Reef and Fishery Assessment of Navassa Island National Wildlife Refuge

On April 23, 2009 scientists from the NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami Florida (SEFSC) departed from San Juan, Puerto Rico aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. Their destination: the Navassa National Wildlife Refuge. Along with the NOAA scientists are researchers from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM/RSMAS), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Director of the Fondation pour la Protection de la Biodiversité Marine (FoProBiM), an NGO based in Haiti.
This work is funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Birds of Navassa, April 2009

red-footed booby - 285 (a.m. count)
brown booby – 45
white-tailed tropicbird - 8
magnificent frigatebird - 12
cave swallow - 6
snowy egret - 2
peregrine falcon - 3
gray kingbird - 1
great blue heron - 1
cattle egret - 1
broad-winged hawk - 3

The booby species partition habitat. The red-footed boobies nest and roost in the shrubby trees along the slope and top of the island, while the brown boobies roost along the craggy rock face and cliffs at the lower edge of the island. The red-footed boobies appear to be more numerous, at least in April. And they have many color morphs, from mostly white with black wings to overall brown. They leave the island just after sunrise in search of food offshore, and they return just before dusk. They have to run the gauntlet to get back to roost, as the frigatebirds circle and hover, ready to poach a meal from the returning boobies. The brown boobies fly under the radar, so to speak, low to the water which makes it more challenging for the frigatebirds. The red-footed boobies fly high and have frequent in-flight acrobatic tussles with frigatebirds.

The falcons flew over the ship Friday afternoon and circled overhead for hours. We never did see them return to land. A lone gray kingbird landed on the ship and the CO took some nice close up photos. The cattle egret landed on the crane boom, and the CO photographed him too. The two snowy egrets flew past together, winging along the island shoreline but not landing.

There were no birds along the north side of the island when we pulled anchor Monday evening at 6:00 pm, very severe landscape with few live shrubs. We did see 3 goats, though, along the top of the steep slope on the north side.

-Photo by Abel Valdivia(boobie above diver)
-Photo by Ralph Rogers(kingbird)
Contributors: Patricia Morrison, Mike Judge, Ralph Rogers

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