Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kauai Part 3: In a land called Hanalei...(marsh birds) (#251-256)

one-lane bridge on the way to Hanalei
The Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge was just down the road from where we were staying on Kauai. We knew it was a spot to check out from some of our target birds, but we had no idea it was THE place to go. We quite literally ticked one of the list as we pulled off the main road and entered the refuge, walked 20 metres, ticked off another, and had all of our target birds within about 5 minutes. These birds are very reliably seen here and for the most part you won't see them as easily anywhere else. The area of the refuge that is accessible and that we visited is a taro field. You have to stick to a short section of the road and they are very strict about that.
view of the taro field
The first bird we spotted was a moorhen. Do you think I can find these at home? At the HNWR, they were so easy to spot. The Hawaiian Moorhen is a subspecies of the Common Moorhen that can only be seen in Hawaii. 
#251: Hawaiian Moorhen ('alae 'ula), HNWR, March 2013
The stilts were fun to watch and looked really long when they came in to land. Their legs are REALLY long, which you can really tell when they are wading as most of their legs are under water.
 #252: Hawaiian Stilt (ae'o), HNWR, March 2013

The Hawaiian coot differs from the American Coot, which has a red "jewel" on its forehead.
#253: Hawaiian Coot ('alae ke'oke'o), HNWR, March 2013  
While it is written about American Coots, check out this really interesting article on coot behaviour. We saw observed some of it here! it was hilarious!
The Hawaiian duck appears similar to female mallards and interbreeding is common in these closely related birds. Kauai is the only place to see genetically pure Hawaiian ducks. I'm not saying these are pure...but I didn't have a DNA test handy..ha! On that note, can you count hybrids? Check out "What birds can I count on my life list?" They were one of the harder birds to observe--they didn't like to get too close and had to be observed from a distance. 
#254: Hawaiian Duck (koloa maoli), HNWR, March 2013  
male front, female behind
There was a nest of black-crowned night herons on the other side of the road. We got good looks at the juveniles, and every so often, there would be a great great rustling of the bushes as one departed or arrived. 
On the way out, we spotted a flurry of pollen flying as some little birds disturbed some stalks along the road. I was ecstatic I decided to take a closer look. This was the only nutmeg mannakin I spotted over the whole trip.  They are also known as the "spice finch," and are native to Southest Asia where hey are a common pet.
#255: Nutmeg Mannikin, HNWR, March 2013  

paddling practice on the river. interesting that there is an outrigger on one side only. not what you see here at home. I guess the outriggers would help in choppy ocean waters that we don't get here!
view from the road
While not at the Refuge, we spotted this cattle egret enjoying breakfast right on the side of the road. We watched as it tossed the frog around repeatedly until it got it at just the right spot, then, down the hatch in one shot! This is another one of the few birds that we also get to see on the mainland.
#256: Cattle Egret, Princeville off Kuhio Hwy, March 2013  

Kauai Part 1: Two Chickens in Paradise (#237-241)
Kauai Part 2: All the magic seabirds that live by the sea... (#243-248):
Kauai Part 4: Coming soon!
Kauai Part 5: Coming soon!

on the chase (#249-250)

Seems I'm going to alternate Kauai posts with local posts. Geez, I'm getting so behind. I'm going to try and stay on top of this in the near future. But still haven't filed my taxes...

So, there have been some interesting reports in Ottawa lately, and we've decided to chase just a few of them. Of course, anytime something is reported, do you think we can find it?

The first one was a violet-green swallow at the Britannia Filtration plant (did I not just talk about not relying on range maps?). This bird was way out of range. We showed up after work and there were several other birders present. The swallows were flying pretty high up and definitely not landing or sitting still anywhere for you to get a good look. We decided to give up on that and head home. On the road out though, we noticed some people watching the dogs and geese, an area that we don't look to closely at. We noticed one goose that was remarkably different.
I had heard of this particular goose before and it is apparently a hybrid Canada/domestic goose. Notice the orange bill and orange feet. The other geese didn't seem to mind and it fit in well (unlike the black-bellied whistling duck among the mallards).

This weekend on the way back from Chelsea we decided to stop at Bates Island to see the kayakers/surfers/SUPers in the rapids.
Then I remembered the swallow colony under the bridge. We may not have spotted the violet-green, but there is still a reliable swallow in Ottawa we have left to count--the cliff swallow. They are so fast and hard to shoot but we spent a good 30-45 minutes on the bridge trying to get a shot.
Matt managed to bang a few off that at least let me positively ID them (white spot, square tail) even though it's established that it's a cliff swallow colony. The white spots on their foreheads were easy to see when you watched them.

#249: Cliff swallow; Island Park Bridge, Ottawa, May 5, 2013

On the way home we decided we'd stop and check a few other things out. 
Matt pulled off this amazing shot!
We stopped to see the owls which have had owlets since the last time we saw them, and they are getting pretty big. They are unbelievable cute! The nest is right in the sun and it was incredibly hot. Mom was panting the whole time.

little one getting courageous, hanging its head out the side!
Nearby we heard a loud squawking and Matt and I looked at each other in question. It was a Cooper's hawk! So many great birds in one spot! Turns out I never counted a cooper's...I think I've seen them but I really have a hard time differentiating them from sharp-shinned. This one I am confident about.

#250: Cooper's Hawk, Ottawa, Ontario, May 5, 2013
The frogs in mid-afternoon sounded like they were screaming! We found this one nice and close and he kindly posed!
Today we went after a blue-winged warbler...no luck. That's ok, lots of birds are on the way!

Stay tuned for Kauai Part 3!