Just got back home after a wake-up call at 4:30 am followed by 3 flights and a taxi, but really feel compelled to finish this vacation blog while the good memories are so fresh and before work makes it too hard to get back to....
We spent our last day on Kauai packing our gear up and getting it ready for the early trip to the airport, but we still had enough daylight hours to go play some more, so we revisited all of our favorite hang-outs on the north and east shores and checked out more wildlife. It was a very sunny day - the sunniest day that we experienced while on Kauai. The trade winds were back, the waves had calmed down, and that meant another beautiful pink sky morning and the whales were back and flapping their tails all over.
This whale tail shot was taken back at Kilauea Point National Park during this third and final visit through the afternoon (this time around anyway!) . I heard someone ask a docent why the tails looked "so small" when whales should be so much larger. Well, she said, we are up about 18 stories from the water here on this point, and the whales are pretty far out there in the water. I thought it was so amazing that you could see so much even with just the naked eye from that point.
Tom was hoping to spot some more sea turtles because I had missed the ones he had seen earlier in the week and he had been having very good luck with the turtle spotting. He spotted 4 big sea turtles and I was around with the camera for 2 of them - one of them gave us really good views, and this was really a first for me. Had never seen a sea turtle anywhere before.
I had also hoped to see a few more of the great frigatebirds at Kilauea and again was not disappointed. We had only seen the females previously but yesterday we got to see multiple males and females and perhaps some courtship flying. The female birds have a white throat and breast, and the males are dark with a red patch at the throat that they can blow up like a balloon during courtship rituals. In the air you can just see that they are all dark and with binoculars you can detect the hint of red at the throat.
Above is the female, and below is the male:
As had happened before, the laysan albatross were teasing the photographers by flying in so close that you had to completely change all of your settings to get a focus lock on them, so this time I camped out for a while and tried to snag one as it flirted by, and got a pretty good close-up:
Earlier in the day we had returned to the place where we found so many cool urban birds the day before, to get a few more close-ups. Found no nutmeg mannikins this time, but did find the java sparrows, the chestnut mannikins, and a very beautiful western meadowlark singing its heart out high in a norfolk island pine. (more bird shots on Flickr).
We also tried one more time to find another hwamei at the Hanalei taro fields. OK, maybe that also gave us an excuse to stop by for one more latte at Java Kai in Hanalei....
We could hear the hwamei call in a swampy area, and we called back to him and kept him talking for a while but just could not find him. We walked all around the area where he was calling and finally started to leave when I looked forward on the road and asked Tom what the heck I was seeing on the ground. It looked all wrong for any of the wandering around ground birds. And lo and behold it was the hwamei, but looking all wrong for a hwamei also. He was very messy looking and all flufffed up. I took a bunch of shots until a truck drove by and scared him away. The photo details revealed that he must have taken some kind of dip in the swamp and was out sunning himself to dry up the mud which was all over him.
The day ended with a terrific bowl of chirashi sushi at what appeared to be more of a local's restaurant in Lihue (found with the urbanspoon app). Absolutely delicious and a great way to end a great day. And really a great day to end a fabulous holiday. Found everything we were looking for and then some, and we could not have asked for a better time at all.
More pictures here: