Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Queen's Bath

Just around the corner
from where I am living 
in Princeville Kauai
is a steep path
that descends to the ocean
Daily dozens of car loads of tourists
come to bathe
in the Queen's Bath

Curious, I thought it was time
I took a look at the Queen's bath
so early one morning
I made my way 
down the red dirt track

passing little waterfalls
tumbling over lava rock boulders

that made their way into small pools
but hardly what you would call
a regal bath

and finally emerging at the ocean

mindful of the fact
that it was almost a year to the day
that I broke my left ankle

I decided not to clamber over 
the rugged lava rock
in search of royal ablutions

but it appears that in the past
others have taken 
greater risks than me

so I returned up the pathway

under the pandanus trees

and following the call 
of little brown birds
I walked along the bluff
above the ocean
hoping I could see what it was 
that enticed the holiday makers
down onto the hot black rocks

I could not see much 
other than the brown nameless birds

and the plainer coloured females

and then I noticed that I was in 
Wedge-tailed Shearwater territory

I skirted a patch of cactus

and almost fell down a hole

the Shearwaters nest in burrows
up to two feet long
that the birds make
in the cliff top
They are a dusky brown bird
with white breast feathers, 
thin wings, a hooked bill
and wedge shaped tail

They lay a single egg in June 
and take turns at incubation stints
The father does the honours first 
while the mother goes to sea to fish
for about 10 days at a time

Hawaii Information Image

The chick hatches after 50 days
and initially is fed stomach oil then solids
At 3.5 months the parents stop feeding the chick
For two weeks they go without food
testing their wings and learning to fly
When they have all their adult feathers they fledge
and go off to to sea
to find their own food

the neighbourhood dogs are a problem
in this colony
The birds cannot stand upright on their legs
and have difficulty moving about on land

The Hawaiian name 
for the Wedge-tailed Shearwater is ua'u kani
which means calling or moaning sea bird/petrel
due to their long oooo-errr call

I cautiously return to the ascending path
grateful that it is a dry day
and the red dirt is not slippery clay-mud

through the jungle

and home

No, this is not my house
but I love the gardens...

and proceeded to look up Mr Google
for pictures of the Queen's Bath

which does look rather enticing 
on a calm day

but the sea is unpredictable

and the waves 
can come crashing through

I think I'll do my swimming
in the safety of Hanalei Bay


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Of Birds and Beauty...

The first week we lived
in our new neighbourhood
I heard the happy shouts 
and squeals of children
playing in the streets 
and empty blocks around

And then one evening before sunset
I saw the cockatoo
from where all the raucous calling came...

I went out to talk to him
as he sat in a palm tree
in my yard

and he grabbed 
a couple of leaves of the palm
and swung around upside down...


like a trapeze artist in a circus

what a show off you are Mr Cocky

He belongs to a family close by
and has frequent sorties
about the neighbourhood

This beautiful Plumeria in my yard

begins as a red bud

and as it unfurls the red
seems to appear 
on one side of the petal only

what a beauty...

this one is a soft pinky whitewhen unfurled

but the simple yellow centred plumeriaremains my favourite  *

Sunday, June 13, 2010

He prayeth well...

He prayeth well
who loveth well
both man and bird and beast...

I went to check 
on the albatross chicks
First this one
with a mane of feathers
like the wig of a court judge

and further along
I found this watchful chick
- only the two remain in this bluff area

do you remember 
how they looked back in February
so fluffy and small..(above)

We were asking a
how often the parents returned 
to feed the chicks

when from the cliff bluff block
exited a parent
with her ungainly waddle
she drunkenly lurched
across the road

gave a sort of call

and made her way towards 
the first of the chicks
who peered out from behind the tree
in hungry anticipation

she eyed the chick
clacked her beak
like a set of castenets
and rapped the chick 
over the head

uh oh, I thought
wrong chick
but I was wrong
This must be the traditional 
 albatross way to greet
one's young

so she set to
and regurgitated
eggs of the flying fish
plus stomach oil
for her youngster's dinner

The albatross nests in October
and spends a year raising the single chick
both mum and dad
sharing the duties of parenthood
they return every few weeks
to feed the chick

Give me more...

The chick will grow heavier than the parents
using the reserves 
to build body condition 
and growing flight feathers
in preparation for fledging
They fledge on their own
with no help from the parents
who will return to the nest 
and not even know the chick has left...

The chick has innate migratory behaviour
genetically coded navigation routes
which help him 
when he first sets sail
in the big wide world

Not now...I need a rest...

this one is a Laysan Albatross
with pink feet and pink bill
Another species,
the black footed albatross
the Ka'upu
also lives in Hawaii

The Albatross is pelargic
which means open oceaned.
Sailors have always regarded the albatross 
as a good luck sign
convinced that land was near
This is something of a myth
as the albatross can spend 
up to five years at sea
never touching land

He mates for life
and can live for 50 years
While awkward on land
and having difficulty
in taking off and landing
the albatross is graceful 
and impressive in flight

So well designed is he
that he can travel for miles 
without flapping his wings
and he sleeps 
while coasting along on the winds.

The information I read 
stated that he can travel 
2000 miles a day
in search of food.
That is 83 miles per hour

Is that possible?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My New Neighbourhood


Come with me
and I'll take you
for a pre dinner stroll
around my new neighbourhood

through an empty block
and across the verdant golf course
we can see the peak
of Bali Hai

along the road sides
the beautiful Frangipani,
called Plumeria in Hawaii,
is now flowering

in whites

and various shades
of pink and red-yellow

while the air is filled 
with gorgeous perfume
and the lawns littered 
with their spent petals

and over here
strident Birds of Paradise
claim their patch

I think
I shall be very happy here
in my new neighbourhood
for a few months...