Category Archives: Animals

A mantis buffet

At Upolu Airport, where I go walking a lot, there’s a mock orange hedge with a passion vine running through it. I check this hedge to see what’s happening on it and lately, it’s been overrun by flies. I don’t know why this is, but I wasn’t surprised when I noticed two praying mantises stationed in the hedge. They were having a field day.

The flies would flit around as flies do, but when one settled, a mantis would strike. Their success rate was quite high, but the flies were easy targets. The safest place to be was on one of the mantises, but that wasn’t a long term solution.

The scene remained the same over three or four days, and then, though the flies were still around, the mantises disappeared. I guess that’s understandable. I mean, how many flies do you think you could eat before you’d start looking for something different?

The golfball

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Towering.’ See more responses here.

Up near the top of Kohala Mountain is this array of towers. They sit in the middle of pastureland, surrounded by cattle and horses. The one with the large white ball on top is NEXRAD, the Next Generation Weather Radar, which provides current time information showing where clouds and rain are moving through the area. It’s also a navigation aid to local pilots who refer to it as the golfball.

The cattle don’t have access to the information from the golfball, but they know that when they’re wet, it’s raining, and when they’re dry, it’s not, and really that’s all anyone needs to know.

Gecko and pasta

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Inside.’ See more responses here.

I have a ladder I keep in a shed. Lately, I’ve had to access the attic on a regular basis (rat problems!) and have to bring the ladder inside to do so. I’ve learned from experience that, while in the shed, the ladder is home to a variety of creatures, mostly geckos. So before I bring it in the house I do my best to shake out the residents. Almost always, one or two will leap to safety. However, sometimes it’s not until I have the ladder in the house and set up that the more tenacious geckos make a break for it.

I’ve had a spate of this happening, which has resulted in a boost in the numbers of nocturnal house geckos inside. This, in turn, has resulted in territorial clashes between the geckos.

What does this have to do with jars of pasta? Well, at one end of this shelf is a cupboard which is home to one of the resident geckos. The other end of the shelf falls into the realm of a house gecko that lives in a closet in the next room. Into this setup, up above the jars, stumbled one of the new geckos. When it got too close to one end, the cupboard gecko chased it away. It ran to the other end where the closet gecko chased it back. Back and forth it went with the other geckos closing in with each pass. Soon the three of them were very close together.

At this point, the new gecko scurried down the wall in amongst the jars. This left the two resident geckos facing off in close proximity. Cupboard gecko charge the other one, but ran right past while closet gecko just looked bemused. Problem was, now they were both separated from their respective territories by the other gecko. A series of feints and scampers ensued before they regained their own homes.

In the meantime, the new gecko kept a low profile down amongst the pasta jars. That’s when I took this photo, as it was tentatively checking to see if the coast was clear.

Bees on a mock orange

The mock orange next to the house has bloomed again. It does this several times a year, sometimes just parts of it, sometimes all of it. This latest bloom was the whole tree and when that happens the bees come out in force. Step outside, and a low hum fills the air as well as an intense aroma.

I take lots of photos, trying to capture something of interest to me, such as a bee approaching a flower (top), helicoptering in to land (middle), and getting stuck in (bottom). In the bottom photo, I was struck by the flat underside of the bee, not something I’d noticed before.

Pluchea carolinensis

Pluchea carolinensis is also known as sourbush and cure-for-all. This latter name probably comes from its medicinal use in its native range, which is the tropical Americas. It’s a member of the aster family – Asteraceae.

The plant was first reported in Hawaii in 1931 and on the Big Island in 1933. It’s believed to be an accidental introduction, possibly associated with shipping to Hawaii and within the islands. The onset of World War II prompted the plant’s spread through the Pacific, probably in military shipments.

On the Big Island it’s most often seen in drier coastal areas, but it can tolerate a variety of climates and conditions. These photos were taken on the Puna Coast Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Early morning pu’u

In Hawaii, a pu’u is a hill. These are old cinder cones that dot the landscape from the coast to the top of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

Along Old Saddle Road, the land and it’s pu’us are grass-covered. This pastureland is cattle, horse, and sheep country, with a lot of goats thrown in for good measure. The land is steep and and rough and the grass varied, but the rainfall is heavy enough that there’s a lot of it.

Old Saddle Road is one of my favorite drives on the island, particularly in the early morning (above) and late afternoon (below).

Posted in response to Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘Splendour in the Grass.’ See more responses here.

Wild pig with a mango

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘From Your Window.’ See more responses here.

There’s a very large mango tree in the yard, which is an erratic producer of fruit. Some years, there’s not much. Other years, the tree looks like an overdecorated Christmas tree. In those times, it’s best not to spend much time under the tree, particularly when it’s windy, because the thud of fruit hitting the ground is frequent (though, standing under that tree is risky any time, since large branches are prone to breaking off).

When fruit does start to fall, wild pigs move in. There are always windfalls available and the pigs love this easily-accessed treat. The pig population around here varies, mostly depending on whether hunters are active in the area. Pigs are nocturnal, so do most of their foraging at night, but the younger ones are more likely to venture out in daylight hours, either because they haven’t yet learned how dangerous that is, or because it’s harder for them to get a look-in when the big pigs are around.

This year, there have been as many as nine pigs in the yard at one time, but this younger pig was out by itself. As there were quite a few mangos on the ground, it was being quite choosy as to which ones to eat. Hard ones will be shunned, unless that’s all there is. This mango was just right, and the pig was tucking in until something disturbed it and it ran off, but not without its prize.

Mostly the pigs are a source of entertainment and don’t bother me. The exception is when they roam past the bedroom window in the middle of the night and get into arguments, grunting and squealing. They also have a very ripe smell, which drifts in through the open window. Fortunately, they’re easy to disperse. I just do my large, angry dog impersonation, consisting of a few loud barks, and they disappear like they’ve been shot out of a cannon.