Tag Archives: Wetland Birds

On the water

Water lilies at Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden in Hawaii
A sailboat off the coast of Hawaii
Two outrigger canoes off the coast of Hawaii
A surfer in Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Water.’ See more responses here.

First up is a patch of water lilies on Lily Lake at Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Gardens, which reopened at the beginning of April after being closed all year. My wife and I visited last Friday and it was great to be back. As usual, I took a bunch of photos most of which still need processing.

Second is a sailboat running before the wind on the blue Pacific.

Below that is a pair of canoeists paddling along the island’s northern coast. Yesterday, I saw several vehicles going by with canoes, probably headed for Keokea Park, where they can put in safely, possibly for a race. One of the vehicles pulled in to the likely landing spot, where surf was crashing over the parking lot. The driver didn’t look too enthusiastic. I don’t know whether the race took place or not.

Fourth is that quintessential Hawaiian pastime – surfing. Watch out for those rocks!

Finally, a pair of northern pintails coast on a pool of water at Upolu. These used to be seen in large numbers in Hawaii, but not so much these days.

A pair of male northern pintails in Hawaii

A walk around Kiholo Bay

Kiholo Bay sits midway between Kailua Kona and Kawaihae on the west side of the Big Island. There are two main access points to the bay. One is via a gravel road south of the Kiholo Scenic Overlook on the main highway. This road takes you down to Kiholo State Park Reserve where there’s a campground and access to the beaches. I usually go that way, but on my last visit I wanted to try the hike from the main road.

There’s an unmarked parking area north of the scenic overlook. From there it’s about a mile to the coast, along a dirt and gravel road. This passes through scrubby trees where it’s likely goats will be encountered. They’re abundant in this area. The private property alongside the road is well marked, as is the public trail through to the beach. This trail comes out near a funky building decorated with things the tide washed in.

I headed to the right, along the beach towards Wainanali’i lagoon. There are a couple of houses along here, a palm-circled pool, and usually a canoe or two under the trees. Beyond the houses, a small bridge traverses a channel which connects the ocean to Wainanali’i fish pond. This is believed to have been built by King Kamehameha I, as part of an extensive fish collection and farming operation in the bay.

A bit farther along, a blue Kiholo Bay Fisheries Management Area sign marks where the trail forks. To the right, inland, it follows the old King’s Trail to Keawaiki. To the left, it hugs the shoreline heading north alongside Wainanali’i lagoon (top photo). The trail is loosely marked with white coral and/or cairns, but it’s not vital to follow them. I stick to the shoreline.

The lagoon is the remnant of a much larger fishpond, which was around 2 miles across and protected by a 20-foot wide lava rock wall. Much of it was destroyed by a lava flow from Mauna Loa’s 1859 eruption. Today, the lagoon is a prime area for seeing green turtles. They haul out on a rocky island marking the mouth of the lagoon and on the spit that separates it from the ocean. This is where they rest so it’s important not to get too close and disturb them. I also usually see turtles in the water. They putter along the edge in blue-green water, which can give them a wavy appearance. Small fish are abundant here and are often seen.

Once at the head of the lagoon I watched humpback whales splashing and slapping offshore. It’s possible to walk down the spit (not disturbing the turtles), and if it’s calm you can wade or swim across the lagoon entrance back to the trail. Following the coast northwards will take you to Keawaiki, but I retraced my steps until I got back to where I first reached the coast. Then I carried on along the beach.

The waves were rolling in, good news for surfers. The beach here is sandy and vegetation borders it. If the tide’s in a bit of paddling is required. On the other side of this, some private houses border the beach including the Bali House and a sprawling, yellow structure.

Farther along, behind the beach, is Keanalele waterhole, also known as Queen’s Bath. This is a collapsed lava tube, filled with a mix of freshwater and saltwater, where it’s possible to take a dip in the manor of Hawaiian royalty of yesteryear. The parking area for Kiholo State Park Reserve, back in the trees, is followed by the Loretta Lynn house and the campground.

Here, along with several places along the walk, a fair number of birds can be seen including black-crowned night herons, wandering tattlers, Pacific golden plovers, yellow-billed cardinals, and northern mockingbirds.

The southern end of the park is marked by Waia’elepi anchialine pool. Anchialine pools form in volcanic rock and are connected underground to the ocean. The water is brackish, but the pools can be home to a wide variety of species. I saw goats drinking here as well as a variety of birds and insects flying about.

From there, I headed back to the car on the gravel road which parallels the coast and connects to the trail I came down on. My walk was about 5 or 6 miles, but I took more than 4 hours to cover that distance since I do tend to stop a lot!

For more walks worldwide, see Jo’s Monday Walks. Also posted in response to the current Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘On The Way.’ See more responses here.

Wandering along with a wandering tattler

When I was down at Kiholo recently, I saw this wandering tattler at the shoreline, hunting around for a bite to eat. I followed it for a while, from a distance.

It snagged a katydid at one point (second photo), but I didn’t see it catch anything else. It spent a fair amount of time around one particular rock (third photo), which caused a good deal of consternation for the a’ama crab that was there. I think the crab was a bit too big to fall into the category of prey for this particular bird.

Upolu landscape

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Your Favorite Landscape.’ See more responses here.

When I think of the landscape at Upolu, it includes both the ocean that borders it and the skies above. They are, in my mind, integral to the place. But here, I’ve focussed on the land, a relatively small area of a few square miles where I walk most days. It’s rural, agricultural, and coastal. It’s historic and modern. It’s also a place I never return from feeling disappointed. There’s always something of note that I see or that happens when I’m there.

Also posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.

Hawaiian stilt feeding

Hawaiian stilts are endemic, but also endangered because of loss of habitat and a rise in predators. They’re easy to identify with their strong black and white coloration, long black beak, and even longer pink legs. This one was wading in deeper water than I usually see them, probing for arthropods and insects.

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.