Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wind and Rain

Today there has been more wind and rain. I rode around the perimeter of as much of the island as I can get to and it was very windy. I'm sure there were gusts above 50 mph. It made for some very interesting bike riding! These 3 photos are all from my morning ride.

Saturday on Midway

The weather continues very windy with rain showers. There are times that I am stopped in my tracks while riding my bike and just have to get off and walk my bike for a stretch until the gust dies a little. It is not raining consistently but we get showers occasionally. They are heavy enough to keep the puddles full and get you wet without rain gear. The work is interesting and I am slowly figuring out what is expected. We have 2 different studies that involve collecting or marking marine debris in plots along the beach. One of these takes place weekly and one goes on every 28 days. We also have Albatross reproductive success plots that are similar to what I did on Tern Island last year. I call my home away from home Midway Village. It is an interesting community. I am looking forward to the weekend off to wash my few warm clothes and do a little more exploring.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Inner harbor

Today we had winds to 50 mph.

White Tern

North Beach

Closest Neighbor

This Laysan Albatross nest with chick is about 5 feet outside our front door.

Three Flippered Turtle

This turtle probably lost it's left front flipper to a shark.

Clipper House

This is where we eat our meals. It is left over from a contractor that tried to make a go of Midway as an expensive fishing destination.

Midway on the map

Laysan Albatross

Laysan Albatross chick on the nest with an adult in the background. There are nearly 500,000 nests on Midway so one is rarely far from these birds. The wingspan of the adults is about 7 feet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Eastern Island

This morning John, the boatman, took the 3 volunteers, Steve, Liz, and myself, to Eastern Island to perform one of the Laysan Duck surveys. My main job was to be quiet, stay low and out of sight and try to absorb a lot of information about the surveys without getting in the way. I learned a lot and stayed well away from the seeps where the ducks congregate until after the survey was complete. When Liz finished, the 3 of us sat quietly near one of the seeps, read color bands, and discussed how to age and sex these very rare birds. We managed to read and record more than 25 bands. We then had a minute to wander and experience the island. No one lives on Eastern and the WWII runways are slowly melting back into the environment. I only saw 1 small building. The wind was blowing hard and it was very dark with clouds blowing around. It all felt very wild. Pictured are: Gary on an Eastern Island beach and 2 Laysan Ducks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I had a comment on my Endangered Species post of 2-22 that led to this correction. Laysan Duck is known from prefossil evidence in much of the Hawaiian archipelago and was probably eliminated by humans from all the islands except Laysan. Please point these kinds of problems out and I will do my best to keep my blog accurate.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Albatross Everywhere

These pictures show the front of my house. There are several active nests along the walkway and many non breeding birds wandering. These are all Laysan Albatross. It is quite a welcoming committee.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Endangered Species

Yesterday and today were days for rare and unusual birds. I saw several Bristle-thighed Curlews yesterday and today both. Those that followed my blog on Tern Island may remember that I saw 1 Curlew in 4 months and that they are very rare when considering the world population. The estimate I read was 10,000 Bristle-thighed Curlews worldwide. I have also seen several Laysan Ducks. They are native only to Laysan Island and a few have been relocated here to establish a separate population so if anything catastrophic happens on Laysan the Duck will still survive. The most exciting bird for me was a Short-tailed Albatross juvenile that I saw today. This albatross species was brought to the edge of extinclion by the mid 20th century and has now rebounded to about 2,000 birds worldwide. It has been seen on Midway for several years now and there is hope that it will once again breed here. I don't have a picture of a Laysan Duck yet but I did get pictures of the Curlew, the lower photo, and the Short-tailed Albatross.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

First Day on Midway

We had a good flight up to Midway yesterday afternoon. We saw the reef at French Frigate Shoals but Tern Island was hidden by clouds. The flight took about 5 hours. We have had our orientation and were given a bicycle for our time here. The bike extends your range considerably so that is nice. I think it will be my main form of transportation. There are Laysan Albatross everywhere, including on the walkway into my house. There are about 480,000 Laysan nests. There are similarities between here and Tern Island but there is much more development here. Much of the development is WWII vintage and is little used or not used at all in some cases. My living arrangements are good. I'm in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with one other volunteer. I'll write more on all these topics as I get settled in.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


When I fly to Midway later this month I can carry a total of 50 pounds. I have my things all set out and have been looking them over and making a few changes. It seems more like getting ready for a backpack trip than a 3 month stay on Midway.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Blog comments

I have been experimenting with different formats for readers to leave comments on this blog. One of the steps that is required is the word verification step. When you click on comments you will be asked to retype a twisted misshapen word. This step helps eliminate spam on my blog. I also get to moderate comments before they are published so they will not show up until I have a chance to read them. Please keep trying! I enjoy hearing from you.