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Old Jul 25, 2010, 2:29 PM   #1
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Default Hawaii Birding--Mostly BIF

For those who love to photograph birds, Hawaii is, for the most part, pretty disappointing. Three species seem to be everywhere you turn--cattle egret, common mynah, and Brazilian Cardinal. Add a few bulbuls and sparrows and Hawaii's birds are neatly covered......for the most part.

But, there are places that are exceptions, and one of the most spectacular is on the northern shore of Kauai....Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge. Here, you get the opportunity to photograph a number of interesting species, including the Red Footed Booby....

Tens of thousands of them rest on the hillsides of the refuge (each of the white dots in this photo is a bird)

Another bird common at the refuge...not so common elsewhere... is the Red Tailed Tropicbird.....which has the rare ability to fly backwards as a part of its courtship ritual.

One of the largest birds you'll ever see is the great frigatebird, with a wingspan of more than seven feet. Normally, these guys are high above the camera....but this one went low over the water as I was photographing from a cliff

I'm assuming this one was a juvenile because the head was not yet black

Lighting was generally dreary with intermittent showers. The stars at Kilauea, though, are Hawaii's state bird, the Nene, a goose descended from Canada Geese that were blown off course into the Hawaiian islands thousands of years ago. These birds are endangered, and Kilauea has one of the largest wild colonies in the islands. Wild, with these guys, is a relative term; they know they are the star attractions

The wildlife refuge is around Kilauea Point, the northernmost point of the main group of the Hawaiian Islands, and home of a 1913 lighthouse that has recently been marked for renovation.

By the way, the lone tourist holding on to her hat is my wife. There was no way I was going to tell her that I was cloning her out of one of my photos. In such ways you stay married 35 years.....lol.

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Old Jul 25, 2010, 3:32 PM   #2
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Nice series, Paul.
You know me, I love bird shots. And these are interesting because I don't get to see them much, unless someone like yourself happens to share them here. I especially like the Red Tailed Tropic-bird. Don't think I have seen one before.

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Old Jul 25, 2010, 4:54 PM   #3
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Wonderful to see these birds that I do not get to see but in travel photos like these. They are all nice captures including the bird holding onto her hat LOL.

Nicely taken Paul!

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Old Jul 25, 2010, 5:06 PM   #4
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Except for the seabirds, which you photographed so well, and the goose, the birds you mentioned are all introduced. Hawaii's native songbirds have been all but wiped out by habitat destruction and introduced avian diseases - you would have to go up in the mountains, above the levels at which mosquitos fly, to have any hope of finding any of the survivors. The mosquitos are not native either - they arrived via the water barrels of sailing ships, and later transmitted avian malaria from the introduced birds to the natives, which had no resistance. The seabirds you did photograph are hard for photographers to get close to, except around colonies, which you were fortunate enough to be able to get near. Nice opportunity.
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Old Jul 26, 2010, 12:48 AM   #5
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Some really excellent shots there Paul - we don't see many large birds around here (in flight) so that's a skill I've got to learn and that I see you have mastered already.

Interesting that you should say there are not many bird species on Hawaii (and that as Pen' says some are introduced). There is an island that is interesting from a diving perspective, Guam, that has lost huge numbers of their indigenous bird species to tree snakes. I was wondering if Hawaii suffers from the same problem ?

Here is a quote :

Beginning in the mid 1960's, the brown Treesnake decimated Guam's native avifauna. The birds of Guam evolved in the absence of snake predators. They had no experience with such a predator and lacked protective behaviors against the brown Treesnake. Consequently, they were easy prey for these efficient, nocturnal predators. As the snakes spread across the island, the number of snakes began to grow exponentially and bird populations declined. Nine of the 11 species of native forest-dwelling birds have been extirpated from Guam. Five of these were endemic at the species (*) or subspecies (**) level and are now extinct on Guam. Two of these species, the Guam rail and the Micronesian kingfisher, are being captively bred in zoos in the hope that they can eventually be released back into the wild. Several other native species exist in precariously small numbers, and their future on Guam is perilous.
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Old Jul 26, 2010, 6:05 AM   #6
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Really like the series,

nr 1 and 5 being my favorites
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Old Jul 26, 2010, 5:41 PM   #7
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Excellent BIF shots Paul. I especially like #4 (Red Tailed Tropibird) where the feathers are buffetted by the wind. I've enjoyed your travelog to Hawaii and definitely need to get over there some time.

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Old Jul 26, 2010, 8:20 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the kind comments. Several of you mention the red tailed tropicbird. The day before, when we were at Wailua Falls, one of the white tailed version of the tropicbird kept flying around. It was at the outer limits of the 70-300's range, so I didn't think I had anything usable. However, tonight, I found one shot that was somewhat savable. I couldn't believe the length of the central tail feathers.

Not a great photo, but a very interesting bird.

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Old Jul 27, 2010, 7:41 AM   #9
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Great photos despite the poor lighting conditions - really show the movement and personality!

Interesting information (as always) from Penolta too - thanks!
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