Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

We have a few more black-footed albatrosses are hanging around, and 2 Laysan albatrosses just showed up today.  We are just about done with all of our projects that have to be done before the birds come back en masse. Speaking of that, our lead paint remediation project is going well.  The workers will be able to work for only about 2 more weeks before there are too many albatrosses around.

You may have also heard that a lot of the tsunami debris from Japan is making its way toward Midway and may be here sometime this winter.  There are a lot of articles about it, but here's a link to a good one:

This was the only Black-footed albatross I saw on Eastern Island last week.

 This is one of the early Laysan albatrosses.   

 I strung some new cable to our remote cameras on Eastern Island.  This camera monitors the ducks at the Monument seep. 

 Anthony, Leann, and Anette are weeding the Short-tailed albatross plot so we can put the decoys in.

 We haven't seen the Short-tailed albatrosses yet this season, but the decoys are freshly painted and enough of the verbesina is gone to allow easy access for the birds.

Clyde and Lynn from NOAA came out to do some work on the tide station.  They gave a tour of their gear and a short presentation.  I learned a couple of new things.

 As I posted last week, Sak is leaving the island after almost 29 years.  This is the line of people saying goodbye to him.

We had a Halloween party last night at Capt Brooks' Tavern. 

Patty got rid of some expired light sticks for her costume.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lead Paint Work & Retirement Party

We should be seeing the albatrosses coming back any day now.  I think I forgot to mention it, but the first Black-footed albatross was seen over a week ago, but didn't stick around long enough for anyone to get photos.  I'm guessing that some will be back by next blog.
The lead paint work is going along well.  The buildings are being treated and the ground is being covered by shade cloth so that the albatrosses won't nest in those areas with the most lead paint.  That should save a lot of chicks from dying of lead poisoning. 

We also had a retirement party last night for Sak Phosri.  He has worked on Midway for almost 29 years.  We've never heard of anyone else being here for that long anytime in Midway's history.  We'll lose a lot of island knowledge when he leaves. 

 This is the old machine shop.  The shade cloth will keep the birds from nesting here while the work is going on. 
 Remediation of the old torpedo building (or parachute building) is almost complete.

 A lot of people wonder where we get our drinking water.  Well, this is it.  This is our rain catchment area next to the runway.  The ducks like it a lot.

 This is some nice marine debris artwork made by Susan Scott in Honolulu.  She writes a weekly column for the Honolulu Star Advertiser as well.  The birds are all old cigarette lighters and the blue and green areas are small plastic pieces that washed up or that albatrosses brought back to feed to their chicks.

 This is the other "Lighter art" piece that Susan donated.  Thanks, Susan!

 We had a full house at the All Hands Club for Sak's retirement party.

Here's the guest of honor, in the dark shirt, as well as Toy, Kamwang, Prajim, and Anthony.

Someone had a lifesize photo of Sak made for everyone to take photos with.  The golf bag, which everyone signed, was a retirement gift from the island.  The cutout will stay on Midway, but Sak will take the golf bag. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Duck Bands and Kahana

The Kahana showed up this week and brought some supplies for the lead paint remediation.  The plane also brought 16 people up for that project and they'll be here for 5 weeks.  They are a good bunch of guys and seem like they're liking Midway so far. The Chugach band played last night at the All Hands Club, but had to quit early due to electrical problems.  It's been a while since they played since a few of the band members were off island for a while.

Michelle and Chris have been catching a lot of ducks and replacing or putting on new bands.  We've already been spotting the new ones in the field and they are much easier to read.

People have been seeing a Northern harrier (formerly known as a Marsh hawk) around the island.  It's apparently really easy to spot because there's normally a big flock of white terns or noddies harassing it.  I haven't seen it yet, but I'll try to get a photo of it for positive ID.  I hope it leaves before it eats too many birds.
We've been getting a lot of rain this week, and it's not quite as warm.  But it's still beautiful.

 This duck has a new band.  You can see the 9 pretty easily.

 The Kahana brought fuel and the lead paint supplies.  And stayed about 2 days. 

 The white tern chick in my yard finally left yesterday.  It's been able to fly for over a month, but hung around anyway.  It's a nice bird, so I hope it comes back to visit now and then.

We did a sunset duck survey over on Eastern Island last night.  The sunset wasn't the most colorful, but it was nice watching it on the really smooth boat ride back to Sand Island, which you can see on the horizon of this picture. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Day Late

I decided to wait a day for my blog, since I wanted to get a few more photos and it was a holiday.
This week we have some new people on island.  We have some archeologists here to look around some of our buildings that are going to have lead paint remediation around them.  Since lead paint has been peeling off of buildings since they put the cable houses here in 1903, they'll have to remediate a lot of the soil around those buildings.  The archeologists are just making sure that historical artifacts are preserved before the work is done. 
Michelle and Chris with the USGS, came to band the Laysan ducks.  Many of the bands put on a few years ago, aren't readable anymore.  Hopefully, they'll change out most of those old ones and band a lot of our younger ducks so we can get a better idea of our duck health and population.
Other than that, it's been hot for October.  It made digging the well on Eastern Island a bit more difficult, but since I'm not out in the field all day, I kind of like it that way.   

 Here's the Gulfstream IIB bringing our mail (and people and supplies).

 This is one of the cable houses that the archeologists are digging around.  I don't think they've found too much interesting stuff yet.

 This Laysan duck was standing just outside the garage on Friday, so I took some photos of his band.  This band actually started out green with white letters.  Now, it's just white.  I hope Michelle finds him again to reband him.

 We went back to finish the well on Eastern Island.  We didn't get it as deep as we wanted, because the sand kept caving in, but hopefully it's deep enough.

 Done!  (Except for putting in the pump, running the hose, putting up the solar panels, and all that.)

This big plastic thing will be a little duck pond.  We'll have a rain catching roof above it to keep it full of water.  These "guzzlers" are a lot less likely to have botulism problems.  We'll be using the new well to fill that big tank behind.

 I was out riding around today and saw some White-tailed tropicbirds flying around the orchard.  We only have a few of these around and the only way I notice them, apart from all of the other thousands of white birds that fly around, is to hear them.  They sound almost like a Red-tailed tropicbird, but different enough to notice. 

They are really pretty birds.  They nest in the ironwood trees, unlike the red-tailed tropicbirds, that nest on the ground.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Nice Week

It was a beautiful week.  I spent most of the week catching up on emails and finding out what went on while I was gone.  The volunteers have been busy with the duck surveys, pulling weeds and planting some native plants around the island.  The albatrosses won't be back for a couple more weeks, so we're still trying to do projects that are easier when you don't have over a million birds around. 
Since it was a beautiful day yesterday, we went out to Reef Hotel for a snorkel trip.  The dolphins came and played around the boat for a bit.  So it was another usual day.

John and Eamon are digging a freshwater well on Eastern Island.  We'll use the water for the verbesina removal project that we'll have going on there for the next 4 years.  We dug all afternoon, and although we got to the water pretty quickly, we have to go a lot deeper to make the solar pump effective.

We had a crew out here for many months painting these water tanks by the runway.  They couldn't work on rainy or windy days, so it took a long time.

 I didn't get a lot of great snorkeling pictures yesterday, but it was nice water and there were quite a few fish around.  This is an Oval butterflyfish and a Spectacled Parrotfish.

Here's another Spectacled parrotfish.  The fish make a lot of noise when they chomp on the coral.  You can hear it very well underwater.  These fish are also responsible for making a lot of the sand in the atoll by crushing up the coral that they eat.

This Laysan duck got its head stuck in a plastic ring from a bottlecap a while back.  This happens quite a few times a year.  We caught this one and got the ring off.