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2017-02-20 Hiking Isla Clarion

Map of The Clarion Hike

I spent the day hiking on Clarion Island’s southern flanks. Most of the rest of the passengers on the voyage visited these locations on the previous afternoon while I stayed aboard to rest and recuperate. I walked east from our landing, past the rocky shore where shorebirds were much too shy for my camera to capture well. Just inland from the shore was a wetland of about an acre where I found several ibis, a few dabblers, an egret, a stilt, and a mudhen.

I traveled from the wetland further to the east where an outbuilding housed pumps for the camp’s water supply. Here I met the endemic mourning dove, the local wren and the endemic rock or tree lizard. I also found grasshoppers and wasps here to capture my attention, and since the bug science team was occupied elsewhere, I thought it would be helpful if I gathered images for them.

I spent the rest of the day walking westward. There are endemic ravens on this island who demand attention. I encountered them all along my walk this morning. These birds are very forward and entertaining to watch. They are truly the clown princes of this island.

Just west of the military compound were open fields littered with Laysan Albatross, but the cliffs overlooking the ocean held more interest for me, as I could see Red-Billed Tropicbirds soaring along those faces. The bluffs I investigated adjacent the lighthouse, did not produce the tropicbirds I’d hoped for, but the ravens and wrens entertained me while I was there. I eventually hiked to the next bluff to the west, and the tropicbirds graced me with a series of flybys and I took a generous complement of exposures.

Isla Clarion has two snakes (both harmless to humans), nesting sea turtles and a tree lizard. We were surprised to learn that there is now a new reptile. We found a large iguana we believe was a new species for this island. The existence of this creature here puzzled us. They were bold and large. Why had nobody reported them earlier? After returning from the trip, and we had the resources to do more research, we found information showing the military introduced them to control the flies and insects. Such reasoning would be misguided as these creatures are vegetarians. As near as we could assess, they do not pose a significant threat to the island’s ecosystem. Sheep and goats have been eradicated on the island, and cats were never introduced here. Unfortunately, much like Isla Socorro’s cats, pet rabbits were released here, and they are a problem nobody has figured out how to overcome yet.

All good things come to an end. Tomorrow we say goodbye to Clarion and the Revillagigedos Archipelago.

52 images below:

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