Bird Week on Christmas Island
Day 4 - Monday, 4 September 2006
This morning there was a continental breakfast. I prefer the full breakfast but the continental is quite adequate.
Dr. Janos (pronounced Yarnoss) Hennicke from Hamburg University was our leader for this morning's activity. Janos' focus is currently Abbott's Booby which he is studying with the use of electronic tracking and logging devices in addition to the more traditional banding and measuring techniques.
The plan was to head off to the nesting colony, find a particular nest which had been previously selected by Janos and to which a line had been attached by casting it over the nesting branch. The light line would then be used to pull up a climbing rope. Janos would then climb the tree, bag the parent bird and measure the chick. The chick then had to be bagged (to protect it from predators) and returned to the nest. The parent bird would then be lowered and collected by the ground team where it would be measured and banded. A tracking device or logger would be attached to the bird or recovered as the case may be. We drove close to the location and trekked through the forest.
Guess where the chosen nest was?
Parent Abbott's Booby wonders what is going on.
Janos prepares for and begins the climb.
Approaching the nest:
Apparently the parent bird has noticed something going on.
A close encounter of the Abbott's Booby kind ...
One bird, I think the chick, is in a bag and resting on a fork above the nest while Janos deals with the adult.
The chick is back in the nest (in a bag) while the adult bird is put in a bag.
While the adult bird is lowered to the ground and collected by the ground team, Janos starts working on recording the details of the chick in the tree.
And the ground team swings into action with the precision of well practiced surgical team.
The ground operation being over, Mr or Mrs Abbott's Booby is hoisted once again into the tree top where Janos is waiting to receive him or her. Note that junior has now been removed from the nest and is hanging in a bag in the tree. This is so the adult bird cannot accidentally kick the chick from the nest when being placed back on the nest.
The adult bird having been returned to the nest, Janos turns his attention to Junior and commences his descent.
The parent back looking after the chick looks no different than it did before the operation but, no doubt, he or she is a little perplexed.
A welcome picnic lunch was much appreciated followed by a trip to a Red-footed Booby colony where Janos tried his luck on a bird that was not on a nest. This time the bird proved elusive. Meanwhile a bored Imperial Pigeon looked on.
Dinner tonight was at the Malay Club and consisted of traditional and local dishes. However, for reasons of my own, I opted out and dined at the Golden Bosun Tavern. Opting out also meant that unfortunately I missed out on Janos's talk about tracking Boobies and Frigatebirds. That was a pity but you get that.
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