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!

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