Monday, February 23, 2009

Staight From The Midway Jail.......



Liz scratches a sleeping Laysan on my first night. This is in my front yard.

Hi everyone. It appears that I have actually arrived, after more than a year of plotting, on Midway Island. I am writing from the island jail.....I have already gotten hammered and run amok on the tiny island populace (there are 55 people here at the moment)......well, maybe not. This used to be the island jail.....now it is known as The Empire Cafe, which offers public internet access (its not running in my house yet). I'll update this more frequently when the shock wears off and I have more convenient internet opportunities.

I dont really know where to start. This place is overwhelming.....so I'll start with the most basic thing I can think of......birds. There are birds everywhere. There is no such thing as quiet here......the sound of albatross and petrels is constant. I can hear them right now. The albatross (aka "gooney birds") make a huge (but pleasant) racket all day, and the petrels fly in from sea at night and make more noise. I like it....it has a calming effect.

Besides the numbers and the noise, the most other notable thing about the birdlife here is that most have almost no fear of people....they never evolved with people or other predators for very long, so everything is pretty trusting. Some of the migratory birds that come down from the arctic are a little more wary (Pacific Golden-Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, Wandering Tattlers, Bristle-thighed Curlews) since they have to deal with foxes, falcons, etc. when further north, but most of the wildlife and people get along fine (there is no crime here). Ive already been hit in the head by a Bonin Petrel, moved a few more that flew into some windows (they dont do very well with bright lights around), scratched a few Laysans and banded my first Black-footed Albatross chicks.....sick.



I live in a three-bedroom house with Gary (straight outta Oroville, CA), who flew in on the same plane I did. He's been birding a long time and we get along fine, so all is good there. We have a phone, and of course I forgot to write down the number for you.....oh well. We also have cable television, which I will try to avoid watching for as long as possible (the albatross are much more entertaining). Our front yard has one large native heliotrope bush, which usually has a Red-tailed Tropicbird in it....the rest of the yard is covered in Laysan Albatross nests and Bonin Petrel burrows. The "back yard" has some sort of shed and otherwise just opens up to a big field with thousands of Laysan and Black-footed albatross, and Fairy Terns are often sitting around outside the kitchen window or on the air conditioning unit to my bedroom. There are geckos and house mice that live in and around the house, and I have been warned to watch out for Giant Artery-Cutting Centipedes that I guess are pretty common out here....so far so good though.

Ok, I'll write again soon, keep it honest.



Almost everywhere you go on the island is covered with goonies. There are a lot of albatross here.

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