28 October 2010

24 Sep. 2006

It's been a couple days since my last blog and so today will represent the 24th of September back in 2006.  I'm not sure what I did this day 4 years ago but I took a lot of pictures!

We can start by some more photos of noddies.  Here are some BLACK NODDIES, an abundant seabird that nests on Tern Island:

They seem to be saying that they're hungry... all perched on our picnic table like that:

I already posted a picture or two of BROWN NODDIES but here are a couple more, these a bit closer.  Notice the difference between these and the above Black Noddies?

Sticking with the tern theme for now, here are more WHITE TERNS, these 2 perched on a rope edge of the roof of our house:

I'm not sure how this WHITE TERN chick could have behaved more hilariously.  Dance it up, buddy:

I may have eluded to some shorebirds in previous posts... here is proof that we have plenty of shorebirds on Tern Island.  Unfortunately, many of the young birds that arrive here in the fall cannot find enough food in this bleak and barren island.  There is no fresh water or mudflats here.  It's not an uncommon sight to see shorebirds unable to walk, slowly starving to death.  Here is a RUDDY TURNSTONE probably on it's last day alive:

With that said though, there ARE shorebirds that survive splendidly here on Tern Island.  These include the PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVERS.  Here is one I caught mid-blink (no, they don't always look so dopey):

This rather reptilian-looking ground-dweller (for the time being) is a young, but not yet stunning, RED-TAILED TROPICBIRD.  No, you don't want to offer your finger to this guy:

Although this is the only tropicbird species that nests on Tern Island, we did see White-tailed Tropicbird on a couple of occasions as well which was a real treat.  However, here is the same young RTTR:

One of my favorite residents here on Tern are the WEDGE-TAILED SHEARWATERS.  Flocks of these will often roost on the runway just outside our house door.  The odd moaning/wailing sound that these make at night during the breeding season is really cool (until it wakes you up in the middle of the night!).  Here are a couple shots:

Hey, in the afternoon sun, even this RED-FOOTED BOOBY wanted to nap:

Here is one of many sunset photos from Tern Island:

24 October 2010

21 Sep. 2006

Today I tried some Hawaiian snorkeling for the first time.  I mean, I lived on a remote island in Hawaii, the reef was a 1 minute walk from my door; surely there is snorkeling to be had, right?  In fact, Tern Island DOES have some interesting snorkeling around the shoal and today was our first venture into the Tiger Shark-infested water.  Ok, no, never mind, I never did see a Tiger Shark but I wanted to... from land... maybe.

Even though I am, by nature, a terrestrial boy and previous snorkeling trips never ended well, I purchased a decent set of snorkeling gear back in the lower 48 before I came.  All intentions were that I'd be snorkeling a lot!  I also had an underwater housing for my little digital camera.  Sounds like fun, right?

We didn't have to swim far before I took in water through my nose and others found some interesting fish (yeah, I caught up eventually).  I don't know the first thing about fish so show me a goldfish down there and I'd be immediately coming back up to the surface for air.  Alas, I snapped some pictures and was able to look some of them up later.

Here are a couple BLUEFIN TREVALLY:

One of the most common were the CONVICT TANG.  I think we saw these on probably every snorkeling trip:

Last and probably least... this white and orange blob/streak is a juvenile YELLOWTAIL CORIS (a type of wrasse):

Thrilling, huh?

In looking back at my underwater pictures from today, I think I'll spare you guys!  It was " hey!  Look, there's  a blob here, ooh, a rock there".  Really nothing special.

Don't worry, I played with my underwater camera housing later in the season so this won't be the last of the fish...

21 October 2010

20 Sep. 2006

This was our first whole day on the island.  Needless to say, it was another eye-opening experience being surrounded by all the raucous seabirds.  They are EVERYWHERE... nesting on your window pane, underneath the buildings, and on every piece of bush.

Down by the boathouse, the crane was lined with young RED-FOOTED BOOBIES.  Walking underneath this devious bunch is a dangerous endeavor:

Many of the seabirds show a inquisitive side... here an adult RED-FOOTED BOOBY is gliding right overhead.  Sometimes, they come and willingly land on your hand!  Holding up a stick horizontally was more popular though:

Speaking of boobies, MASKED BOOBIES are another common species nesting on Tern Island.  Here is a youngster.  If I recall correctly, it took this guy a while to finally get the hang of flying...

This is our catchment pad which collects rain water (we used this water after it was filtered via reverse osmosis, etc):

Here is one of the larger bushes near one of the buildings with BLACK NODDIES and RED-FOOTED BOOBIES either nesting or starting to nest.  Along with GREAT FRIGATEBIRDS and WHITE TERNS, these 4 species are the only ones to nest IN the bushes:

If you look carefully at this next picture, you'll see a nesting Red-tailed Tropicbird!  These are a common nester but not as abundant as the other noddies, terns, boodies, and frigates.  These always nest on the ground and usually well under a bush or building:

The WHITE TERNS here are simply amazing.  I had seen footage of these before but never in person.  These are well known for their knack of laying their egg directly on a tree branch or narrow ledge.  No nest whatsoever!  Here, one is incubating its egg on a cement ledge on our main house:

When we arrived, the SOOTY TERNS were just finishing up (I believe).  In other words, I never did see the island with the max numbers (said to be 250,000 Sooty Terns)!  Instead, we would spot them singly:

Another one of the species that come to mind when thinking about these open oceanic islands are of-course the friagatebirds.  The abundant nesting frigatebird here is the GREAT FRIGATEBIRD.  Here is one perched in classic "vampire" posture on the seawall:

**An interesting note... we found a female LESSER FRIGATEBIRD here on Tern Island later in the season.  It apparently paired with a male GREAT FRIGATEBIRD.  Pretty interesting to witness!!

Another look at the seawall along the north side of the island, you can see several BROWN and BLACK NODDIES also perched:

The BROWN NODDIES here nest only on the ground (whereas Black Noddies nest only in bushes) which makes separating them very easy.  Brown Noddies were often very tenacious in defending eggs/chicks, often diving and actually hitting you!  Here is one that is clearly not very impressed with me being so close:

20 October 2010

Start of Hawaii blog (2006)!

What better way for me to keep busy with my blog but to update it as if it were 2006!  That's right, I'm going to transport myself back 4 years ago this fall and put up photos from my stint working in NW Hawaii!

Since I actually flew to Hawaii in late September 2006, I have some catching up to do...

Let's start with 19 September 2006, the day I actually flew to Tern Island.  Of course, I had arrived in Honolulu the afternoon before.  Going to the airport the next morning before it was light, we made our preparations to make the flight on the Sarah K., our ride to the French Frigate Shoals:

Perhaps the best (but only) view I had of Honolulu was from the air as we departed for the remote NW Hawaiian islands:

And yes, apparently Hono is big enough to supply a traffic jam here and there?

I thought I recognized that white odd-shaped blob... it is of course the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor:

As we continued to skirt some of the shoreline, I snapped some pictures of the beaches I never got to visit:

Much further along in our flight to the northwest, we passed this chunk of land.  Embarrassingly, I'm not sure which island it is!

Getting closer to the French Frigate Shoals, we started seeing signs of some shallower seas:

... and sometimes those shallower seas give way to sand.  Here is Trig Island (nothing but sand above the surface) just to the east of Tern Island:

And then we finally came up on Tern Island!  This strip of land was my home for the next 3 months: 

It was such an eye-opening experience getting off the plane on this seabird paradise.  When the plane comes in for landing, all the people on the island (all 5-10 of them) go and ensure the runway is free of roosting seabirds.  You wouldn't want to peg an albatross with such a small plane!

On my first walk around on Tern Island, I snapped a picture of some seabirds.  How many species can you see and ID?

Hint... I'm seeing 4 species.

That first evening, I spent some time up on the roof enjoying the change of scenery!  What a neat place; a beautiful sunset, a warm breeze, and several inquisitive White Terns floating around: