Sunday, January 26, 2014

In Honolulu

I've been working in Honolulu this week, so there isn't a lot of Midway news that I have for you.   I told you a while back that you can look at Google street view and take a virtual tour of Midway, at least on Sand Island, but they have now put up streetview for most of the rest of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.  You can now see Lisianski and Laysan Islands, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, and French Frigate Shoals (Tern and East Islands).  If you've ever been wondering what some of those other islands look like, now you can find out.  Here are a couple of links that talk about it.

 I probably won't post a blog next week, but I will the week after when I'm back on Midway.

I took this photo before I left.  This shows one of the access trails that we maintain on Eastern Island.

Our flight back to Honolulu was pretty quick.  You can see how fast the plane was going.

 I've been staying in the USFWS bunkhouse to save some travel money.  I used to stay here all the time when I worked on Tern Island.  There are a few other temporary FWS people staying here too.

 It's the Chinese New Year (year of the Horse) so we went to Chinatown last night.   It was pretty crowded over there.

Today I went over to the tide pools near the Makapu'u lighthouse with my friend Julia, who used to work on Kure Atoll.  If you were watching the pro-bowl today, you saw that Oahu wasn't very sunny today.

 There is an interesting blowhole there from the surf.  This is called the Dragon's Nostrils.

It's a little more impressive in this photo.

 There were quite a few humpbacked whales in view.  Most of them were too far out for good photos, but I got a few fin and tail photos.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

More Chicks Hatching

It's been a pretty windy winter so far.  We haven't been able to get over to Eastern Island too much lately. According to the wind forecast, we'll have winds in the 20's and 30's (mph) for the next few days.  I'm glad the volunteers finished up the albatross survival plots this past week.  Those are the plots that we check every year to see how many adults survive from the previous years.  The black-footed albatross chicks have started hatching.  I don't have any photos of them yet since there are only a few so far.  By next week they should be hatching everywhere.  

I'll be off island for 2 weeks starting Tuesday, but I'll be working in Honolulu so I should be able to put up a few more photos next week.

 Hoku and Shirley are checking one of the Laysan albatross survival plots on the south side of Eastern Island.

 I finally got to Eastern Island to get a few photos of the Short-tailed albatross chick from this season.  It looks pretty similar to the 2 that hatched in 2011 and 2012.  We'll probably be posting a couple more links to video on the flickr page over the season.

 I had my 300 mm zoom and cropped the photo so you could just see the Short-tailed albatross' head.  I didn't adjust the color in this at all so you could see how golden the head looks in the sun.  Sometimes it's hard to tell the real color of these birds since most people try to adjust the contrast or saturation of their photos to make it look brighter yellow.  By the way, I rarely change anything in my photos other than crop them, although since the bright sun makes such harsh shadows out here, sometimes I'll adjust the shadows so you can actually see what's there.

 This hybrid Black-footed/Laysan albatross was over on Eastern.  I rarely can get photos of them all together.

 We had a couple of birds with problems this week.  It's pretty common to have Laysan ducks get plastic rings stuck around their necks.  This female duck flew off before we could catch it.  We'll have to try again later.

 This is the other bird.  You can see the fish hook stuck in the Black-footed albatross' foot.  Thanks Hope Ronco for these two fish hook photos.

You can see we have only the most up to date surgical equipment for working on our birds.   Volunteer Ann, the Physicians Assistant, Mike and I are removing the hook.  Those stainless steel hooks are extremely hard to cut.  We tried 4 different kinds of metal cutters and these giant bolt cutters were the only thing strong enough to cut through the hook.

 The waves coming in from the north behind the emergent reef were pretty big again, although not as big as a month ago.

 Here's another visiting bird that is normally not seen on Midway.  This is a Slaty-backed gull, which normally is on the East coast of Asia or western coast of Alaska.

I was wondering why this bird liked to sit in the water instead of the land.  After watching it for a while, I saw that it only had one foot, although you can't tell from the 2 photos that I put up.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Back From Vacation

I'm back from a 2 week Christmas vacation in Alexandria, VA.  I like to get back to the cold every once in a while so I'm reminded that 60 degrees on Midway is actually pretty warm.  The end of December was pretty busy around here with 2 monument groups visiting for a few days each.  One group had members of the Monument Management Board, and one group had the communication team from the monument.   The yearly albatross nest counters also were here (while I was gone).  The numbers aren't official yet, but it looks like there are fewer nests than last season.  That's kind of expected since last year was a pretty good year and it usually drips after a high year.  

Some other big news is that another Short-tailed albatross chick hatched on Eastern Island on Jan. 9th.  The pair took a year off last year, so this is the third chick that has hatched at Midway.   I haven't gotten over there yet to get any photos, but we got some remote video.  Here is the story with a couple of links in it:    

 On the last post I showed you a photo of my backyard on Midway with all of the albatross.  This is a view of my backyard in Alexandria on a snowy night.

 Dasha and I went to Arlington Cemetery on Christmas Day.  They place wreaths on many of the graves.

 This is the Monument Management Board group checking out Sunset Seep on Eastern Island.

 I didn't have many photos for this post, so I went out this morning after brunch and took some photos from the North Beach.
 These birds have a nice spot overlooking North Beach.  The sweet alyssum has been really fragrant the past few days.
 You can see Charlie Barracks in the distance.

There's always some bird getting in the way of my other bird photos.