Sunday, January 18, 2009
The first day we were in Kauai, Steve walked down to Baby Beach and quickly located this cute fella, a Hawaiian Monk Seal.
They are endangered, so you have to keep your distance, which Steve found out when some women on the beach started yelling at him. The seals come up onto shore to sleep. This seal was rather small, so I think it was a youngster. Every now and then he would scratch his head with his flipper. He has a very sweet face.
The next day another endangered species, the Green sea turtle, decided to haul up on Poipu Beach for a little snooze. The lifeguards had to blow their whistles and get people to move their towels so that she could get up to where she wanted to be on the sand. I had never seen such a big sea turtle.
This female White rumped shama was very obliging. She came right up to our table while we were waiting for our lunch. The shamas were introduced from Malaysia in 1931.
The Red junglefowl were brought to the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesian settlers for food. Many of these birds escaped their cages when Hurricaine Iniki hit in 1992, and now they are everywhere all over Kauai. They are pretty, but somewhat of a nuisance.
We enlisted the help of Dr. Carl Berg, who runs Hawaiian Wildlife Tours, to take us around the north side of the island to observe some birds. Carl has lived on Kauai for many years and is a font of information on the local floral and fauna and directly involved in conservation efforts on the island.
We went to Kiluea Point lighthouse to see some of the seabirds there. It's a gorgeous spot.
A family of Nene, Hawaiian geese, (state bird of Hawaii) strolled through the parking lot just as we were about to leave. They have been successfully reintroduced here, and nest near the lighthouse.
Also nesting near the lighthouse, and the highlight of the day for me, are Laysan Albatross. Carl took us around a residential area in Princeville where they nest in people's yards. He explained that the birds nested there years ago before the houses were built, and the chicks get imprinted on the area where they are born and return to it to nest. The residents are very protective of "their" birds, sometimes even naming the chicks. It was still a week or two until hatch time, so these birds are sitting on eggs.
You can't tell from this picture, but these are huge birds with 6 foot wingspans. They are pelagic birds, meaning that they spend most of their lives at sea, only coming ashore to nest.
We also saw nesting Red-footed boobies, White-tailed tropicbirds, Great frigatebirds, a Hawaiian coot chasing two Common moorhen away from it's territory, Black-crowned night herons, lots of Cattle egrets, a Wandering tattler and Hawaiian ducks that morning. During the week, I also saw Spotted doves, Zebra doves, Common mynas, a Northern mockingbird, a Western Meadowlark, Japanese white-eyes, Northern cardinals (yup, the same one as back east,) Red-crested cardinals, Pacific golden plovers, a Hwamei, House sparrows and House finches.
We attempted to bird (on our own) up at Kokee Park. Wet slippery muddy slopes, morning mists, trees not yet in flower and uncooperative out-of-sight birds made for a disappointing day. The only endemic bird I saw there was Apapane. The best birding is in the Alakai Swamp, which can be reached by hiking in 2 miles on the aforementioned slippery Pihea trail, or driving way in on an unpaved road, where 4-wheel drive is highly recommended, to reach the Alakai Swamp trail. The trail map says, "...thigh-deep mud is not uncommon here." We didn't attempt it.
This green anole posed patiently atop a garbage can right next to Jo Jo's Shave Ice in Waimea. I got a cool book on Hawaiian wildlife that Carl recommended, Hawaii, The Ecotraveller's Wildlife Guide by Les Beletsky. It has pictures of the reef fishes, trees, plants, animals, as well as birds and this lizard and some geckos.
I've got a lot more pictures, so look for the next installment to come. Aloha for now.