Day Three: Taking a Hike

Another day on the Farallons! Woke up extra tired from them flea bites and freezy toes. Not the best way to get up, but I did realise at 3am, the gulls and Cassin Auklet’s were STILL at it outside. Rowdy youngsters going “Look at me!” says Russ my supervisor. I’m sure human teens can relate. You really ought to go listen to the video posted below. It’s uncanny the kind of noises these birds emit.

The morning was spent touring the island. It’s about 100 acres, so a good 10-15 min for a round the island trip. On the way to the Murre Blind we came across this:

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What could this be? Oh. It’s a chomped up Rhino Auklet. Probably a Peregrine-kill judging by the amount of feathers, and the insides of the rhino completely cleaned out. Either that or an avian pillow fight gone very very wrong.

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On the way we also pass the Monterey Pine who’s doing some horizontal dancing right there! That gives you a vague idea of the wind strength on this island.
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Also here’s our water supply for the rest of the dry season. It’s collected on a concrete slab which gulls shit all over. (Ok by then the don’t collect anymore) but it’s super filtered, UV rayed zapped so we’re doing pretty good. Except for the lead pipes.
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On the way up to the Murre Blind. Took some scenic photos, but I’ll wait ttill a slow day to post them. So Common Murres are teh most populous breeder on the island. We watch them from a blind. Here’s a huge look at 1 breeding area, and a close up.
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Look at those huge numbers. They’re crammed together like Singaporeans in a HDB Flat. (in this case, its a horizontal Murre flat). The word penguin is thought (disputed though) to be of Welsh origin, but the original penguins those sheep shaggers were trying to describe may actually have been murres. There’s a pretty good resemblance. Penguins of the north.

Some of the murres had oil splotches on their chest. Apparently, oil spills happen more often than we realise. One big oil spill every 2 years around the bay area, and the daily leaky stuff from oil refineries are even worse. When the oil removes the waterproofing from seabirds, they get hypothermia and die. If not, preening away the oil results in poisoning from the toxin in them.

Death by oil spill, or windmill, or natural gas explosion? Stuck pretty firmly between hard spaces and a rock there.

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