Monthly Archives: January 2012
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.
We wandered around the grounds, admiring the flowers.
There were beautiful orchids.
There were other lovely flowers as well.
There were lovely hibiscus throughout the 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.
There were many Hawai’ian Moorhens in this area …
… and Cattle Egrets flying overhead.
I was fascinated by the multicolored bark of the Mindinao Gum Tree.
As we walked along the trail we saw more lovely tropical flowers.
I stopped on a small bridge to gaze at the stream …
… 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.
This was where I had seen a lovely double rainbow earlier in my trip.
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!
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.
I love watching the Red-footed Boobies!
These birds, though ungainly and awkward on the ground, are lovely and graceful in flight.
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.
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.
I was fortunate enough to have one fly right over my head. I was, at last, able to get a nice sharp photo.
By far the most beautiful birds are the tropicbirds, both red-tailed and white-tailed. They are enchanting to watch.
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 have feet that are only half as webbed as other geese, and they have longer toes for climbing on the rocky Hawai’ian surfaces.
This Nene pair let me take a close photo of their darling 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.
And did I mention that in winter you can see migrating humpback whales spouting from Kilauea point?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Spinner Dolphins swam along with the boat from time to time.
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:
(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.
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.
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.
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.
Eric and I had a wonderful time on the seven-hour cruise. I could feel the boat pitching for the remainder of the day.
One of the highlights of any trip to Kaua’i is a drive up Waimea Canyon. This spectacular drive on the western part of the island goes from sea level to above 5000 feet. In addition to beautiful canyon views there are views of the spectacular Na Pali cliffs from Koke’e State Park above the canyon. This year I made the trip twice.
Waimea Canyon is the largest canyon in the Pacific and truly a dramatic sight to behold. The canyon measures 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and more than 3,500-feet deep. It was carved thousands of years ago by rivers and floods that flowed from the Mount Wai’ale’ale summit. The lines in the canyon walls depict different volcanic eruptions and lava flows that have occurred over the centuries.
You can get some wonderful views of parts of the canyon before you even get into the park.
I love this view of Waimea Canyon from Pu’u Hinahina Viewpoint.
There are lovely birds in Waimea Canyon, exotic for me …
… and of course the ubiquitous Kaua’i chickens.
As you can tell from the photos, it had been raining off and on that day. At the Kalalau Lookout, which overlooks the Na Pali coast, I saw a beautiful rainbow.
The view of the Na Pali coast through the clouds at the top of the road at Wai’ale’ale, one of the wettest spots on earth, was spectacular.
On the return trip I stopped to take a photo of the huge poinsettia bushes in a front yard. I thought they were gorgeous!
I have been a bit slow in getting my photos organized from this trip. I hope to post more this week.