Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Very Accomadating Curlew

Another fantastic bird crossed my path over the weekend. This guy is a Bristle-thighed Curlew. They are magnificent animals, and I hope my humble image does this great bird some justice. He and four of his friends were hanging out on the beach on Sunday and they were good enough to let me photograph them. Most curlews are usually very secretive and don't let you get too close but these birds actually seemed pretty curious. Two of them even came towards me to check me out, in my hiding place behind a Sceavola bush. If you look closely you can see the wispy bristle feathers above the leg that give this species their odd name.

Red-footed Booby

Here is a shot of an absolutely incredible looking bird I came across the other day. Most Red-footed Boobies are somewhat colorful but this guy is really spectacular. He was very patient with me while I snapped away, image after image.

Midway Monsoon

We had a brutal rain storm hit the island today. It brought high winds that toppled trees and broke limbs of others. Once the winds backed off we had to go out and clear the downed barnches away from albatross nests. Although we lost several nests only one adult was killed. This is a short video of the storm, taken from the safety of our office.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dance Fever!

Wow, today was a great day here at Midway. For seven years a single male Short-tailed Albatross has been coming here during breeding season and staking out his territory waiting for a female friend to show up. Short-tails are one of the rarest albatrosses in the world and easily the most endangered seabird in the Pacific. Other Short-tails have been sighted here in the past but none have stuck around like this guy has. Well, the big fella must have dusted off his mojo because he has finally scored a lady (well, we think it's a lady anyway). A sub-adult Short-tailed Albatross was seen hanging out with him on Friday so I got a few people together and we went to the neighboring island (where he hangs out) to see if his friend was still around. We weren't prepared for what we saw. The two of them were getting into it, doing their full courtship dance for us. It went on for about twenty minutes and I was blown away. These birds are so rare that few people have seen them at a nesting colony and even fewer (a handful at most) have been fortunate enough to see their courtship dance in all it's glory.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Laysan Teal

Midway is home to the rarest species of waterfowl in the world, the Laysan Teal. Although, they may look like a hen Mallard (superficially) on closer inspection these little ducks are very striking and unique. Despite their small stature they are tough customers, often fighting with their neighbors for no real apparent reason. Up until just a few years ago this bird existed only on Laysan Island, which is several hundred miles east of Midway, towards Oahu. Fortunately, several ducks were translocated here and released. Now they are doing great. Although wetlands were not a native feature here at Midway several were created for the ducks, to provide a freshwater habitat. Now, almost any open water on the island has ducks in it and the wetlands that were created specifically for them are often overflowing with birds. The best part is, we had to trap one of them the other day to remove a radio-transmitter that it was carrying and I got to hold it! It was really great to see one up close.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Sunrise

This morning we headed over to the neighboring island before dawn to do our work. We were fortunate enough to catch an amazing sunrise. I got in a bunch of great pictures and then a rain storm moved in and soaked us! Despite getting soaked and cold in the blowing rain, the experience was fantastic because the rain was pelting us, coming out of the north while the sunrise was still gooing strong in the southeast!