Thursday, May 20, 2010

Homeward Bound

I finished work yesterday and spent much of today cleaning, returning borrowed books and materials and saying goodbye. I will leave tonight about 8:30 p.m. I have to pack my bag and do a little more house cleaning and then I'm going for a bike ride. Attached are a few pictures from my front yard to show the growth of the chicks over the past 3 months. The last picture shows a common strtching pose that is seen all over these days.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yellowstripe Coris

On a snorkel trip yesterday I spotted a fish I hadn't seen before. I took pictures of it and looked through my book when I returned home. It was the terminal phase of the Yellowstripe Coris which I have seen many times before. The fish I had seen before were a younger version known as an Initial phase. I had noticed different phases listed for reef fish but this is the most dramatically different I've seen myself. The striped fish is the initial phase and the greenish blue is the terminal phase.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Laysan Ducklings

On Friday while working at one of the seeps we saw our first brood of Laysan ducklings. There were 7 of them that were actively feeding on the land and in the water. The adult female was not banded. What a treat it is to see such a rare bird reproducing and doing well. Attached are pictures of the adult and the ducklings.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Small Miracles

Several weeks ago Megan, my housemate, lost a water bottle on a snorkel trip out to the reef. She assumed someone had put it in their bag and not recognized it as belonging to another person. Almost 2 weeks later I found it washed up on the beach on Spit Island. It had probably fallen overboard on our trip and washed down the atoll and beached on Spit Island. It was a neat find. A week ago Wednesday on our way to Eastern Island for an early morning Duck Survey I had my hat blow off in the breeze from the moving boat and we didn't find it again. On Thursday this week, 8 days later, I was on another boat trip and when we returned my hat was floating against the seawall where we docked the boat. The current in the atoll is across the direction that my hat traveled and it managed to float through the narrow entrance to the inner harbor. Attached are pictures of the returned items.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Growing Chicks

The chicks are growing and developing quickly. Until recently the only way they could move around was to shuffle along dragging their bellies. There are now more and more that are standing and taking a few normal albatross steps. They are also flapping their wings to strengthen them for their flight off the island. There are also fewer non breeding adult albatross in the colonies so the look of the island is changing. Parents are now flying for many days and thousands of miles for each feeding trip and only stay with the chick a short time and then leave again. It uses so many reserves of the parents that most only breed every other year. Attached are a few pictures of the chicks in my neighborhood.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Battle Damage

The Seaplane hanger was heavily damaged when the island was bombed on December 7, 1941. When it was rebuilt the concrete that had been inside the hanger was outside because the hanger that was rebuilt had a smaller footprint. The damaged concrete from the battle is still in place and I happened by that area this morning shortly after a rain so the pitted surface was accented. Here are a couple pictures from that area.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Snorkel Under the Cargo Pier

The wind diminished today and the water was very clear. Here is a collection of pictures from our snorkel this afternoon.

Albatross in Flight

The albatross in flight are endlessly fascinating. Here are a few more pictures I took this morning.

The Undertaker

In any colony of a half a million nests there are bound to be many birds that don't survive. Away from the houses on Midway the dead are left to decompose but, for obvious reasons, in the developed parts of the island the dead are picked up every day. Sitthisak is a fixture every afternoon as he drives through town and picks up all the dead birds. He has a sign on the side of his trailer that says, "The Undertaker."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blind Snake

This interesting little reptile is not native to Midway and probably came in with soil during the early cable company days. It probably is native to Africa and Asia but that is not known for sure. It has been transported all over the world in soil and potted plants. The scientific name is Ramphotyphlops braminus and it is known as the Brahminy blinsnake. All specimens looked at so far have been female. They bear live young or lay eggs and the offspring are all female and genetically identical. In the accompanying pictures a dime would barely fit inside the circle of its body. Also note the tongue flicking out of its mouth in the other picture.