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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holidays at Tern

First Masked Booby (ʻĀ makaʻele) egg of the season!!!  This MABO is located on East Island, near the center of Kanemiloha'i (FFS).  Photo by FWS Volunteer Sarah Youngren.
On Christmas Eve, got the boats up and running, and conducted the first outer island survey in over three months.  Yeah!  Melinda captained the Safeboat, while Jimmy and I went in the whaler.  We stopped at Trig Island to count birds and seals, did a drive-by count on Round, and stopped at East Island.  Most of the islands are small sandy islets, but Tern and East (and previously Whale and Skate) islands have scrubby vegetation.

The first masked booby (ʻĀ makaʻele) egg of the season was on East -- go boobies!  Sarah and I puttered home in the whaler while the rest of the group took their first quick look at La Perouse before heading home.

La Parouse Pinnacle (Photo from 2002).

Christmas was a great success -- We had Secret Santa presents, as well as a great feast featuring spamkey (spam 'turkey') and other delicacies.  In the photo below, we modeled our Secret Santa presents:  Santa made Dan a hand-crocheted nautilus to snuggle at night; Paula received a sweetheart photo of her infidel boyfriend, a flat fly named Roberto; Sarah models her Tern Bird Wrangler helmet, complete with feathers and shells (made from a marine debris bicycle helmet); Jimmy plays his Jimmy Dean Original Banjo, made from marine debris; Melinda was adorned with a sporty hand-woven ankle bracelet made from marine debris glass and beads; and Kristina plans uses for her Message-In-A-Bottle Kit (only slightly disappointed that there wasn't any beer in the bottle :-)). 

Tern Christmas 2010.  Dan Rapp, Paula Hartzell, Sarah Youngren, Jimmy Macaulay, Melinda Conners, and Kristina Dickson, around a Christmas Tree adorned with specimen tags, bird bands, flags and other misc ornaments.  Photo by FWS volunteer Kristina Dickson.

Next posting will be next year!!!  Hau'oli makahiki hou, kakou!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mele Kelikimaka e Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!

A special warm Mele Kelikimaka e Hau`oli Makahiki Hou to all of our families and friends, from the folks on Tern Island this holiday season!

Photo by FWS Volunteer Sarah Youngren, with assistance from one of Santa's elves.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yeah!!!   We were delivered the rest of Team Tern yesterday!!!  Yeah!!!!  Sarah Youngren and Kristina Dickson arrived via plane, and Trish Jackson was able to head back home to her family.  Yeah!!!  Now we can figure out a 'routine' (or as routine as it gets out here), and settle in for a winter of hard work. 

The lunar eclipse/solstice was quite a symbolic day to make this change over -- How do you figure the pilots managed that?!  Thanks to Bob and Charlie of Pacific Air Charters for flying out here, even when they had to dodge puddles on the runway.  We really appreciate that.

Much thanks to Trish for all her hard work, willingness to do WHATEVER, and sticking in there.  She made some great contributions.  Thanks, Trish!!!

New Winter Team Tern Photo:

Team Tern - Winter 2010 (Left to Right):  James Macaulay, Pilot Rob, Kristina Dickson, Paula Hartzell (front), Sarah Youngren, Melinda Conners, Dan Rapp, Co-Pilot Charlie.  Photo by FWS Volunteer Patricia Jackson.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Who is the buddhahead?!?

Aloha kakou!  There's good news, and bad news.

What we want to know on Tern is....WHO is the buddhahead who keeps putting zip ties and fishing line, tied around the feet of albatross?!?  This is something that has been going on for years -- we find them on Tern, Midway, and even Ka'ena Point.  We find around 10 birds a year like this, just on Tern.  Poor albatross, with zip ties or fishing line tied around their legs -- probably someone trying to keep them as a pet, although a few could potentially be by accident -- ends up cutting off the circulation to their legs, cutting into them, and probably killing many of them.  Can't be fun for anyone.
Melinda Conners is holding an albatross we found with the regular metal band (above, with room to spare), and a zip tie around its leg.  The zip tie is cutting into the birds leg, and had we not removed it, eventually caused the leg to lose circulation, possibly rot off, and cause death to the bird.  Not so good.

This is the same bird as above, with the zip tie removed.  This bird will heal now, and get along fine.  There are probably many others that aren't so lucky.  Let people know that this is NOT an okay thing to do!  Notice that the metal band (under melinda's thumb) is still round, has extra room, no sharp edges, and is not squeezing the bird's leg.  We spend a lot of time training, and making sure the band is the right size, shape and material, not to cut into the bird's leg.

The albatross -- and the other species here -- are doing well, and enjoying this nesting season.  Lots of happy birds (and volunteers!)

A Laysan albatross on her nest.  Albatross nest on the ground, piling up sand, rocks, shells, sticks, grass -- whatever is handy -- into a mound.  It rained lately, so they have built their nests up higher to protect from any flooding rain water.
Gotta check and make sure that egg is still there.... Really, this Laysan is talking to its egg.  Albatross chicks are born knowing their parents' voices, because the parents sing to them the whole time they're in the egg.

Trish with a friend, Tern Island, Dec 2010.

Another beautiful sunrise on Tern.  Photo by FWS Volunteer Patricia Jackson
 p.s.  For the Hawaiian monk seal fans out there, counted 17 seals on Tern this week, including the new weaner (PN3).  The shark-bit pup (T148) has taken off for greener pastures.  Hopefully we'll see him again in the summer!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lightening Strikes at Tern

There was a huge lightening strike last Wednesday, and the barracks was directly hit at least once, and maybe twice.  Besides scaring the begeezus out of me, which it did, it also knocked out our solar powered 110V electricity source...

The burnt out electronic compontent in our solar power inverters.

Well, the long and the short of it is that we all know quite a bit more about our solar power system than we did before the lightening strike.  :-)  We've replaced one of the inverters, and have our 110V system back online... Yeah!!!

Our other big news this week is finishing the first of the black-footed albatross sweeps.  We had more than 2,400 nesting black-footed albatross (meaning at least that many nests), as well as several hundred walkers. 

This week, weather permitting, we will start the first of the Laysan albatross sweeps.  We are also keeping our fingers crossed that the plane bringing new volunteers and returning Trish home will be able to take off soon - but the runway must be dry and safe before that happens, so we wait with bated (and perhaps baited) breath...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Black-foot albatross sweeps continue

We have been spending most of our time working on the albatross sweeps (adult mortality monitoring) this week.  So far, we've recorded about 2100 black-footed albatross bands.  There are maybe another 500-1000 to go....  We should be done with the first black-foot sweep by the end of this week, and then we'll start on the Laysan albatross Sweep 1. 

The plane flight schedule for Tuesday was delayed until Monday or Tuesday next week, due to pilot illness. :-(  Bad news for those eager to go home (Trish Jackson), as well as those eager to come out (Sarah Youngren and Kristina Dickson).  Soon!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Life after our first week....

We are sooooooo busy!!!  The new crew at Tern is great -- Everyone is learning their new jobs, while the returning albatross are keeping us very very busy trying to record all the band #s for the birds returning to nest. 
Dan Rapp and Melinda Conners work on banding a black-footed albatross during adult survival monitoring ('sweeps' -- since we do a sweep through the island checking each bird).  Photo by FWS Volunteer James Macaulay.
Laysan Albatross incubating egg on Tern Island, November 2010.  Photo by FWS Volunteer James Macaulay.
Patricia Jackson reads a black-footed albatross band, while Jim Macaulay records. 
Our little Moe friend, pup PN3, born this fall.  Much sleep is required when you play so hard in the water. :-)

The weather has been too rough for snorkeling, but we saw a female eagle ray with an entourage of males swimming just offshore.  Photo by FWS Volunteer James Macaulay.
We expect the next flight in and out of Tern for Tuesday, when we'll do our last staff switchover for the next few months.

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