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

Green hover fly

A green hover fly hangs upside down on a leaf

The reason I don’t like this photo is because, just a moment before, this green hover fly (Ornidia obesa) had been right side up in the sun, which illuminated its wonderful metallic-green body. Alas, by the time I got my camera out, it had relocated to this spot.

Still, it’s an interesting fly, which could just as easily be called the green wolf fly – ‘what big eyes you have.’

Halemaumau Crater

A view of Halemaumau Crater and Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The latest eruption at Kilauea Volcano has recently been declared paused. It was never an especially dramatic eruption, but when I went down a few days after it began (here) the sky was illuminated by the activity. In recent weeks though, the lava lake formed by the eruption crusted over completely and lava from the active vent was also hidden from view.

The photos are two views of Halemaumau Crater, taken before this latest eruption. In the top one, the collapsed floor of the crater is on the left. This is what the new lava lake was filling up. On the ridge, to the right side of the photo, is the low profile of the Jaggar Museum, which was closed after the 2018 eruption and likely won’t reopen.

The bottom photo shows the easternmost edge of Halemaumau Crater, which wasn’t greatly impacted by this eruption or the events of 2018. Consequently, the walls of the crater are quite green and the floor is dotted with plants. These plants are mostly ohia trees, which are among the first plants to grow in lava fields, in part because their roots will tap into lava tubes to find moisture and nutrients.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kilauea’s eruptions, go to nps.gov/havo/.

A view of Halemaumau Crater from the Byron Ledge Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Tangerines

Tangerines on a tree in Hawaii

The truth is, I get to cheat on Bushboy’s Last on the Card photo challenge (more responses here). I generally see his post in the late afternoon here since he’s in Australia and many hours ahead of me in Hawaii. That was the case today and when I looked, I found that, for various reasons, I hadn’t taken any photos in more than a week.

So I poked my head outside and immediately thought of the tangerine trees in the yard. One is so heavily laden with fruit that a couple of branches are scraping the ground. Despite the trees looking to be in terrible condition, they fruit prolifically. An interesting fact is that the only flower I’ve ever seen on these trees was an orchid growing at the base of one of the branches. What’s that about?