Tuesday 28 March 2017

When not birding in Hawaii

So what else of Maui then? Beyond birding Hosmer Grove for the endemics I didn’t actually do much birding, as I had seen all the waterbird endemics on my last visit. I stopped in at Kanaha Ponds briefly, which are right next to the airport, and this had quite a few Hawaiian Stilt, as well as a few Night Heron, a single Turnstone, Sanderling and Pacific Golden Plover. I picked up a few other birds along the way, mostly from the car or where I stopped the car to go snorkelling. And in fact the car and snorkelling were the major reasons for the lack of birding. The car was a Ford Mustang Convertible, and thus highly enjoyable, and the beaches of Maui offer possibly some of the best easy snorkelling on the planet. Below the water is simply fabulous, often right off the beaches, and the first thing I did after collecting the car was to go and buy a mask, flippers and tube. Things have moved on hugely since I last bought any snorkelling kit, and I am now the proud owner of a highly modern set of gear to replace my knackered old stuff bought in California circa 1986. I didn’t even bother digging this stuff out for the trip, and as soon as find it it’s going. I’m not sure silicone had even been invented then, my mask was rubber and I expect it has long since perished.

I stopped the car and jumped in the water multiple times, wherever it looked good and sheltered. On the first day this was most of west Maui, but on the second day there was some offshore swell that made a number of attempts futile. The best spot was up towards Lahaina, a beautiful beach where I could park the car under the trees and was mere steps from the water with a coral reef running parallel to the beach for several hundred meters. I spent a long time here and saw loads of wonderful fish. Is it OK to have a favourite fish? If so it is the Hunuhununukunukuapua'a, which would be awesome even if it were just plain and boring to look at. Obviously it isn’t .....no underwater camera so you will need to look it up….. The colours and variety were sensational, and in truth far outweighed the birds in terms of beauty and being entranced. As such I probably spent more time swimming than I did birding, which is wrong given mhy self-professed interest but there you have it. The last thing I need is another hobby, but I’ve actually got a trip coming up with my youngest daughter that is 100% about snorkelling as she is dead keen on anything to do with water and always has been – there must have been some kind of mix up as she is part fish. This was part of the reason for taking the plunge (haha) and buying new stuff. What I need to work out in advance of then is how I can get my camera, or a camera, underwater. That could be a whole new challenge for me – I’ve often marvelled at the underwater section of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibitions, or the footage from things like the Blue Planet, but I have never even considered how they do it as I simply had no frame of reference. Now I bet you can just take your phone with you…. Some research needed perhaps.

Zebra Dove

Nutmeg Mannikin
There was not really a huge amount of time in which to explore, but a massive highlight was watching the sun set from the summit of Haleakala - however this will be the subject of a separate post as it needs to be ridiculously photo-heavy to even stand a chance of explaining how monumental it is. For now, let's just say that despite the stupidity and all the time spent getting there, I really am a big fan of Hawaii. For starters they were the first State to challenge Trump's revised travel ban, which at the time of writing is still not going anywhere. There are other endemics to try and eke out, and of course there are Albatrosses....

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