Between recycling my cardboard, visiting the library, and swimming at the aquatic center, I was able to shoot a few waterfowl down by St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Kihei. I helped my conscience and the planet by recycling, I expanded my mind by picking up a few books, I strengthened my body by swimming, and I fed my soul by taking pictures of an endangered species. What a great day off!
First on my bird-bingo card was the black-crowned night heron. I am always fascinated with these birds. Ever the stalker, they stand on the edge of the water and wait until something swims within striking distance of that pointed beak and those red eyes.
Once they find the right spot, they stand like a statue until it is time to eat or move on. When they walk, they look like Groucho Marx, all hunched over, and they have a little skip in their gait or walk.
They also have this long, white wisp of feathers right behind their head that looks like a rat-tail or a Padawan’s learning braid (I may have given away too much with that last example…oh well, I have no shame in loving “Star Wars”).
Although the black-crowned night heron is not endangered (it’s found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica), it is a treat to watch them hunt. Most of the time they will just stand there, eyeing you and not focusing on their prey. Today, I got to see one in action.
The next bird I was fortunate to find in sunny Kihei this afternoon was the endangered state bird of Hawai’i, the nēnē goose. Exclusively found on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Kaua’i, Hawai’i, and Maui, the nene has been fighting its way back from the verge of extinction. Once down to 30 or so birds during the 1950s, conservation and education has allowed the nene to make a strong comeback on the Hawaiian islands. Current estimates put their present population at around 2,500 birds statewide.
Normally, nene are found on the slopes of Haleakala volcano, or in the National Park, but they have been known to live at lower elevations, although this makes them more susceptible to humans, dogs, cats, rats, and mongooses. I have seen a few on local golf courses, but am always excited to spend time photographing them wherever I can.
I was fortunate enough to have six of them model for me.
I used my 70-200mm 2.8 Nikon lens in order to keep my distance and minimize disturbing these beautiful creatures. Most of the time, I sat down on the ground to maintain an eye-level approach in my pictures.
I had the six of them all to myself, and I took full advantage of my time with the nenes. Nobody was around to bother me, or ruin my shots, and I was careful to respect their space.
Oh yeah, I can’t forget this guy. He kept creeping next to me.
There were other waterfowl around today, but they were not nearly as cute, nor as interesting as the two species I covered in this blog. I’m not saying they are less important or not as photogenic, but they did not make the cut today. I will try to share some photographs of ducks, next time I go to Chinatown; they always have them in the windows of stores.