Tag Archives: Kohanaiki

Brighamia insignis

Brighamia insignis flowers at Kohanaiki Beach Park, Hawaii
A Brighamia insignis plant at Kohanaiki Beach Park, Hawaii
A Brighamia insignis flower at Kohanaiki Beach Park, Hawaii

I saw this Brighamia insignis plant in the Hawaiian garden at Kohanaiki Beach Park. It caught my eye for its unusual appearance, which is the source of one of its common names of cabbage-on-a-stick. In Hawaii it’s called Ālula, Hāhā, Pū aupaka, or ʻŌlulu.

Brighamia insignis is endemic to Hawaii, specifically the sea cliffs of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau. However, if you look for it there you’re almost certainly going to be disappointed. The last survey in 2014 found just one plant in Kauaʻi. The reasons for its demise are familiar. The hawk moth that used to pollinate the plant is long since extinct and it has been ravaged by introduced species. In addition, in 1992, Hurricane ʻIniki destroyed half the remaining wild plants.

On the bright side, the plant is easy to propagate by hand and it has been widely distributed by nurseries and botanical gardens.

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.

Pallid ghost crab

A Pallid ghost crab on a beach in Hawaii
A Pallid ghost crab on a beach in Hawaii

I saw this crab on the beach south of Kohanaiki Park. Pallid ghost crabs are small, with a carapace only an inch or so wide. They’re also speed demons, zipping across the sand, usually to disappear into their holes. That’s how I saw this one, on the move. But instead of diving for cover, it remained above ground.

I took some photos from distance before edging closer to try and capture more detail. The crab didn’t move. My biggest challenge was finding it in the camera’s viewfinder. Even though I knew where it was, half the time I wasn’t sure whether I had it in shot or not, they blend in so well.

The top photo shows the best of the close-ups. The second one gives an idea of the crab’s perfect coloration for its environment.