Tuesday, October 7, 2008


For a seven day period starting on September 29th we conducted the Farallonathon. PRBO has a fund raising event every fall called the Bird-a-thon. The concept is that you get people to donate a certain amount per bird species that you see in a 24 hour period. So, most people get donations, pick a day to go birding and then try to see as many species as possible to raise money for the organization. They've been doing this for 30 years. Back in 1992, the biologists out here decided to modify that idea and make it a week long and to make it involve more than just birds. The point system can get a little confusing, but it starts to make sense after a couple days. Most bird species are worth one point, but the rarest ones are worth 5 points. We also get points for the different species of whale, dolphin, pinniped, butterfly, dragonfly and fish species we observe. Shark attacks are worth 5 points. The points are not really that important. Really we just try to see as many species of everything as possible, and this time of year is usually very good for migrating birds.

Our first day was pretty good, as we had many new bird species arrive on the island. The weather was looking good for the new few days and we had high hopes for a great Farallonathon. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t quite cooperate and we had a very slow week. We did see several shark attacks, of which I saw two. The bottom line is that an average Farallonathon ends up with around 180 points and we finished with 129. The lowest total ever (the previous low was 133). We were all disappointed and cursed the National Weather Service.

Since I don’t have lots of pictures of really cool birds, I’ll just put up some that I took recently.

Elephant Seals

Black Turnstones

One day I had to go collect Brandt's Cormorant pellets from one of their breeding areas with the head biologist. They are kind of like owl pellets, undigestible parts of what they eat that are regurgitated. Unlike owl pellets, these aren't furry, they're actually kind of rubbery and usually flat. They contain fish otoliths, which are small inner ear bones that can help determine what species of fish was eaten and how old it was. Not the most exciting thing to do out here, but a new experience non the less.

Brandt's Cormorant Pellet

Good waves at sunset

Beard growth - Day 10


The Beave said...

Beard is coming in nicely.. Throwing a party tonight and just isn't the same to break out the beating schtick if you aren't around.. Having snow goose, mallard and turkey.. You'd be proud. You've got to make it out here sometime soon, though that loooks like a hell of a lot of fun.. I am jealous.. Later bud..

koko said...

why do you have two pictures of Brandt's Cormorant poop?? Although this one has a nose!!!!!!!! hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh and jajajajajjaja

Anddres, Or and Irene!!! Luv ya

koko said...

sorry about that last comment...the boys made me do it!! i fired them for it later!