Midway Weather

Saturday, May 31, 2014


This morning I saw a great sight on the way back from breakfast.  You can see three of the common bird species here next to the wood bench.  The white bird with red beak is a Tropical Bird, then the Laysan Albatross chick in front is quickly loosing the remaining duff on its head.  In the little dugout below is a barely visible Bonin Petrel chick.
It felt like quite a special experience.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A day at the office

Had to take out the clinic golf cart this morning for fuel, since the 'gas station' is open in Friday from 9-10am once a week.  It's worth getting gas whether needed or not.

The pier in the distance is the old/decommissioned fuel pier that had been built during WWII.  It was originally designed to have a slight downhill angle to the island so that fuel off loaded from the ships would go 'downhill' towards the two [4.2 million gallon] storage tanks just to the left of the picture.  With subsidence, the angle of the pier is now reversed and dips out towards the open water.  Between that, the large chunks of concrete that keep falling off and the fuel pipes completely corroded through - it was discontinued for use several years ago.

It looks like there is a monk seal in the shallows just above the back of the cart.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

North Beach Clinic

Thatched roof of 'clinic' at bottom of picture
I've spent the last week collecting various bits of bamboo and palm fronts from around the island.  Today I was finally able to cobble them all together into a shaded lean-to where I plan to hold clinic from now on.
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

unplugged night lights

A few of us went out to the end of the cargo pier last night for the forecast-ed meteor shower.  Though the meteors failed to appear, it was still delightful to be out over the water with the waves lapping at the piers.
I ended up sleeping out there and was greeted to a beautiful sunrise looking out over Eastern Island.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wastin away again in Midway

Now that the hammock is up and running, I'm trying to spend time under the pier as much as possible.  It is a delightful section of the island to get away from the noise of the generators and listen to the hiss of breaking surf on the beach.

Yesterday I woke up from a nap to find this napping endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal a few feet away.  Honestly it was his chainsaw like snoring that woke me from my slumber.  In keeping with the refuge requirements to maintain a reasonable distance from them, I had to get up and leave.

Then a dozen yards down the beach I found this sea turtle lounging in the shallows just a few feet from shore.  He poked his head out of the water for a minute to check me out, then went back to floating in the undulating waves.

Seems like a pretty nice way to have spent the afternoon in retrospect.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hat trick

Islanders have said they can expect a MEDEVAC once every 10 months on average.  Yesterday was my third in the last month.
We were informed about a patient needing to come off a military asset in the area a few days ago.  A dry goods ship enroute to Australia was diverted to pick up the sick person and steam towards Midway.  When they were just outside the reef we got underway in our own small boat and met them in the open water.  It was a blast being back inside the same boat I drove for the Coast Guard.
I kept an eye on the patient until sunset when the USCG C-130 could safely land on the bird strewn runway and transport the individual back to Honolulu.
Yours truly manning the radio
I've been asked to please stop bringing the bad juju to the island.  Folks are tired of all the late night work at the airfield.  I agree.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Suicidal petrels

I've come to both love and hate the petrels as of late.  The chicks in their burrows are incredibly cute, though the omnipresent holes restrict all cross country travel to prevent twisted ankles & crushed chicks.  
Baby petrel out in the open
The parents are few and far between during the day, and only make their island appearance at night.  At night they make quite a nuisance of themselves by flying directly into any light source.  This has predicated the use of black-out drapes over the windows at night and has taught me to not wear a headlamp.

Adult in for the evening

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Station vacation

I've been here a month already.  Last weekend I wandered through the huge trash pile in search of hammock material.
A small section of the trash yard
 I happened to find a nice section of netting and some line that looked like it might work under the old cargo pier.
Netting rigged for setup
 And at the end of a few hours, we've now got a hammock hanging just over the breaking surf for relaxing in the afternoon.

Monday, May 12, 2014

island neighbors

Curious tern saying hello
One of the other fun birds on the island is the White Tern.  They are about the size of my hand and very curious.  A few days ago I took the above picture as a couple was hovering 1-2' away from my face.  On this morning's jog I found my first chick.  They're usually difficult to find since the parents don't build a nest but instead just lay the egg on a bare branch.  This guy was about 10' off the round, laying on the branch.  Not sure if he'll survive or not.  Cute though.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Living off the fat of the plane

G-2 with Honolulu freshies

Finally got our regularly schedule plane in the other night after a 3 week hiatus [my MEDEVACs didn't bring anything good].  The next morning I got to see fresh fruit again at breakfast.  The kitchen staff told me they will serve strawberries for a couple days, then pineapples followed by melons after about a week.  Then nothing fresh for at least two weeks.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Living off the fat of the (is)land

Hard won coconut water
 We had quite the storm last night with over 40mph gusts knocking down a few trees in the rain soaked dirt.  There were also a number of coconuts knocked down, so I took the opportunity today to have my first coconut water from an actual coconut.  It took a while to split the pulp open, but was so worth it.

Laysan duck hiding in the dirt
 A few days ago one of the residents told me about the lime trees across from the office.  I took a few minutes to go harvest some citrus and was rewarded with a close encounter with one of the Laysan Ducks [only found here and one other island]

Banana trees in the foreground
 There is also a stand of banana trees that will still produce once a year, though I missed the opportunity this year.

Small citrus trees in the opening
In the clearing across from the store there are a number of struggling citrus trees that still produce a few times a year.  The kitchen staff will even make fresh grapefruit juice from the grove when they're available.  Someone also mentioned a papaya tree somewhere on the island.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Newtonian coconuts

The Deputy Reserve Manager pointed out this recently deceased adult albatross to me the other day.  It appears that it was struck and killed by a falling coconut.  Proof that life on a tropical island isn't all that care free.

Getting old[er]

White feathers starting to show on breast
 The Laysan albatross chicks are growing quickly and starting to loose their brown fuzz to reveal the true feathers below.
Not a turkey, just brutally attacked by older birds
  Unfortunately there is also about a 40% mortality rate and many of them are starting to die [difficult to witness].  There is also a very curious behavior where the older birds will mercilessly attack and pick at the young ones, occasionally completely denuding their head.

Chicks are everywhere underfoot
I'm looking forward to watching the little guys start fledging in a few weeks.  And looking forward to not needing ear plugs to sleep.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tropical Thunder [&lightening]

Storm moving in from the left

This weekend we were treated to a pretty good tropical storm with 30 MPH winds swaying the coconut palms and the occasional monsoon downpour that drummed on the roof.  I almost got caught offshore in a kayak, but was able to battle the headwind back into shore just before it got truly miserable.  At least there was some good kayak surfing on the way into the beach

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Doctor Cemetery

When I first arrived on station, a few folks told me the story of the Doctor Cemetery.  Though it sounded like a myth, I found the site after a few days of hunting.
Midway became continuously inhabited by the US Navy starting in 1903.  In the early 1900s the island physician would embalm anyone who passed away until a passing ship would take the body back to the mainland.  If the physician died, no one on station knew how to preserve the body and they were interred on the island at the cemetery.

This afternoon I took advantage of the nice weather to spend some time cleaning the tombs.