Monthly Archives: January 2012

Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

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Beautiful McBryde National Botanical Garden

On our last day in Kaua’i Eric and I decided to visit McBryde National Botanical Garden. The garden is close to the condo where we were staying, and Eric is very fond of any outing involving horticultural adventure. Almost as soon as we arrived at the garden I heard the distinctive call of the White-rumped Shama. After a bit of searching, I was able to locate it in a palm tree.

White-rumped Shama, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

White-rumped Shama

We wandered around the grounds, admiring the flowers.

There were beautiful orchids.

Orchid, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

Orchid, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

Orchid, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

There were other lovely flowers as well.

'Awapuhi kuahiwi, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

'Awapuhi kuahiwi

Hawaiian Baby Woodrose, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

Hawai'ian Baby Woodrose

Amaryllis, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

Amaryllis

There were lovely hibiscus throughout the garden.

Hibiscus, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

Hibiscus, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

We took a tram to a remote area of the gardens, which was quite beautiful. We walked along a stream through lush, tropical vegetation.

McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

There were many Hawai’ian Moorhens in this area …

Hawaiian Moorhen, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

Hawai'ian Moorhen

… and Cattle Egrets flying overhead.

Cattle Egret, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

Cattle Egret

I was fascinated by the multicolored bark of the Mindinao Gum Tree.

Mindinao Gum Tree, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

Mindinao Gum Tree

As we walked along the trail we saw more lovely tropical flowers.

Heliconia, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

Heliconia

Brugmansia, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

Brugmansia

I stopped on a small bridge to gaze at the stream …

Stream, McBryde National Tropical Botanical Garden

… and realized that it was time to leave.

We made one last stop at Spouting Horn to watch the waves force water through the lava tubes.

Spouting Horn, Kauai, Hawaii

Spouting Horn

This was where I had seen a lovely double rainbow earlier in my trip.

Double rainbow, Kauai, Hawaii

As we drove to the airport I was once again amazed at how quickly two weeks in Kaua’i had gone by. I can hardly wait to return next year!

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Wordless Wednesday–Wings on Wednesday

Sandhill Crane, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Sandhill Cranes, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Sandhill Cranes, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Sandhill Cranes, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Sandhill Crane, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

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A Return to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

A highlight of my annual visit to Kaua’i is a visit to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1985 when the land and the historic lighthouse were transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from the U.S. Coast Guard. The ocean cliffs and open grassy slopes of an extinct volcano provide breeding grounds for native Hawai’ian seabirds and Nene, the endangered Hawai’ian goose.Kilauea Point gives visitors the unique opportunity to see Red-footed Boobies, Laysan Albatross and other seabirds in their natural habitat. In winter the National Marine Sanctuary waters off Kilauea are home to migrating Humpback Whales.

When you arrive at Kilauea Point the first thing that you notice is the astonishing numbers of huge seabirds circling around the point.

Great Frigatebird, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Great Frigatebird

Great Frigatebird, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

A Great Frigatebird hunts over the ocean.

I love watching the Red-footed Boobies!

Red-footed Booby, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge,

Red-footed Booby

These birds, though ungainly and awkward on the ground, are lovely and graceful in flight.

Red-footed Booby, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Red-footed Booby

Red-footed Booby, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Red-footed Booby

The Red-footed Boobies are excellent fishers. The frigatebirds are less skilled and often steal fish from the unfortunate boobies. It is common to see frigatebirds chasing boobies.

Great Frigatebird, Red-footed Booby, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

The chase is on!

Great Frigatebird, Red-footed Booby, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

The chase continues.

For me, the most impressive birds are the Laysan Albatross. These huge birds fly so fast that they’re difficult to photograph. Most of my photos of them are not very sharp.

Laysan Albatross, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Laysan Albatross

I was fortunate enough to have one fly right over my head. I was, at last, able to get a nice sharp photo.

Laysan Albatross, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Laysan Albatross

By far the most beautiful birds are the tropicbirds, both red-tailed and white-tailed. They are enchanting to watch.

White-tailed Tropicbird, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

White-tailed Tropicbird

Red-tailed Tropicbird, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Red-tailed Tropicbird

Nene wander on the grounds near the lighthouse. The official bird of the state of Hawaiʻi, the Nene is exclusively found in the wild on the islands of Maui, Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi.

Nene family, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Nene family

Nene have feet that are only half as webbed as other geese, and they have longer toes for climbing on the rocky Hawai’ian surfaces.

Nene feet, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Nene feet closeup.

This Nene pair let me take a close photo of their darling gosling.

Nene gosling, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Nene gosling

The recently restored historic Kilauea Lighthouse is a beautiful sight. The first phase of the restoration work was completed in November 2008 when the anchor bolts securing the lantern room to the concrete tower were repaired and replaced. The second phase of the restoration involved repairing the unique cast iron roof and lantern assembly and stabilizing the fragile lens. The final phase, which was finished within the past year, entailed repairs to the concrete tower, opening the closed vents and window openings, installing new windows, and removing some exterior coating to return the tower to its original appearance.

Historic Kilauea Lighthouse, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Historic Kilauea Lighthouse

And did I mention that in winter you can see migrating humpback whales spouting from Kilauea point?

Migrating Humpback Whale, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Migrating Humpback Whale

Here is a short video that I took at Kilauea NWR:

If you are fortunate enough to be able to travel to the beautiful island of Kaua’i, be sure to include a visit Kilauea Point in your travel plans.

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Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

Red-footed Booby, Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge

Red-footed Booby, Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge

Red-footed Booby, Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge

Red-footed Booby, Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge

Red-footed Booby, Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge

Red-footed Booby, Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge

Red-footed Boobies, Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge

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A Rough Voyage to Ni’ihau and Lehua

One of the activities that my son Eric and I enjoy when we travel to Kaua’i is a snorkel cruise along the Na Pali coast. This year we decided to book our trip with a different charter company than we have used in the past because they visit the area between the Forbidden Island of Ni’ihau and Lehua Island State Bird Sanctuary. We were a bit concerned about taking a cruise this year because of unusually stormy seas on Kaua’i’s south coast this December, but we decided to go forward with our plan. This particular cruise required us to be at the dock in Port Allen at 6:00 am. It was dark and a bit windy, but warm. We set off, and eventually the sun began to rise behind the catamaran.

Kauai sunrise at sea

Kaua'i sunrise at sea

As the windy, cloudy day began to lighten, we could see the Forbidden Island of Ni’ihau, which lies about 18 miles west of Kaua’i, touched by the dawn colors.

The Forbidden Island of Niihau

The Forbidden Island of Ni'ihau touched by dawn colors.

Ni’ihau is one of the smaller main islands in the archipelago. It has been owned by the same Caucasian family since they bought it from King Kamehameha IV for $10,000 in the 1860’s. The population of about 200 are nearly all are of pure Hawai’ian descent, and the island is also the last spot on Earth where the Hawai’ian language is routinely spoken.

The imposing cliffs of Na Pali were difficult to photograph in the early morning light. You can see a Brown Booby flying over the cliffs.

Na Pali cliffs, Kauai, Hawaii

Na Pali cliffs in the early morning light.

Here is another Brown Booby as it flew past the boat. It was the first close look that we had of these birds that day, but it would not be the last look that we had.

Brown Booby, Kauai, Hawaii

Brown Booby

The day was cloudy and misty, and the sea conditions were quite rough, all of which contributed to very difficult photo conditions. You can still see how lovely the coastline is. Here are a few photos of the Na Pali coast:

Na Pali coastline, Kauai, Hawaii

Na Pali, Kauai, Hawaii,

Na Pali, Kauai, Hawaii,

We pulled into a sheltered cove to get a brief respite from the rough conditions, and a Green Sea Turtle (Honu) swam alongside the catamaran.

Green Sea Turtle, Honu, Na Pali, Kauai,

Green Sea Turtle (Honu)

Spinner Dolphins swam along with the boat from time to time.

Spinner Dolphins, Na Pali, Kauai

Spinner Dolphins

We saw migrating Humpback Whales in the distance, but none came close enough to the boat for photos.

We crossed over to the crescent-shaped area between Ni’ihau and Lehua Island State Bird Sanctuary. The lack of running water on Lehua and Niihau keep the waters around Lehua very clear. As we approached Lehua, we began to see many seabirds:

Brown Booby, Lehua, Hawaii

Brown Booby

Brown Boobies, Lehua, Hawaii

Brown Boobies roosting on the Lehua cliffs

Red-footed Booby, Lehua, Hawaii

Red-footed Booby

Great Frigatebird, Lehua, Hawaii

Great Frigatebird

(I will note for the record that I did not take my birding lens on this boat. Given the weather and the rough sea conditions, it was all I could do to handle one camera with a zoom lens.)

The weather in the crescent-shaped area near Lehua was clear and much calmer than the rough seas which we had experienced earlier in the day. We anchored near Lehua and got ready to go into the water for snorkeling. It would be my second attempt with my underwater camera.

The coral on the ocean floor was beautiful. The reef appeared to be very healthy. We were cautioned not to touch the living coral.

Coral, Lehua, Hawaii

Coral on the ocean floor

Our boat was anchored at the edge of a steep drop in the ocean floor. We could peer more than a hundred feet down into the depths.

Coral and fish, Lehua, Hawaii

Coral and fish where the ocean floor drops down.

After snorkeling and lunch, we started back to Port Allen. We saw a Monk Seal sleeping on the Lehua cliffs at the edge of the water.

Monk Seal, Lehua, Hawaii

Monk Seal

We set off through very rough seas for the voyage back to Port Allen. I was happy that I am not susceptible to seasickness; others were less fortunate. I barely kept my footing on the pitching boat as I caught this last photo of a Brown Booby.

Brown Booby, Lehua, Hawaii

One last Brown Booby photo

Eric and I had a wonderful time on the seven-hour cruise. I could feel the boat pitching for the remainder of the day.

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Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

Pacific Golden-Plover, Koloa, Kauai

Pacific Golden-Plover, Koloa, Kauai

Pacific Golden-Plover, Koloa, Kauai

Pacific Golden-Plover, Koloa, Kauai

Pacific Golden-Plover, Koloa, Kauai

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