About 6:35, ten minutes to sunset. Time to start taking pictures.
The beach at Fort DeRussy Park is a good spot, quieter than the rest of the strip.
It's getting close, dropping like a stone. A big yellow burning gaseous stone.
Down in front!
Two guys started talking about the "green flash," and whether tonight was a good night for it. I missed it a few nights earlier, perhaps because I had too soon rendered my retinas temporarily blob-struck. Some claimed to have seen it. Hm. Supposedly in the second(s) after sunset, the longer wave-length blue-green light makes a last desperate grab to stay in the present day, and a green crescent, or even an upward-shooting ray can be seen. This night I was ready for it. A good night, clear horizon, calm weather, no deer-like staring at the thing.
December 31, 2013:I watched the sun go down from exactly the same spot, the sun setting on the year. When it sank into the sea, the beach erupted in cheers as if it were the ball in Times Square, which, given the time difference it may as well have been. There were no green-flash exclamations or musings. Everyone was probably already drunk.
There it goes, and faster than you would expect. You know how a cough drop melts away in your mouth if you have the patience not to chomp it to bits, how that last little bit is one second there, and then gone? This time, no one cheered. Ho hum, another day over, mumble about what to do next.
But do you see it? The green flash. Had the camera shutter opened a split-second earlier, it would have been clearer in the picture, because it was there. I saw it through the view-finder.
The Waikiki Aquarium has one, a Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, but we didn't see it on the first pass through. The aquarium is relatively small, and it didn't take long to peruse the inside exhibits, which are very well done, and then go outside, where there are a few more exhibits, and then go back inside, passing through the gift shop. A woman working there asked, "Did you see the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a?" I was pretty sure we had not. I had heard of this fish, because people like saying its name, but I had no mental image of it and had seen no sign inside or outside explaining where to look for one. She plucked a metal key tag from a rack. "It looks like this." Oh. It was a kind of triggerfish. "There's one in the outside tank." She described in detail how it endlessly swims a particular route through the tank, and where to stand to get a picture of it. Well why not? We went back to the outside tank and stood where instructed to, and voila.
It has an odd legal history:
From Wikipedia: "The reef triggerfish was originally designated the official fish of Hawaii in 1985, but due to an expiration of a Hawaiian state law after five years, it ceased to be the state fish in 1990. On April 17, 2006, bill HB1982 was presented to the Governor of Hawaiʻi, which permanently reinstated the reef triggerfish (humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa) as the state fish of Hawaiʻi. The bill passed into law on May 2, 2006, and was effective upon its approval.
Close-up of Humuhumunukunukuapua'a. Beauty.
One should naturally be glad it was permanently reinstated as the state fish.
This is my favourite shot because the lighting helps show the thoughtful expression typical of triggerfish. Thank you to the kind woman in the gift shop who told us how to see this fish.
On a previous visit to Hawaii, I made an image collection of people carrying surfboards along busy downtown sidewalks. Why did I do that? Because I found downtown surfboard toting pleasingly odd. This time, had I been more clever about being similarly silly, I would have realized early-on that another basically pointless image collection easily made in Hawaii is dogs wearing leis. The picture above was on our last day there. The pictures below, of Surf Dog, were taken on the first day. There were other lei-laden canines seen over the intervening days, but I was too sun-addled to realize what a scrapbook I was flipping through. I failed to digitally record them. Arf.
If ever you are among the first of the general public to be admitted to the Honolulu Zoo, hurry to the Southern Ground Hornbill enclosure and be their first visitors of the day. That's what we did one day last week. (Not pre-planned, just turned out that way.)
Southern Ground Hornbills are great big black birds with scarlet fleshy facial features. "One has something gross in its beak," our daughter said. True. It was holding a dead hatchling bird, I'm pretty sure not a hatchling Southern Ground Hornbill, minus its head. The hornbill stuffed it through the metal mesh, as if presenting it to us.
Here. Have this.
The other ground hornbill seemed miffed. Something complicated and odd was going on. Then we read the signage. (Only about 17% of zoo visitors bother to read the signage.) The sign said, after covering discouraging conservation issues, "Entertaining birds to watch! Ground hornbills play with each other, mutually groom, intimidate each other and show off by displaying with leaves or food in their beak tips. These social behaviors serve to cement the bonds between the birds of a group, and motivate them to assist the breeding pair in raising their young..." Something had gone awry here. The bird wasn't cementing bonds with his enclosure mate. He was cementing bonds with us. Hence the miffedness of the other.
Be among the 17%, read the sign:
Questions arise: Does the Honolulu Zoo supply the Southern Ground Hornbills with fresh decapitated dead baby birds every day to perplex and entertain the first lucky Southern Ground Hornbill visitors?
Do the birds regularly use them to miff each other? Although we had no want or need of a dead, headless baby bird, we felt somewhat special because of the offer. (Especially after reading the sign. Please read the signs). Zoo opens at 9AM sharp.
Pacific Golden-Plovers (Kolea) are magical, large-headed, big-eyed birds that rush around on lawns in Honolulu during winter months, chasing each other from prized patches of turf. They don't care what humans are doing. They're busy. When they arrive from their Arctic breeding territories they usually resemble the bird above, typical shorebird brown-on-white. This picture was taken in December, when all the Kolea I saw looked just so. Sometime between late December and late March those in condition to breed undergo a spectacular transformation, becoming black-bellied and golden-backed.
They behave the same way they did in basic brown, ignoring humans while alert for rivals, but look at how they look.
fabulous. According to Hawaii's Birds (Hawaii Audubon Society), many of those that remain in the islands over the summer fail to obtain full breeding plumage. Do they experience regret? Embarrassment? Relief?
A little more than a year ago I introduced the blogosphere to the Waikiki Tree Penguin. Last week, observations I made while wearing various aloha shirts lead me to suspect that this bird is an apex predator throughout Oahu, not just at far-flung prawn and tilapia farms. First hint was at the big Banyan tree (above) at Kuhio Beach Park, surfboard central along the strip. A flock of white pigeons perched on the tree exploded in terror as a big, grey bird flopped into their midst.
This bird is feared.
Of course no one else saw it. That's how it goes.
This is a bustling, urban site. Here is the view approaching the banyan tree (Google Streetview image), not where you'd expect to see a WATP, but there it was.
And then, a few days later, during the Prince Kuhio Day parade mentioned in the previous post, a foursome of White Terns flew down the avenue, angrily pursuing and pecking at a Black-crowned Night-heron (what the WATP really is) above the heads of paraders and parade watchers. They chased it into a dense acacia tree in front of the Louis Vuitton store, and I lost sight of it in the hullabaloo, which included a marching band...
being surveilled by a drone.
There's a lot to be learned about Waikiki Tree Penguins, what exactly they're up to. Someone who otherwise has little cause to wear his various aloha shirts should go back there and study them at length.