I saw these two horses in Waimea, near the Parker Ranch headquarters. Nothing remarkable about them, but I’m pretty sure that brown lump in the grass is a third horse. I mention this because one of the early things I learned about horses is that they sleep standing up. They can do this because they have something called the stay apparatus, which locks the knees so they don’t fall over. The benefit of sleeping while standing is that they can respond quicker to a predator attack from that position.
While I learned this bit about horses, it didn’t register in the same way that horses will also lie down to sleep. As a result, every single time I see a horse lying stretched out in the grass the way they do, I think it’s dead or dying. Despite knowing better, this response seems to so ingrained in me that I doubt it will ever go away.
I see this stand of yuccas on the drive into Waimea and watch for it to bloom. When it does, late afternoons are the best time for photographs so I try to remember to stop on the way back from hiking off Saddle Road or at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In this instance, it was the latter, and I was passing by around 6 pm.
Look closely at the top photo and the telescopes of Mauna Kea can be seen in the distant background, which is a bit unusual for this time of day, morning being their time to shine.
Pu’uanahulu is a small community midway between Kailua Kona and Waimea, on the upper road between those two communities. I don’t drive that highway much, except when I go to hike up Pu’u Wa’awa’a. Last time I did this, driving through Pu’uanahulu, I noticed that the jacaranda trees were in bloom alongside the road. What I hadn’t realized is just how many jacaranda trees there are in this area.
These photos are taken from the northern slopes of Pu’u Wa’awa’a. The bottom photo shows the general area with the purple jacaranda flowers of Pu’uanahulu clearly visible. The top photo shows a closer view of part of the community and the abundance of flowering jacaranda trees.
These days, the military conducts exercises at its Pōhakuloa Training Area in the saddle between Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and Hualālai. At 133,000 acres, it’s the largest such installation in Hawaii or anywhere else in the Pacific.
But during World War II, the military leased 91,000 acres from Parker Ranch, around Waimea and down towards Kawaihae. A temporary base, called Camp Tarawa, was built on this land, and much of the rest of it was called the Waikoloa Maneuver Area. This area was used to train troops for campaigns in the Pacific.
After the war, the land was returned to Parker Ranch. While it was cleared of most munitions, a lot of shrapnel can still be found there today. The top photo shows part of the haul from a half-hour walk through the area. The coin is a U.S. quarter, a little under an inch in diameter. Many of the pieces have lines, grooves, and other marks that might help identify what munitions they were once part of.
The photo to the right shows a piece of shrapnel lying in the dirt in the scrubby ground that makes up most of this area. Kawaihae Harbor can be seen at the top right. I thought it would be hard to spot shrapnel in this terrain, but it’s surprisingly easy. Shrapnel has a slight, but distinctly different look to the dirt and lava rocks. Pick it up and it’s noticeably heavier than any of the rocks.
Hunting for shrapnel isn’t without risks. Apart from the dangers of wandering around on rough, unstable ground, there’s always a chance of finding something live. Best tread lightly.
I saw this pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl) near Waimea and pulled over to take photos. I watched and photographed it for 15 minutes or so and, at the time, I thought there was something unusual about it. Something didn’t seem quite right. But it wasn’t until I got home and looked at the photos that I realized what was up.
The pueo was missing its left eye. The eye socket seemed healed and the pueo didn’t appear to be in pain. Nor did it seem affected in its flying or behavior. In some ways this makes sense. Owls have great eyesight, but it’s their hearing that is truly extraordinary. They can pinpoint prey just by listening. However, in Hawaii, pueos are active during the day so one would think eyesight might be a more important sense than for nocturnal owls.
Either way, I felt a bit sad for the pueo, but I’m also keenly aware that nature isn’t all warm and fuzzy. And I’ve seen several creatures that have been significantly damaged in one way or another that seem to be doing fine despite their handicaps. Perhaps, from a Darwinian point of view, they’re not successful when it comes to finding a mate and breeding, so their genes are not passed on. I don’t know whether this is the case, but it’s certainly possible.
Regardless, I hope for the best for this pueo. Life for them is tough enough as it is without added challenges.
Posted in response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge on the theme of ‘Unusual.’ (See more offerings here.)
The town of Waimea sits in the saddle between Mauna Kea and Kohala Mountain. The town is also known as Kamuela because several towns on other islands have the name ‘Waimea’ too. The postal service needed something more exclusive so Kamuela, Hawaiian for Samuel, was chosen to honor a local citizen.
This view shows the town nestled among trees and backed by pu’us (hills) on the flank of Kohala Mountain. It could be considered a rather bucolic view, which is something of a private joke in this household. A couple of years ago, a run down and shuttered gas station, at the main intersection in town, was becoming something of an eyesore. A letter to the local paper deplored this situation, saying it was a blight on ‘bucolic Waimea.’
Truth is, Waimea looks a good deal more bucolic from a distance. Close up, it’s a busy small town, with a good deal of traffic and a couple of prominent shopping centers. It’s really a quite nice small town, but I’m not sure ‘bucolic’ is how I’d describe it.
I think this is Pu’u Kaliali, southeast of Waimea, catching a patch of late afternoon sun on an otherwise cloudy day. Waimea is the home to Parker Ranch, the second largest ranch in the U.S.A – there’s a bigger one in Texas of course. The rolling pasture land in the area is home to a large contingent of cattle.
I was driving down Old Saddle Road when I passed this tableau. I thought they’d take off, but I pulled over, walked back up the road, and saw the three of them still there. I took a few photos before the little one wandered off, followed by the other two. It was only as I walked back to the car that I realized there was a whole herd of goats mostly hidden in the long grasses.