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[Ashmore Trip 1] Day 8: Middle of the Ashmore Time

May 22, 2013

[This is the eighth in a series of ‘Ashmore Trip 1’ posts, essentially diary entries. Internet was unavailable at the Ashmore Reef, so they are being presented one-day-per-day now that I am back in Melbourne.]

14/04/2013

We’re about halfway through our time on Ashmore Reef – afterwards, we will head back to Broome via Cartier, Browse, and Adele Islands, sampling birds all the way.

The seabird team (myself included) was up late today – on island with the rising tide around 09:30 to avoid having a long walk in over sandflats. The trackers focused on boobies and Lesser Frigates, and I continued hunting for Common Noddies.

Sadly, day-hunting for Noddies, solo, is not my strong suit. I managed to net five over the course of the morning by stalking the edge of a sandbank, bursting over from the top and surprising birds below. This was a lot of effort per capture, and very distracting for the flock.

In the afternoon, when the Seabird Counting team was finished work for the day, we briefly tried flick-netting. Flick-netting is holding a long net between two poles, horizontal, then quickly sweeping the net up when a desired bird flies over, and pinning it to the ground. It was hugely successful: ten minutes of flick-netting secured a nice collection of Common Noddies, and two Counting Team members continued flick-netting to get me more. I now have all the Common Noddy samples I need from Middle Island. From now on, I will focus on Lesser and Black Noddies, hopefully also using flick-netting as a capture method.

We came back late, on a falling tide, and had to walk an hour or more over sandflats again. It is draining, but when we returned to the boat, the tracking team revealed that they had retrieved their first two GPS loggers from Brown Boobies. We excitedly extracted the data and put together a quick-and-dirty map of the bird’s movement patterns. It is always nice when data-collection yields data so quickly!

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