Field Journal – Jarvis Island, day 3

5.4.12 – Friday. Jarvis Island, terrestrial team.

Another hot, hot day on an exposed pile of coral rubble, sand, and over a million sea birds. Masked boobies predominate. Sooty terns blanket huge swaths of the interior- hundreds of thousands, actually quite easily over half a million. Brown boobies, red-footed boobies, and redtailed tropicbirds are

scattered around in smaller clusters. There is a gang of frigate birds. Gray backed terns nest here as well, and blue gray noddies- both rare sightings anywhere else. Brown noddies too- in scattered clusters of a dozen or two. Bristle-thighed curlews- a handful. Ruddy turnstones. Wandering tattlers, which the Hawaiians call ‘ilili, for their call.


As for vegetation- five or six plants are common- a few salt tolerant succulents, a low lying plant with leaves that resemble morning glory, bushes with tiny purple or white flower clusters. Ilima. Salacornia. Tribulous with its bright yellow flowers and sharp thorny seeds. No coconut palms or any shade providers- nothing that needs that much fresh water.

Woke up at 5am, with the sun about to rise over the horizon.

It’s a race- the good light lasts a scant hour.

The hour- 5:30-6:30. I stretch it to 7, but by 8 it might as well be nearly noon. I jar2_sgordonfilmed tropic bird chick- a fuzzy gray one, and I don’t remember what else. I do remember feeling vastly discouraged at my lack of everything (skills, equipment, time) to get the shots I wanted- which were the golden lit boobies, tropic birds, terns, and frigates zooming past in flight. I squandered most of the morning light trying to film a tropic bird landing in a big flurry of white wings and popping into the nest cavity to greet and then relieve its mate. Anticipating which bird would land, focusing, zooming- and focusing with the lcd in the bright light- it conspired to make that task impossible.

Tip of the day.

If a shot eludes you, at some point acknowledge the limitations of your gear or situation and move on.