Beginnings and Endings

July 23 – August 5
John Vetter

 As my time on Laysan winds down to its last couple of weeks, a new cycle of breeding is beginning for the Millerbirds—their third since they were brought to Laysan from Nihoa just eleven months ago.  Two active nests are in incubation, and a few more pairs might be looking to breed again as well.  For me, this is somewhat bittersweet, as I will not be around to see many of these nests fledge, but, it is a great feeling knowing that the birds have already had a very successful season and seem intent on reclaiming the island as their home as quickly as possible.  I hope that by the next time I write, they will be joined by another eager group of birds from the second translocation effort from Nihoa, which will be getting underway very soon.     

 Our ‘Resight of the Week’ feature seems to be increasingly awarded to female Millerbirds, and this week is no different, with female Bk/S, B/O (Black over Silver bands on left leg; Blue over Orange on right leg) deciding to show up right in the middle of her territory on a few different occasions.  Where she has been for the previous 50 days, only she knows.  I also have to mention the previous recipient, O/W, O/S, since she was once again observed (rare times indeed), and this time she was making her way to her nest to relieve the male of incubation duties. 

 Most of the Albatrosses have left, and the island has begun to feel a little empty.  As some of the most numerous, largest, and most charismatic birds on the island, they tend to dominate the attention while they are here.  Luckily, we still have the Brown Noddies.  Also one of the more numerous species on the island, they show little fear of anything, even attacking the much larger and fearsome Great Frigatebirds.  Now, we have little Brown Noddy chicks roaming around camp, investigating every little nook and cranny.  With quite a bit of charisma themselves, these little guys are a pleasure to watch grow, as they perfect the “Noddy foot stare:” gazing straight down at their feet as if to make sure they’re both still there.  Another highlight of the period has been finding the first Wedge-tailed Shearwater chicks of the season, though, undoubtedly many, many more are to come.   

 On the shorebird front, we still have the main four species: Pacific Golden Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Wandering Tattler, and Bristle-thighed Curlew, with individuals over-summering; no new migrants have arrived as of yet.  We might still be a month or so away from the influx of rare and noteworthy shorebird sightings. 

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