Everyday each person on the island takes a two hour shift at the lighthouse in order to watch for great white shark attacks. Almost everyday there are a couple of boats around the island also looking for sharks, some are research boats, others are cage divers (people pay 800+ to come out and get in a cage and attempt to see a shark). Both of these types of boats are permitted to drag decoys (seal shaped neoprene figures) as a way to bring in sharks, and apparently they work because two days ago there were a few attacks on the decoys, as well as one true attack.
I didn't get a good look at this seal attack, but this is what you look for
Here's one from a decoy attack, which ended up just being a bit of trashing, but the people on the boats below LOVE it, and were cheering so loudly we could hear them from the lighthouse
Yesterday Jim and I headed over to the West End island which is normally off limits as it is where the pinnipeds hang out and we don't want to disturb them for the most part. However, every two weeks or so Jim goes there to get a count on the different species. Everyday we get to see the Elephant Seals and California Sea Lions, but rarely do we have Northern Fur Seal sightings, so a trip over to West End is a pleasure, as you get to see the colony, which was at around 300 yesterday.
The first step to getting to West End is crossing a channel. We harness in and zip across between waves:
The second part of getting to areas where we can actually get counts on them is walking extremely slowly, and hopefully out of sight so as to not flush large groups (which can be dangerous for them and is quite a disturbance).
Here are a couple of pictures of the large masses of pinnipeds I saw. The four species (California and Steller's Sea Lion, Elephant and Northern Fur Seal) do some inter mixing but stick together for the most part.
This is looking out from the highest point on the West End down over much of where they hang out
Mostly Cali Sea Lions
There are not many Stellar's Sea Lions, but here is a female with her pup
The best part of the trip is getting to see all of the pups! The Fur Seals were obviously the cutest:
Today was fairly uneventful. We banded 3 birds: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Black-throated Gray. I learned to survey the shorebirds, I counted a bunch of gulls, and used the crane for the first time.
A lot of the birds from yesterday were gone today, making the day seem much less busy, but still good. I found a Red-shafted Flicker, made dinner and saw lots of shearwaters. Here are some pictures from the day.
Bad Peregrine picture while attacking another
Better photo flying
Every day we take 2 hour shifts at the light house looking for signs of shark attacks, surveying boats around the island, and looking for whales and other cetaceans. Some views from up there:
Yesterday we woke up to many more birds. Sparrows we had: Swamp, Fox, White-throated, White-crowned, Lincoln's, Savannah, Golden-crowned. We caught a Rock Wren, some sparrows, a Say's Phoebe, a Robin, and some others. Looks foggy out right now.
This Say's was first banded here on the Island in 2007 (by MDD)!
Today I had my first full day on the Southeast Farallon Islands. I had an epic area search with Jim, saw the aftermath of a shark attack, but no shark, lots of elephant seals, lots of California Sea Lions, Peregrine fights, and MICE.
Burrowing owl. We banded two tonight, this one stared us down as we collected his pellets.
After a huge grocery shop the night before, Oscar, Jim and I (and some VIPs) hopped aboard the New Rayann and made a quick, beautiful trip to the Southeast Farallon Islands. After much loading and unloading a few crew members headed back to the mainland and I settled in a bit.
On Monday evening Amanda and I arrived at Full Belly Farm in Guinda, CA, about 2.5 hours Northeast of Bolinas, as the sun was setting and got a quick tour of only a small portion of this very large organic farm. Nolan is about two month's into his one year internship there and is loving it. As an intern he is set up with his own yurt and is provided with the freshest food imaginable. Every day he sets out to complete a WIDE variety of tasks throughout the farm, doing work where needed, which means he's being exposed to and is developing an extremely diverse set of skills.
After getting bucked at by a cow, walking into half a dozen walk-in refrigerators to collect dinner-making ingredients, and eating wild boar burritos, we settled nicely into the yurt for the evening.
The next day we followed Nolan around for his animal chore duties. First off was milking the cows, Arnica and Pinto Bean. I'd never done this before and it took some getting used to, but I can see how you could get the hang of it and be super fast like Nolan (and Antonio in the video).