Category Archives: January 2019

A delicate shade

underwater shade

This photo makes it look like someone has placed this delicate shade on a beach. In fact, I found it in 10 feet of water in an area that is often buffeted by large swells, making it’s perfect appearance all the more unlikely. How or why the shade got there is unknown, but for me, that adds to the mystery of the scene.

Cattle on the edge

cattle on a cliff edge

I used to live in the same town as Jim Whittaker, the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He duly published an autobiography titled, ‘A Life on the Edge.’ As someone who lives close to the flat center surrounded by fluffy pillows, I use that phrase as a punchline for many things.

“I think I might have another cookie.” “Ooo, life on the edge.”
“I bought new shorts that are a slightly different tan shade than my previous pair.” “Life on the edge.”

You get the idea, which has nothing to do with anything really except that, on this day, the cattle in these photos really were living life on the edge.

cattle on the edge

Agave attenuata

bee climbing through agave attenuata

agave attenuatabees in agave attenuataAgave attenuata is native to Mexico, but is commonly seen in Hawaii. It’s also known as lion’s tail agave, swan’s neck agave, or fox tail agave. These names stem from its long flower stalk which rises from the center of the leaves and arches over. Most agaves bloom and die, but agave attenuata blooms annually without dying. Also, unlike many other agaves, agave attenuata leaves don’t have leaves with sharp points or spiky edges.

The progression of the flowering process can be seen on one agave attenuata plant. In the photo at top right, starting at the base of the flowering stalk, there is a bare section where the flowering process has finished. Above that is a brownish section where small brown pods have been set. Some of these, that remain attached to the stem, will turn into green fruits. Near the end is the portion of the stalk that is currently flowering and at the end are buds that have yet to flower.

I was drawn to these plants, not just because of their striking flower stalks, but because in the mornings, bees were all over the plant. The top photo shows a bee clambering through a tangle of stamens and pistils. Bottom right, there were lots of bees working along the flowering portion of the inflorescence. Below, sometimes it’s hard work getting to grips with the task in hand.

bee in agave attenuata

Super blood wolf moon

blood moon over hawi

blood moonThe recent lunar eclipse occurred last Sunday evening here in Hawaii. When the moon rose at 6:02 p.m. (five minutes before sunset) the eclipse was already well underway. Where I was watching, the sky was hazy so the moon wasn’t very clear. It then disappeared into a bank of clouds and I considered heading for home. But the cloud bank wasn’t huge and was drifting away from the area I was watching.

Sure enough, a little before 7 p.m., the now fully-eclipsed moon slid above the clouds into a beautiful starlit night. I took some photos where I’d set up, down by the coast, and then headed into Hawi to see what it looked like there.

Above is a view from downtown Hawi (not exactly hopping at 7:20 on Sunday night). To the right is the moon soon after it rose above the clouds before the sky was fully dark. Below is the night sky with the moon in the bottom left and Orion at the top right.

Why the grand name for this eclipse? The moon was closer to the Earth than normal so it seemed bigger and brighter than usual, which is known as a supermoon. Because this was a total eclipse it gave the moon a red tint, which is known as a blood moon. And January’s full moon is sometimes called a wolf moon. Voila – a super blood wolf moon.

Posted in response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge on the theme of ‘Night,’ (See more responses here.) and this week’s Friendly Friday challenge on the theme of ‘Coral-ish colors.’ (See more responses here.)

blood moon and orion

Humpback whales

humpback mother and calf

humpback breachingWhale season is underway again. The first Humpbacks were seen back in November, but it wasn’t until late December that I started to see them regularly, if not exactly often. Also, the whales that I did see were either not terribly active or too far away to get decent photos.

A couple of days ago, out on my regular walk along the coast, I thought I was out of luck again when I came across this mother and calf. I saw the mother make only one breach, but the calf breached multiple times as they cruised long the coast.

Above, the mother cruises alongside while her calf raises itself out of the water one more time. To the right and below, the calf breaches.

Humpback whales make the long journey from their feeding grounds in Alaska to breed and to calve in Hawaii. But researchers are concerned that the number of whales sighted in Hawaiian waters has declined between 50 and 80 percent over the last four years. A recent conference in Honolulu attributed that decline to warmer waters in Alaska affecting the whales’ food supply. However, it’s not clear exactly how widespread that disruption is, how it affects humpback behavior, and whether overall humpback numbers are affected. But it is clear, at least to this casual observer, that the numbers aren’t bouncing back this year.

humpback calf breaches

A piratical goat

goat with strange horns eating

goat with strange hornsWhen I saw this goat, chomping on some bushes, my first thought was that it looked like a pirate. That’s certainly a mean-looking pair of horns. The curly one has pinned its left ear down, probably affecting its hearing. But the look in the photo at right is hardly menacing. I wouldn’t mess with him though.

Ghostly tree

ghostly tree

The last time I visited the Palila Forest Discovery Trail, on the southwest slopes of Mauna Kea, I didn’t see too many birds, but did enjoy looking down on the cloud layer covering the lowlands between Mauna Kea and Hualalai.

This tree sat on the slope of Mauna Kea at the point where the top of the clouds swirled around it, giving it a very ghostly appearance.