Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lizard King

The blur that has been my Hawaiian vacation is nearly over.  Tomorrow I will come home.  You can all see me in real life once again.  I will be signing autographs at the Oakland airport upon arrival tomorrow night.  

Being a non-native to Hawaii, I can relate to the lizards that have found their way here.  They're mostly very handsome and funny.  And for the most part they are destructive.  This first guy has a bad reputation for eating the native geckos and many people kill them on sight.It's a tough life for a gecko on Hawaii, if you're native or not.

Madagascar Green Gecko, I think is what this is called.

As far as I can tell, this is a Brown-tailed Copper-striped Skink.  But I could be wrong.  I need to check with an expert.  Amy, please tell me what this is.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gnar Shredder

Hi. My name is Dan and I like to make Maximum Coolness happen in my life.  You may have heard about this in the past.  I just want you to know that it's still going on.  I got one life bird today, shredded hecka Gnar, ate my first Loco Moco, and basically just kept Maximum Coolness around me at all times.  Tomorrow is the last full Hawaii day left to me, so I have to make it count.  Should be sick.  Anyone have anything I should be sure to do before leaving?

Somehow, this is the only photo I ended up with of the coot.  I must have been so overwhelmed with the majesty of the Hawaiian Coot to remember to get photos.
Can you believe the size of the Gnar that is being shredded right here?  It's facemelting.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spicy Tanagers

If Wikipedia can be believed, Saffron finches are not really finches at all.  They're tanagers.  Saffron Tanager doesn't sound as good as Saffron Finch, but for accuracy maybe we should change the name.  They do look a lot like our Western Tanagers actually.  In any case, they're one of my favorite terrible species here in Hawaii.  In other words, I would probably exterminate them long after Northern Cardinals or House Sparrows.  Why are they called Saffron?  The color?  Or do they taste super good?  Saffron does not cost as much as gold, by the way.  That's just an urban legend.  I think it's pretty expensive, but nowhere near gold price.  I am currently in a heated Portuguese Horseshoes game and must leave.

This was the flashiest one I saw today.

This really reminds me of Hoth.  But it's really just the top of Mauna Kea.  There are Imperial Walkers up there. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Birding Is Good For Your Skin

Beach day on Hawaii.  Big surprise.  I birded a little bit and saw some golden plovers, a tattler, and black-crowned night heron.  Nothing cray.  I did swim a bunch with a turtle.  It turns out I still have special sea-turtle spiritual powers.  Well, I just got back from the sunset over beach sixty-nine on Kona side.  Real pretty.  We are gonna eat pizza now.  Aloha.

This is from yesterday.  I know it's just a Skylark, but it was my first.  They sing pretty.

Sultry Sam hooping at sunset.  Legit.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sweet Tea

Don't you love that feeling at the end of a really long day when your ass finally hits the couch, and the weight comes off your feet and your body gets kind of tingly all over because it knows it's finally getting a break?  Well, I would be feeling that right now if I didn't have to break my back to write TPAD for all of you ravenous readers.  Today was mostly driving the Mustang around the entire island.  Mauna Kea, Kilauea, and beyond.  It was an epic voyage.  On Oscar Johnson's advice I hit up the Pu'u O'o trail to see some forest birds that I haven't seen yet.  I bagged a few in about fifteen minutes before it started pissing down rain on us.  Then I had to leave.  K, Ima go get that tingly, relaxed feeling now.

Hawaiian Elepaio.  I was expecting a flashier version of this guy, and I'm still not fully convinced that I've identified it correctly.

I'iwi.  I've been pretty horny for one of these.  I saw two today and am very proud.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We Are Incredibly Good Looking

I was all up in hella boats today.  Super fun.  We all got on a snorkeling trip out to a neat reef outside Kona.  I saw a bunch of fishes that I remember from Midway snorkeling, and a few things that I had been trying to see out there but never did.  My personal fish of the day was a the Longnose Butterflyfish.  I really like butterfly fish.  I had already seen lots of "Forcepsfish", which were nice, but the Longnose has a hella hella long nose and is a bit cooler.  After the snorkeling, we saw a big Manta from the boat.  Also cool.  After that, it was time for boat #2 of the day.  We went for a sunset sailing cruise with Papa Konane for a few hours.  If you want to know what it was like, watch this:


Papa K. is a friend from back home.  He's from here, but he went to the Brushwood Olympics last year up in Angels Camp, and he decided to show us around on his sailboat here in Kona.  During the sail, I saw only one bird.  A Glaucous-winged Gull.  This was the first gull I have seen in over three months, so I was pretty stoked.  Tomorrow, I will finally surf in Hawaii for the first time.  Ima shred the gnar.  

Papa Konane teaching me the art of sailing.

Samantha pinching the sun.  Or half of it anyway.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Whatever You Want

Today:  Birding, parasailing, beach party sesh, dinner.  It was totes legitimate.  As far as the birding went, I only saw more of te same.  It was crazy how many of these Apapane I saw again.  Probably over 100 today.  I had no idea there were flocks of these guys around, but there are hella.  Today I was really trying for a Hawaiian Hawk, but none materialized.  Major bummer.  

I got a better photo of an Apapane today, so I thought I'd do a repeat today(something rarely done on TPAD) .
Quiz bird anyone?  It's pretty easy I guess.  Anyway, I only kept the photo because I thought the sand looked cool.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hawaiian Birds Are Good, But Hard To Come By

I spent most of the day in grocery stores.  It was pretty fun.  No surfing or snorkeling or trips to the beach or anything.  Just some good old fashioned shopping for food.  Well, actually, I have to admit to getting out early and doing some legitimate birdwatching while everyone else was still asleep.  I rolled up Hualalai in the Mustang and got up into some nice habitat.  As soon as I was in decent habitat I started seeing tons of little red and yellow birds (AKA Lifers).

This handsome little devil is called Apapane.  This was the commonest bird this morning.  I saw about 60 or so on a 5 mile drive.

I have trouble with this one.  I originally thought it was a Hawaiian Amakihi, but a leading expert in this field assures me it is an Anianiau.  Ok, I just decided to look it up, and Anianiau only occur on Kauai.  This is an Amakihi I guess.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I'm Having Trouble Letting Go: The Midway Thai Exposed

Today was more of a recovery day here in Kona.  I mostly just took it easy, after two days full of action.  My little sister Kayla and her boyfriend Jermelstein Hairhole arrived from Angels Camp and we got ourselves a sweet Mustang to cruise around the island over the next 10 days.  

All of this is secondary to my real reason for writing you tonight.  What I really wanna talk about are a few of my friends back on Midway.  I said goodbye to a few awesome gangstas, and I need to immortalize them in the pages of TPAD.  Part One includes a short profile of two friends I made during my stay out there.

This is Ae2.  He had to add the 2 because there was already a guy named Ae out here when he arrived.  He is the backbone of the Chugach band, as well as a lead-paint removal specialist.  He is a poor cook.  His statistics:

Name: Ae
Nickname: Ae2
Age: 49
Favorite Color: Whole rainbow
If you could be any animal: Tiger, because it's the #1 animal in the wild.  They kill only for food, and not out of anger.

Apiwat is often called "Art" by non-Thais because his nickname sounds a lot like Art.  Imagine how annoying that would be.

Name: Apiwat
Nickname: Aud
Age: 50
Favorite Color: Black (dark black)
If you could be any animal: Dog, because they are honest. (To the side, a third party named Tum said "naw, he likes dog cause it's tasty")

Sunday, February 19, 2012

More More More.

The epic vagrant wave continued in Kona today.  They were still dripping out of the trees when I woke up today.  I documented a few of these beauties and then Brother Jesse and crew rolled out to the golf course for a very legitimate round of golf.  I won the longest drive contest and tied in the closest to the pin contest, taking home literally several dollars.  Here are the guys I saw around Jesse's yard this morning:

Barred Dove, showing nicely.  This was of course a life bird.

These are Java Finches.  They hecka pretty.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Asian Vagrants

I arrived on the Big Island this morning and was greeted at the airport by my big bro Jesse.  Since then, we've just been living the Good Life all day.  We've been playing darts, Portuguese horseshoes, and beach football all day.  Oh, and birding.  Urban style.  You wouldn't believe the number of vagrants that you can find here.  They're straight up common.  Tons of Asian vagrants everywhere.  This place is way better than Adak or even Attu.  Until tomorrow, this is Handsome Dan signing off.

Yellow-billed Cardinal.  A South-American vagrant.  The birding is so good here that these are common yard birds anywhere you go.

Japanese White-eye.  Just one of many Asian vagrants seen today in Kona.  Holla.  BTW, doesn't this bird look fake?  It's not.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cities Are Weird. There Are No Goonies.

Honolulu makes me tired.  I am currently operating from a bunk bed in Waikiki.  I went to sleep too late last night, and then I woke up too early this morning.  Most of my day was occupied with finding a bed in this hostel near Waikiki Beach.  I guess there must be a big weekend planned here because everything is hella booked.  I walked around town for a few hours, had some good food, and feasted my eyes on beautiful exotic birds like Red-crested Cardinal and Zebra Dove.  Seeing these birds makes one's heart ache for the comfort of a million goonybirds.  Since this is the last time I'll be able to post goonies for a while, today's TPAD is dedicated to them.

So much better than Red-crested Cardinal or Red-vented Bulbul.

I relocated the most recent Short-tailed Albatross yesterday.  We hadn't seen her in at least a week, so it was nice to get one more look.  I think she just wanted to say goodbye.  Or maybe Aloha.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Bags Are Packed And I'm Ready To Go

TPAD comes to you today amidst my last minute packing sesh.  I got up early to look for Sooty Terns and baby white albatrosses.  I failed to find the terns, but the whiteys were hella easy to find.  Now I'm packing up my pelican case and cleaning this cinder block room that has been my home for the winter.  In a few hours I will say goodbye to a lot of very special people who have been nothing but amazing during my stay.  I will say goodbye to millions of birds who will not even notice I'm gone.  I will be sad.  I will probably cry like a baby, but in a manly way too.  Please tune in to TPAD tomorrow to find out what's really going on in Honolulu.

This is an albino Laysan Albatross chick.  There are a few hatched every year on Midway.  Neither of this bird's parents are albinos.  They just carry the gene and pass it along to their chicks.  In fact, there is an albino born nearly every year at this same exact location.

This is a shot I've been meaning to get for a long time, and today was my last chance.  This is how albatross deal with waste removal.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Running Out Of Time

I spent my final day on Eastern Island.  I found no new birds, but had a nice time doing my last Laysan Duck survey.  I found 35 ducks, and read 15 of their color bands.  I also found a mini glass ball at the beach.  Great success.  By my count I have about 26 hours left on Midway.  I'm scared.  The Real World is so big and fast.  I'm not sure that I'm ready.  

Sunrise over Eastern Island.

I found this Red-tailed Tropicbird yelling from the bushes outside the boathouse.   He hella sexy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vee Day

At soccer tonight, the Thais played for twice the normal time.  Again, I was nearly brought to my grave by such enormous physical strain.  Now I'm back at home, unwinding, trying to get another TPAD up before dozing off.  I also have to start packing up all my crud, do laundry, buy t-shirts for my family, etc.  It's just so overwhelming.  Life is tough out here, ya know?

For work today, after monitoring our reproduction plots, we gave a banding demonstration for the Pacific Seabird Group, who are spending a week out here.  Then we passed out some banding kits to them, so now they can go around the island and replace old worn bands that need to be swapped out.  See, back in the day they used to band albatross with aluminum bands.  These were nice cause aluminum is really soft and nice to work with, so the banding was super easy.  The problem with these bands is that they wear easily.   After about twenty years or so you can no longer read them.  This is a problem for birds that can live to be sixty or more years old.  Also, they can spread open, fall off, or get caught in things like fishing nets.  So nowadays, we try to find them all and replace them with the much more durable stainless steel bands.

In closing, I'd like to wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day.  I hope you are all spending it with someone special.  Mahalo.

I decided that if I couldn't have my valentine with me today, this little guy should fill in.  This is the only Fairy Tern chick I've seen during my stay out here.  Almost as cute as my real valentine.  The tiny branch you see him perched on is where his mother lays the egg, incubates it, broods her chick and everything.  It's some sort of miracle that it never falls off through all of this.  Amazing.

A much more traditional nesting strategy:  Hide in a clump of plants and build a cup out of sticks.  This Canary chose a potted plant in front of one of the Thai houses.  Much safer than a bare two inch limb.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Last Days

Today was another Eastern island day.  Possibly the last I'll get.  My eyes were frantically searching the skies today for sooty/gray-backed terns.  I was eagerly scanning every beach for any sign of a gull or perhaps a new shorebird.  Instead, I got some great looks at a wide variety of Great Frigatebird plumages, a good Masked Booby show, and the continuing Black-bellied Plover.  All in all, a good day.  I hope to make it over there for one more trip on Wednesday, but the weather may be too rough for the boat to cross.  Felonious Jive has assured me that Eastern is my best shot at getting another bird before I leave on Thursday.

We still have vagrants on the island.  Here is one of the pintails that has survived the winter.  I would give my left eye to know exactly what happens to these guys when the urge sets in to head back up north. Can't help but wonder if some of them make it.

Here is a Cattle Egret that has very recently fledged from the nest.  Cattle Egrets mostly breed in the short shrubs around the perimeter of the islands.  They're a pretty bad problem for the native birds, as they like to eat eggs.  At one point a few years ago, they had the population down to about 10 birds.  Now, I'd guess it's more like 110.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Not All The Eggs Hatch

So, I thought I'd take this time to answer some mail that I received a while back:

Hi Dan,

I saw that you are running low on blog topics. I have a couple thoughts:

Not all the eggs hatch. What happens to them?

I enjoy your observations,

Jill - one of the bird counters

Well Jill, thanks for writing.  I'm glad you brought that topic up.   I've been meaning to shed some light on this story for a long time.  See, there are many reasons for an egg not to hatch.  It might be un-fertilized from the get go.  It might get cold at some point during the incubation period.  Maybe it gets a tiny crack in the shell and can't survive.  Whatever the case, we are left with thousands of eggs that do not turn into chicks.  This is a very valuable resource to island residents, since there are no chickens allowed on Midway.  For the most part, this is what happens to them:

Not all of them are fried over medium like these.  Some of them become omelettes or go into fresh-baked cakes.  You get the idea.

On a side note, this is mostly what happened last night.  Sports bra.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Over Raged?

I just got back from a little whiskeydrinkin with the one they call Miller.  He taught me that making moonshine is both fun and good for you.  Tonight there is a 70s party being thrown in my honor.  I have once again given myself a hella sexy moustache on my face.  God it looks good.  I'm going to have to fight off hordes of women demanding to ride on it.  Should be a wild night.  There is also a fridge full of jello shots in the kitchen.  When is the last time any of you had a jello shot?  I'm pretty sure I wasn't able to grow a moustache the last time I had one.  By the way, I was wondering.  Has TPAD been giving the impression that all I do is rage?  Is there too much Rage Content on TPAD?  Do you people want more birds, or science, or history or something like that?  Please let me know.  I'm a bit concerned.

This chick is ready to rage.  She's pretty much hammered drunk, screaming "I'm wearing a sports bra and I don't give a FUUUUCK!".

I'm pretty much the same as the chick above.  Same caption.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Well, shee-it.  Ain't much goin on round here.  I done went round the island today and did some stuff with the birds and shit.  I seen a dolphin.  I seen a Noddy.  Them Noddies be buildin' nests right now.  They grabbin hella shit off the ground and flyin it up to their trees.  Purty sick.  Hell, I'm feelin' purty hungry, Ima go eat some shit now.  Later y'all.

I seen me some Spinner Dolphins today down off the cargo pier.  I ain't never seen no dolphins down there before.  Purty cool.

Y'all a wanna twig?  I done found this'n.  I ain't gon' need it no more.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hunger Is No Game

Hunger Games. The book that is sweeping the nation.  I'm about done with the first one.  Who comes up with this sadistic shit?  I have read about a twelve year old girl being impaled by a spear, a sixteen year old girl stung by killing insects, neck-snapping, poisoning, etc.  All being done to little kids.  And this is the most popular book in the world, as far as I can tell.  Why do people get off reading about kids maiming and killing each other?  It's just sick.  Of course, the book is great, and I can't put it down.  But that's beside the point.  

Annie One-sock and I spent the day mapping all of the albatross plots that we surveyed this season.  Things are winding down to the finish line, and I can feel the end of my Midway days bearing down on me.  It has been an amazing time, and I'm ready to pass the torch on to the next lucky group of goony wranglers.

God Rays shining down on the old sunken water barge this morning.   Plus, a billion albatross flying around the atoll.

This is also art.  It demonstrates the incongruity between Man and Nature.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


It seems as though there is a party being thrown for me (and the other 3 volunteers) every single night between now and when I leave Midway in a week.  You all know what that means...SEVEN NIGHTS OF RAGE!  God that sounds awesome.  Raging is such a fun activity.  If you are reading this, I assume you participate in raging events regularly.  If you do not, may I recommend that you go sit down, look deep inside yourself, and think about your life.  Unless you have a pre-existing health condition which prohibits raging, I'm pretty sure you should be doing it as often as possible.  If you don't believe me, just ask any person who has attended graduate school at Duke University.  They will tell you the same thing, and they are the upper echelon of the future of our great nation.  That being said, I'll never forgive any of those same Dukies for leaving me all alone on a desert island with nobody left to really rage with (see photo below).  Mahalo.

Yep, this is how I feel.

Here's a trick I learned in photography class last night.  use water in your photos.  Water droplets turn photographs into art.  It's just the same as black & white.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Conservation Photography Lessons

Sorry TPAD is up so late tonight.  I had lots to do after work today.  Dinner, soccer, and then a photography presentation.  Don't worry, you should all be stoked.  Now that I've taken a photography lesson, all my shit is gonna look hella good.  After tonight, no more sub par shots from me.  It's all about the magazine covers from now on.  Ima be rolling in the dough as a professional conservation photographer.  Congratulate me.

Peekaboo.  I bet it smells bad down there.
What should be done with all of Midway's Canaries?  Release cats on the island to control the population?  Open Canary hunting season for kids with BB guns?  In any case, can we agree that they should all be destroyed?  (much like the Velociraptors of Jurassic Park)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Horse Whisperer? Pshaw.

Have you guys ever heard of Buck?  He's a real-life horse whisperer.  They made a movie about him called... Buck.  Original name, I know.  I watched this movie and liked it, except for the part where Buck totally couldn't help this one horse and just recommended that he be put down.  Super cowardly.  It was shocking, really.  I mean, this whole movie was about how amazing Buck was at taming bad horses.  It kept building up how Buck was just the shit.  Then they bring in this one crazy horse and Buck doesn't do jack squat.  Life is full of disappointment, kids.  For example, today was another disappointing day on Midway, because zero new birds showed up.  

Anyway, aside from watching movies, I also looked at some birds.  One of them is hella rare, but you've all seen it on TPAD before.  Here goes.

Gray-tailed Tattler.  Ass-end view.  I should put a little caption box out of his mouth saying "tooWEET".  Then he would be identifiable.

Cute?  Not cute?  Vote on it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Superbowl was horrible.  Niners shoulda been there.  L.I.P.  I got out of the house for a good little while today.  Which was good.  Annie One-sock pounded on my bedroom door and forced me to go for a morning bike ride.  Thank you Ann.  The rest of the day was mostly superbowl.  Yawn.  The halftime show was exciting though.  It really was one of the dumbest things I've seen since Bush was president.  It's astounding that millions of people watch that shit.  And apparently I'm one of them.  Well, Happy Superbowl, loyal listeners.  Mahalo.

Fairy Terns are just like Elephant Seals.  If you run out of things to take photos of, just shoot the Fairy Terns.  Guranteed success.

Annie One-sock is by far the best swimmer alive today.  Here, she gives a suspicious Great Frigatebird the stink eye.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bedridden State

I got myself hella hungover again today.  It was a rough one.  Very little outside time.  Very much watching movies in bed time.  Pretty much wasting my life away all day.  Please don't judge me.  I am still waiting for a new bird to show up before I leave.  It didn't happen today.  

A new life enters the world.  Such a beautiful sight to behold.

This photo is inspired by the Twilight series.  Team Jacob!