Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving and a Retirement Party

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal on Thursday.  The cooking staff did a great job on the food and presentation.  We also had another retirement party here last night.  John Hanna, the island manager for DBSI (our contractor, Defense Based Services, Inc., formerly known as Chugach Industries) retired after being on island for about 8 years.  Have a great retirement, John! 
Our new volunteers are learning the ropes, and they seem to be enjoying their work so far.  They don't have too many albatross bites yet, but they'll be getting more as soon as they have to start banding them.

Here's the Thanksgiving fruit table with a bunch of hibiscus flowers that grow around the island to add some color.

Here's the bread table, most was homemade by Laurel and really good.

Here's the head chef, Pong, carving the turkey.

For the big holidays, the tables at the Clipper House get pushed together, which is kind of nice once in a while.

Here's John and his wife Mali listening to Darlene's speech at the All Hands Club.  The presentations were followed by a pool tournament and karaoke.  Normally the band would play, but the lead guitar player is on vacation.

The volunteers are marking a Black-footed albatross nest near the south beach.
Here's a female Ring-necked duck swimming around in one of the seeps.
This is the Laysan/Black-footed albatross hybrid that hangs out across from the Midway House.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Volunteers

Most of our albatrosses are back now.  They have started laying their eggs too, so we're back to the usual Midway commotion.  We've got a new set of volunteers in this week.  Anthony, Dani, and Eamon have gone, and Karen, Dan, Ann, and Nik are here for the winter.  They'll be busy with a lot of albatross work, compared to the last group that had a lot of habitat and duck work. 
The male short-tailed albatross is still incubating the egg, so no new news with that. Our weather is cooling down for the winter, still nice compared to most of you, but temps in the 60's are cool for us.  There's not much else to update you with so here are a few pics.

 The albatrosses are filling the yards across the street from my house.

 This is Greg spraying the verbesina on Spit Island.  We also planted some native plants over there (for those who are interested; Pritchardia remota, Chenopodium Oahuense, and Sida fallax), since there are no mice and a lot fewer plant pests.

 A Black-footed albatross flies by.

 Thanks for the help Anthony, Dani, and Eamon.  They decorated a ceiling tile from the All Hands Club to commemorate their stay.

 I didn't take a lot of photos this week, so I'll show you some I took a few weeks ago.  This is in the hangar at the airport, and was painted back when Aloha airlines still flew out here.  We don't use this building anymore, except to keep a few things dry.

 There is still some ropework art on the wall.

Another painting on the in the hallway of the hangar.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Short-tailed Albatross Egg

The Short-tailed albatross pair has another egg this year.  We only saw the female here for one day, and now the male is incubating the egg.  So, in just over 2 months, we may have another chick.  I hope the weather is a bit better this winter so this chick doesn't get washed around like the last little bird.

The lead paint workers took the last flight home.  They got shade cloth placed around the cable houses, the old marine barracks, and most of the old buildings near the power plant.  They won't be able to remediate the lead paint from those buildings for a few more months, but at least the chicks this year won't be able to ingest the lead paint chips on the ground around those buildings.

Our volunteers are leaving this week after a lot of great work for us.  We wouldn't be able to do much at all without their help.  We'll have 4 new volunteers for the next 3 months who'll be very busy with a lot of albatross banding.

This is the male short-tailed albatross with it's egg.  We can tell it's the male because the female doesns't have her full adult plumage yet.  When she does, it will be difficult to tell them apart.

The lead paint workers helped us finally finish the 3 guzzlers on Eastern Island, so this is the last of my guzzler building photos.  The ducks will probably start using them as soon as they fill up with rain.

The Black-footed albatrosses are waiting on the old runway on Eastern Island.  They don't want to push through the verbesina until they have to lay their eggs.
This is the view from my backyard.  We have quite a few Laysan albatrosses now.

On our way to snorkel, Eamon hopped into the water to save a Wedge-tailed shearwater that was waterlogged and couldn't fly.  We dropped it off back at the pier so it could dry off and try to fly again later.

The weather was nice enough to go snorkel outside the reef.  The water is deeper, so we see a lot of different fish than inside the atoll, but there isn't much nice coral out there, at least in this area.  This is Dani checking under a ledge for fish.

Here's a couple of Galapagos sharks checking us out.  There were 3 at one point.  They weren't aggressive and just wanted to see what we were up to, so we weren't worried about them.  Those are John Klavitter's feet in the photo.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Red-tailed Tropicbird Visitor

We had an interesting visitor on the plane this week.  A red-tailed tropicbird was sent to us from Los Angeles.  It got picked up on a Korean cargo ship and was brought to an International Bird Rescue center, and after disease testing and USFWS approval, it was flown to Midway to be released.  Here's a short news story about it.

A lot of our lead paint remediation workers went home yesterday.  They do most of their work when the albatrosses are off island, so since the birds are coming back, it's time to go.  Here's the photos for the rest of the goings on this week.

 John Klavitter prepares to release the tropicbird from the cargo ship.  It was released in the water and flew right away.

 The male short-tailed albatross came back to its nesting site, and is patiently waiting for the female.  Our remote camera is working so we can monitor for the female from this island.

John is leading a group through the verbesina on Eastern Island.  We received a large five-year grant from NFWF (National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) to get rid of the verbesena on that island. This group was here to evaluate the problem and make recommendations.

 Here's a green sea turtle resting on the beach.

 Eamon, Dani, Anthony, and Greg are installing the roof over the guzzler (duck pool) on Eastern Island.

The sooty terns are harassing a Northern harrier.  At the moment, I think we have about 4 birds of prey at Midway.  2 Northern harriers, a short-eared owl, and a peregrine falcon.