Category Archives: May 2017

Red-billed leiothrix

A Red-billed Leiothrix sings on a branchA Red-billed Leiothrix sings on a branch
This is the last of my series of posts in response to this week’s WordPress photo challenge on the theme of ‘evanescent.’

Picture the scene: I’m sitting quietly in my living room when a small shape flits past a window accompanied by a harsh chittering. I jump up, grab my camera and rush outside. As I do so, I turn the camera on, adjust settings and figure out the best place to intercept the bird that just flew by. I go around the house and sure enough, the sound is loud. And there it is, in the hedge. I raise the camera, but its gone. Over there now. I move, refocus. There it is again. I snap a photo. Gone again. I do this a couple more times, and then it goes quiet. There’s no more movement. The bird’s moved on.

Now repeat this scene, a couple of times a week and you have my experience with the red-billed leiothrix. It’s such a beautiful bird, but all my efforts had produced was a collection of photos of bits of wing, disembodied beaks, barely discernable blurry shapes, or just bare branches and leaves. The jittery, hyperactive birds were evanescent, quickly disappearing from sight time after time.

So imagine my surprise when this one showed up. It was one of a pair. The other one, true to its kind, instantly disappeared into a bush. But this one appeared not to have read the leiothrix operation manual. It stayed on this branch, in full view, for a couple of minutes. True, it wasn’t ever exactly stationary, it’s head going from side to side every two seconds. And it called out continuously, probably wanting to know why its partner was skulking in the bush. Somewhere the message must have got through because the bird joined its partner and the two of them, true to form, flitted off from branch to branch, through the hedge and disappeared from view.

A rose grape blooms in Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Rose grape

A rose grape blooms in Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
This week’s posts are in response to the WordPress photo challenge on the theme of ‘evanescent.’

A few times a year, I like to visit Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, which is just north of Hilo on the east side of the Big Island. It’s a wonderful garden, set in a fairly deep gully, with a wide array of plants.

In tropical Hawaii, plants do well year round, but there are still seasons. Different plants flower at different times, so each visit is different. The nice thing about this is there’s always something new to see, such as this rose grape (Medinilla magnifica). The downside is that when I get home and look at my photos, I realize I don’t know what half of the plants are. So I figure I’ll see if I can find a tag next time I visit. But next time, the plant’s not flowering so I have trouble locating exactly what I was looking at.

Ultimately it boils down to me making a mental note to come back, same time next year, when it will be flowering again. Unfortunately, my mental notes have no chance of surviving that long, so the next year I see the flower again, take a new photo, and it’s not until I get home that I realize I already have a photo, still don’t know what it is, and will need to return next year etc., etc., etc.

But the thing is, I don’t really mind this. I just enjoy being at the garden, and appreciating the moments while I’m there.

For more information about Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, go to

Sunset over Kohala

Abstracts: Sunset

Sunset over Kohala
This week’s posts are in response to the WordPress photo challenge on the theme of ‘evanescent.’

Sunsets are an evanescent event. They’re all different, depending on the clouds and the atmosphere and the weather. And where the sun goes down changes from day to day depending on the time of year. And to top it off, the colors, the composition, change from moment to moment as the sun sinks and the clouds move. There’s no ‘OK, it’ll be like this for the next 15 minutes.’ Instead it might vanish in a moment, diffusing into a previously unnoticed layer of haze on the horizon.

I like that unpredictability. I’ve driven down to a good viewing spot, lured there by promising weather and cloud formations, only to have the sunset be a damp squib. And then there have been other times when I’ve gone with low expectations and been treated to a cascade of color.

This photo was taken from the comfort of my lanai and I like the striking contrast of the bright and the dark at that moment in time. A few minutes later, it was all gone.

A wave breaks off the Kohala coast

Goldilocks’ breaking wave

A wave breaks off the Kohala coast
This week’s posts are in response to the WordPress photo challenge on the theme of ‘evanescent.’

In a previous photo challenge, I posted a photo of a ‘mountain of water.’ I’d been trying to capture waves breaking toward me and though that one didn’t break, it provided a surprising photo.

I mention this because a couple of days ago I was snorkeling and the surf was higher than I expected with visibility in the water consequently poor. I figured I wasn’t going to get any decent fish photos, but I thought I might get a nice surf shot. So I headed toward a deep spot close to shore where I could see the waves breaking toward me. I got to the spot and popped my head out of the water just in time to see a large breaking wave racing my way. It was probably the perfect shot, but sad to say, I lost my nerve. This was a big wave. I swam away, too late of course, and ended up in a froth of whitewater, pushing into my mask and up my nose. And then it was past.

I had to laugh. Truth is, I was never in danger. There’s enough space where I was that even this bigger wave wasn’t going to trouble me. But for that fleeting moment, I had serious doubts.

And this photo? Well, if the ‘mountain of water’ was too small, and my recent encounter too big, this wave was just right.

A manta ray glides through the water off the Big Island of Hawaii

A manta ray glides by

A manta ray glides through the water off the Big Island of Hawaii
Most weeks I post something in response to the WordPress photo challenge. This week’s theme is ‘evanescent,’ a word I wasn’t familiar with. The definition provided is “soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing,” or, put simply, ‘a moment in time.’

To me, this is what any photo is, a snapshot of a given moment. Even the look of a fixed object, a landscape, a building, a monument, is always changing. It could be the light, weather, activity around the subject. Everything is in constant flux, sometimes in obvious ways, sometimes only in the detail. With birds, animals, bugs, even plants – blowing in the wind – those changes of passing moments are more obvious.

So I thought I’d take this week’s challenge as my theme for the week (or at least the remaining six days of the challenge). I start off with this photo of a manta ray. One of the great joys of snorkeling is never knowing what I’ll see that day. It could be a common fish engaged in some activity I’ve never seen before. It could be a glimpse of something unexpected. It could be something seen only at a certain time of year. Whatever it is, it almost always gives me a little jolt of ‘wow.’

While out snorkeling, I got a jolt of ‘wow’ when I saw this manta ray gliding along in the opposite direction. I turned and followed its effortless progress for several minutes until it headed into deeper water and disappeared. An evanescent experience? I think so, though it won’t soon disappear from my memory.