Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kalaulau Trail

Somehow Clare and I lucked out. The permit and weather gods all smiled on us at the same time, allowing us to complete out dream of hiking the Kalaulau Trail on the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. We had been discussing the trip for weeks, but torrential rains during December and our lack of permits for the trail, had me convinced that our chances of completing the trail were low. Permits often take weeks to get but we showed up at the State office in Lihue and got them issued to us for exactly the days we'd hoped. The weather cooperated with beautiful blue skies and killer sunsets for all three days we were on the trail. Good thing too because the trail is narrow and steep in most places and some of the sections have drop offs in excess of 500 ft to the jagged surf covered rock below!! The trail was challenging, and our days hiking were long, but it was all worth it. The sunset from the beach at the end of the trail was particularly stunning.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Bit of Vacation Time...

Aaaaahh Vacation! After 7 weeks of fieldwork I'm ready for a break. And what better place to take a break than on the wonderful island of Kauai? Add to the mix a wonderful travelling companion in Clare and you get the making for a perfect vacation. And that is exactly what it's shaping up to be. I met Clare at the airport in Honolulu after flying off of Midway the night before. It was fantastic to see her after being apart all of this time. We then flew over here to Kauai and have spent the last few days relaxing. I had a little bit of work to do at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, but now that I am finished with that we are getting psyched to head out on the Na Pali Coast to hike the amazing Kalaulau Trail. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and bring us blue skies and dry trail conditions!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sleepy Seals

If it weren't for all the sharks around this place, the life of a seal out here at Midway wouldn't be all that bad. The beaches are great for laying on, and the sunny days (when we actually get one) can't be beat. Unfortunately the sharks and the changing ecosystem out here are taking their toll on the seals. The Hawaiian Monk Seal is one of the world's most critically endangered species of marine mammal, and their numbers have been decreasing steadily.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Windy Days

The winds have been blowing hard over the last few days and the birds are loving it! I think this storm has blown a lot of birds to the atoll. The number of albatrosses on the island has increased dramatically over the last few days. Most of these birds are likely non-breeders coming back to find a mate or just dance around and flirt. Hatching time is fast approaching so some of these birds may be looking to switch out one last time before the chick arrives. Either way, it is a really dynamic time to be here!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Moonrise Midway

Incredible moonrise last night here at Midway. The birds have been really active at night lately because the moon has been soo brite. I've had to sleep with earplugs in just to get some quiet!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Shorty's Got A Girlfriend

Well, finally Midway's most famous couple are together again. Last year I got some pictures of these two dancing for the first time. Up until that point the big adult male Short-tailed Albatross has tried unsuccessfully to woo one of the life-like decoys that are set up here to lure more Short-tails in. We have seen both the male and juvenile female this year, but never in the same place at the same time, until now. They looked pretty happy today, sitting very close and preening each other. They even did some mooing for me, which is one of my favorite vocalizations in all the bird world. It is a really low, deep moo that kinda shakes your chest a little when they do it together! As far as anyone knows, this is the only courting pair of Shorties outside of Japan.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Wandering Around

I took a walk inside some of the old buildings here the other day and got some interesting shots. The military pulled out of Midway over the course of several years but still managed to leave behind a lot of things; some of it useful, and some of it just plain junk. Intertwined with some of that junk is lead paint, asbestos, pcb's etc. But there is a certain aesthetic to the way things are decaying, and the worst hazards have been contained. The old rusty bicycles are particularly interesting to photograph, especially with my flash in an old concrete warehouse.