Kaua'i, Hawaii - 23 Nov 2007

Last day of the cruise and first morning where we could see a sunrise from our balcony. We did not schedule a tour for today as we’d be leaving port at 2pm to cruise along the Nepali Coast. I had wanted to drive up to Kilauea Lighthouse but did not have time. Previous trips to the lighthouse had yielded Greater Frigatebirds, White-tailed Tropicbirds, Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Nene, and Monk Seals. I would have to settle for a hike out to the Niini Lighthouse and Kauai Lagoons, so I set off w/ full pack and water.

9am – Hiking along the beach of the Marriott Robin and I found a pair of Cattle Egrets feeding in a small pond. Extremely cooperative birds allowed us up-close views and pics. If you are looking for exquisite views of the island from your hotel, the Marriott is the place to be. They have a beautiful beach nestled among the mountains surrounding the harbor.
Walking along the Lagoons Golf Course I spotted a Nene across the pond and managed a long-distance (200 yds) digiscoped image. To reach the lighthouse, however, required a hike along the rocky but beautiful shoreline between old and new resort construction. I took several images of the harbor and coastline, and the lava rock shoreline below before reaching a second portion of the golf course. From there I spotted a pair of Nene and managed to get within 40 yds. of them and take numerous pictures w/ the Nikon D70 and Sigma 400. I also took dozens of digiscoped images and several videos. Gorgeous birds. After reviewing the images I noticed that they were both banded and have the following codes:
Left bird: Right leg, green band, ‘V1’, small silver band on left leg
Right bird: Right leg, yellow band, ‘110’, small silver band on left leg

Five Chestnut Munias were feeding in the grass nearby, but were easily spooked and far enough to prevent digiscoping in the gale-force winds coming in from the coast. A Golden Plover gave me a stair-down from a nearby green before wandering off to feed in the grass.

As I hiked back along the foot path I spooked a Nene from the thick grassy field in front of me. This bird had a green band on its right leg with the code ‘LF’ and a smaller silver band on its left leg. It honked at me in protest and I quickly backed away, waiting several minutes before it finally wandered off and allowed me to continue on my way.

Walking past a newly contructed golf-course I spotted yet another pair of Nene a few yards away. This time one bird had a green band on its left leg with the code ‘ZS’ and a smaller silver band on its right leg w/ a possible phone number ‘848-7727(?)’. The second bird had a green band on its right leg w/ the code ‘ZU’ and a small silver band on its left leg. Despite their status, these birds do not seem to be fearful of humans as they appear quite comfortable near the golf course machinery. Kudos to the maintenance workers as they were always watchful for the location of the Nene and always approached with caution.

Returning to the Marriott I spotted a single Hawaiian Moorhen along the large pond next to the public access road. A Hawaiian Coot was only a few yards from the moorhen. Just before leaving the area a pair of Cattle Egrets flew onto the golf course below.

2pm – Leaving the harbor the ship set out along the east and north side of the island to the Nepali Coastline. Its very windy, but I’m on the 6th deck w/ my scope and camera and am scanning the shoreline for anything interesting. I spotted (3) White-tailed Tropicbirds soaring and diving into the rough waters below. While conversing with a gentleman from Australia an immature Brown Booby flew by the boat. With all brown coloration except for a small amount of white on its belly and underside it appeared to have a silver cast to the leading edges of its wings and a white-tipped tail. Here's a composite of several images to show its flight morphology.

5pm – We’ve reached the Nepali Coastline and words cannot describe the prehistoric view. Giant swells are pounding the shoreline and the jagged mountains soar high and deep into the interior. Its no wonder this place gets 500-600 inches of rain a year. Out along the coast I’m able to make out small flocks of Brown Noddies (6-8 birds at a time), and single Brown Boobies. The camera could not do justice to the sunset, or the coastline, and the only disappointment is that the coast is not more illuminated by the sunset. As soon as the sun disappeared below the horizon the rains came to the coastline.

Time to pack for home…


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