Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Moli

Moli is the Hawaiin name for the Laysan Albatross. There are over 1,000,000 of them here.

They can live up to 60 Years and mate for life

A Moli chick.

They stand about knee high, or around 2 feet. The Adults have a wingspan of over 6 feet.

The sub-adults in this video and are just practicing.

A full dance has 27 steps.

A step can be the sky point or beak clack for example.

Reproductive pairs perform all 27 steps in synchrony.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

1st Day on Midway

Back Yard........

Back Yard Detail: 2 White Terns Cuddling. (The scientific term for this is snuggling)

The front yard........

Front Yard Detail: Adult Moli feeding a chick. The adults can travel over 1,000 miles to find food for their young. They can be gone up to 2 weeks. All the while the chich sits there and waits patiently.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Guiding Momentum

Buddy in my House the day I left Arcata. He is wondering why I am up and around at 4am.

Veronica giving me a ride to the Airport, and obviously enjoying it. Couldn't wait to get the house to herself! LOL.

In transit from Arcata to Midway Atoll

Fog lingering in the Eel River watershed

Nuclear Cooling Towers and Ag Fields in the San Juaquin Valley

Crazy freeway interchange near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena

Lay-over in Cairo

Diomaond Head Peeking Through Resort Hotels and Government Housing Projects in Downtown Honolulu.

Please Stay Posted

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

life on the rocks

These are the rocks in the background of Micah and Poonam's wedding photo in the "Weduation 2009" post!

Harbor seals hauled out on a rock that is only exposed at certain tides.

Can you see the Sea Lions?

Here is a better view. You can tell they are sea lions becouse of the way they sit. Sea lions can sit back and push their body up with their front flippers. Just like the big bull in center of this pic. (You will have to click on the picture in order to enlarge it in your window to see this.)

The seals just sort of flop around.

The black and white birds are common murres. They are nesting on the rock. Common murres are members of the Auk family (like the marbled murrelet!). Here they are pictured below in a plate by John James Audubon, circa 1820.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


               After a couple of requests, I have decided to enable the comment feature on tBt. Remember to keep it short, sweet, and rated G. To make a comment look for the link below the post next to the labels. 

Please don't make me repost this a couple weeks from now after nobody has commented. Let em fly.......

Dirty Campers

               Signs like these are a common sight in the Redwoods.

               This Steller's Jay in this photo by Micah Carnahan in the Prairie Creek Redwoods has become so habituated to the human presence that he will actually approach this close looking for food.

               The common raven in this photo taken by researchers in the Prairie Creek Redwoods is wearing a back pack housing a radio transmitter. This will allow bio technicians like my cousin Micah who happens to be working on this particular project with Amy Scarpignato (project leader, and raven holder), following the ravens around with an antenna and receiver. This involves long days hiking through mysterious old-growth redwood forests looking for the android corvids, sometimes they have to camp out...(sounds rough). 

Why go through all this trouble?? 

The answer involves the Marbled Murrelet shown below in a water color by Ram Papish:

The Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a small seabird from the North Pacific. It is a member of the auk family. It nests in old-growth forests or on the ground at higher latitudes where trees cannot grow. Its habit of nesting in trees was suspected but not documented until a tree-climber found a chick in 1974 making it one of the last North American bird species to have its nest described. The Marbled Murrelet has experienced declines in their numbers since humans began logging their nest trees beginning in the latter half of the 1800s. The decline of the Marbled Murrelet and its association with old-growth forests have made it a flagship species in the forest preservation movement. (wikipedia)

Well, the listing of the Northern Spotted owl has for all intents and purposes decimated the old growth logging industry in the Pacific Northwest; nevertheless, the Marbled murrelet continues to be in decline. It is now hypothesized that increased human activity has habituated corvids to the presence of our garbage. The increased density of corvids puts pressure on the marbled murrelets in the area. By pressure, I mean:  eats their eggs and chicks. This is a problem and needs to be researched.......enter Micah and his colleagues. I hope to post more as I hear more details from their study. Cutting edge Stuff.

A couple more points:

1) The "decimating" of the old-growth logging industry was not for nothing. Please don't get that idea. The habituation of corvids to anthropogenic food sources and the implications on nest predation is an issue that could not even be addressed if the old-growth trees that the murrelets nest in are cut. 

which brings me to my next point:

2) Marbled murrelets never touch the ground. They eat, sleep, and generally take care of business out in the open ocean. They only come "on land" when they land on the lateral branches of old redwood trees to build their nests. These lateral branches can be several feet wide.     

This study system is fascinating, and typical of the politically charged atmosphere that usually surrounds human use of the planet's last remaining wild areas. 

Memorial Day BBQ

Here at tBt we are not against the troops, we're against the wars.  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Watchable WIldlife

Sometimes you don't have the opportunity to interact with or even see rare and endangered birds. These "calender birds" like the raptors and exotic neo-tropical migrants can be exciting, but hard to come by. Today though, I had to do laundry, and was invited to dinner with the Carnahans. What do you do if you have a bird watching blog, a need for cool wildlife pics, and only a half an hour or so? The answer of course is watchable wildlife. These types of creatures offer an opportunity to witness life in the wild without turning off your car radio. The red-winged blackbird holds a territory in hopes of attracting a mate. He could care less about the BIO technician stumbling around under his tree with a camera. The duck family (seen in the "waterbirds" post) is growing up in a hurry, and seems oblivious to the harsh world that awaits the ducklings when they fledge. I would encourage all of you to spend more time observing and appreciating the common animals we usually take for granted.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Kinetic Sculpture Race

               What could be cooler that a mechanical fire breathing dragon?

               A mechanical fire breathing chicken!


              And the hippypotomous.


For those of you who havn't been to the Kinetic Sculpture Race, it happens on memorial day weekend in Arcata, CA. Highlights include laps around the square, dead man's drop, a couple dozen miles of Highway 101, and an aquatic crossing of Humboldt Bay. All machines are people powered. These pics were taken during the opening ceremonies when the judges are ceremoniously bribed by the racers. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

25 Pounds

25 Pounds is the weight limit for the gear I bring with me on the flight from Honolulu to Midway atoll. I will be able to have more sent in later, but for the first week or two, I will only have what I can bring on the first flight. I have to make two things clear here. One: this weight limit is not flexible since it represents my part of the cargo capacity on a packed flight in a small aircraft going 1,200 miles over the Pacific (the distance from Oahu to Midway). Two: Midway atoll is not a deserted island, I understand there is a merchantile and a bowling ally left over from the Navy Days. This means things like shampoo and food are available, and only take up precious weight. What I have pictured here is probably pushing the 25 pounds. I plan on using a bathroom scale to test the weight. So far techy stuff like the SD-50 scope, coolpix camera, laptop, and binoculars are the heaviest part. This is a digital world after all. I will probably be wearing most of the other stuff to stay warm on the flight.................which is at night.

Why at night?

Because we will be landing on a tiny atoll that is home to hundreds of thousands of sea birds, most of whom are less active at night. This is also the same reason the plane is powered by propellors instead of jets. Use your imagination, but remember it is not their fault. The birds (like this American Goldfinch) were here first.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Countdown to May 29th, 2009

I tried to hook up a gadget that would count down the days, minutes, seconds even until I arrive on Midway Atoll. That gadget did not work for me, and produced an html error (it is not called "the COMPUTER technician"). So, let it be known that the countdown has commenced. Stay tuned........ 

Predator Avoidance

                           Picture 1: Can You See the Ca. Quail Pair?

                           Picture 2: They can See You!

                           Picture 3: Here is a better view.

Interspecific Competition

               1st Picture:   Fishing Brown Pelicans

               2nd Picture:   Partially Submerged Diving Brown Pelican

               3rd Picture:   Gull Atop the Pelican

               4th Picture:   Gull making away with the Pelican's catch

Interspecific competition, in ecology, is a form of competition in which individuals of different species vie for the same resource in an ecosystem (e.g. food or living space). The other form of competition is intraspecific competition, which involves organisms of the same species.


Parasitism is a type of symbiotic relationship between two different organisms where one organism, the parasite, takes favor from the host, sometimes for a prolonged time. 

maybe both..............You decide.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Steller's Jay is a common sight in the Pacific Northwest. My experience with the swallows the other day inspired me to go after an easier target. This jay sat there and squawked for about two minutes which gave me some time to get dialed in. The jay was sitting in the upper branch of the tree in the middle-ground of the first zoomed-out shot. I would say I was probably 40 feet away. At this distance, subtle characteristics like the pearl blue  "eyebrows" are recognizable. Speaking of recognizable, the tree is starting to look familiar to some of you. It has been featured with every perched bird on TBT except the bald eagles. 

Animals and plants named after Georg Steller include:

Steller's Eider – Vulnerable to Extinction

Steller's Jay

Steller's Sea Cow - Extinct

Steller's Sea Eagle– Vulnerable to Extinction

Steller's Sea Lion - Endangered of Becoming Extinct

Cryptochiton stelleri, the Gumboot chiton

Artemisia stelleriana, a species of wormwood



I spent an hour on the shores of Gearhart pond in the Arcata marsh trying to catch a picture of a swallow on the wing. I finally got a good pic of a tree swallow, but right before I left, I noticed the duck family that had been cruising around the whole time. I only took one shot of them, and it came out pretty well. Maybe I spent too much time going after the swallows.