*My camera is dead. A new one is in transit, the old one is hopefully being repaired. Islands = bad place to break things. Shipping = expensive. This situation = awesome. *sigh*
** All photos are from the internet, at least until either or Jake or I regains a functional camera!
The Mauna Kea Visitor Center is awesome! We drove up and saw tons of stars, had constellations pointed out for us by volunteers, and drank hot cocoa. Great fun =) and hopefully we’ll go back in a couple weeks when it’s the new moon and there are tons more stars visible! You can see both Northern and Southern Hemisphere constellations from Hawaii, which was awesome and we just caught a couple stars in the Southern Cross before it got too late out.
We set up tons of Malaise traps on Tuesday, which will be used to trap insects. They’re about 6-7 feet tall and have a bottle of water with salt and soap at the bottom. The insects get trapped, die, and fall into the bottle, where the salt preserves them and the soap makes sure that they’re dead. I wonder what kind of flying insects we’ll trap! Ours look pretty much exactly like the one in this photo, even color-wise.
Devin and Tad took a lot of branch clippings and set up rat tunnels while Jake and I were setting up Malaise traps. The rat tunnels have coconut inside to tempt the rats, and ink so that their footprints show up and we can see what they’ve been up to/how many rats there were. The branch clippings had another, much more interesting result!
We took the branch clippings back to the forest service and caught all the insects attached using a mouth aspirator (See photo). We beat the branches on a white trash bag and pointed the metal part of the aspirator at the bugs that fell out. By sucking on the plastic tube, we managed to suck up spiders, flying insects, mites, caterpillars, etc… But let me just tell you, there were 1+ inch spiders. FREAKY. I was fun with most of them, but then a GIANT reddish spider fell off a branch and started running around, and I freaked out. Jake had to suck that one up using the aspirator, and I am not ashamed. It was terrifying!!! But other than that, I’ve mostly gotten over my fear of spiders.
We spent the morning trying to find omao, a native bird to Hawaii. It has several distinct bird calls but unfortunately the omao (and birdlife in general) was pretty shy and we didn’t get much interaction or hear many birdcalls. That was potentially going to be part of our research, but it seems like we need a more experience birder to be with us to make it practical so we’re scrapping that part of the project.
The afternoon involved cutting lots of blocks of wood for the rat tunnels, and I think I drilled about 400 holes into the wood so we can use rope to attach it to the tunnels. We also sorted dead bugs into vials. FUN! Lots and lots of worms, spiders, flies, and the like. Creepy and cool!
We had dinner at Devin's house last night. He made purple yam enchilladas - my first experience with them and they were delicious. He also showed us a lot of photos from Laysan, an island in the Hawaiian Archipelago where he lived for 6 months. Apparently only 4-5 people are allowed on the island at any given time, and they make 6 month rotations. You have to commit to living for 6 months on a tiny 1 x 1.5 mile island, with all your food and supplies, and do a lot of work on restoration. Who knows - maybe if I graduate and can't find a job, I'll work there for 6 months! It looks awesome, absolutely beautiful. Intriguing idea...
When we got back to the apartment I had a hankering for a good chick flick, so that night I watched 27 Dresses. For like the 6th time. It’s still adorable!
Today we set up 8 edge plots with litterfall traps. The kipuka were located along Powerline Road, meaning we were in 4 wheel drive and still bouncing around like crazy. The truck is great – we consistently bottom out several times on the way in and out, just because the lava rock is so jumbled, and our trusty vehicle is still going!
We finished early (around 3) and Tad drove me to mail my camera to the repair center. I hope everything works out quickly and painlessly with Olympus – it was really pricey to send the camera to CA, so they’d better fix it, darn it! I also stopped by Safeway and stocked up on more food. They sell huge bags of frozen chicken breasts and I cooked one for my fried rice tonight. Delicious!!
We also stopped by a chocolate factory in Hilo so Tad could buy his wife some Hawaiian chocolate. They had samples all over the store and coffee and it was AMAZING. So many tasty treats!! And there was a glass wall so you could see them making the chocolate on the other side of the window (see photo below). So cool!