Another post from things seen walking around home or work. In this case a pair of Java Sparrows at work and nesting in the roof above the office. I rarely saw Java Sparrows before this year, but now we have half a dozen or more nesting in the roof. Not that I’m complaining. They’re fun birds to watch.
Posted for Becky’s Squares theme of “Walking” (See more responses here).
Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a is a cinder cone on the slopes of Hualalai volcano. The name means “many-furrowed hill,” and it’s a place I like to walk at least once a year, but it had been a while since I was up there. Usually, I go there in the spring when Jacarandas and other flowers are blooming. I also try to go in the early morning, since the area tends to cloud up during the day and the wonderful views become obscured.
A couple of weeks ago I made a late decision to do the hike again since the weather looked unusually good. I got there around 2pm and it will come as no surprise that I spent the first 15 minutes of the hike taking photos of Williwilli flowers on a tree about 20 feet from where I parked! (More of those in a few days.)
The trail follows an old road up the hill past Silk Oak trees, at the tail end of their flowering and sporting a deep red hue I hadn’t seen before. Turn around, and there are good views of Maui to be had. The old road peters out near an old blockhouse, now lacking doors and windows, which offers shelter to livestock on the ranch here. Off to one side is an old quarry, which cuts into the side of the hill. Usually there are goats in this area, but I didn’t see any on this day. Farther up is what’s left of Tamaki Corral, which dates back around 100 years.
Not far after the corral, the trail climbs steeply toward the top. This was where I found a change in the trail. Whereas before the trail was an out-and-back up a steep slope to the top, now a loop has been created. I took this new option to the top where, on this remarkably clear late afternoon, I had great views of Maui, Kohala Mountain, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai. A new sign at the top welcomes hikers to the nearly 4,000 foot summit, and there’s a survey marker at the top riddled with holes, not from gunfire, but to let the wind blow through. There are also a couple of benches where one can sit a while enjoying the views (weather permitting). The hike is steep in places, but not difficult, though not everyone makes it back alive!
I followed the old trail back down and ran into several sheep, which have the run of the land up here, as the sun dipped behind the ridge.
One other difference I noticed with this afternoon hike was the proliferation of birds. There were large numbers of finches, mostly Saffron Finches flitting about, preparing to roost for the evening. Yellow-fronted Canaries were all over the tree tobacco flowers. I also saw, and heard, several Erckel’s Francolins doing their usual fine job of blending in with the vegetation.
And as I walked back down the hill towards my car, the late afternoon sun still shone, illuminating grasses alongside the trail.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Feed the Birds.’ See more responses here.
In the top photo, this ambitious juvenile black-crowned night heron snaffled a tilapia from a large backyard pond. However, that was the easy part. I watched it for quite a while, trying to swallow the fish. It flew from the pond into a tree, then on to another one, before returning to the ground beyond some rocks. The fish was still in its beak, but no closer to reaching its stomach.
In the middle photo, a house finch chows down on the fruit of a tree heliotrope (Tournefortia argentea).
In the bottom photo, a palila feeds on a mamane (Sophora chrysophylla) seed pod. Typically, a palila will grab a pod from one place and then take it to another branch to eat it. It pins the green, immature seed pod to the branch, as in this photo, and then bashes away at it with its powerful beak. The seeds are poisonous, but palilas have developed an immunity to the toxins. The brown pods in this photo won’t be eaten by palilas. They will remain on the tree for a long time before dropping and hopefully producing more trees, though mamane seeds have quite low propagation rates.
This week sees the return of the Friendly Friday challenge with a theme of ‘All in a Row.’ See more responses here.
I’ve plumped for some bird photos. Above, a trio of common myna birds stand on a railing looking severe, as they always do. Middle, wild turkeys form two lines, as if they’re performing some kind of dance routine. Below, African silverbills perch on a fence overlooking the ocean.
Monkeypod trees are renowned for their spread, creating large shady areas below. They also provide habitat for many birds including this saffron finch, enjoying a rest in the relative cool of the lower branches.
I saw these two saffron finches at Pu’u Wa’awa’a. The one seemed to be checking out a nicely-appointed knot hole in a tree while the other bird sat on a branch offering a different opinion.
I don’t know whether they were looking for a nesting site, or the one bird was exploring and the other wasn’t pleased, or something else entirely. I walked on past never to know what the interaction was all about. But sometimes it’s more fun to speculate.