Life on the Big Island of Hawaii
What is there to say about the coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui)? How about KO-KEE, KO-KEE, KO-KEE, KO-KEE, KO-KEE, KO-KEE. And how about calling that out at around 100 decibels ALL NIGHT LONG.
Coquis came to the Big Island in the late 1980s, believed to be an accidental import on some plants. They hail from Puerto Rico where they’re a popular cultural symbol. But in Puerto Rico, the coqui has predators such as snakes and birds. In Hawaii, it has no predators and it’s thriving. Indeed, I recently read that supersized coquis have been found here, not the usual frogs the size of a quarter, but silver dollar sized – about 50% bigger. One theory for this is that the excellent conditions and lack of predators means the coquis live longer and thus eat more and grow bigger. Watch for ‘The Coqui That Stomped Hilo’ coming soon to a theater near you.
Suffice it to say that coquis are considered an unwanted invasive species here. Homeowners try to eradicate them because their noise is believed to lower property values. Even businesses are affected, with tourists considered less likely to want to stay in areas infested with coquis. (Ironically, while Hawaii tries to battle this mostly-loathed frog, in its native Puerto Rico this much-loved frog is threatened by a fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and coqui numbers there are in decline.)
The east side of the island, with its greater rainfall and abundant vegetation, is prime coqui habitat. The northern part of the island, where I live, is considered coqui free. What that means is that the frog is not established here and coordinated efforts are made to find and eliminate those that are heard. It’s an uphill battle. I know I hear them at night. A few weeks ago it was just one, but now that one’s call is being answered by others.
And what about that call? Well, as usual, it’s the males making all the ruckus. The call is both a warning to other males (the KO part) and an alluring come hither to females (the KEE part). With the males, one will make the call to establish his territory and then another might respond to challenge this. They keep up this call and response until one gives up, a process that can last many minutes. The loser will move on while the winning male will start over until another challenger chimes in.
I’ve heard plenty of coquis, but the one above is the first I’ve actually seen. I was visiting Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens and taking photos of a gold dust day gecko that I saw on a red ginger (Alpinia purpurata). The gecko was poking its nose into the plant looking for moisture or nectar, when there was a sudden flurry. If you look at the photo below, the reason can be seen toward the top left corner, lurking deep in the bloom. The coqui hadn’t appreciated being disturbed and seemed to nip the gecko causing it to jump back. Then the frog came out a bit farther to check the coast was clear, before returning to its hideaway.
For more information about coqui frogs in Hawaii, go to https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/coqui/index.asp.
I saw these two saffron finches at Pu’u Wa’awa’a. The one seemed to be checking out a nicely-appointed knot hole in a tree while the other bird sat on a branch offering a different opinion.
I don’t know whether they were looking for a nesting site, or the one bird was exploring and the other wasn’t pleased, or something else entirely. I walked on past never to know what the interaction was all about. But sometimes it’s more fun to speculate.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Photo-editor.’ See more responses here.
A few weeks ago I posted a composite photo of a rainbow here, which would have been a good choice for this challenge. But I also had more recent photos, of a waterfall in the Kohala Mountains, that I wanted to combine.
I couldn’t capture the full drop of this waterfall, probably somewhere between 500 and 1,000 feet, in one image, so I took two photos. This presented a couple of challenges. First was to combine the image of the top of the falls with the one of the bottom of the falls. The second challenge involved dealing with the horizontal offset of these two photos. Since I was in a helicopter at the time, we’d moved forward between shooting the images.
I’m pretty happy with the final image, especially the capture of the mini rainbow at the base of the falls. Anyway, feel free to see if you can spot where the two photos are connected.
Thanks to Sunshine Helicopters for the tour.
These two very distinct fish that are regularly seen near shore. The squaretail filefish on the left is distinguished by the white patch above the base of its tail fin, while the spotted pufferfish is black or brown and covered with small white spots.
These two aren’t traveling together, as some other types of fish do, to hunt or feed. They just happened to be in the same vicinity.
NEXRAD is the Next Generation Weather Radar operated by the National Weather Service, Air Force Weather Agency, and Federal Aviation Administration. There are 160 sites, most of which are spread across the United States. Four of the sites are in Hawaii, two of which are on the Big Island. This site is on Kohala Mountain, northwest of the summit. It’s known to local pilots as the golfball, for obvious reasons.
This weather radar network is a staple of online news and weather sites and shows the location and movement of rain and clouds. The Kohala radar features a pie-slice area of permanently clear weather to the northeast, which I assume is caused by the nearby topography.
I use the weather radar quite a bit and find it fairly helpful, though the weather here is quick to change. Weather forecasts, on the other hand, I find are more of a 50-50 proposition – they’re either fairly right (not too hard to figure out when the trades are blowing) or wildly wrong (all other situations). However, since it’s almost always warm here, I can’t complain too much.
For more information about NEXRAD radar, go to https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/radar-data/nexrad.
Three goats crossing a golf course fairway while a pair of nene head the other way. What I like about this image is that they all look very purposeful in their progress, as if they had an important appointment to keep. Only the saffron finch in the foreground looks like it couldn’t give a damn.