Sunday, October 27, 2013

They're Here!

There's a little less activity on island now that the taxiway crew is gone and the barge has departed.  Just in time, since the albatross started coming back this week.  There have been Black-footed albatross showing up all over the refuge.  Two Short-tailed albatrosses have also returned.   One on Sand and one on Eastern Island.  We've got some technicians from Seemore Wildlife here to get our remote camera working again to monitor the Short-tails on Eastern.  It's cooled down quite a bit in the last couple of weeks, so we are finally seeing less botulism in our Laysan ducks.

 Our new airport taxiway is looking good.  The airplanes shouldn't have to drive through large puddles anymore.

 Here's one of the early Black-footed albatross on Sand Island.

This Black-footed albatross is taking a nap while waiting for the rest of the birds to show up on Eastern Island.

 The native nohu, or Tribulus cistoides is ground cover for most of Eastern Island in areas cleared of verbesina.

 This looks very similar to the photo above of the nohu.  The difference is that this is the invasive verbesina that grows 3-6 ft tall and is poor nesting habitat for the seabirds.  The nohu is mostly less than a foot and the albatross can easily flatten it to nest.  We are hoping to have this area cleared in the next couple of weeks.

 A lot of vagrant birds have been showing up lately.  Here are two of the 25 or so Northern pintails.  I haven't had a chance to count all of the vagrants yet, but there are also some Northern shovelers, American and Eurasian wigeons, and some sandpipers.

Yesterday I saw 4 Laysan ducks at the Monument seep on Eastern that had been sick with botulism and treated.  You can see that this one has a temporary lavender band on its right leg.  He would have died had we not found it and got the anti-toxin into him.

 Dale and Konrad are fixing up the remote camera at the Short-tailed albatross plot on Eastern Island.  We'll be able to monitor the nest without bothering the birds.  You can see a few of the decoys in the background.  Konrad used to help us out on Tern Island with NOAA's remote turtle camera.


Anonymous said...

Yay, the STAL are back! :) Great to see/hear that the Tribulus is taking over on Eastern, too. Thanks for the updates, Pete!

Barb said...

Thanks for all the spectacular pictures; I loved seeing the healthy Nohu...and Laysan Duck!

Please say "hi" to Konrad for me; I was on Tern Island with him in Dec. 2011.

Pete Leary said...

Thanks Ryan and Barb. Eastern is really looking good these days. I'll give Konrad your greetings.