Category Archives: Volcanoes

Sunrise over Kohala Mountain

Sunrise over the Kohala mountains

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Signs of Autumn.’ See more responses here.

We’re a little short on autumnal changes here. I tend to mark seasonal changes in terms of wildlife, such as the return of humpback whales in winter. For autumn, the return of Pacific golden plovers from their summer breeding grounds in Alaska is probably the most notable.

Outside of wildlife, the shortening of the days does register here. It’s not as dramatic as when I lived in Washington State, with summer sunsets around 9 p.m. and winter darkness setting in a little after 4 p.m.. In Hawaii, the equivalent times are 7 p.m. and 6 p.m., not such a big difference.

But it does make a difference for my morning commute, and autumn signals the time when I usually leave home when it’s mostly dark and arrive at work when it’s mostly light. I also try and give myself a little extra commuting time so I can pull over and take photographs when the sunrise merits it, such as this streaky red sunrise over Kohala mountain.

Red-masked parakeets

Red-masked parakeets at Kohanaiki Beach Park.
A Red-masked parakeet at Kohanaiki Beach Park.

I’ve lived in Hawaii for more than nine years now and had previously never seen any of those most tropical of birds, the parrots. One reason for this is that parrots aren’t native to Hawaii, but a variety of different parrots have become established here.

Red-masked parakeets were first seen here in 1988 and are probably the most common parrot on the Big Island. They’re natives of Ecuador and Peru, but are now fairly well established on the Kona coast, which is where I saw this a pair, in Kohanaiki Beach Park. While they forage along the coast here, they roost high up on the slopes of Hualalai Volcano.

Subaru Telescope visit

The Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii at sunset
The Subaru Telescope at sunset.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Going Back….’ See more responses here.

I was thinking about posting photos going back to my first visit to Hawaii, but in looking at them, I realized that I’d never posted photos from my tour of the Subaru Telescope, which I took a few months after moving here. At the time, the Subaru Telescope was the only one on the summit of Mauna Kea that offered tours to the general public, though the tours have been shut down by the current Covid situation.

I particularly remember the fabulous views from the walkway around the exterior of the telescope. The interior of the telescope was also interesting, though in the abstract way of a giant piece of equipment. This is not a telescope where one gets to put an eye to the lens to see what’s going on, though I was charmed to learn that when Princess Sayako of Japan dedicated the telescope in 1999, she was able to do just that because a special eyepiece had been constructed for that purpose!

The Subaru Telescope is a Ritchey-Chretien reflecting telescope. It has a large field of view which makes it ideal for wide-field sky surveys. For more information about the Subaru Telescope, visit The telescope’s live camera stream captured a cool video of last month’s Perseid Meteor Shower which can be seen here.

Mauna Ulu

A view of Mauna Ulu crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
A view of Mauna Ulu crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Burlywood.’ (See more responses here.) It’s a color I’d never heard of before, apparently a shade of khaki. I’ve gone for some photos of Mauna Ulu, a crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The Mauna Ulu eruption took place between 1969 and 1974 and transformed the landscape of the park. A good guide to the eruption can be found here. These days, it’s a quiet area and plants have gained a foothold in the main crater, though the slopes are still mostly barren. And it’s those slopes, seen from the air, that have a pronounced khaki, or burlywood color.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to

A view of Mauna Ulu crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.


This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Geometric–explore various angles.’ I’ve focused more on the ‘various angles’ than the geometric.

Ohia trees (Metrosideros polymorpha) are endemic to Hawaii and the flower of these trees is the official flower of the Big Island. Depending on growing conditions, ohias can vary from ground hugging shrubs to 50 foot trees. They grow at sea level and at elevations up to 8,000 feet. They’re probably most noted for two things. One is their brilliant display of flowers. The other is that they’re usually the first plants to recolonize lava flows.

They grow in lava is because their roots reach down into lava tubes and tap into the moisture available there. But ohia can also put out aerial roots to gather moisture. They’re very flexible in this way.

The puffball flowers are actually clusters of flowers. Each flower is made up of a bunch of stamens (the male part of the flower) and a single pistil (the female part) which is thicker and longer than the stamens. When the flowers have been pollinated, the stamens fall away until only the pistil remains. This too will disappear as the calyx, where the seeds are found, develops. Eventually, the calyx will dry out and release the tiny mature seeds, to be dispersed by the winds, and hopefully grow into new ohia trees.

Also posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Trees.’ See more responses here.

A tree growing out of a tree

A tree growing out of a lava tree

Becky’s Squares challenge theme for July is ‘Trees.’ See more responses here.

Trees tend to be vertical and thus represent a bit of a problem for a squares challenge. However, I am nothing if not devious, and a rectangle can be nothing more than a collection of squares! By way of compensation, these images feature two trees for the price of one.

The lower part of the image is a lava tree. This is the lava formation that can be left when a living tree is surrounded by a lava flow. But that lava tree then can be a platform for plants to grow in the hollow center. In this case, the plant that’s growing is another tree.

I’d add something about this representing the cycle of life, but that’s circular and thus wildly inappropriate for a squares challenge! For a little more about lava trees, see here.