Sunday, February 28, 2010
When I arrived on Midway last weekend Red-tailed Tropicbirds were not abundant. In the last few days there have been many more on the island. I have seen up to 15 in the air performing their aerial courtship displays and have counted up to 5 on the ground from one vantage point. These birds are solitary away from the breeding colonies and rarely fish within sight of land. They dive head first into the water with their wings partly extended to catch fish. The pictures that are attached are a collection of photos taken in the past few days.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
The Tsunami Alert we just went through was quite an experience. I first read about the earthquake in Chile last night and it occurred to me that a Tsunami was possible. I heard the phone ring early this morning and one of my housemates answered it and I went on sleeping. About 6:30 a.m. she knocked on my door and said there was an alert and we were to attend a meeting at 8 a.m. Everyone on the island was to attend. Matt Brown, Refuge Manager, began the meeting by saying he had been in contact with the Coast Guard and they said everyone should stay on the island. There would be no evacuation. He then detailed what was known and assigned jobs for everyone. The volunteers answer to the Assistant Manager and he gave us more specific directions in a small group. We were to take apart all the computers that we use and place them on top of the cabinets. We were to also pack up all our hard copy biological data and have it ready to carry with us to high ground. At 11a.m. the entire population met again and Matt told us at that point that the danger had eased but until the Tsunami Warning Center specifically told us to stand down we would keep moving on our plan. All of the large vehicles were moved to the highest road on the island and we were to assemble on the third floor of Charlie Barracks at 12:45. We packed our personal gear and put some of it on the 2nd floor of Midway House and everyone ate lunch. At 12:45 we all made our way to the third floor of Charlie with one bag of personal gear. We spent about 30 minutes with 76 of us on the third floor and at that point Matt said the alert had been lifted and we could leave. He suggested we keep our bags packed until tomorrow and stay off the beaches. All of these meetings were translated into Thai as we went along. I think everyone was a little nervous but everything proceeded very calmly. I had a lot of confidence that I was safe but was not looking forward to spending the afternoon cooped up with 75 other people or the grim possibility of all the carnage in the bird colonies. The attached pictures are views of the meetings and the hallway at Charlie Barracks.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Today we woke to heavy winds. I heard things banging during the night but was not too concerned because wind is common here. Unfortunately windows and doors in our house had been left open and one of our outside doors was swinging and it was torn off its hinges. It was laying in the yard outside when I got up. It was blowing so hard that I had to walk my bike part way to work. We had winds during the morning to 50 mph so we worked inside. The short time we were outside I saw roofing panels from the derelict buildings flying around and a limb blown off a large Ironwood tree that was nearly 6" in diameter. The winds are diminishing but it is still very windy. We hope for calmer conditions tomorrow.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Yesterday we had a snorkel trip to the fringe reef at the edge of the atoll. Matt Brown , the refuge manager has his parents here for a week as guests and wanted to take them snorkeling on the best weather day. A surprising afternoon off on our first day of work. The following pictures were all taken on that trip. My best guess for names of these critters are: wrasse, pencil urchin, parrot fish, Spinner Dolphin.
This has been a busy week with getting settled into the house and new work situation. Today we went to Eastern Island and did a wetland count of Laysan Ducks. It is one of the rarest waterfowl on the planet with a population of about a 1,200 individuals divided between 2 of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. We returned to Sand Island about noon and then spent the rest of the day working in the albatross reproductive success plots. The volunteer who is overlapping with the new volunteers showed us these 2 Laysan Albatross albino chicks at the end of our workday today. They probably will not survive long even if they reach adulthood and leave the nest successfully.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
The Internet connection is much slower than last year due to some technological glitch so I will need to see how this blog works. The above pictures show the house where I live and my closest neighbors, which are all Laysan Albatross. Remember you can double click on the pictures to enlarge their size.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I'm back on Midway for another 3 months of volunteer work for US Fish and Wildlife. We arrived last night after a 5 1/2 hour flight from Honolulu. I'm in a house next door to the one I lived in last year and the arrangements are good. As I get more settled in I will post pictures and more information about my work and the amazing wildlife spectacle!