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PIGU diet watch!

Posted by: krm12008 | June 24, 2010 | 1 Comment |

The past few days here on the Farallones have been really foggy! We’ve also had a few visitors – a pod of at least 8 humpback whales started hanging out near the southeast side of the island yesterday and seem to have been here today as well.  Katrina describes them well – she says its like watching a fireworks show, since when they exhale, there are just spouts all over the place, and they’re constantly breaching and fluking, and again, my job is the best.

Today we started Pigeon Guillemot (PIGU) diet watch at 7am! It was a little tough getting up this morning, especially since we did Rhinocerous Auklet netting last night, but I’ve found diet watch to be one of my favorite activities, and I’m feeling more and more confident with fish identification so it’s less stressful than before.  Pete, Katrina and I got camping chairs and sat near “Garbage Gulch” (where island residents back in the 1800’s would dump their garbage into the ocean), and watched the PIGU’s fly in with fish and fly to their breeding site where their chicks were waiting to be fed.  Determining where the PIGU goes is a little easier than with the Murres because the site number is painted onto the rock, but we’re farther away so fish ID is a little more challenging.  Katrina and I only had 2 hour shifts, so we were done at 9am, replaced by Jessie and Michelle, but poor Pete had to be there all 4 hours and it was stinkin’ cold! I went back to the house afterwards, but had to come right back out to the Murre Blind to try to see more sites, and on my way brought the crew some hot chocolate.

So in summary, today I did PIGU diet watch from 7am to 9am, afterwards I went to the Murre Blind for a couple hours to watch X-plot for more eggs (or chicks, as they’re all starting to hatch! the chicks look really funny – when they’ve just hatched, their downy has this whiteish-ness to it that makes them look like they have a frosted hairdo – very 90’s), I did my daily check on the Cassin’s Auklets (more fledges today!), had a quick lunch, helped Jessie out with the Brandt’s Cormorant breeding check (looking through a scope to check out all the nests that have been constructed with Brandt’s sitting in them, and waiting for them to stand up and shuffle around to record the eggs they have, if any), then had another Diet Watch with Pete up at the Murre Blind for the Murres from 3pm – 5pm.  Today was also my day to cook dinner, so I made fried rice and a chinese dish my mom taught me that involves spinach and tofu. After dinner and dishes, we went out to do Rhinocerous Auklet netting for the 4th night in a row, and tonight I was doing data processing (which means I took a bunch of measurements on the rhinos we caught, banded new guys, and released them – which involves a little wrestling since these guys are strong, big, like to squirm, and bite hard and a lot).

So I failed to take any pictures, but I will try to tomorrow!

Pete says that though this year is an El Nino and things are always a little funky during el Nino years, but this year is especially strange that alot of bird activities are happening all at the same time, when usually they occur in a staggered time frame.  According to Pete, usually the Murre chicks and PIGU chicks don’t hatch at the same time, so its unusual that both diet watches are starting at the same time, and to have rhino netting occuring at the same time is also somewhat unusual.  Also, the Brandt’s Cormorants are behaving oddly this year – the past few years they have failed to fledge any chicks, but they are attempting again this year, but very very late (they all seem to be laying eggs this past couple of weeks), and the elephant seals are getting displaced from their usual sunning spots by the California sea lions.  All in all, it adds up to a lot of work in a short period of time, but it’s very interesting to see how all these species react to their environmental conditions (which El Nino ultimately dictates), and to each other’s activities, and especially to the other individuals in their colonies, as they tend to mirror what everyone else is doing.

That’s all for now!

Love, Kristina

Filed under: Farallon Island, News

Responses -

I hope you took some pictures of whales.
I am so glad that you are gaining more and more confidence for your job.
Everything about the nature is changing, I can’t even tell the season any more.

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