Sunday, November 22, 2009

Remembering C.S. Lewis on the 46th Anniversary of His Death

Waimea Canyon, and Waipo'o Falls, on Hawaii's island of Kaua'i

Everyone who has read C.S. Lewis must be familiar with his vivid descriptions of natural landscapes hinting that a revelation of beauty and exuberant life is just beyond the horizon.

"For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy. At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in."

From "The Weight of Glory" by C.S. Lewis, 1942

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hawaiian Hawk

Today, just as I was leaving Hilo on the drive over to the Kona side of Hawaii (the "Big Island") just by chance I happened to see a large flying bird over some houses in a suburb of Hilo. Large flying birds are very unusual in Hawaii away from the immediate shoreline, so it instantly caught my attention. I could see that it was a hawk, and then, after my memory clicked a few times, I recalled that there is only one hawk species in this state, and it occurs only on this island. The Hawaiian Hawk is endemic to Hawaii, and is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There are estimated to be only about 2,000 individuals in existence.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

'Apapane and 'I'iwi on Maui


Hosmer Grove on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala is one of my favorite places on Maui. Today I spent my lunch hour driving the few miles to get up there for a short while, and managed to get recognizable photos of two beautiful native Hawaiian birds -- the 'Apapane and the 'I'iwi. They seem never to sit still for more than a second, so it's very challenging. But watching them is a great pleasure.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Day of Birding on Kauai

Waimea Canyon, "Grand Canyon of the Pacific"

Erckel's Francolin is native to Sudan and Ethiopia, so at first it seems that Hawaii would not have the kind of habitat this bird needs. But then when you see Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai, it's immediately clear that there is plenty of rocky, inaccessible habitat here. The canyon is 10 miles long and 3,500 ft. deep. This bird, however, was with several others along the highway that skirts the canyon on the way up to Koke'e State Park. (If you enlarge the photo by clicking on it, you will be able to see 800 ft. Waipo'o Falls farther up the canyon.)

Erckel's Francolin (introduced in Hawaii in 1957)

On this trip I saw very few of the endemic species of birds, except for Apapane, that live in Koke'e State Park, but this female White-rumped Shama (native to Southeast Asia) almost seemed to enjoy sharing the trail with me. She hopped along in front of me, picking up worms or bugs, for about 150 ft.

White-rumped Shama, female

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Common Waxbill on Oahu

This being Saturday, and thus a free day, I took advantage and drove around the island of Oahu. When I stopped to do some snorkeling at Hanauma Bay I noticed two Common Waxbills feeding on grass seeds. This introduced species is native to Africa.

In a marshy area somewhere on the North Shore, I found three Black-necked Stilts, the same species found in the western U.S., but of a race endemic to Hawaii. About 10 years ago a survey determined that there were only about 1,350 of these birds in existence.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Honolulu birding

My job has brought me to Hawaii again, and as always the birding here gets weird immediately. The Golden Plovers are expected here in winter, but it's still a shock to see one on the grassy strip along a busy Honolulu street. Then, in the city parks, the mix of Asian and South American species (and European, if you count House Sparrow) just doesn't seem right. When I got free at lunchtime today I walked through a park and saw Red-crested Cardinals, Common Mynas, Zebra and Spotted doves all competing for a scrap of food someone had
dropped. In the trees were several Red-vented Bulbuls, and the Java Sparrows were roaming around gleaning something from the grass.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Barred Owl in SW Portland

It's no longer the novelty that it was a few years ago in Oregon, but a Barred Owl still is interesting and noteworthy, if only to track the progress of this species' expansion in the state. This one was photographed recently by my friend Bruce near his workplace in southwest Portland.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Red-breasted Sapsucker

This is the time of the year when I begin to see Red-breasted Sapsuckers more frequently away from forested areas. I suppose they wander away from their nesting territories in search of good sap-filled trees to claim as their winter food source. I actually took this photo about 15 years ago when this bird (here in McMinnville, Oregon) allowed me to approach to within 6 ft., but I just rediscovered it as I was looking for a different photo. I don't expect to ever get that close to a free-flying, healthy Sapsucker again.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Camel Cricket

Once again I've been reminded that one of the best ways to learn new things about the natural world is to go exploring with a child. Last Saturday, my 5-yr.-old grandson and I went exploring in the hills near his home in Bend, Oregon. We found this creature under a rotting log, and I recognized it as a cricket. But in my ignorance I thought all crickets have wings, so I did not have answers for some questions that quickly came up. Now, after doing some "digging" on the internet, I believe that this insect (which my grandson quickly identified as a friend) is a Camel Cricket, and as such does not have wings, and thus does not "chirp."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Merlin in Washington

Birding time has been scarce for me recently, but on a recent working trip to Vancouver, Washington, a noisy Flicker in a golden Black Walnut tree caught my attention. I soon saw why the Flicker was so agitated -- a Merlin was lurking in the same tree, and no doubt was having visions of a Flicker lunch.