Missed Blog 1? You can find it here.
Headed out this morning at 5am with high hopes – we caught 10 rufous fantails by 8am yesterday morning! Unfortunately the morning was cut short – squalls. Left at 5am only to drive into a gully-washer, then a steady rain. Yesterday morning we actually had to bail early only because US troops were staging a military practice exercise on the runways near our sites (no ammunition!), so we were politely asked to vacate by 8:30am to avoid being part of the mission.
Image 1: Sunrise over a WWII airstrip near the bird trapping site.
We have a total of 31 fantails in holding so far, with a goal of 48 and a need for a few extras in case some of them don’t gain weight in holding – we want only the healthiest, less stressed birds to go to Sarigan. New site, new island for me – Herb and Peter scouted an old site they used in 2010, and this fresh team picked out sites to put up our nets and place a bird processing base camp.
Image 2: Ken Reininger, General Curator, NC Zoo, finishes setup of one of the net lanes. This net is furled, and when open will reach approximately 4m high and 12m long.
Image 3: Herb Roberts removing a bridled white-eye from the net with Sandy Wilson, DVM, Sedgwick Co. Zoo, observing. This species has already been translocated, so we immediately release “incidental captures” at the net sites after recording date, net, time, and species in the records. (Photo by Kim Kessler, Zookeeper, Honolulu Zoo)
Image 4: Taking my first rufous fantail out of the net for the season! The birds hit the net and gently fall into 1 of 4 pockets created by trammels running along the length of the net. The “mist nets” are so fine that they are hard for the birds to see. I’ve walked into them myself! (Photo by K. Kessler)
At the bird processing station, rufous fantails are banded and other metrics taken, then placed in a transport box and fed flies in the field before being transported back to the holding room at the hotel. Tinian monarchs are only held in the field for a few minutes and the first fecal is collected for a stress hormone study being conducted by Disney.
Image 5: The bird processing station – in this photo I am blowing on a fantail to look for fat deposits and general body condition with the aid of Joe Smith, DVM, Ft. Wayne Children’s Zoo.
Image 6: The monarchs are so curious! They come down and investigate what we are doing, and in this case we had one that just hung out in the box for a little while after being given the green light to fly off. Eventually he shot out, landed above the camp, and scolded at us! (Photo by J. Smith)
We have our first CNMI intern! Shirley Taitano is a natural resources management student at Northern Marianas College in Saipan, and she joined us for a week in Tinian to participate in all aspects of the MAC Program – field work, husbandry, prepping for translocation, and the hours of brainstorming we do… She has proven to be a quick study and an invaluable asset to the program this year.
Image 7: Shirley Taitano, MAC Intern, extracts her first Tinian monarch! (Photo by J. Smith)
Hoping for dryer weather for the duration… it’s been a little “iffy” the entire trip. Between the weather, the rustic accommodations, and the booney bees (little wasps that leave their mark!), we are up for the challenges! I’ll fill you in about fly-trapping for the fantails another day… with the forewarning that flies like decay…
Image 8: Herb takes one for the team on the way back from the field – only so many dry seats available! (Photo by K. Kessler)
Image 9: A juvenile Micronesian starling watches the action from a safe distance.