Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving week.  This past week we said goodbye to Refuge Manager Sue Schulmeister and her husband Bob.  They've done a lot of great work out here the past couple of years.  We'll be getting a new manager out here in January.

We're starting our albatross monitoring this coming week.  We'll mark nests in 5 different plots and follow those nests to see how many of the eggs hatch and how many chicks end up fledging to determine reproductive success.

Egg laying for the Laysan and Black-footed albatross is in full swing.  This bird has an old aluminum band that isn't even readable anymore.  We'll have to see if we have time to replace it this season.  

 This is the old officer housing, which now is mostly the Thai worker housing.

We keep a few interesting artifacts in the seaplane hangar.  This is a section of the anti-submarine net that would keep out any unwanted submarines.  There are also a couple of the old tank turret pillboxes that were used as protected shooting spots for defensive forces in WWII.   

Since I hardly took any photos this week, I'm pulling one out of my older photos file.  This was a recently weened Hawaiian monk seal checking out the boat.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Happy Retirement, Sue!

Sue Schulmeister, the refuge manager, will be retiring soon and leaving Midway this week.  We're sorry to see her go.  We'll also miss her husband Bob, who has been a really big help with most of our projects out here over the past couple of years.  We wish them both the best.  

We've also got some news about the Short-tailed albatross.  The pair on Eastern Island has another egg.  This is the 3rd egg from that pair since 2010.  The female laid the egg and has been out feeding for the past week or so.  If all goes well we'll expect it to hatch in mid-January.        

 I said last week that I would post a photo of the Veterans Day Ceremony.  People are gathering for the ceremony in this photo.

The Thai workers made another beautiful wreath for the ceremony.

 Sue and Bob recieved a few going away gifts at the retirement/going away party.  This is a photo of the DBSI employees on island in a handmade and painted frame (made by Apiwat and A2).

 Our viewing station for the remote camera on Eastern Island is set up in the visitor center.  It's nice to be able to monitor the Short-tailed albatross on their nest from my office.  We can't see the egg too easily, but we should be able to see the chick when it hatches.  I want to say thanks to NOAA for bringing the cameras out her originally.

 Speaking of Short-tailed albatross, this one showed up by Rusty Bucket yesterday.  This is a 5 year old bird that has shown up for the last two seasons.

The albatross are starting to clog up the roads.  It's easier to get around on a bike than in a golf cart now.

Not all of the birds are paired up yet, but you can tell the ones that are with their mates.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thank You, Veterans.

Thanks to all the veterans who have served or are still serving!  We'll have a small ceremony at the Navy Memorial here tomorrow.  I'll put up a photo next week.

It has been pretty windy for the last few days, which is bringing a lot of albatross in.  Every day the numbers are doubling.  It's good that all of the construction is wrapped up for the season.  There were quite a few people on island the last couple of days.  Most of our flights are every 2 weeks now, but every once in a while we have flights that stay here for 2 days.  That's when people like the termite inspectors, fuel inspectors, and anyone else who only needs a short time on island will come out.  So our hectic two days has passed for now.

 The field behind the new fuel farm is filling up with both Laysan and Black-footed albatross.

 There was a turtle nest on Eastern Island this summer.  This was only the fourth nest that we have documented at Midway.  Most Hawaiian green sea turtles nest at French Frigate Shoals.  We wait until it has had plenty of time to hatch and then dig it up and see how many eggs hatched.  It took a while to find the exact spot, but with help from Dale and Hoku, we finally found it.

There were 91 eggs in the nest, with 6 that didn't hatch.  That's in the normal range.  With all of the crabs, birds, fish, etc that are trying to get the hatchlings, there will probably be very few, if any, that will make it to adulthood.

 Konrad and Dale got the remote cameras on Eastern Island up and running so they had time to help out with other things, like digging up a turtle nest and installing a couple of aerators in two of our wetlands.  The photo shows one in Brackish pond.  We're hoping that the extra oxygen in the water will reduce the number of botulism cases in Laysan ducks.

 One thing I've been doing for years is cutting up my plastic 6-pack holders for just this reason.  This Laysan duck got entangled in one.

It took a little while to catch him, but we netted him and removed the plastic.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

It's November Already?

This year is just flying by for me out here and it's hard to believe it's already November.  More birds are coming back every day, including a few Laysan albatross.  The female Short-tailed albatross on Eastern Island still hasn't shown up yet, but we're hoping she will soon.  We had no flight this past week, so it has kind of been business as usual out here.   

Our rain catchment area was cleaned out this week.  The algae gets pretty thick in there so it has to be cleaned out every year or two.

The naupaka bushes in front of the office were trimmed, so we have a better view of the old sperm whale skeleton. 

 Here is one of the very few Laysan albatrosses on island right now.

 This is the male Short-tailed albatross that hangs out near the runway on this island.  It still has a little bit of brown on its neck, but will probably finally have its full adult plumage next year.

 Here are a couple more of the winter visitors to the island.  These 2 species are very similar, but the one on the left is a Pectoral sandpiper and the one on the right is a Sharp-tailed sandpiper.

 Konrad and Dale found some old costumes for our Halloween party at Capt. Brooks.  They added some marine debris to the costumes.