On the first decent day after a long spell of grey, wet weather, I headed up to the Palila Forest Discovery Trail, just off Saddle Road on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea. I figured that even if the weather let me down, it’s a drive that I enjoy, so it would be OK regardless.
However, the closer I got to my destination, the less promising it looked. When I got to the junction, where a 4-mile dirt road leads to the trailhead, I almost turned around since it seemed unlikely there would be anything to see. The mountain looked shrouded in cloud, but since it’s only a 15-minute drive and the road didn’t look too muddy or washed out, I thought I’d give it a go.
When I pulled into the deserted parking area, the sky was grey, the air was damp, but it wasn’t actively raining and the visibility was OK, so I set out on the mile-long loop trail. As usual, I could hear a fair number of birds. It’s just spotting them that’s the trick there. But there are a couple of places on the trail that seem to get a lot of action and this day was no exception, including my first photos of a Hawaii ‘elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis sandwichensis).
Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii Island each have their own species of the endemic ‘elepaio, which is a member of the flycatcher family. The Big Island version is more boldly marked than the other two and this one obligingly set down in a mamane tree not too far away, affording me a decent view and the opportunity to take photos.
One tidbit that I found interesting about the bird is that when ‘elepaio were seen to frequent a given koa tree, this was a sign to canoe makers that the tree was likely insect infested and unsuitable for making a canoe.
For more information about Palila Forest Discovery Trail, go to dlnr.hawaii.gov/restoremaunakea/palila-forest-discovery-trail/.
Posted in response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge ‘Unlikely.’