Tag Archives: Red-footed Booby

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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Kaua’i Birds, a Retrospective

I recently spent almost two weeks on the lovely island of Kaua’i. My son and I relaxed, snorkeled, surfed, body boarded and enjoyed the beautiful sights of the island. I enjoyed the birds on the island too. Here are the birds that I saw and photographed.

These birds waited outside the condo every morning hoping to receive some breakfast:

Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis), introduced in 1865, native to India.

Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis), introduced in 1865, native to India.


Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis), introduced in 1865, native to India.

Common Myna flying in for a handout.


Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata), introduced in the late 1920's, native to South America.

Red-crested Cardinal (paroaria coronata), introduced in the late 1920's, native to South America.


Pacific Golden Plover, Kolea (Pluvialis fulva), native non-breeding visitor.

Pacific Golden Plover, Kolea (Pluvialis fulva), native non-breeding visitor.


Zebra Doves (Geopilia striata), introduced in the 1920's, native to Southeast Asia.

Zebra Doves (Geopilia striata), introduced in the 1920's, native to Southeast Asia.

There were urban and golf course birds.

Nene (Branta sandwicencensis)

Nene (Branta sandwicencensis). State bird of Hawai'i.


Nene chicks, Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii.

Nene chicks, Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii.


Common Moorhen, 'Alae 'ula (Gallinula chloropus) Native Hawai'ian subspecies.

Common Moorhen, 'Alae 'ula (Gallinula chloropus) Native Hawai'ian subspecies.


House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) Introduced in late 1800's, native to Europe, Middle East.

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) Introduced in late 1800's, native to Europe, Middle East.


White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus), introduced in 1931, native to Southeast Asia.

White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus), introduced in 1931, native to Southeast Asia.


White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus), introduced in 1931, native to Southeast Asia.

White-rumped Shama near the Lihue airport.


Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis Cardinalis), introduced in the late 1920's, native to North America.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis Cardinalis), introduced in the late 1920's, native to North America.


Pacific Golden Plover, Kolea, (Pluvialis fulva) native non-breeding visitor.

Pacific Golden Plover, Kolea, (Pluvialis fulva) native non-breeding visitor.


Black-necked Stilt, Hawai'ian Stilt, Ae'o (Himantopus knudseni), native Hawaiian endemic.

Black-necked Stilt, Hawai'ian Stilt, Ae'o (Himantopus knudseni), native Hawaiian endemic.


Cattle Egret (Bulbucus ibis), introduced in the late 1950's.

Cattle Egret (Bulbucus ibis), introduced in the late 1950's.


There were wonderful birds in the mountains.
Erckels Francolin (Francolinus erckelii), introduced in the late 1950's, native to East Africa.

Erckels Francolin (Francolinus erckelii), introduced in the late 1950's, native to East Africa.


'Apapane (Himatione sanguinea), native Hawai'ian bird, endemic.

'Apapane (Himatione sanguinea), sipping nectar from`ohia-lehua blossoms.


When I drove down the mountains to the coastline near Kekaha, there were acres of sunflowers fields. The sunflowers fields were feeding thousands of house finches.
House Finch, Papaya Bird (Carpodacus mexicanus), introduced in mid-19th century, native to North America.

House Finch, Papaya Bird (Carpodacus mexicanus), introduced in mid-19th century, native to North America.


Perhaps my favorite birds were the seabirds. Our trip to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge was memorable.
Great Frigatebird, 'Iwa (Fregata minor), native seabird.

Great Frigatebird, 'Iwa (Fregata minor), native seabird.


Laysan Albatross, Moli (Phoebastria immutabilis) Native Hawai'ian seabird.

Laysan Albatross, Moli (Phoebastria immutabilis) Native Hawai'ian seabird.


Red-footed Booby, 'A (Sula sula), native Hawai'ian seabird.

Red-footed Booby, 'A (Sula sula), native Hawai'ian seabird.


White-tailed Tropicbird, Koa'e Kea (Phaethon lepturus), native Hawai'ian seabird.

White-tailed Tropicbird, Koa'e Kea (Phaethon lepturus), native Hawai'ian seabird.

And of course everywhere we went we saw the Kaua’i chickens. We saw them in the cities …

Rooster in downtown Koloa, Kaua'i.

Rooster in downtown Koloa, Kaua'i.


… and in the mountains.
A hen with a large brood at Kalalau Lookout, Koke'e State Park, Kaua'i.

A hen with a large brood at Kalalau Lookout, Koke'e State Park, Kaua'i.

Other birds which I saw but was not able to photograph or neglected to photograph were: Spotted Dove (Steptopelia chinensis), introduced in the 1870′s, native to Southeast Asia; Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus), introduced in the 1930′s from Japan.

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Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

On Wednesday we drove up north again, past Hanalei to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, the northernmost point on Kaua’i. We were looking forward to seeing frigates, albatrosses, and other birds as well as perhaps getting glimpses of whales. We were not disappointed.

Nene were everywhere, and we were able to get good looks at their feet, which are less webbed than those of other geese and which have claws for climbing on the lava rock.

Nene, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii

Nene, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kaua'i, Hawai'i, showing detail of feet.

The first thing we noticed were trees full of Red-footed Boobies.

Red-footed Boobies, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii.

Red-footed Boobies, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

Despite their name, these birds are beautiful and graceful in flight.

Red-footed Booby, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii.

Red-footed Booby flies overhead at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

 

Red-footed Boobies in flight, Kilauea Point NWR, Kauai, Hawaii.

A pair of Red-footed Boobies in flight, Kilauea Point NWR.

The huge Great Frigatebirds were amazing to watch as they flew overhead.

Great Frigatebird in flight, Kilauea Point NWR, Kauai, Hawaii.

Great Frigatebird Kilauea Point NWR.

Great Frigatebird in flight, Kilauea Point NWR, Kauai, Hawaii.

Great Frigatebird, another view.

Great Frigatebird in flight, Kilauea Point NWR, Kauai, Hawaii.

Great Frigatebird in flight, viewed from above.

We watched a flying duel between a Red-footed Booby and a Great Frigatebird.

Great Frigatebird and Red-footed Booby duel near Kilauea Point at Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii.

Great Frigatebird and Red-footed Booby duel near Kilauea Point.


Great Frigatebird and Red-footed Booby duel near Kilauea Point at Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii.

The duel continues.


Great Frigatebird and Red-footed Booby duel near Kilauea Point at Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii.

The frigate chases the booby back to the safety of the flock.


We saw many Laysan Albatross, but they fly so quickly that I was not able to get a good image of one. They look like flying tanks.
Laysan Albatross at Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii.

Laysan Albatross

We were able to see migrating Humpback Whales off the point, but they were fairly far away.

Migrating Humpback Whale off Kilauea Point at Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii.

There's a whale there. Really.

We saw many more whales and other sea mammals on our catamaran outing the next day.

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