So.... this blog isn't really about bacon or bird eggs. But I do LOVE bacon (who doesn't?) and I do love bird eggs, mostly because they hatch the cutest creatures on earth -not for eating!

I'm starting this blog so that I can keep a journal of my island adventures. Last year I spent 5 months on Southeast Farallon Island working with seabirds and neglected to keep any sort of blog or journal... and I have suffered from internal guilt ever since. Maybe I'll do a Farallon Special Feature sometime between islands? Until then you will be hearing of my Tern Island tales. Tern is a tiny 30-something acre island in the middle of the Pacific in the French Frigate Shoals, which is part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument about 500ish miles northwest of O'ahu. Here's a link to a picture I didn't take (Tern is the rectangle):

12 April 2010

Alternate Blog

Since Blogspot and Tern Island's internet don't seem to play nicely, I've experimentally started up the same blog on Wordpress at Hopefully this will work as an alternate when I can't get photos to upload on Blogspot... seems to work so far!

10 April 2010

I've Got the Blues

No, I'm not about to sing a Rolling Stones song... but I am going to tell you about our latest Boat Day! In which the mighty tiny islands of Shark, East, Gin, and Little Gin were visited by six large trompling (that's my own variation of the word trampling) humanoids.
What's this got to do with the blues? Boat Day is the best day to see every shade of blue you thought existed and then more blues that you never knew could exist. The blues are so magnificently abundant that they can even be found reflecting off the clouds or the white bellies of soaring seabirds. The only thing that doesn't seem to have a hint of blue is my skin... which is currently comparable to the color of the frigatebird throats in my last post.

the not-so-safe safeboat

One of my favorite parts of visiting these island is getting to feel like a pirate. Jumping into the water, anchor in hand, simming/running/stumbling to sandy shores ready to pillage and plunder! And by pillage and plunder, I mean count critters in our bikinis and pick up trash. Cleaning service anyone?

one, two, three hundred....


Okay, so picking up marine debris isn't the most fun, but it's worth it to spend some time on the water and on some beautiful patches of sand. And of course seeing some whales on the way and jumping into the water to snorkel off pristine coral reefs with some manta rays isn't bad either. Until the assistant managers yells out, "Time to swim back to the boats NOW!" Hello shark.
Because I always seem to forget to charge my underwater camera on boat days, here's a photo of some spotted eagle rays I took from Tern's shore. And if you're wondering... yes they are.

And some more photos from East Island just for fun!

07 April 2010

Slow Internet and Expired Canned Food

Those are two things I dont love.

I've been trying to update the blog, but my latest post requires pictures and I can't get them to upload... hopefully it will happen soon.

31 March 2010

Bird Lust and Torgies

Love is in the air... and water.

Frigatebirds have been getting busy, shaking their jazz hands, puffing out their irridescent feathers, and smothering lucky pink-eye-liner wearing ladies with their bulbous red gular pouches. The result: eggs have been popping out left and right! The only down side to this event is territorial males that relentlessly whack me on the head. The upside is that there will be a whole new lineage of juvenile frigates to play grab-the-stick with!

Albatrosses that have succesfully bred have starting leaving their chicks unattended to forage at sea, bringing back a slurry of oily goop to pour down their hungry babes little gullets. As a result the chicks have morphed into the shape of heavy bottomed bowling pins, except much squishier. These little bundles of fluff are pretty fiesty in a pathetic immobile sort of way and if you hand some a twig or feather they will grab it and promptly place it in their nest bowl (with attitude) and wait for the next handout (or for you to leave them alone). I've definitely fallen in love with the curious dopey nature of the Laysan albatrosses... if you hang out too long near a group of loafing adults they just might come check you out, tug on a loose peice of clothing, dance with you, or offer to fix your wind blown hair. I experienced my first albatross preening under the barracks while banding tropicbirds. Shortly after, a second albatross walked up and offered to carry my sunglasses for me. How nice.

And of course the the boobies, terns, shearwaters, and tropicbirds are all actively partaking in the baby making as well.

So, what is a Torgy you might be wondering? It's a Turtle Orgy! Today the girls and I stumbled upon some large green sea turtles "doing it" on the beach in the surf. Two other turtles were attempting to bump the humper off with but with no success (as they were much smaller). Their lack of success may also be attributed to the dead weight of the humper, as he seemed to have fallen asleep mid-business.

The Hawaiian monk seals, also known as ʻIlio-holo-i-ka-uaua (say that ten times fast) or "dog that runs in rough water," have also been feeling the love as is evident by the large pregnant seals coming on shore... and disrupting our work (but that's okay because we love them)! This endangered species is super sensitive and needs a wide margin for it's human-free zone, so we have to sneak around very stealthily to remain undetected and to make sure we dont spook any off the island, giving them atleast 300 ft of room to be seals. Which mainly consists of sleeping, scratching, and occasionally rolling over.
*sorry to those with facebook for any repeat pictures or stories!

30 March 2010

At Last!

My first attempt at living on this hunk of coral was slightly disasterous. I arrived on the Kahana (the ship featured in Season 4 of the television series Lost - or so I'm told- cough) in December only to leave a week later due to a festering chronic appendicitis. So, here I am again, sans appendix, but with a newly aquired broken toe. I ran into a chair while running to the fridge for left over cake... is this a sign?

In December I did have just enough time to rescue a slippery sea turtle from our seawall, band some porky Black-footed Albatrosses, and band a fiesty little Bonin Petrel. Banding birds is kind of like crack for me (not that I've ever tried it, but I can imagine based on movies I've seen), so during my time back on the mainland I suffered from severe withdraws and nearly drowned in a large pool of self-pity.

I've been back now for almost 10 days and my veins are surging with tropical-birdie-island-goodness. I'll have to wait for another moment of free time to fill you in on the latest points of excitement (accompanied by choice photos if the interwebs will allow), because I've got to go get my fanny-pack ready for a night of Wedge-tailed Shearwater mark-recapture. And I've got to find my headlamp!