20 December 2010

December, 2006

With the onset of December 2006, I realized that I'd be leaving Hawaii in just 3 weeks.  I got back into the photographing mood and let loose.  Here are some photos from my last 3 weeks on Tern Island:

If you've ever wondered, yes, Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses can and do hybridize (although quite infrequently).  Here is a hybrid bird that, as you can see, shows characteristics of both parents.  The interesting thing was that this bird couldn't "dance" correctly.  Since both species have species-specific dances, this bird never paired or mated:

A nonbreeding RUDDY TURNSTONE on some rocks (these guys only winter in Hawaii):

Adult breeding RED-FOOTED BOOBIES:

They're called RED-FOOTED BOOBY for a reason... here are two:

RED-FOOTED BOOBIES come in two different color morphs.  The more uncommon morph here in Hawaii is this creamy brown-morph:

A typical view of a WHITE TERN coming in and hovering near my head:

A BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS coming in to land at dusk:

This time of year the GREAT FRIGATEBIRDS are starting to think about pairing.  This male has started to inflate the red neck airsac (used for displaying):

Here is a typical view of some shorebirds (two RUDDY TURNSTONES on the left with a SANDERLING on the right):

Still a crowd-pleaser, the palest of the island inhabitants, a WHITE TERN:

Here is a close-up of a BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS.  Note the scruffy feathers on the top of the crown... we marked each individual bird (for resighting purposes) on the head with dark nail polish!  This way, we can see which birds we've resighted and which are new to the island:

Being this tame, it wasn't hard to stand over this adult breeding MASKED BOOBY and snap a picture:

Ever see the sparkle in a LAYSAN ALBATROSS eye?  Now you have:

I'm not sure if I've posted many pictures of RED-TAILED TROPICBIRDS, but here is one either on a nest or chick:

These birds are rather stunning in flight, even at a distance:

Here is a typical view of a BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS in flight.  Not too many birds have such long wings:

 I snapped this picture of a BONIN PETREL (BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS in the background) on one of my last nights on Tern Island.  This was about 10 feet from our front door:

Then came the day that I was to be flown back to civilization (Honolulu).  The flight came in without incident and before long, we were on-board and flying off the island!  Being back in civilization was quite an odd experience!  For example, I hadn't seen a car in 3 months.  I had also been on an island with the same 5-10 people for 3 months!  I didn't have much time to sight-see around but I couldn't help myself from taking a picture of this SPOTTED DOVE as I waited at the airport in Honolulu!

Another dove I photographed outside the airport was this ZEBRA DOVE:

I will try to put one more post together someday showing some random movie clips from the last 3 months in Hawaii.  Stay tuned.

12 December 2010

All of November!

I still haven't caught up to December 2006... so this post will summarize the entire month of November from Tern Island!

Unfortunately, I had been on Tern for long enough that perhaps I didn't take pictures of everyday life as often.  

The White Terns were still around though, including this pair in the evening light:

Here is a parent incubating its egg.  Note that former volunteers created a little clay/mud cup to help secure the egg.  Since White Terns lay their single egg on a bare branch or concrete, many roll right off:

A bird that doesn't belong on Tern Island was this CATTLE EGRET that showed up.  The seabirds constantly mobbed this thing though (which is a good thing since Cattle Egrets will eat chicks and eggs):

As I mentioned before, the albatrosses have come back in force now.  Here is a BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS stretching its wings.  It may be hard to imagine this... but that wing span is about 7 feet wide:

Watching albatrosses "dance" is really quite the neat experience.  Dancing is a big part of their pairing rituals.  If a bird doesn't dance, it doesn't mate.  For years I had seen footage like this on BBC shows and such... but now I could sit and watch this for myself:

The LAYSAN ALBATROSSES are back now as well.  They are slightly smaller with smaller bills, paler breast and head, and pale bills.  Here is a pair, obviously quite fond of each other:

If I haven't mentioned it before, the seabirds here are fearless.  Not only did I get hit in the head a couple times by passing albatrosses that were unaware of how big their wings really were, but I could snap a picture of birds and only get a responsive stare:

Maybe it was the fact that I had been on Tern Island for over a month or two by now, or maybe I just wanted a picture that LOOKED like I lived in a place with trees.  Here is a sunset shot including one of the few trees on the island (and some bushes on the right):

 Likewise, it was then that I started taking more abstract photos, including this one in my bedroom:

In the previous post I mentioned Tristram's Storm-Petrels and how they nest in burrows and boxes here on Tern.  Well, part of our work was to monitor all the nest burrows on the island.  How do you do that?  Well, with the night-vision burrow-cam, of course!  Here I am sticking this narrow, tube-like camera down a burrow while watching on a special set of monitor-glasses (with my head in a pillow case so that I  can see).  As I sat there moving this camera further and further in, all I would see is a black-and-white image of what the camera was seeing.  If we were lucky, I'd hold the camera steady and there in the back of the burrow would be a bird incubating an egg or even a chick!  This was likely my favorite work activity on Tern: