-natives have been drying up and we've been able to catch up on some of our spraying areas. Now, I'm expecting a big growth spurt and the plants that were dying are going to perk up. Oh well, we just keep on doing what we can.

This little albatross chick found an interesting spot to sit when we finished chainsawing at Turtle Beach yesterday. Albatrosses really are funny birds. I'm going to miss them in 6 weeks.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Eastern Island and Chainsaw Friday

This morning we took another trip over to Eastern Island to pull some more verbesina around the sunset seep. There were only 6 ducks there since most of them are doing the nesting thing away from the water. There are a few ducklings running around, but I haven't seen them yet.
This afternoon we had "Chainsaw Friday". I got rid of some young trees over at Turtle Beach. There were about 15 turtles there and they really didn't seem to mind the noise. We also saw the dolphins swimming nearby for quite a while. How many places can you see dolphins and sea turtles while you chainsaw?

The sooty terns are back on Eastern Island. They are really loud.

Here is the "Before" picture of the little ironwoods at turtle beach.

This is "After". They weren't that big, which is why we got them now.

Here are two of the spinner dolphins jumping around.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tropic Bird and Weed Day

It was a nice, busy day today. This morning Greg and I cleared the trail to one of the old ammunition storage huts so people can actually find it again. We also got rid of the weeds on the west beach trail. That was starting to get overgrown in areas also. The visitors headed over to Eastern Island or went snorkeling to see the reef.
This afternoon we monitored the tropic bird plots and had to catch a couple of them to band or read their bands, and tonight we had a little gathering over at Barry's house to meet the visitors. At least I got to meet most of the visiting people. A lot of the time I never get the chance.
This manta ray was swimming around the tropic bird plot by the harbor. It was about 6 ft. across, so it wasn't a very big one, but it was still interesting to watch.
I was going to show you a tropic bird chick, but this white tern and chick were a little cuter. This is a good parent. It was holding it's wing out to shade the chick from the sun.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Spraying

Today was another good day of spraying the weeds. It rained a little, not enough to start new growth I hope. I saw the dolphins from the Clipper House at dinner tonight. I went over to the fuel pier to try to get pictures of them swimming by as they left the atoll to feed, but they weren't jumping or playing so I didn't get any good shots. I saw quite a few turtles and a 4-5 ft reef shark. I'm not sure if it was a blacktip or grey reef shark. They both have black tipped fins except the blacktip has an extra black tip on it's dorsal fin (which I couldn't quite make out).

We are getting some visitors tonight for a couple of days. The Deputy Secretary of the Interior and a few of the people that manage the Papahanaumakuakea Monument (which Midway is a part of) will be visiting. I like it when the people making the decisions for this place get to visit as much as possible.
Here's one of the green sea turtles next to the pier.

This albatross is just about scraping the sand on the beach. It would have been nice if it was sunny!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Big Chicks

Today was a day of spraying and hand pulling verbesina. It hasn't rained here in weeks so at least the weeds are growing slowly and we are keeping up with them.
The chicks are starting to get their adult feathers now. Many of them are as big as the adults now (at least by weight). It's getting difficult to drive around in carts because they are sitting in the roads. I'll give you a picture of them in the road in a few weeks when they are really clogging things up.
This chick is getting wing feathers and belly feathers.
They sometimes look like they want to get flying, but it will be a while.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Underground Hospital

Since Sharon got here (one of the lead samplers), she's been trying to find out where the underground hospital was because there were rumors that there were still supplies in it. She got an email today from John D. (who reads my blog sometimes) who knew where it was (thanks, John). It turns out I knew where it was, but I didn't know what it was. It was next to the nest where I found the little shark a while back. The building was filled with sand through holes in the roof, so there were obviously no supplies there, and no way to get in. We have so many concrete foundations, bunkers, and other ruins that it's hard to know what they all were. Many of them are filled in and many aren't. We found out that there were actually 3 underground hospitals, but the other 2 were gone long ago. It is interesting around here.
This is all that can be seen of the underground hospital (at least if that's the right place?).
A couple of seals and a turtle were sunning on the old seaplane ramp on Saturday.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New Island

I forgot to mention on Friday that we spotted a new island here. Back when they dredged out the channel in the reef and added the new part of Sand Island, they got rid of a little island called Seal Island. It was always shallow there, but it finally reappeared this week. We don't know if it will stick around or not, but it's there for now, at least when the tide is low.
This is the new little island.

A red-footed booby on Eastern Island.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday Snorkeling

The Pacific Grace got on their way this morning. They had a good 2 day visit and really enjoyed the beach time.
I did some work on my resume and then went snorkeling under the cargo pier with Murray and Carol (one of the women doing the lead sampling). It was a beautiful, calm day and we saw a lot of fish and a few turtles. So another good weekend day.

This was the view from the cargo pier this afternoon.

This is a picture from Eastern Island yesterday. It is a male Great Frigatebird.

Here's a last shot of the Pacific Grace. It's a beautiful ship.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Busy Day

It was a busy day today. We went to Eastern Island this morning where Greg painted the gun and the rest of us pulled verbesina near the duck seep and also shoveled out the pillbox so people can crawl in there. This afternoon we did Chainsaw Friday. We went back over to Radar Hill. Last week we finished the ironwoods, but today we went back and got rid of a lot of the Haole Koa and Castor Bean trees. Both of those spread like crazy. Tonight we were going to have a presentation by the Pacific Grace crew on their travels over the last year, but our projector would not work with their computer. I was looking forward to seeing pictures and videos of their travels, but instead we just played volleyball. We had a lot of players tonight so we had to rotate out. They are all leaving tomorrow, but it was nice to have them here.

This is the Pacific Grace pulling in yesterday.

Matt is giving the orientation before people start wandering about.

This is Brent clearing around the pillbox on Eastern Island. I got to be the one to crawl in the hole and shovel it out. It's really not so bad, if you don't mind a bug or two and the spiny seeds from the tribulus plants.

More Visitors

The "Pacific Grace" ship came in today. It's a very nice boat. It is a group called SALTS, the Sail and Life Training Society. It is mostly high school age kids who are learning to sail. They are here to get fuel, and some other supplies and I think will leave on Sat.
We spent most of the day today hand pulling the verbesina by the cable houses. Tomorrow we are going back to Eastern Island to pull some more verbesina near the duck seep there. I don't have any pictures for you today because I'm having issues with my hard drive. I'll try to get it going by tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another Sailboat (Tall Ship to be more correct)

Tomorrow morning we are expecting another sailboat to pull in. I'm not sure why right now, but I know they need fuel. I can let you know the details later. I'll have to get up early to put out the rat stations and rope guards. This is one of those tall ships so it's quite a bit bigger than the boat that was here a few weeks ago. I think this one is about 115 ft. long. I should have some pics tomorrow. For today I'll just give you a few pictures that I took on Saturday.

See the tiny white tern chick at the bottom of the picture. This is in front of Barry's house. Usually they will be on something other than the ground such as fences, branches, stumps, air conditioners, window ledges, wheelbarrows, etc. This area is near his steps so it's a little raised from the yard.

It was probably less than a day old and if you have a 15" monitor, it is about life size (smaller than a golf ball).

He kind of looks like he's starting to get annoyed with the papparazzi.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Back to Work

It was a good weekend but now it's back to getting rid of the invasive species. We've done a lot of spraying already this week now that things are back to normal. It goes much slower than it did a couple of months ago because there are so many petrel burrows to watch out for.

There are two people out here now that are doing some work on our lead paint problem. They are sampling the ground near the buildings and checking the blood levels of lead in albatross chicks. They've been finding that there are very high lead levels within 5m of the buildings. Some of the chicks have such high blood lead levels that their analyzer can't even measure it. The chicks aren't old enough to really see the developmental problems yet, but many of them will get "droop wing", where their wings will droop and scrape the ground when they walk. Most of those die. They don't try to eat the lead paint, but when they pick up sand to make their nests or just pick up little pieces to play with, they end up ingesting it. That's another one of our big problems out here besides the plastic, marine debris, invasive species, coral bleaching, etc. It's another thing that we are just waiting for the money to take care of it.
Dasha and I were putting this little albatross out of Greg's backyard all the time. It kept on getting back in and the parents couldn't feed it. It looked like it was too big for the holes, but I found out otherwise.

Now we have blocked all the holes so it stays out where it can get fed.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Sorry I didn't post yesterday, but my camera ran out of batteries before I could transfer the pics. It ran out of batteries because I took a lot of pictures at the Songkran celebration for the Thai New Year. The main activities are pouring water on the Buddha, paying respects to the elders, and throwing lots of water on everybody. People are also wiped with a white, fragrant paste. I'm not sure of the significance of that, but that's what they do. It was a lot of fun and we had good food and games.

The Thai guys made a few sand sculptures.

We even had a parade! It went from the Chugach office, past my house, and up to Capt. Brooks'.

Kristin and Dana are "Miss Songkran".

The soaking begins right after pouring water on the Buddha and pouring water on the elder's hands.

Thawal is getting dowsed.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

1st Annual Midway 5k

It was really nice today for the 5k. I ended up in fourth overall with a time of 22:42. John Klavitter won and Matt Brown was 1 second later with 19:57 and 19:58 respectively. Alex (fireman) was 3rd at 22:33 and Brandon (fireman) finished off the top 5. It was a lot of fun. Since John and Matt were also in my age group, I only got 1 ticket for the prizes. It was enough though because I won the DVD player. "E" (Thai) won the TV.

Aside from that, the visitor group left today. Again, they were a great group that really liked it here. We will have a little break in the visitor program for a few weeks, and they'll be back in May.

Melanie, our Physician's Assistant, also left today. She'll be going to her summer job as a P.A. in Yellowstone Park. She'll be back in the fall, but I'll be gone by then. Her replacement, Jesse, came in on the Wednesday flight, and he seems like he'll work out well too. Some of you who've been here may have noticed I said Brandon came in 5th. He had left last July and is now back for 5 weeks to fill in for vacationing fire fighters. Greg came back on tonight's plane too, so now we'll be able to catch up on some of the invasive species that lhave been growing like crazy lately.

Here are the bike riders about to start in front of the Bravo Barracks.

Aun is crossing the finish line with JR passing the gooney chick in the background. We had to dodge the chicks over most of the course. If we waited another month, we would have had thousands in the roads instead of only a bunch.

The Fish & Wildlife crew. Cindy, Brent, Kristin, Matt, Murray, Me, John (with his marine debris #1 medal), Barry, and Dana.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spit Island

We went over to spit island today to go pull any verbesina, ironwoods, and other pests that are coming up. It was a worthwhile trip, plus we saw a 2 baby seals. One was just over a week old and the other was probably about 6 weeks old. There were also 2 other adults on the other side of the island.
Tomorrow we are having our 5k run/walk/bike. I'm in the 31-40 age group and there are a few people that I think can beat me. I would've had a good chance if it was 30-39. At least everyone who participates or helps out gets a chance to win the TV. Most people are going to take part. There are going to be a lot of walkers in the older age groups. It should be fun.
Here is the young pup and the mother. The mother only has one eye after a shark got her a couple years ago. The other pup is in the water just out of the picture, I'm sure it would have liked to play with this pup, but it swam off when the mother went in. The mothers will chase off other pups and even bite them to keep them away.
Cindy found a dessicated triggerfish, and here's Dana holding it for Brent's picture.

I'm not sure what kind of triggerfish this is since it has no color left, but its teeth are still white and sharp.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Radar Hill is Done

Another chainsaw Thursday and today we finally got done with radar hill. We started back in June so it took about 10 months of working almost every week. It feels good to get that done, but I think next week we'll start on Mount Bart. Mount Bart is a hill that was made when they removed the Navy housing from Radar Hill. They buried all the debris from that so there's a little hill there now.
This morning the volunteers and I showed the visitors group how to clone the bunch grass. There were a lot of people today so we got a lot of pots planted. Everyone seemed to enjoy getting their hands a little dirty.

This was a view of part of Radar Hill back in July.

This is the view now. It's a different spot but it's a nice big clear area now. We probably won't be taking any of the trees down that you can see in the background because they are too big and it would be too much trouble.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Windy Day

It was really windy and slightly rainy all day today, but I still took some time off to go around the island with Dasha on her last day here. There were more birds flying around today than I've seen before so it was interesting. She really had a good time here, but it's really hard not to. She got out this evening so I hope with all the airline troubles that she makes it out of Hawaii in the morning.

Here are the albatrosses over at the parade field. Sorry for the bad lighting, but you can tell there are a lot of birds.

A bird came over and started biting Dasha's sweatshirt. They do that a lot when you just sit in one spot for a while. Some of them like to untie shoelaces too if you stand in one place too long.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

NIce Tuesday

Thanks for your comments yesterday, it's always nice to hear good stuff. Today I caught up on some computer work while the volunteers checked the albatross plots. I also took Dasha to a few places on the island that she hadn't seen yet like Frigate Point (and there were a lot of frigate birds there today). Dasha also picked up some marine debris on North Beach. It was another good day as usual.
Here are a few of the things we found on the beach today.

A Laysan albatross is flying around North Beach. That's an old fuel tank in the background.

Here's a Black-footed albatross too. The light wasn't so good today since it was cloudy, but it's still cool to see their wingspans.