Friday, February 28, 2014

02_15 to 23_2014 Kauai Hawaii – days two and three

Our trip continued with rain, though day it started raining less. We headed back up Waimea Canyon in the off chance that we might get to see something and do some hiking. It didn't look good, but we were (foolishly??) optimistic.
Our first stop was the Waimea Canyon overlook. The wind wasn't blasting and it was only sprinkling.  The view wasn't so great. This is the view of the 3000' canyon.

Can't see much. Okay, can't see anything. Totally socked in! Boo!
So we headed up further to a 'must hike' trail. Skunked due to the rain.
At the very top, we broke out of the weather! And we got some views. It's hard to tell, but that is a 4000' drop to the ocean in not a very far distance. Pretty spectacular.

I'm wearing my magic shirt. Some guy came up to me on the trip to inform me that I had on a "magic" shirt. Lucky me!
Another view from the top.
Great scenery.
We decided to take off on the hike we really wanted.  The second section of the hike went through a swamp where many endemic birds reside. I was very excited to see any of them!
Hiking conditions were less than favorable. I think all the mud in Kauai has silicone in it. It's slick as snot!
We did this for about two miles as the 'fun factor' declined.  Lots of slipping, mud, squishing, some mosquitoes. Ick.
We finally turned back - even Dave agreed the fun factor had diminished too much.Lots of fun things to look at on the way out.
The earlier clear view we had to the ocean was starting to get socked in. The view disappeared while we were there. 
And the clouds started coming up the trail (this is the very end at the lookout).
One last try - we stopped at the Waimea Lookout for the third time...and it was a charm!  We finally got to see it and it's clear why it's the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Not sure why but it blows my mind that this is on a little island in the ocean!
Still heading down, we grabbed a selfie.  This is proof that the sun DID come out while we were in Kauai!
The last few miles of the road are STEEP! The photo fails to capture the grade. Must be quite a fun bike ride!
Our last evening on the south side of the island - finally a bit of color for the sunset!
Here I am outside our condo - in the background were several of my favorite birds - Nene!  Nene are the state bird of Hawaii and endangered. Clearly had similar ancestors to Canada Geese. I really love these birds. Hopefully efforts to save them day maybe their population will be self-sustaining. To date, it is not.  We can thank feral cats (and house cats let out by owners) and rats for their near extinction. Hoping they make it.
Another Red-Crested Cardinal.  
This cute little bird is a Tiger Dove.  We saw several of them. They are small doves with some striking markings. 
A handsome White-Rumped Shama was posing for Dave.
This photo of the male Shama shows off his very cool tail feathers!
This is a pair of Tiger Doves. As we were watching them, I wondered if one was a parent and one an offspring. Seconds later, that question was answered by them.  It was an x-rated show.
Here is a female White-Rumped Shama who visited our condo back porch. 
Another female White-Rumped Shama scoring a bug!
Awesome photo of a Japanese White-Eye peaking out from some wild blooms.
Anole! I love anoles.  I grew up with them and have loved them for a long time.
Bathing Red-Crested Cardinal.  This is not a pond. It's the edge of the road. I wasn't kidding when I said it'd been raining a lot!
This is an Apapane.  This is an endemic bird of Kauai - and one I really wanted to see!  They were at the top of the Waimea Canyon road. Gorgeous birds!
Apapane - nice they liked the red blooms. Makes for lovely photos!
And another Apapane. Love it!  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

02_15 to 23_2014 Kauai Hawaii - days one and two

A fun trip! Dave and I hopped a plane and flew west....way west to Kauai! It's a trip we've been wanting to take for some time and we finally said 'let's just do it.'  And we did.

We planned to spend about 3 days on the south "sunny" side of the island, then move to the north "rainy" side.

We arrived to a very rainy island - the whole island!  Flash floods, lots of rain, more rain, then a bit more rain.  No complaints though - it is Kauai.  No computer. No internet. Only Kauai and us. :)

I will post some photos for the trip a couple of days at a time. This posting covers days one and two.

Before talking about the photos, I thought I'd offer some basic info about Kauai.  What better source than wikipedia?  Ha!  Nonetheless, this is what they have to note about Kauai:
"Kauaʻi or Kauai[2] (/kə.ˈw./; Hawaiian: [kɔuˈwɐʔi]) is geologically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. With an area of 562.3 square miles (1,456.4 km2), it is the fourth largest of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, and the 21st largest island in the United States.[3] Known also as the "Garden Isle", Kauaʻi lies 105 miles (169 km) across the Kauaʻi Channel, northwest of Oʻahu. This island is the site of Waimea Canyon State Park." 

This island has vast geographic differences. For example, some of it is at sea level (duh).  The highest peak is  Kawaikini with an elevation of 5,243 feet!  This island and that peak is also home to one of the rainiest places on earth - and area the receives on average of 460" of rain annually. <- 460="" a="" annually="" is="" not="" p="" that="" typo="">
Now to the photos - the first one posted is up at the Waimea Canyon. This canyon which is referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" is aptly named. Parts of it are 3,000' deep! Imagine the Grand Canyon with lush greens....that's Waimea Canyon...when one can see it. Our first trip up, we could not see much and were happy we weren't blown into the place.

We stayed in a condo at Kalaheo the first several days. It was a nice little place that afforded some good bird watching from the relative dryness of the living room.
There were some occasional breaks from the rain.  We grabbed our raincoats and headed out to some beaches and Waimea Canyon.  

The surf in the winter is wicked. Many beaches allowed people in to the thighs only and disallowed snorkling. Too many rip currents haul unsuspecting folks to sea. Rogue waves come out of no where and drag people away. And of course, there are the sharks! Clearly shark attacks are rare but do happen.  The waves and rip tides were CLEARLY the more dangerous things at the beaches when we were there.

Each beach is really different. Some had lava stones. Others coarse sand. Some had waves so wild and large that no actual beach could even be seen (they are present in the summer. One thing they all had were beautiful views in all directions. And turtles! Sea turtles!
If you have been to Kauai, you know about the Red Junglefowl. Most just call them chickens and roosters.They really aren't like the chickens we see here. What remains are some original Polynesian chickens who have bred with  European chicken.  THEY. ARE. EVERYWHERE.

I of course love it!  There are many for a few reasons. First, few natural predators. Second many escaped during the really bad 1992 hurricane that flattened the island. Word is that people don't eat them as chewing lava rocks is easier...they are tough Junglefowl in many ways!

We spend some time at a beach in Poipu the first couple of days. There were nice trails along the shore but also through the vegetation that allowed some fun bird watching. Aside from the chickens there are a few other birds here. Not as many as some might expect though.
Hiking in the rain.  Better than a day at the office!
One bird that one can see a fair amount of is the Red-Crested Cardinal. Some refer to it as a Brazilian Cardinal. Beautiful birds with calls similar to Northern Cardinals (what we have here in the USA). We saw these on Maui and few years ago, and they are just as stunning in Kauai.
This is a view of the hike we did from Poipu Beach. 
We headed up to Waimea (as noted above).  Very uncooperative weather. I really thought we'd be skunked on this part of the trip.  
It was not only raining, but the wind was blasting. I actually feared it'd blow us down.  You can *sort* of see the Waimea Canyon view here (but not well).

In Kauai, a "don't miss" place is the "Spouting Horn".  We went, along with all the other tourists there. It was cool.  More interesting though was there were several sea turtles trolling around in that wickedly rough water! They'd pop their heads up for air and we'd all make a collective "ahhhhh". 
Did you know the Hawaiian alphabet has five vowels and 8 consonants?  Didn't make some pronunciation any easier to those of us used to working with many more consonants!

Wiki notes this: The current official Hawaiian alphabet consists of 18 letters: 5 normal vowels: Aa, Ee, Ii, Oo, Uu; 5 vowels with macrons: Āā, Ēē, Īī, Ōō, Ūū; 8 consonants: Hh, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Pp, Ww, ʻokina.

I did not note the "macrons" as I have no idea what they are!  This may explain the butchering of the words no matter how I tried!

We went to the local botanic gardens (hoping for some bird activity).  Not a lot of bird activity, but this tree bark caught our eye. It was really gorgeous!
This is a view along some hiking areas near Poipu.
We headed up to see Wailua Falls. It's another "don't miss" place. Quite pretty and reported to be taller than Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls isn't really that tall clearly. Niagara is a *bit* wider than Wailua Falls I think. :)
There are tons of signs at Wailua prohibiting folks from going down to the river at the falls. Very Dangerous. Of course then, this photo is of Dave down at the river. :)
Another photo of a stunning Red-Crested Cardinal.  This color has not been manipulated or saturated. this is what these adult birds look like! Males and females look alike (i.e., they are monomorphic).
Red-Crested Cardinals sits for his portrait.

This was a new bird for both of us. This is a female White-Rumped Shama.  Like most birds on Kauai (and the other islands) these birds were introduced from the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. They have a gorgeous song and flick their tail around like a Northern Mockingbirds. They are feisty and show-offs like mockingbirds as well. They look quite different than the females.
Lots of banana spiders. Ick. You don't need to go to Kauai to see these. Been chased by some ugly ones in the Houston area myself. Ick. Ick. Ick.

It's a cool photo though!

(Note: Don't google banana spider images. Super gross).
This pretty bird is a young Red-Crested Cardinal! They have muted burnt orange heads. Longhorn fans?  We got to see many still being fed by parents (as was this case for this little guy).
Here is a male White-Rumped Shama showing off his handsome white rump. Love how they have two extra long tail feathers!
And finally (for this entry anyway), the ubiquitous Japanese White-Eye. I came to view them as the warbler of the island. They are not warblers however. They are hard to photographs like warblers are though!