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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Aloha Ekolu Dancers!

Hula Kahiko Statue at Kona Airport
I know I'm back in Hawai'i when I see these three bronze wahines mid-step in their traditional Hula. Once again, the lucky rabbit I was born under the sign of, worked its magic, and my amazingly sweet friends, Ron, Jeannie & Jeannie's daughter Stephanie, invited me to accompany them for my 3rd trip to the Big Island, and my first trip to Kauai'i. Aloha ekolu (3) Maidens!

Spotted Dove inside Oahu Airport

Our nearly 5 hour flight to the Big Island was delayed by 3 hours, a good thing because had our flight run on time we'd have likely missed it. So when we made it to Kona it was twilight, and we were tired. On previous trips, I reserved the final two days of the trip to rent a car and bird off on my own. This trip however I wanted to bird a reserve that is only open on weekends so shortly after landing, I picked up a rental 4WD jeep so I could spend my first 2 days on the Big Island, birding.  Saturday morning I decided I was too sleepy for an early start so I decided to visit a good birding spot, the Thurston Tunnel, located in Volcanoes National Park.  I was pretty direct about getting there, only stopping at the tiny roadside park, Waiohinu Park, in the sleepy town of Naalehu along the way. Common Mynas, House Finches and other birds bathed in puddles and were perturbed at being viewed in such delicate positions.

'Excuse me... don't you see I'm bathing here?' - Saffron Finch (introduced species)
Yellow-fronted Canary - another introduced species
non-native, Japanese White-eye:  photo by Hearman

Once at Volcanoes NP, I skipped the usual tour, as I knew I was bound to tour the park later in the week with Ron, Jeannie & Stephie. Instead I avoided the tourists, meandering through the shady rain forest, which echoed with the roar of loud bird song. I could spot the tiny Japanese White-eyes shooting through the canopy, and what I imagine may have been a few of the more exotic forest species, but those birds were just too fast for me. I did manage to spot and even photograph an old favorite - a genuine native Hawaiian species, the scarlet red Apapane.  The species is lucky to still be common, not having declined in numbers as high as other native species in the face of Hawaii's unfortunate Bird Malaria problems.

Apapane, a cherry red species of Hawaiian honey creeper.
Volcano National Park Rain Forest - with hammock-like spider's webs
The only other native Hawaiian species I enjoyed dropped onto a branch so close to me I almost had to back up to get photos with my telephoto lens. The bold Oma'o, a Hawaiian Thrush,  announced itself with a brusk call notes. Well aloha to you too!

Bold Oma'o 
 On my drive northwest, back to Kona, I stopped to buy some fruit in Naalehu. The ladies were quite friendly & talked me into purchasing probably twice as much fruit as all four of us could eat in the week we'd have on the island.

Saturday Farmer's Market
The colorful pink ones are Dragon Fruit, the knobby green fruit are Custard
Apples (Cherimoya), apple bananas (my favorite!) and oranges
I decided to treat myself to stopping at South Point, the southernmost tip of the United States.

The cliffs at Ka Lae

Pan'o'rama'jama shot along the shoreline

At day's end I felt I'd not exactly pushed myself birding-wise, but then again, the previous day had been a marathon from 4AM until I finally hit the pillow around 2AM California time (3 hrs later in Hawaii). Decided to cut myself some slack and be not happy, but THRILLED with the birds and the shots I'd managed on the south of the Big Island. As I drifted off to sleep I mused over other sights I'd enjoyed over the day...zzzzzzzzz

A Grant's Zebra and his donkey friend in a pasture along the Mamalahoa Highway.
Mouflon Sheep, also spotted along the highway
The skies over the Pacific during the island hop from Oahu to Hawaii, the Big Island

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