Sunday, October 28, 2007

Time on the Island - Day 6

Well, it's almost been a week. The days have flown by, but I've seen so many cool things that it feels like I've been here a month. Some kind of weird rip in the space-time continum where time goes slow and fast at the same time. Today was a perfect example of that. This morning I saw a White Shark eating a seal. Then, in the afternoon I saw a Gray Whale (my first ever). In the evening I saw 5 species of shearwater, a type of seabird (Buller's, Sooty, Pink-footed, Flesh-footed, and Short-tailed, for those who care). Finally, this evening I heard Cassin's Auklets singing (a small seabird that breeds on the island). It's just one thing after another, and before you know it, the day's over. Once you start to think about all that has happened, you can't believe all of it happened in one day. Surely some of it must have happened the day before? Go ahead, check your notebook, it's all there under 10/28. I guess time moves faster in the present than it does in your memories.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Spirits High - Day 1

I finally made it to Southeast Farallon Island on Oct. 22 after being delayed for two days due to rough seas. I arrived on the Superfish, a boat that takes people out to the island to see sharks. They were kind enough to let me (and two other biologists) hitch a ride out. The trip was fairly smooth and I even saw a few seabirds. To actually set foot onto the island you have to hop onto a smaller boat, which they lower down from the island to the water with a crane. You then motor back and the whole boat gets plucked out of the water and deposited on land.

After moving all of our gear to the PRBO house (one of two houses on the island) I was ready to bird. The weather had been favorable for birds to be on the island. During fall migration birds can get lost or blown off course, and if they are near the island they will take refuge here. Over the past 40 years they have recorded over 400 species on the island. Not bad for an island with only 4 trees! On SEFI (as it's abbreviated) you must expect the unexpected. On my first day I saw a Baltimore Oriole (a bird of the Eastern US) and a Northern Saw-whet Owl (a bird of deep forests) among others.

After an exciting day of travel and birding, we sat down to a communal meal and recorded all of the days birds in the journal. We had an amazing sunset (I saw a green fizzle) and I was a happy man.