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Ashmore 2: Getting into it

December 5, 2013

12/11/2013 -> ?14/11/2013

Since last update, we’ve worked two full-nights back-to-back, sleeping in the day. As I write, it is around 07:00 on the 14th.

My first impression back on Middle Island is that the place is dead. Most of the vegetation has died off. Many of the breeders have gone, leaving nearly-mature young and the bodies of chicks at a range of stages-of-development. A quick walk along the beach gained us a handful of dead birds that had been ringed on a previous visit.

We are capturing birds by spotlight: we turn off all our lights, approach, then turn all available lights on the birds, dazzling them. Most often, the birds sit still and are easy to pick up. I collected a good haul of Black and Lesser Noddies with AH, while the others targeted Boobies and Frigates for tracker deployment. Towards dawn, we carried out a group raid on a Red-footed Booby roost, netting five birds at once.

The next night, much the same. We targeted Sooty Terns and Common Noddies, and picked up a few more Lesser Noddies, then changed to focus on Frigatebirds and, near dawn, Red-footed Boobies.

The sudden change to night-work is a little odd. Towards 02:00, it seemed a very good idea to write names on the shells of the massively-abundant hermit crabs, and see where they ended up. Now, around thirty named hermit crabs are running around Middle Island, happily tucking into beach-cast seabirds. Given that the crabs are mainly named after lab-mates and members of faculty, this is somewhat macabre.

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From → Scientist

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