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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tern Island: Moonlight to Sunrise

What does it feel like to be on Tern Island?

...on a small, sandy island in an atoll -- an island that is about a half-mile long, less than a football field wide, and only 4 feet above sea level?

For me (Barb Mayer), being on Tern Island for a week felt peaceful, especially when standing by myself and watching the change from a moonlit night to sunrise. Using my simple point-and-shoot camera, I recorded this 2+ minute video clip as I stood near the eastern end of the island. The video begins in the early morning darkness; you'll see the almost-full moon in dim twilight. Although the blustery wind is loud, you might be able to hear birds in the background, especially when I'm not facing into the wind. I turned around, rotating through a circle twice, recording the sky during the first rotation and then more of the ground and birds during the second rotation. The video concludes with a third rotation taken at sunrise.

I hope the video, despite its poor quality, helps you imagine being on Tern Island. How do you think you'd feel?!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A new season

It's the start of a new season, biologically and personnel-wise. 
A rather angry looking manu o Kū (white tern) sitting on its egg.  These guys nest anywhere they can find a flat space -- a ledge, a faucet, a boat trailer, or in this case a cement block left by the building.  White terns nest year-round, so we can always count of a few eggs and chicks around the island.  Most of the seabirds start nesting in December or January, though, so we're just starting up the seabird monitoring for this reproductive season.
We saw the summer crew off on the Kahana this week -- They worked hard and accomplished a huge amount over the past six months. 
Team Tern December 2011:  The whole gang!  Bottom Row (L->R):  Morgan Gilmour (UCSC Researcher/Volunteer), Dakshina Marlier (Winter Volunteer), Erin Kawakami (Summer Volunteer), Sarah Youngren (Winter Volunteer Team Leader).  Second Row:  Kathy Kawakami (Native Plants Expert Volunteer), Barbara Mayer (Education and Outreach Volunteer).  Third row:  Dan Rapp (Returning Winter Volunteer), Meg Duhr Schultz (Summer Manager), Ralph Blancato (SeeMore Assistant).  Back Row:  Abram Fleishman (Winter Volunteer), Paula Hartzell (Winter Manager), Scott Sturdivant (Summer Volunteer), Konrad Schaad (SeeMore Satellite Technician).  This group has produced so much -- Thanks gang!!!
The winter crew, satellite technicians, special volunteers and the crew of the Kahana leaving Tern.

The remaining crew.... Dakshina Marlier, Morgan Gilmour, Dan Rapp, Sarah Youngren, and Abram Fleishman.  (Photo by Paula L. Hartzell)
The ka'upu (black-footed albatross) have all arrived for the most part, but the mōlī (Laysan albatross) are still trickling in.  Looks like a gang-buster year for the ka'upu this year!  We'll have better numbers for you on that soon, as we've started the next adult albatross sweep -- That's where we go through the colony and read every band on every adult albatross across the island.  We'll do this four times over the next month, as part of a mark-recapture study tracking the albatross' breeding populations across the northwestern Hawaiian islands.  The staff at Midway Atoll and Laysan Islands follow the same procedure, so we can compare the results, and get a number for most of this species' populations.

Konrad Schaad helps with an albatross count on Trig Island. The ka'upu (blackfooted albatross) have arrived en force; the mōlī (Laysan albatross) are still arriving. Photo by Paula L. Hartzell.

We have a new double-egged ka'upu nest this week!  Albatross usually have only one egg, but this bird is a super overachiever. 

Sarah Youngren, Dan Rapp, and Abram Fleishman continue work on getting the bird acoustic monitoring system set up.  They've been troubleshooting the electronics, have built frames to mount the solar battery charging panels and microphone, as well as to keep birds from pooping on these.  The tricky part is to get everything to work without messing up the other electronic monitoring devices, like George Balazs's turtle cam -- but persistence pays off, and they're moving forward.  Later on, we'll compare the results from the acoustic monitoring of Tristram's storm petrels with Sarah's burrow monitoring results, to calibrate the methods to estimate number of breeding adults. 
Dan Rapp working on setting up acoustics equipment.  Photo by Sarah Youngren.
Okay, these people are seriously just too excited about bird monitoring.
Weeding, weeding, weeding!  The invasive goosefoot and cheeseweed has begun to sprout up all over the island, but has not yet seeded, so we are starting to spend a significant amount of time pulling these buggers before they go to seed.  Both goosefoot and cheeseweed grow into tall, dense monocultures, creating a barrier to wind and movement, and pose a serious threat to albatross chicks later in the winter and spring, when chicks bake in the heat inside these stands. 
'Ilio o ke kai (Hawaiian monk seals) enjoy the warmth and security of the black pipe placed at the back of South Beach by the summer crew.  This pipe will keep most Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle (honu) hatchlings from crawling into the colony by accident and dying; it should also minimize the amount of wasted energy by adult honu lost in the colony.  As an added bonus, it minimizes our disturbance seals on the beach by delineating the area better, and providing a visual and sound barrier for the seals.  We counted 25 seals in this week's count, one more than the highest count last winter.  Really great job, Summer Crew!

Juvenile noio (black noddy).  Photo by Meg Duhr Schultz.
East Beach at Tern Island.  The sand has shifted way to the north.  The beach shifts with seasons and storms, but also provides the best winds for gliding seabirds.  (Photo by Paula L. Hartzell)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Trip In

The new Tern crew loaded up -- along with SeeMore satellite technicians Konrad Schaad and Ralph Blancato, and Tern special volunteers Kathy Kawakami and Barbara Mayer -- on December 1st, for the three day trip out to French Frigate Shoals.
Women to Tern Island:  Morgan Gilmour, Sarah Youngren, Barbara Mayer, Dakshina Marlier, and Kathy Kawakami onboard the ship Kahana en route to French Frigate Shoals.
The first day at sea was pretty shaky, or at least most of the crew was. Things calmed down (both weatherwise and physically) after that, though. All of us enjoyed some great food onboard the ship Kahana, and some nice home-made music in the evening, courtesy of the Kahana's Nalu and our own volunteers.
A quiet moment as La Perouse comes into view. 
We arrived at Tern on Sunday, with a speedy offload due to good weather.   Come along on one of the small boat transfers from the good ship Kahana to the Island--

So much has changed since this summer!!!!  The crew on-island has built a tremendous amount of artificial habitat, experimenting with different materials and styles to see what the birds will accept for nesting.
Mōlī (above) and ka'upu nesting in runway.  Since some vegetation has returned to the runway, albatross are enjoying the extra room to nest.
The island is also green with winter.  As some vegetation starts to fill in the runway, both black-footed and Laysan albatross are moving nests into the green parts.  This will greatly expand their nesting area by about 30% -- a significant enlargement on one of two islands in the atoll that do not get washed over regularly.  The habitat is also important in that French Frigate Shoals is not as readily damaged by tsunami and storm waves as some other important seabird locations, such as Kure, Midway and Laysan, so provides an important refugia.
Albatross Love.  Photo by Ralph Blancato.
Manager Meg Duhr Schultz shows the crew around, and fills them in on all the rules.  We live happily on Tern Island -- but must always respect that this is the home of the wildlife first!
Manager Meg drills the troops (Dan Rapp, Dakshina Marlier, Barbara Mayer, and Abram Fleishman, L>R).
Meg leads the first entrapment walk -- All folks must participate in orientation when they arrive.  (Morgan Gilmour, Dakshina Marlier, Abram Fleishman, Meg Duhr Schultz)
Sarah Youngren and Abram Fleishman work on setting up acoustics equipment for monitoring seabirds at night.  Sarah is working with UCSC's Matthew McKown and Nexleaf in this first-ever deployment of this remote monitoring system totally-off-the-grid (as in no cell phone even).  This project is pretty exciting because if it works well, we can use it to monitor nocturnally active seabirds without tromping through their burrows.  It could also be used in remote places like Nihoa and other uninhabited islands, without people staying there.
Konrad Schaad repairing our satellite system....Yeesh!!!  We have him to thank for this blog being posted -- and for use of our turtle cam and email systems!
We also had our first off-island experience of the season, counting seabirds, seals and turtle while Konrad and Ralph worked on the turtle cam (East Island).  We were happy to see a whole lot of nesting albatross, as well as a lot of mostly healthy looking seals. 
First 'a maka'ele (masked booby) eggs of the season!!!  Photo by Sarah Youngren.
A juvenile 'iwa (great frigatebird) inspects Konrad's work at the top of a telephone pole.  Konrad is fixing the cameras used by sea turtle researcher George Balaz for monitoring East Island -- where roughly half of the entire species nests!  Konrad is a tall man:  check out how this young frigatebird's wingspan dwarfs him in perspective.  Photo by Ralph Blancato.
Silver bellied 'ilio o ke kai (Hawaiian monk seal) juvenile.  Photo by Paula Hartzell. 
We expect the Kahana to return from its trip up to Midway around December 13th.  We will have more bird and seal news coming all winter!

A mother-daughter team on Tern:  Kathy Kawakami and Erin Kawakami tackle native plant propagation on Tern Island.  We appreciate Kathy's experience and Erin's energy -- and the willingness of all our volunteers to give their time for wildlife conservation at this remote location.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting Ready to Go

Aloha kakou! 

The excitement mounts as Meg Duhr Schultz reports from Tern that ke ka'upu (the black-footed albatross) have laid almost 100 eggs so far, including at least one nest with two eggs!   The team currently on-island (Meg, Erin and Scott) are keeping very, very busy with albatross -- and with protecting their native out-plantings from these curious birds.  Meg also reports that the albatross appear very attracted to the areas the team has been revegetating -- which is great news.

Back in Honolulu, Team Tern II is beginning to gather in Honolulu for their deployment.  Abram Fleishman came from research in Baja California/Mexico. Dakshina Marlier flew in from her home island of Kaua'i, after some months of leading biking trips in southeast Alaska.  These two new-to-FWS volunteers arrived last week to participate in training, help buy and load supplies, and enjoy the last bit of civilization before heading out to Tern.

During this week, we've picked up almost $3,000 in dry foods, supplies for maintaining the buildings, tractors and boats (things like PVC, hand tools, carts, extra tires, ropes, sewage line, and boat tiller kits).  We've tested and packed equipment needed for biological monitoring (things like measuring tapes and calipers, a night-vision camera, rite-in-the-rain notebooks, and data loggers).  And we've had lots and lots of training:  an introduction to operations, training on banding safety, evacuation, medical safety, boating safety, team safety, lifting safety, cooking safety, mental health and safety, and of course, safety safety.  Our outreach expert Barbara Mayer joined us for an introduction to Biological Monitoring and the Common Species at French Frigate Shoals.

All this training, shopping, and packing can be tedious -- but it is extremely important for the crews to have a broad background and understanding of the purposes and methods before we get to the island.  Even before they arrive on-island, they should have a pretty good idea of what they will be doing, and able to identify all of the bird species.  We've even gone over the proper way to capture an albatross, albeit our practice albatross strongly resembles a pillow with a paper towel roll taped on the top. :-)  This training really provides the volunteers with enough background that they will know when they're missing information, and what questions to ask, once we hit the ground running with albatross monitoring once we arrive.

We've made a couple trips to the Northshore of O'ahu collecting naupaka cuttings for transplanting at Tern Island.  We're hoping this influx of new plants will result in a long-term increase in the number of shrubs at Tern, important for nesting habitat.
FWS Volunteer Dakshina Marlier (left) and staff Paula Hartzell (right) gather nau paka cuttings from the roadside on O'ahu. 
Photo by FWS Volunteer Abram Fleishman.
Abram's beautiful photography at work:  A naupaka blossom.  While Abram took these great shots, Dakshina enlightened us with a telling of the traditional Hawaiian story about naupaka.  Looks like we're really going to benefit from the talents of these two this winter!
The naupaka pruning gets serious... Tempers flare....
The crew, post cutting....  hmmmm.....All that shopping, packing, and pruning can be exhausting. :-)
We expect the rest of the crew -- Sarah Youngren, Dan Rapp, and Morgan Gilmour -- to show up this weekend, so we can finish preparing and take off to Kānemilohaʻi next week.  Yeah!!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lānaʻi High School Students "Sail" to Tern Island

Tern Island is probably about 600 miles away from Lānaʻi High School, which is close to the southeastern end of the Hawaiian Islands archipelago.  On Tuesday, October 18th the two locations seemed a little closer to each other.

On that day 21 high school juniors & seniors and their teacher made a "virtual field trip" to Tern Island, with Barb Mayer (USFWS volunteer) and Wes Byers (NOAA's Outreach Specialist for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument).

The virtual field trip to far-away Tern was made possible through a Powerpoint presentation, utilizing photos and this real-life video "The Searcher Departs from Honolulu":

After "setting sail" on the Searcher, the students imagined voyaging for 3 days to reach Tern Island where they were to start work as wildlife volunteers.  Therefore, at the conclusion of the Powerpoint, students were put to work in the classroom!  They were divided into small groups and rotated through several activities utilizing artifacts from Tern.

For example, here's an activity featuring actual marine animal eggs.  (They were infertile; they didn't hatch.  Therefore, it's possible for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to use them for education.  The eggs have been filled with plaster of paris, to strengthen them against accidental breakage.)

Most of the eggs are labeled with their birds' identifying, 4-letter code; two are not...or three, since you can't see the whole code for the egg on the right.  

Egg Challenge:  Of those three, which one belongs to the Laysan Albatross, Mōlī?  Which is the store-bought chicken egg?  ...and which one belongs to the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, Honu?  (Hint: reptile eggs don't have [much] calcium in them).  Honor system: don't peek until you're ready, but the answers are at the end of this post.

THAT can't be a Laysan Albatross, a Mōlī?!  Your're right; it's a stuffed toy.  Imagine how much bigger the REAL albatross parents are who laid this egg?

JMacaulay took this picture of a pair of adult Mōlī.

 Here's an activity about the Great Frigatebird's wingspan-->

Challenge: Place the Great Frigatebird (GRFR; ʻIwa) skeleton and both sets of wing bones in the proper places to represent a living bird's actual wingspan!

The students have put the GRFR skeleton in the middle of the 7' long fabric strip.  Now, can they correctly arrange the wing bones?

YES THEY CAN!  The answer sheet, which was hidden under a paper taped to the classroom's front board, confirmed their effort.  Wow, that ʻiwa has a chicken-size body and a hang-glider wingspan!
Back at the end of May "A Busy Time at Kānemilohaʻi" was posted.  Mark Sullivan's photo shows a particularly disturbing example of a Honu with marine debris, a porthole, around its neck:
Here's the porthole again.  Now it's being used to help students make the mind and heart connection to what marine debris actually does to life in the ocean. 

How does it feel to be caught in marine debris? Well, how does it feel to have this rubber band around your hand?!

The class period ended with everyone feeling a little closer to Tern Island Field Station and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.  Barb and Wes look forward to "bringing the place to the people" in other classrooms around the state of Hawaiʻi!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Egg Challenge Answers:
  • Laysan Albatross -- the BIG one on the right
  • Chicken -- in the top-right corner of the egg carton
  • Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle -- bottom-left in the carton

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Life on a Remote Island -- No access!

Aloha kakou!

Sorry there haven't been posts in a while -- internet service has been out at Tern Island for about a month now, is likely not to be restored until December, when two technicians will ride out with us to Tern, to fix the satellite dish.  Unfortunate for those of us waiting on the blog -- tougher on those living on the island!

We want to take this time to thank the folks out there -- Meg Duhr Schultz (manager), Scott Sturdivant (volunteer) and Erin Kawakami (volunteer).  They have been working like mad without a break since June, and will remain on-island until December.  The lack of internet makes life on Tern seem much more remote than otherwise.  They still can contact their families and others via satellite phone.
From left to right:  Erin Kawakami, Scott Sturdivant, and Meg Duhr Schultz.  They've been working very hard to revegetate areas that have been denuded by human traffic.  They've also ramped up our native plant propagation facilities, working on methods to increase our native plant community and shrubs on the island.  This work is extremely important in providing adequate nesting sites and cover for young chicks.

We also thank their families for their patience, understanding, and for sharing these three folks for a six month stint on Tern.  Its always a challenge for loved ones -- We appreciate your sacrifice so that they can do all the good they are doing out there.

They have let us know that they are doing well, and the first kaʻupu (black-footed albatross) have shown up on Tern this week!  The first mōlī (Laysan albatross) should return in the next week or two.  Soon they will have thousands of albatross returned to find their mate, dance their dance, and begin nesting.  A very exciting time!
Ka'upu (black-footed albatross).  Photo by Sarah Youngren (2011)

Meg, Scott and Erin have been busy with native plant work, but also rescuing Hawaiian monk seals trapped behind the seawall, reinforcing the seawall, doing regular seabird monitoring, figuring how to minimize loss of shrubs from turtle digging, and following Erin's white tern research.  We appreciate all their hard work, which will have an impact for years to come.

The next crew is beginning to gear up for the winter season, switching off with the summer crew in December.  This season will be very short:  December to March, because FWS is shifting their schedules from Dec-June to March-September.  We'll have lots of adventures during that time.  Starting next week, we'll begin following this crew's preparation for the island.  It will be the start of many long-term and new monitoring and research projects. 

We'll also be featuring the exploits of our Education and Outreach Volunteer, Barbara Mayer, our NOAA outreach partner Wes Byers, and our classroom partners.  Barb and Wes recently visited Lānaʻi High School, sharing some information about the Monument, talking story, and learning about the student's limu project.

We're lucky enough to work with some truly amazing Hawaiian classrooms, like ʻIolani Elementary School on Oʻahu, and Lānaʻi High School on Lānaʻi.  Our volunteers are matched with each class, and each has their own project -- from following bird nests, to designing artificial nests, to statistical analyses of data.  We're so happy to have this partnership, and the kids really inspire us (and teach us the value of sharing and enthusiasm).  Barb will tell you more about the Lānaʻi trip and our work with other classes as we go along this season.

We look forward to another season on Tern Island -- and more photos for the blog!

A hui hou!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Deadly debris

This week we all got a good reminder that no piece of debris is too small to kill or injure wildlife. First we found this Sooty Tern fledgling stumbling around the colonies one evening. Because the poor creature was unable to fly, we captured it easily by hand and it became quickly evident why it was hobbling around. Its left leg was completely non-functional because a small section of monofilament fishing line had become tightly wrapped around the upper part of it. It had been there for quite some time because tissue had actually grown over the line.

Though this bird was still quite lively and, true to Sooty form, still attempted to bite and jab its handler, you can see from the condition of this bird's feathers that its chances of surviving this are not good. With feathers this far gone and its first molt not due for quite some time, our poor, (de)-feathered friend will not be able to leave the island and forage on its own. This is what will ultimately kill the bird. And while we cannot say for sure that the leg injury caused the feather degradation, its easy to imagine how weeks of hobbling around a seabird colony dragging wings through dirt and guano led to the present condition.

Anybody care to guess how long the offending piece of fishing line was?  Make an estimate, then check the answer at the bottom of this post!* 

These poor little Honu were recently found on the island as well. Since they turned up aways inland, the likely scenario is that they hatched out on the beach and somewhere between the ocean and middle of the island got tangled in this section of net. This particular piece of netting measured only 17" long and 3" wide. Typical commercial fishing gillnets like this can be up to several miles long. If a section this small can kill two turtle hatchlings imagine the damage that a mile of this stuff could do. It's an ugly thought.

We make every effort we can to remove the trash that washes ashore or gets blown inland, but even though Tern is a small island, there's still a lot of ground to cover by three people. We also have to carefully weigh the impact of our increased presence in active bird colonies and monk seal habitat with the benefit gained from removing debris immediately. There are no easy answers and we're still figuring out what our best approach should be. One thing is for absolute certain: it's important that the US Fish and Wildlife Service maintains its year-round presence out on Tern Island. If there were no staff and volunteers out here to collect debris and watch out for the turtles, seals, and seabirds that call this place home, there would be far more deadly entanglement incidents like this.

Shameless subject change! On a completely unrelated, but far brighter note, check out this Red-tailed Tropicbird chick. Born and raised right under our front porch, we get to enjoy watching her grow every day! Their eyes aren't actually quite that big, but they have a thick, black eye ring. So when a tropicbird chick looks at you straight on, their eyes look exaggeratedly large, cartoonish, and ridiculously adorable. Really, is it possible to not smile when you see this face???


(*Answer: 13 inches, which is an exponentially tiny fraction of the amount of derelict fishing gear and other debris that's out there in this bird's ocean habitat.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A calm day on Tern

September 6, 2011: For the first time since I arrived to Tern almost 3 months ago, it is still. The Northeast tradewinds, normally a constant presence at the atoll, are almost entirely absent. Without even the slightest breeze, it's oddly quiet today. Not only do we not hear the sound of the wind moving between antennas and solar panels on the roof, but the sound of waves crashing against the shore south of the barracks is absent. The waters outside the lagoon are glass calm and a more subtle shade of blue than we usually see.

The birds have also quieted down substantially and it feels a little eerie out in the colonies. Everybody's laying low because it's HOT out there. Gular sacs are all aflutter (at least among the boobies and frigate birds), the sooty tern flocks are in disarray without a steady wind to orient themselves by, and everybody else has flocked, literally (bad pun fully intended), to any available shade.

With Tern Island's shrub habitat in decline and roughly 30% of the island taken up by a barren expanse of compacted gravel that does not support native plants (and therefore most of our bird species), shade is at quite a premium on Tern Island. Lucky for the birds, most of the chicks are past their most vulnerable stages in their lives when they lack the physical and behavioral adaptations to handle the heat. Here are a few examples of how Tern's seabirds coped with today's high temperatures.

Frigatebirds (ʻIwa) display perhaps the most diverse (and amusing) range of behavioral responses to heat. Here are just a few of them. There's the open wing posture (apparently this reduces water loss somehow). There's gular fluttering (intensity and duration of flutter typically correlates to how heat stressed a bird is), which really requires video footage for one to fully appreciate (stay posted on this one). And then there's what I've decided to call the 'I give up' posture. C'mon, it's not that hot, is it?

Scott has been steadily amassing a pretty sweet driftwood collection for his study plot in our Active Management Revegetation Zone between the runway and the colonies. Birds are attracted to the wood every day for the perching structure it provides, but today saw especially high interest in Scott's installations for the shade they provide.

When there's a steady wind (which is most of the time) all the sooty terns (ʻewaʻewa) in a flock like this will almost invariably be pointing straight into the wind. Seriously, on a windy day these birds are as effective as any windsock in indicating the wind direction. This is another behavioral response that helps them stay cool. I imagine it also keeps the feathers nice and smooth. You'll see from this photo, however, that on a dead calm day like today nobody quite knew where to stand! A minor detail, I know, but when you share a small island with thousands of seabirds, you notice things like this.

This little dome thing here is a recycled fuel barrel being used as a shade structure. We painted it white so it will reflect heat, drilled a few holes in the sides for cross-ventilation, and then anchored it to the ground. We're still in the early stages with these designs and if you look closely, you'll see a little gizmo on the ground that looks like a thumb drive. This is a temperature logger. We are currently measuring the inside temperature of our shade structures and comparing them to the temperatures under our natural shrub habitat. If these perform similarly, we'll make more and place them out in the colonies in time for the next breeding season.

Even a simple concrete block out on the runway surface makes a difference. We're still not quite sure how this tiny brown noddy (noio) chick made it way out there, but it looks like it's been reunited with its parents and managed to find a good spot to wait out the heat!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tern Island: Population 3

Okay, okay, you've probably all seen the sign before, especially if you've ever 'googled' us or even been to Tern Island yourself, but I couldn't resist. And true to Tern Island form, note the duct-tape signage updates made on recycled Rite-in-the-Rain paper. Next we'll have to update the airport section to say "temporarily closed due to budget cuts." But that's a whole other story...

Two things first off: a warm aloha from the new crew! Followed by a humble apology for keeping you faithful readers waiting so long for an update. As you may have gathered, things have gotten a lot quieter around here, both inside the barracks and out in the bird colonies. Paula left a few weeks ago to take some much deserved leave after an incredible 9-month tour of duty out here. If you've been following this blog you are well familiar with how much Paula and her volunteers have accomplished over the last year. Just the other week we bid farewell to the NMFS seal crew and every day we say goodbye to more and more birds as they fledge and head out to sea.

And then there were three...

I'm Meg, the new Assistant/Acting Manager until Paula returns in December and I'm out here with two fantastic volunteers: Erin Kawakami and Scott Sturdivant. We're continuing with all the bird surveys and reproductive monitoring that has gone on since this spring (and for the last several decades), but since fall is a relatively quiet period on Tern Island bird-wise, we're also seriously geeking out on plants and soils these days. Lack of shade and shrub habitat is a serious problem on Tern and we're working hard to find ways to propagate native plants out here and increase their survival in the field. And because we all know that the best time to plant a tree (or shrub in our case) was 20 years ago, we're also creating artificial shade and burrow structures, so the seabirds that depend on this habitat have a place to go in the meantime.

So here's us! Stay posted for another blog update soon.

From left to right: Erin, Scott, and Meg (and masked booby chick #151)

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