Tag Archives: Birds

Ocean, sky, clouds, and noddys

Yesterday, I was processing photos I’d taken over the past few days. When I saw this one, I thought, ‘I could have used that on Sunday,’ when responding to the Sunday Stills challenge theme of ‘Sky’ (more responses here), and Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective’ (more responses here).

Usually, when I’m in the water, my focus is on spotting fish. But I also look around with my head above water and, one morning, I saw this flock of Hawaiian noddys wheeling back and forth over the ocean. Just after I took this photo, they flew directly overhead before gliding away to the south.

Hoppy the rooster

This is the first day of Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.

I thought I’d start with this photo. To many people this probably looks like a somewhat windblown rooster, but from my perspective, this is something else entirely. This is Hoppy, the temporally-challenged rooster. This is Hoppy, the no-amplifier-required rooster. This is Hoppy, the demon rooster.

Hoppy has a bad foot, hence the name, and perhaps this has thrown him off. He’s started crowing as early as 1:30 in the morning, but regularly pipes up in the two o’clock hour, the three o’clock hour, the four o’clock hour, and the five o’clock hour. Since his roost is in the hedge next to the house, his first blasts tend to be close by, and he is loud. Perhaps it’s just because it’s so quiet otherwise, but his call carries and I don’t need to hear rooster rock at those hours.

I generally succeeded in training him not to hang out into the yard, but have failed to dislodge him from his roost. He keeps coming back. Or should I say, kept coming back. Whisper it quietly, but I haven’t seen or, more importantly, heard Hoppy for three days now. Whilst I’ve thought unkind thoughts about him, I haven’t actually done anything to him. But other people live within earshot, so perhaps they have. Or maybe Hoppy just wandered off in the same way that he wandered in. He never acquired any hens here, so I’ll think positively and and hope he’s found a true love and is happy. Unless he comes back, that is.

Great frigatebirds on the wing

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Freedom.’ See more offerings here.

When Terri posts the Sunday Stills challenge themes for the month ahead, I usually check out what’s coming up. That way I can see what photos I have that fit the themes, or come up with ideas for what I could shoot.

When June’s themes were posted, my first thought for this one was of flying. Since the earliest of times, people have looked to the skies, watched birds, and envied their freedom of flight. Of the various birds I see here, the great frigatebird most epitomizes that freedom. These large birds cover great distances, gliding effortlessly across the sky, rarely flapping their wings but using the wind to maximum advantage.

I picked a couple of photos from my archives, expecting to use them since I hand’t seen any frigatebirds for many weeks. But a couple of days later, I saw one, though I didn’t get any good photos. That’s the other thing about these birds: they seem to have a knack for sneaking up on me, so that I usually notice them disappearing into the distance.

Over the next week or two, I saw a few more birds in similar situations. Then, one day, as I neared the coast below Upolu Airport, I saw a frigatebird flying into a strong wind. By the time I had my camera ready, it was again getting smaller. Still, I took photos and as I did so I saw a second bird, then a third. They continued heading east and I carried on down to the coast.

I hadn’t been there more than a couple of minutes when one of the birds shot by in front of me. It was pointing east, but heading north of west riding the stiff northeast trades that were blowing. A second followed, then a third, and a fourth that I hadn’t seen before. I expected them to quickly disappear on the wind, but once over the water, they regrouped and held their position, circling and gliding up and down. Then I noticed them edging back into and across the wind, heading my way. Slowly they came closer, still appearing to make little effort.

Eventually, the four of them passed directly overhead, the lowest maybe 20 feet above me. Almost immediately they turned and slipped back they way they came, only this time they kept going, gliding sideways in the general direction of Maui. I watched until I couldn’t see them anymore. The whole episode probably lasted no more than 15 minutes, but it seemed to last much longer.

I’m not much of a poetry buff, but these birds made me think of the opening lines of a poem called High Flight, written in 1941 by John Gillespie Magee Jr. when he was 19 and a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, stationed in England. They read:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.

Signs: Nēnē crossing

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Unusual.’ See more responses here.

Nēnē, the endemic Hawaiian geese, are long-distant relatives of Canada geese. They were listed as an endangered species, until the end of last year when their status was changed to ‘threatened.’

Because of the nēnē’s precarious numbers, it isn’t unusual to see “Slow, Nēnē Crossing” signs, particularly in areas where nēnē breed. Because their numbers are on the rebound on the Big Island, it’s also not unusual for me to see nēnē, on my daily walks or when I was working. But in my years on the island, I never saw a nēnē anywhere near one of the warning signs, until earlier this year, just before the lockdown. This sign and these two birds were in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where a fair number of the birds live and breed.

I had to stop and get a photo of this unusual event, fortunately without getting myself or the birds killed (it’s a busy, narrow road). The only disappointing thing about this encounter was that neither of the nēnē actually crossed the road. I guess I’ll have to wait another seven years to witness that.

Laysan albatross

Not the greatest photo, I know, but when I saw this bird flying off the North Kohala coast I knew it was something I hadn’t seen before.

It’s a Laysan albatross, more often seen on Kaua’i and O’ahu, but also on other Hawaiian islands. This wide-ranging traveler can cover a couple of thousand miles or more as it searches the Pacific for food.

Nutmeg mannikin

Nutmeg mannikin (Lonchura punctulata) is also known as scaly-breasted munia and spice finch. They feed on grass seeds. Here, a mannikin is feeding on cane grass seeds. It will work its way up the stem until the whole plant is stripped and the farther up it goes, the more the stem bends.

Watching from the shadows

I was taking photos of birds in the yard – northern cardinals, Japanese white-eyes, and saffron finches – when I noticed that I wasn’t the only one watching them intently. A neighbor’s black cat was following their every move, until it realized that it wasn’t the only one doing that. Then it turned its stare on me.

Ring-necked ducks and lesser scaup

I saw a little group of ducks on a small reservoir near Hapuna. Most are ring-necked ducks, the bird on the right in the top photo being a male, and the two birds on the left below, being females. The odd one out is the bird on the left in the top photo and on the right below. That’s a female lesser scaup.

According to my bird book, a small number of lesser scaups migrate to Hawaii every year, but ring-necked ducks are considered uncommon visitors.

Thanks to birdforum.net for help with the identification of the female lesser scaup.