Category Archives: Scenes

Hawaiian stilts nesting

Hawaiian stilts at Kohanaiki Beach Park in Hawaii
A Hawaiian stilt sits on a nest at Kohanaiki Beach Park in Hawaii
A Hawaiian stilt at Kohanaiki Beach Park in Hawaii

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

I saw these two Hawaiian stilts at Kohanaiki Beach Park. They were in a pond at the south end of the park and, when I arrived, one was already making a lot of noise. I think this was because another person was walking on the path bordering one side of the pond. My arrival meant that the wading bird kept up its noise as it moved across the pond, away from the bird on the nest.

I took some photos and moved on. When I returned from my walk, 90 minutes later, all was quiet. The bird on the nest was still there, the other was gone. I looked around and saw the other bird in a neighboring pond, at which point, the bird saw me. It immediately began making a lot of noise and then flew back to the pond where the nest was. After a splashy landing it gathered itself, gave me a long look and then began wading along the edge of the pond, probing for snacks. It occurred to me that this bird’s very demonstrative behavior was mostly to get my attention and, by doing so, draw it away from the nesting bird. It kept up its noise, kept moving away from the nest. When I left, the bird quietened immediately. Hawaiian stilts are known for robustly defending their nests and also for such acts as feigning injury to draw attention away from the nest.

The Hawaiian stilt (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) is considered a sub-species of the North American black-necked stilt. In Hawaii it’s called the aeʻo. It’s an endangered species and, while the population is considered stable or increasing slightly, it’s estimated that the total population is less than two-thousand birds.

In the little-known-fact department, the Hawaiian stilt’s long, pink legs are the second-longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any bird. Only flamingos rank above them in this regard.

Naio

A Western Pygmy Blue Butterfly on Myoporum sandwicense (Naio) flower at Kohanaiki Beach Park
Myoporum sandwicense (Naio) at Kohanaiki Beach Park

Naio (Myoporum sandwicense) is an endemic plant that has a variety of forms, from ground cover to tree. The flower color can also vary quite a bit. I’ve seen pinkish purple blooms previously, but these flowers, on a shrubby plant, were all white. Naio used to be common in Hawaii, but now is much less so. It’s known as false sandalwood because the heartwood of the tree form smells similar to true sandalwood.

The butterfly in the top photo is a Western Pygmy Blue butterfly. a native of the Americas, it was first seen in Hawaii in 1978.

Where there’s smoke

Smoke obscures Kohala Mountain Hawaii
Smoke obscures Kohala Mountain Hawaii

I work at Hapuna on the South Kohala coast and typically, during the day, clouds build up to the north and east until Kohala Mountain, Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa are obscured. That was the case a few days ago when I noticed a dense, dark patch rolling down the hill from Waimea. My first thought was that this was rain headed my way, but it looked odd. It proved to be smoke, a fact soon confirmed when the smell filled the air.

The smoke came from a brush fire, 30 miles away, in the vicinity of Pa’auilo on the Hamakua coast. Tradewinds blew the smoke over the saddle at Waimea and on down towards the ocean. The fire consumed about 1,400 acres of brush and eucalyptus trees before it was contained late the next day. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it’s been remarkably dry for quite a while so the fire danger is currently high.

The top two photos show smoke blotting out Kohala Mountain, the second one being taken 15 minutes after the first. (Compare this with the hillside under normal circumstances here.) The bottom photo, taken a little way north of Kawaihae, shows the plume of smoke over the ocean with clear skies to the north of it.

Smoke hangs in the sky off the Kohala Coast Hawaii

Green turtle swimming in Kiholo Bay

A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii
A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii
A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii
A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii

The last time I was down at Kiholo Bay I saw this green turtle in one of the pools around the edge the lagoon. When the turtle saw me, it might have felt a bit vulnerable in such shallow water. It immediately headed for the lagoon proper, at a leisurely pace, before cresting a ridge and easing into deeper water. Once there, it popped up for a breath, then disappeared into the milky waters.

A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii
A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii