Continuing on with the bird photos from the Hanapepe Salt Ponds of Kaua’i. Whilst as seen in my previous post there were numerous shots to be had of Hawaiian Stilts, there were other species present as well. I don’t claim to be an ornithologist so, in the event that I misidentify any species, please feel free to correct me.
This surely has to be one of the world’s most common waterbird species being readily observed in many countries and regions. Having said that, with its pure white plumage reflected in the pond waters, it’s difficult to turn down yet another opportunity to photograph one. The species was actually introduced into the Hawaiian Islands and is now so prolific that it’s considered a pest.
The Hawaiian Gallinule, known in Hawaiian as ‘Alae ‘Ula, is regarded as a threatened species throughout the islands due to loss of wetland habitat and exposure to introduced mammalian predators. Significant among those feral species is the mongoose which was introduced to all the major Hawaiian Islands other than Kaua’i.
Mongoose, a foolish decision
The mongoose was introduced in a harebrained attempt to control another introduced environmental pest, rats. Sadly the mongoose are diurnal and the rats are nocturnal meaning they rarely interact and the mongoose flourished by eating native bird-life instead. A parallel to this can be found in Australia where foxes were introduced in an attempt to subdue the feral rabbit population but instead eat everything else that they can find including endangered native wildlife species.
Fortunately, the mongoose was not released onto Kaua’i. The story goes that a crate full of them were delivered to a wharf with the intention that they be released, but when one of the creatures bit the finger of a dockside worker, he, in a fit of anger, pushed the crate over the side into the water drowning the mongoose. Quite possibly that spontaneous act was, unwittingly, the single greatest act of environmental protection in Kaua’i’s history.
The wandering tattler is a migratory visitor to the Hawaiian Islands and this individual was determined to make his presence known at the pond. Whilst I was getting some photos of the stilts and the odd duck or two, this fellow landed on his rock in another part of the pond and started screeching and squawking for all he was worth. I took several shots of him as he performed, but chose to present this image taken just as a gust of wind ruffled some of his feathers.
All these photos were taken with a tripod-mounted Canon 5D Mark 2 and the 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-extender. ~KD