Fully bearded and happy
Fully bearded and happy
Only a couple days left on the island. I'm trying to make the most of it. We have to get some data entered and do some cleaning, all part of the experience. I'll try to get one more post in before I depart.
We caught a couple of Burrowing Owls the other night. That make a total of 14 caught this fall. They are studying the owls because some spend the winter here and then in early spring, when mice populations are low, they eat Ashy Storm-Petrels. About 80% of the total world population of Ashy Storm-Petrels breeds on the island, so they need to keep an eye on the effect the owls are having. The amount of barring on the wing can help us tell the age of the bird, hence the following photo.
The beard's filling in nicely
Here are a few other pictures from the past couple days. The first is of a sea anemone. The low tides have been very low making it easy to check out the tide pools. There are sea stars and urchins around as well.
The last picture is of one of the Northern Saw-whet Owls we banded a couple nights ago. It roosted in the tree next to our house two days in a row. We could see it looking out one of the windows. Cute little buggers.
The other is a couple Elephant Seals fighting and making noise. Not the best but still kinda cool.
The weather has been much better, but there are still very few land birds. Only about ten days left on the island. Time has just flew by. I still have things on the island to check out, so hopefully I can squeeze it in. Oh, yeah we caught two Saweeet Owls (Saw-whet Owls) tonight. They are so awesome. I'll try to get a picture or two up.
Still smiling, though the world seems to have tilted
The California Sea Lions never shut up, barking day and night. Luckily the rocks they like to hang out on are far enough from our house that we can sleep. If they're not causing a ruckus on land, they're goofing off in the water. They hang out in groups swimming around and porpoising. Sometimes they go surfing, riding inside the waves as they break. Looks like a blast!
Some of the most ubiquitous birds on the island are the Western Gulls. They are always around, but mostly keep to the shoreline. When the conditions are right (only the gulls know) they land all over the island, seemingly picking a nesting spot. It's a bit eerie, all of the sudden there are a bunch of gulls evenly spaced around the island. By noon the next day most of them have moved back to the shore. They won't start nests for another 4 months or so.
When the do start to nest, biologists on the island will be ready to study them. The gull nests that they monitor get these addresses. I've seen hundreds of these placards around. During the nesting season the gulls become the worst neighbors around. They attack anyone near their nest by pecking and pin point aerial fecal bombs.
Many of the birds are still recovering from the earliest human inhabitats who decimated the populations of just about every organism on the island. To help them out, friendly humans have built them artificial homes. A kind of Habitat for Avianity. These boxes are for the Rhinoceros Auklets.
The cormorants (Brandt's and Pelagic) build nests made of Farallon Weed on the sides of hills. All around their nesting areas the ground is covered in stinky cormorant poo. When it rains the poo gets very slick, so you have to hop from rock to rock. This nest near the top of a small hill has quite a view.
Over all I'd say the neighborhood is pretty cool. Now we just have to keep the yuppies away.
Low Arch (because it's low)
Blowhole Point (water rushes in a cave and comes shooting out a small crack)
Rabbit Cave (deep in the bowels of the island)
Another gorgeous day (preceded by some rainy, foggy ones)