Sunday, October 21, 2012

Kauai 2012: Lighthouse visit the first, part 2

Wow. I didn't realize how long I'd been procrastinating on finally getting these pics up until I went back to make sure of what the first post from this day was titled. Sorry about that. These shots were taken during our first visit to the Kilauea lighthouse as I looked out toward the ocean, hoping to spot some humpback whales. I noticed some sort of activity involving at least two birds flying around the island just off the lighthouse shore, so I figured I'd take photos of 'em and sort out what was going on later. It ended up being quite the visual story all told, and the result is a monster of a post, featuring 35 images in all. What I discovered after downloading and examining the photos is that I'd captured a Great Frigatebird hot on the heels of a Red-footed Booby. My trusty guide to Hawaiian birds tells me the native Hawaiians coined their own name for the Great Frigatebird: 'Iwa, which means "thief." They chose the name because of the Great Frigatebird's habit of hassling boobies, terns, and shearwaters until they finally dropped whatever food they'd managed to catch, usually snagging their prize in midair, and I was lucky enough to capture this very practice in photos (I've cropped in many of the images quite a bit to provide a bit more detail; the results aren't always the clearest of shots, but I think they're still pretty interesting). In this first pic, a look at the 'Iwa and booby against the waves during one of their many flights across the island:

A few closer looks at the 'Iwa harassing the booby:

In this one, you can see a bit of the fish sticking out from the side of the booby's blue beak:

Finally, the booby decides to land on the island itself, presumably to finally escape the 'Iwa's attacks:

Down on solid ground, the booby probably thinks it's finally safe. However, that bird you can see coming in from the lower right corner, a Nene (aka a Hawaiian goose), most definitely has an opinion about this new bird's presence on the island:

And that opinion would be: "Get the &#@% off my lawn!"

This encounter definitely reinforced my long-held belief that I never, ever, want to p!ss off a goose:

Clearly, the booby has no choice but to take to the air once again. However, as you can see by the shadow in the upper right of the photo, it won't be getting much of a reprieve:

I like to imagine the goose is saying, "And STAY off!"

The booby's morning gets even worse when another 'Iwa joins the pursuit:

I zoomed in on this one because I liked the booby's tail flare:

I thought this one came out particularly well—I figure it must have been one of those moments when I'd just recaptured the focus:

The same pic as above, cropped even more to highlight the 'Iwa and the booby:

Then, believe it or not, a third 'Iwa joined the fun. At this point, you have to believe the booby's thinking, "Yes, by all means, let's make this EVEN MORE CHALLENGING!":

The third bird was either out of the frame or at the very top edge of it for these next few shots, so I cropped in a bit more:

Now the third 'Iwa is coming back for another pass:

I really liked how this one, featuring all four birds and their shadows, came out:

These next two frames are sequential (shots 632 and 633 of the day), and together they provide a sense of how quickly all of this was happening. In the first, although it's a bit difficult to make out, you can see that the booby still has the fish in its beak:

And in the second, it's clear that the 'Iwa just beneath the booby is now in possession of the prized meal: 

In this shot, the 'Iwas are already peeling away from the booby, presumably to fight amongst themselves for the fish:

And finally, a new chase is already underway for the three 'Iwas as the booby continues on. I hope it managed to catch another fish before too long—and that it was able to consume it in peace:

1 comment:

  1. Loved the post - can't wait till we're back there again!! Love, Mom