Category Archives: Birds

Black Francolin

A Black Francolin in Hawaii
A Black Francolin in Hawaii

There are three kinds of francolins that can be found in Hawaii. In the 10 years I’ve lived here I’ve seen and photographed lots of Gray Francolins, the most common and loudest of the bunch. I’ve also got several photos of Erckel’s Francolins, which are noticeably larger than the other two. But though I’ve seen a fair number of Black Francolins, which have distinctive markings, I’ve never got a photo of one before.

It’s not that they’re rare – I see them fairly regularly – but I only ever seem to see them while I’m driving. By the time I stop the car, grab the camera, and get out, the francolin is long gone.

But last week, while I was at work, I looked out of the window and saw this bird ambling across what passes for a lawn here. I snagged my camera, ran outside and started taking photos. In the top one, the bird is about to leave the open area and head into scrubby grassland. It gave me the eye at a couple of points, and then headed away and out of sight. And, yes, the brown stalks are grass. This area gets very little rainfall, and it’s been exceptionally dry here as well.

A Black Francolin in Hawaii

It came from the pond

A Black-crowned night heron struggles o get out of an algae covered pond
A Black-crowned night heron struggles o get out of an algae covered pond
A Black-crowned night heron struggles o get out of an algae covered pond

Recently, I was down at the lagoon behind the beach at Pelekane Bay in Kawaihae. I was engaged in one of my favorite activities – failing to get photos of dragonflies in flight!

When I heard a loud plop behind me, I turned to find this scene. This Black-crowned Night Heron had dropped into the algae-covered water, probably after a fish. I don’t think it caught anything, but when it popped up again it sported a rather fetching green hairdo. Even after it had shed that, it still found the process of getting out of the water was hard going, with a lot of flapping and splashing producing little result.

Eventually the bird reached dry land and resumed a watchful pose, apparently none the worse for its ordeal.

A Black-crowned night heron struggles o get out of an algae covered pond

Great Frigatebird passing overhead

A great frigatebird flying off the coast of Hawaii

For Bushboy’s Last on the Card challenge (see more responses here), I had to hunt a bit for the last photo I took. Turned out it was almost a week ago, when I was walking on the coast. The top photo is the last one, unedited. The one below is the next to last, cropped and edited a bit.

This was one of those occasions when I noticed the bird before it reached me, something of an uncommon occurrence in my experience.

A great frigatebird flying off the coast of Hawaii

Myna bird juvenile

A juvenile myna bird waits for its parents

When I returned to my car after a visit to the post office, this young myna bird landed nearby. It started out on two legs, then one, then plunked down to wait. I think it was looking for its parents to deliver food. They were probably waiting for me to depart. This might be a young bird, but it’s clearly mastered the myna bird scowl.

White-tailed Tropicbird

A white-tailed tropicbird flying over North Kohala, Hawaii

Sometimes, when I’m walking along the coast, the first thing that alerts me to the presence of a bird is its shadow passing over me. This happened again a few days ago and I glanced up to see this White-tailed Tropicbird practically over my head and not by very much. By the time I wrestled my camera out the bird had glided out over the water and away. I watched it receding and put my camera away.

A white-tailed tropicbird flying over North Kohala, Hawaii

Moments later, I realized the bird was riding the wind back in my direction. I whisked my camera out and started doing pirouettes as it skimmed closer and turned again when overhead. Again it slid away towards the water. It repeated this maneuver two or three times before heading into the wind and out of sight.

I put my camera away again, hoping I had some good shots, and carried on with my walk. About a half mile father on, a shadow passed over me. I looked up and there was the bird again. I assumed it was the same one, and had snuck behind me while I wasn’t looking. This time the bird drifted out into the channel and disappeared towards Maui. These photos are from that encounter.

The next day, walking in the same area, I kept a watchful eye out for a reappearance, but didn’t see a thing … until a shadow passed over me. There it was again. This time the bird kept going and I didn’t even try to take a photo. It disappeared from view. A couple of minutes later, another shadow passed over. This was a different bird, following the first, so perhaps the day before had also been two birds.

I see these graceful birds once in awhile on my walks in this area, but I think large numbers of them can be found farther along the coast between Pololu and Waipio, nesting on the cliffs.

A white-tailed tropicbird flying over North Kohala, Hawaii

Old Saddle Road

Horses off Old Saddle Road on the Big Island, Hawaii
Horses frolic in pasture land alongside Old Saddle Road.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Road Trippin’.’ See more responses here. Since there aren’t any road trips, in the usual sense of the expression, here on the island, I thought I’d focus on a stretch of road that is one of my favorite drives here.

Old Saddle Road is an 11 mile stretch of the old highway that connected the west side of the island to the east side, through the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. These days, people take the new road, which is wide and smooth and allows drivers to zip along at 80 mph even though the speed limit is 60 mph. I like this highway, too, but the best part of any cross-island trip is always the old highway, which is up and down, winding, and dotted with one lane narrows where culverts pass under the highway (they’re not bridges) to channel the copious amounts of rain away from the road.

This stretch of road is bordered by ranch land, with horses, cattle, and sheep to the fore. There’s also a good variety of wildlife that can be seen in this area. And the weather can be anything from stunning to biblically awful, sometimes within the hour. So here are a few scenes that give an idea of that short, but special drive.

A ranch off Old Saddle Road on the Big Island, Hawaii
One of the ranches on Old Saddle Road.
Old Saddle Road on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Old Saddle Road undulates down towards the junction with the new highway.
View of Hualalai from Old Saddle Road on the Big Island, Hawaii
A view of Hualalai from Old Saddle Road, showing the new highway winding down towards Kailua Kona.
Two goats off Old Saddle Road on the Big Island, Hawaii
Goats can often be seen alongside Old Saddle Road.
A pueo off Old Saddle Road on the Big Island, Hawaii
O;d Saddle Road is a great place to see pueos, the endemic Hawaiian short-eared owl.
A pueo catches a mouse off Old Saddle Road on the Big Island, Hawaii
Sometimes I’m lucky enough to see a pueo catch a meal.
Mist in the trees off Old Saddle Road on the Big Island, Hawaii
Old Saddle Road can be shrouded in mist…
A view of Mauna Kea from Old Saddle Road on the Big Island, Hawaii
…or glow in the evening sun…
Sunset from Old Saddle Road on the Big Island, Hawaii
…and it’s a great place to take in the sunset.