Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Please don't step on the birds!

Kapi'olani Park in Honolulu. Right across from the world-famous Waikiki Beach - a place where tourists, beachcombers and heliophiles throng. Who would've thunk that there will be birds in a park with such proximity to a tourist spot? And yet, birds thrive in this cosmopolitan atmosphere. Plenty of them even. So plenty and so used to the presence of human beings that there ought to be sign that says, "Please don't step on the birds!"

This was the second time we visited Kapi'olani Park in about a year's span. Although we stayed only two days this time (as compared to six days last year) we were still able to see the birds we hoped to see. And even added a couple of lifers to boot!

As soon as we have checked in at the nearby Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, we proceeded right away to our favorite birding place in Oahu. Almost immediately, we saw a flock of Java Sparrows feeding on the grass. 

Pretty soon we were observing the regular avian inhabitants of the park, many of them quite oblivious of the people strolling on the lawn-like grounds. Some of these birds, like the Common Myna and the Zebra Dove were so used to humans that they are almost stepped on by the park visitors, flying off only when they are inches away from one's foot.

The morning of the following day, Cynthia and I were both so happy to see the lovely, angelic White Terns flying over the park and then perching on the nearby trees. 

We were about to return to our hotel when I saw a flash of green alight on a branch not too far from us. Followed by another flash of green! Looking up I almost squealed in delight as I discovered that those flashes of green turned out to be a lovey-dovey pair of Rose-ringed Parakeets! A lifer for us!

That afternoon we joined a nature tour that took us to the various beaches along the leeward side of the island of Oahu. As our fellow passengers in the tour van were awe-stricken by the seawater spouting up through a hole in the rocks, my wife and I were going ga-ga over the Red-footed Booby gliding just a few feet above the raging sea below. Our second lifer! 

Our nature tour also took us to a marshland where a Hawaiian Mallard and some Hawaiian Stilts were lazily lounging in the afternoon sun. 

Then off we went to a Haeio (a tribal sacred place composed of layered stones). While our guide was explaining the history of ancient Hawaiian tribes I was busy trying to get a good photo of a White-rumped Shama which was hopping from branch to branch in the shaded part of a grove. 

Our last stop was at Pali Point where we tried, really, really tried not to get blown off by the strong gusts of wind howling from the steep valley below. While the wild chickens were smart enough to hide behind the bushes.

It was a short stay in Hawaii but we had fun and were able to get some good shots of the "local" avifauna (many of which were introduced to Oahu many, many years ago). Strolling through a lovely park with colorful birds practically at our feet was an experience that we would never forget. To which we say Mahalo, and Aloha.       

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