Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Medevac

We had another medevac this week. That's already 3 since I've been here in two months. It's a good thing that Midway is here for all the people who get sick or injured in the middle of the ocean.

The group from Duke left last night, so it'll be kind of quiet around here for a month or so until the next group of visitors get here. If you haven't checked out their blog yet, look at the link in my post from last week. There's not a lot of other news around here, other than our short-tailed albatross chick is getting pretty big now. I don't have any pictures of it this week, but we've been using our remote camera to check up on it. No more big storms, but it has been cool and windy. Most people here have been calling it cold, but for someone who grew up in North Dakota, low 60's don't count as cold.

I built up a lot of vacation time on Tern Island so I'll be going on vacation next week for a month or so. I'll post a blog for next week though.
This is the fishing boat that dropped off the medevac patient.

Here's a Black-footed albatross and its chick.

Here's a pretty young Laysan albatross chick.

This chick was getting fed by both parents.

Sorry for the over exposure. The Duke students and volunteers were out filling sinkholes that formed when parts of the island got washed over during the big storm.
No story with this picture. It's just the old Harbor Office.

This picture is a few weeks old, but this is Sara, Nicole, Emily and Dasha, reading the bands in our albatross plots. This is about a 7 week project, to see how many of our adult albatrosses come back each year to breed.

The canaries like this tree, so do the mynah birds. It is a Tiger's claw or Coral tree.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


This week wasn't quite as busy as last week, but there was still plenty going on. There's been a lot of press about our short-tailed albatross chick, so I've been answering a lot of questions and trying to supply some better pictures. You can click on the Flickr link I put up last week to see a couple more photos. The Laysan and Black-footed albatross chicks are hatching everywhere now too. We've had a lot more wind and more trees are falling, but it seems to be getting a little nicer.
A new visitor group came in on Thursday. Students from the Nicholas School for the Environment at Duke University are here for a visit. They've been coming here for a few years now and as usual, are posting a daily blog. Here's the link:
The students take turns with the entries and they do a great job, so check it out.

Here's a picture of the short-tailed albatross chick. This picture is only a few days old and the chick is already about twice as big as this.

Here's one of the new Laysan albatross chicks. I'll put up a black-footed alb. picture next week.

I took this photo of the spinner dolphins from the harbor wall today.

The Duke group got a tour of Eastern Island today. This monument has 3 plaques that discuss the importance of Eastern Island during WWII, that's where the runway was during the battles.

The Chugach Band played at the All Hands Club last night so there was some dancing going on.

The shuffleboard table is in good shape at the All Hands Club.

This is Dan and our current volunteers, Nikki, Emily, and Sarah at the gun on Eastern Island. Dan was the acting refuge manager for the last month, but he left on the last plane.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Never a dull moment!!!!!

Now I remember why I did a daily blog a few years ago. Too much goes on around here! Our short-tailed albatross chick hatched. This is the first time that a chick has been known to hatch outside of Japan. You may have already read about that in the newspaper. A few more pictures are on USFWS' Flickr page:

The chick is hard to see in these pictures, but I sat and waited for a few hours and this is the best I could get.

Our first Black-footed albatrosses hatched this week also. I don't have any pictures of that since the weather has been awful the past week (and this week will be very windy too).

The Kahana brought our supplies and fuel. It was good to see the crew again. They are a great group.

We also had another medevac. This time someone needed to be evacuated from a freighter, shown here past the water barge. A Coast Guard C-130 came and picked up the patient and brought him back to Honolulu.

We've had 30-62 mph winds for the past week with very few breaks. Today, the winds are about 40 mph. The winds brought in some very large waves which washed rocks up onto the runway and flooded a large part of the island. This picture is actually a field, not the ocean. Many albatross nests were washed away, but most of the adults should be ok and can try again next season. The only plus is that this should kill a lot of invasive plants.

Quite a few trees were blown down. I'm sure we'll have a few more this week too.

We have to check the fallen branches for trapped birds. This one would be able to get in and out, but I broke the branches off so it can stretch its wings without ruining its feathers.

This was the pillbox on South beach a couple of weeks ago.

This is the pillbox now. It's been through a lot in the almost 70 years it has been here, but this storm was a little too much for it. It's not quite as photogenic anymore. I hope I won't have too many more pictures of this type of thing by the end of this week.

We took advantage of the one non-windy day to try to get short-tail pics on Eastern Island. The weather did a good job of piling up the plastic floats for us.

The spinner dolphins were having a good time following us back from Eastern Island.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


A lot of good stuff has been going on out here, as usual. I just got back from Sunday bowling night. I haven't bowled since I was here a couple of years ago. We also had beach volleyball on Friday night, which I also hadn't done since I was last here. About 80% of the people are still the same, so it's almost like I never left.
I forgot to tell you some big Midway news last week. We have a short-tailed albatross nest on Eastern Island. That's big news because there haven't been any recorded nests of this endangered species outside of Japan. I've shown you pictures of these two birds a couple of years ago, and they've now got an egg that should hatch within the next week or two. We've got a camera on Eastern Island to keep track of them. It seems like our decoys actually worked.
I'll give you a few pictures that I should have shown you the last few weeks.

This is the female Short-tailed albatross on the nest (she's sitting by the bunch grass). She still doesn't have her full adult plumage yet (she's only about 8). They've been swapping out about every 2 weeks so far, but the male just showed up today (at only 11 days after his last shift).

This is the male. He's sleeping or has his head tucked most of the time so it's tough to get a good picture of him, . Plus, we keep about 150 ft away, so we don't disturb them. He's over 20 years old so he's got his adult coloring.

Here's a picture of the moon during the lunar eclipse on Dec 20. If you look at my old posts, I have a similar one from 2007. I would have put up a nice series, but I forgot to go outside until the moon was already orange.

We had a white elephant gift exchange on Christmas at the All Hands Club. The glass floats were popular and got stolen from people quite a bit. I ended up with a boxed wine. I can't compain about that. I just noticed something, the elves look a lot like our 3 volunteers and I never did see Santa and Darlene at the same time.....hmmmm???

We had a bingo night at Capt. Brooks on New Year's Eve. Yes, those are 4th of July decoration hanging from the ceiling.

Just an another albatross flying around at sunset. I hope I don't burn out my camera sensor by taking these pictures!

A Black-footed albatross is coming home, probably after a couple weeks of fine dining on caviar (flying fish eggs).

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Back At Midway

I'm back at Midway after a couple of year break at Tern Island at French Frigate Shoals (not technically a break, but you know what I mean). Managing Tern Island was a wonderful experience, but it's also great to get back to Midway. I'll be the Wildlife Biologist out here now, and once again, I'm not writing this as an official USFWS blog, I'm just writing about some of the stuff that I see out here.
I've been really busy catching up on things here and I'll try to do a weekly blog, instead of the daily blog that I used to do. That was way too much work!!!
A lot has happened since I've been here, but a lot is the same. We have 16 people out here to count every albatross nest at Midway, so that's a big project, considering that there's probably over 400,000 of them. I've got the volunteers doing a lot of albatross banding in the plots where we look at survivorship of adults. We're keeping busy with Laysan Duck surveys every week. And the place looks great with all the work Greg and the Thai crew have been doing on invasive plants. I'm not going to put a lot of pictures up today, but you'll be seeing them each post.
This was my ride back out to Midway this time. Our usual plane was having some problems and the Coast Guard happened to be coming to Midway to Medevac a commercial fisherman who was dropped off on Midway. It was a good ride so thanks USCG!

There are still a lot of familiar faces out here, including Herbie the Hybrid, who I recognize from a few years ago.

The Laysan ducks are doing great. They are everywhere. When it rains, they take over every puddle in the road.

It's nice to see the orchard is still here for fresh oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes.
This ulua was a little too friendly. It was actually bumping into one of our visitors. It was a lot bigger than it looks in this picture.