Search This Blog

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Random photos from Tern Island This Week

Aloha kakou!  Instead of the usual diatribe, thought I'd try some random photos of the week.

Bhuddabird.  (No, its not hurt.  That's how frigatebirds cool off.)

No one can relax like a frigatebird.  Seriously.

Teamwork is essential to success on a remote island....The Well Oiled Machine (video)

And finally, some pretty marine debris.  (This one is for you, Chedi and Jon!)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This week at Tern - 18Jan11

Aloha kakou!  Internet has been really, really slow this week (and non-existent most of the time), so we can't post things as often as we'd like.  Facebook is about the only thing that loads when its that slow.  I will upload small fuzzy versions of pictures so they have time to please be patient!

Our big news:  the black-footed albatross chicks started hatching this week!

First ka'upu chick on Tern Island this year!!!
Range of temperature:  66 to 78ºF. Only 0.88” rainfall accumulated this week.  Average wind velocity was 11.7 knots, with gusts to 23.3 kts on 12Jan11.  

We did not get the tremendous winds experienced on Midway and Laysan this week -- they had winds over 60 knots! -- although it was enough to stop bird monitoring for several days.  (Birds can be injured if flushed when the wind is >20 knots.)  A large south swell made using the (south-facing) dock unsafe for small boats, and resulted in no Kahana stop on their way back to Honolulu.... so that means we couldn't send back our boat parts for repair. 

ʻĀ wāwae (red-footed boobies) hunker down in 20 knot wind this week.

In addition, we can't have any planes fly in if there is any moisture on the runway, so we likely won't be having too many flights in before March -- and then, since there are so many sooty terns, our flights are limited as well.  Ah, the vagaries of island logistics!!!  It's all good, though, because we do, in fact, live on a remote island.  If it was easy to get to, it wouldn't be remote.  :-)

Dan Rapp playing guitar on the back lanai.  Music is an important part of island life. 
We have a special project on Tern.  Helly Hansen (she prefers to be called 'Hansen'), a Laysan albatross that has been studying mechanics under Paula's direction, wants to pursue a technical degree in small engine repair.  There are very few albatross with college degrees of any kind, so we would really like to encourage her.  Because she doesn't have much money -- few of the albatross really do -- we are looking for scholarship opportunities for Hansen. 

Helly Hansen waiting patiently in the boathouse for her next lesson.

Helly Hansen assisting in removal of the lower units from the SAFEboat outboards. 
Finally, NEWS FROM MIDWAY ISLAND:  The first short-tailed albatross chick (EVER!) was born on Midway Island this week!!! This is truly phenomenal news.  This bubble-gum beaked species was considered extinct in the 1950's, after it had been hunted out for its feathers.  It made a come-back, but only has nested on two islands in Japan -- making it extremely vulnerable to true extinction.  Having a new breeding site buys the short-tailed albatross a lot of insurance, in case one or the other gets wiped out (by natural disaster, disease or whatever).  Check out some of the info online -- A very interesting creature!

First short-tailed albatross chick born in the NWHI!!!  Photo at Midway, taken by Pete Leary.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This week at Tern Island

The Kahana delivered 8 pallet tubs, 10 propane tanks, 2 ½ barrels of diesel, and two outboards to Tern this week. These supplies were much needed – particularly the food, if we don’t have a March Kahana. We gave a very quick eco-tour to a couple of the Kahana crew, and got their advice on the outboards. Thanks to everyone in Honolulu who helped prepare this material for shipment!

Offloading supplies from the Kahana (the ship delivering supplies) to Tern Island.  The Kahana is the small dot in the center of the picture.  La Perouse is the dot ot the right of center.  The captain and crew are always helpful and fun -- They're always welcome on Tern!  (And the supplies don't hurt!) (Photo by FWS Volunteer Sarah Youngren.)
Kahana offload at Tern Island dock, January 2011.  The Kahana is the small dot, center of page.  La Perouse is the small dot in the mid-right of the photo. In the past, the offloads were made by a larger vessel from the Kahana.  More recently, offloads have been conducted by the Tern safeboat and a small vessel off the Kahana, each carrying one pallet tub at a time.  This particular trip, the offload was to be made by the Tern safeboat alone, but that plan fell through when the safeboat’s outboards became inoperable.  Midway came to the rescue, and gave up two containerships to make room for the small vessel (shown in part, above) to offload in place of the safeboat.  Considering that it is about 2 miles each way to the boat --  almost 5 miles round-trip -- and given we were trying to stock up 6 months of supplies, this was quite a taxing day for both the small boat engines and its crew.  

This was our first week of the new semester – and the first week of our intern-classroom projects.  The FWS volunteers from Tern introduced themselves to the classes via email, with photos and stories about themselves.  Each week, they will be updating the classes via email and/or Skype, with stories, data, and/or photos, depending on the class projects.  We hope to have pictures of the classes soon!

Each week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we monitor reproductive plots.  Each volunteer is responsible for monitoring a couple species.  Dan monitors white terns and black noddies; Kristina monitors red-footed boobies and red-tailed tropicbirds; Jimmy monitors Laysan and black-footed albatross; and Sarah monitors Tristram storm petrels and masked boobies.  We count the number of nests, eggs, chicks and fledglings in each plot each time.  The number of nests and eggs helps us to track reproductive effort -- this tells us about how the population is doing.  The number of chicks and fledglings helps us track reproductive success -- to estimate how the next generation is going to do.

White terns – Manu o Kū -- enjoy using the edge of the barracks for nesting.  The pairs you see are parent and offspring.  The red lines and numbers on the wall below the birds are part of the reproductive monitoring plot for white terns – We can keep track of which birds lay eggs, which eggs hatch, and which chicks survive to fledging. 

Manu o ku (white tern).  These birds nest in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.  In the main Hawaiian Islands, they nest only in Honolulu!  They nest in big trees in Kapi'olani Park, and on the mauka side of the mall -- probably because these trees are big enough to be above the usual cat and rat-climbing level. (Photo by Paula Hartzell)
Manu o ku (white terns) lay their eggs right on the branches of trees -- or ledges of the barracks, in this case -- with no 'nest' to speak of.  The pairs you see here are parent and offspring.  The red lines and numbers on the side of the barracks are to help us track which terns are which, as part of the reproductive monitoring plots.

Popular Posts