Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kauai Part 2: All the magic seabirds that live by the sea... (#243-248)

So things are getting down to the grind...final assignment due this week, taxes due sometime soon...(?), photos to edit, social appearances to make, garden to get growing, trips to plan, guests to host...all to say I'm doing some mega-procrastinating and find myself here. at least I'm still getting something done that needs to get done, right?

So it's now a month ago but let's close our eyes and transport ourselves back to the beautiful island of Kauai, at the beginning of my trip. Need a refresher? Wave-crashed lava coast, secluded beaches, green mountains, smell of the ocean and freshness in the air, windswept and salty hair, awesome surf, teeny tiny bikinis and fresh avocados and papayas on the side of the red dirt road (oh wait! this calls for an INTERLUDE! i know I said we were only going back to Hawaii in March 2013, but let's actually go a little farther east circa 2003...just for a second!)


Right of the bat, on day one, we headed to Kilauea Lighthouse, which was close to where we are staying and a great spot because a) it is beautiful and b) it's a great spot to see seabirds. I should mention right away that Matt took almost all of these shots as I'm apparently quite useless photographing moving objects and he's quite useless shooting still ones...how's that for yin and yang?

ok, I took this one.
#243: Red-footed booby; Kauai, March 2013
Love the colours on the bill of this bird! There were so many of them at Kilauea, nesting on the cliffsides. 

#244: Laysan Albatross; Kauai, March 2013
Don't be deceived by this picture of a kind of average-looking bird. There is nothing average about it, with a six-foot wingspan, the Laysan has a big story to tell. I first became familiar with this bird when I watched the midway videos by photographer Chris Jordan. If you haven't seen them, you must, but you are fairly warned: they are heartbreaking. They will change how you live your life. Laysan are a threatened species. They have a large breeding colony on Midway in the middle of the ocean in abandoned navy buildings. Chicks eat chips of the lead paint from the buildings and are poisoned. The parents also mistake plastic floating in the ocean as food and feed it to their chicks, who them die because their bellies are full of plastic. It is horrifying. So STOP USING PLASTIC. NOW.

You probably can't see it in this web version of this image, but Albie here has a band on his leg. You can report sightings of banded birds to the U.S. Geological Survey/Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service, which helps them monitor them. They break down the types of bands by material and colour and what those things mean for you. So rad! Go science!


#245: Great Frigatebird; Kauai, March 2013
I had seen magnificent frigatebirds in Mexico, and they sure look similar but these are different. During our trip I had to have faith in the guidebook that there were no Magnificents in Hawaii so I knew for sure I was looking at a lifer. I like to know what I'm looking at because I can see all the identifiers, not just trust the map. Of course, we have to remember that the keys to identification work together, and ranges is one of those things (for more on the others, see Cornell's Birding Basics). I've just never really trusted maps because they can change, and if birds wander like I do you could never rely on a map.

I've done some more research and can now positively identify this as a female Great because of the white throat/breast. Not surprisingly, these birds were hanging around Kilauea, where there is a huge booby colony, whose nests they harass (means birds).
#246: Red-Tailed Tropicbird; Kauai, March 2013
I can't believe this amazing shot Matt took...it's like an angel...
#247: White-Tailed Tropicbird; Kauai, March 2013
White-tailed tropicbirds seemed fewer than red-tailed. And equally difficult to photograph.

Shearwater nesting sites are all around this part of the island. It's majorly difficult because of cats get at the ground nests, and people let their dogs of leash and they kill the birds too. The park staff said if we wanted to see thousands of shearwaters, all we had to do was come at dusk. Unfortunately we never made it...

Later on in the week, we took a catamaran trip along the Na Pali coast. This wasn't really meant to be a birdwatching outing, but we still managed to get a lifer! Plus breaching humpback whales and the amazing scenery didn't hurt at all! This laughing gull hung around the back of our boat for a while, while a humpback was jumping beside us. I think everyone thought the camera was facing the wrong direction!
Laughing gull

And later on, around sunset, I saw this one off in the distance...a lifer! We didn't see these at Kilauea, so that was pretty exciting.

#248: Brown booby, Barking Sands/Na Pali Coast, Kauai, March 2013

The day after Kilauea we headed to Hanalei Wildlife Refuge for marsh birds of Kauai. Also expect some local sightings coming up too. Stay tuned!

Kauai Part 1: Two Chickens in Paradise (#237-241)
Kauai Part 3: In a land called Hanalei...(marsh birds) (#251-256)
Kauai Part 4: Coming soon!
Kauai Part 5: Coming soon!

2 comments:

Christian Schmitt said...

Great photos! We are still here in Kauai for a bit. Your blog has been helpful identifying some of the birds we have seen. Curious as to the gear you have; in particular what lens did you bring here to get such beautiful shots?

deepdowndawn said...

Hi Christian! I'm glad to hear my posts have been helpful. I do have two more Kauai posts that haven't made it online yet unfortunately. Try to see the Iiwi and other forest birds in Kokee State Park if you can!

The majority of my recent shots are with a Nikon 800-400 VR lens mounted on a Nikon D90. The lens is an older version but I make do just fine.

Enjoy the rest of your time on Kauai!