Category Archives: June 2020

Amaumau fern

The amaumau fern (Sadleria cyatheoides) is endemic to Hawaii and grows in a variety of areas from wet forests to recent lava flows. I saw these on the Powerline Trail, off of Saddle Road, where the elevation is above 5,000 feet.

These ferns are quite common, but on this day, the color of the new growth really caught my eye. New fiddles are orange to red, changing to green with age. In these photos, the various stages of growth can be seen. These ferns were low growing, but they can also take the form of a tree fern with an upright, trunk-like appearance.

Great frigatebirds on the wing

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Freedom.’ See more offerings here.

When Terri posts the Sunday Stills challenge themes for the month ahead, I usually check out what’s coming up. That way I can see what photos I have that fit the themes, or come up with ideas for what I could shoot.

When June’s themes were posted, my first thought for this one was of flying. Since the earliest of times, people have looked to the skies, watched birds, and envied their freedom of flight. Of the various birds I see here, the great frigatebird most epitomizes that freedom. These large birds cover great distances, gliding effortlessly across the sky, rarely flapping their wings but using the wind to maximum advantage.

I picked a couple of photos from my archives, expecting to use them since I hand’t seen any frigatebirds for many weeks. But a couple of days later, I saw one, though I didn’t get any good photos. That’s the other thing about these birds: they seem to have a knack for sneaking up on me, so that I usually notice them disappearing into the distance.

Over the next week or two, I saw a few more birds in similar situations. Then, one day, as I neared the coast below Upolu Airport, I saw a frigatebird flying into a strong wind. By the time I had my camera ready, it was again getting smaller. Still, I took photos and as I did so I saw a second bird, then a third. They continued heading east and I carried on down to the coast.

I hadn’t been there more than a couple of minutes when one of the birds shot by in front of me. It was pointing east, but heading north of west riding the stiff northeast trades that were blowing. A second followed, then a third, and a fourth that I hadn’t seen before. I expected them to quickly disappear on the wind, but once over the water, they regrouped and held their position, circling and gliding up and down. Then I noticed them edging back into and across the wind, heading my way. Slowly they came closer, still appearing to make little effort.

Eventually, the four of them passed directly overhead, the lowest maybe 20 feet above me. Almost immediately they turned and slipped back they way they came, only this time they kept going, gliding sideways in the general direction of Maui. I watched until I couldn’t see them anymore. The whole episode probably lasted no more than 15 minutes, but it seemed to last much longer.

I’m not much of a poetry buff, but these birds made me think of the opening lines of a poem called High Flight, written in 1941 by John Gillespie Magee Jr. when he was 19 and a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, stationed in England. They read:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.

Kamehameha Day

The statue of King Kamehameha is draped with leis as part of the proceedings.
A rider in the parade as it passes through Hawi.

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Summer Traditions.’ See more responses here.

Some summer traditions, such as barbecues and going to the beach are year-round here, but Kamehameha Day is an event that kicks off summer, occurring as it does in mid-June. There’s a ceremony at the king’s statue in Kapaau, a parade through the community, and festivities at the local park. Many places mark the king’s birthday with similar events, but some take place on the Saturday nearest his birth date. In North Kohala, the king’s birthplace, the celebration is always on the actual date regardless of which day it falls on.

This year though, the celebration was one of a multitude of events cancelled because of the Covid-19 virus. These photos are from previous years’ events.

Hula dancers dance in front of the statue during the opening ceremonies.

Search helicopter over Mau’umae Beach

I saw this Hawaii County Fire Department Search and Rescue helicopter flying over Mau’umae Beach, just south of Kawaihae. I think it was just on a training exercise, but we have had a run of missing fishermen and free divers so it might have been associated with one of those searches.

The body of one fisherman was located submerged along the coast, but no trace of the others has been found yet, to my knowledge. The standard practice on the Big Island is to search for three days. If nothing is found by the end of that time, then they call it off.

There are strong currents around the island and if a swimmer or fisherman is injured in the water, it’s easy for them to be swept out to sea, where the chances of finding them diminish rapidly. Sad as it is when a body is recovered, it’s almost harder when nothing is found and there is no sense of closure for families and friends.

Stareye parrotfish

The magenta lines around the eye of this fish identify it as a supermale stareye parrotfish. Parrotfish have initial and terminal phases. Most adults remain in the initial phase throughout their lives as either males or females, though some parrotfish are all females.

Terminal phase parrotfish are called supermales. These are female initial phase fish which have reversed their sex. They will fertilize most of the eggs laid by initial phase females in their territories. When one of these supermales dies, another initial phase female will reverse sex and take its place.

Leopard orchid

Leopard orchids (Grammatophyllum scriptum) come from the low-lying coastal areas of Southeast Asia. They produce abundant, showy flowers, but can grow to be quite large. Because of this growth habit, they’re most often seen in botanical gardens rather than domestic gardens.

This one was at Hawai’i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden. For more information about Hawai’i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden, go to htbg.com.