Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bulletin 183 Kauai #3

The water birds of Kauai can be readily seen in the taro fields just beyond Princeville on the north coast in the Hanalei NWR.

The Koloa or Hawaiian Duck (Anas wyvilliana) survives as a natural population only on Kauai. It has been reintroduced to Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii. It resembles a female mallard and the sexes are similar.

Hawaiian Duck

The Hawaiian Coot (Fulica alai) was split from the American Coot in the last 20 years. It has a white shield on the forehead vs the American which has a red shield. However, a small percentage of the local birds do have a red shield. Here is the typical form.

Hawaiian Coot with white shield
I also noticed one with a red shield. The red shield appears to be larger then the red shield of the American species.

Hawaiian Coot with red shield

The endangered local subspecies of the Common Moorhen is also known locally as Hawaiian Gallinule (Gallinula chloropus). As both the Hawaiian subspecies of the stilt and coot were eventually elevated to full species status, maybe this one will be too. This was my first sighting of this subspecies.

Hawaiian Gallinule

We found a dragonfly while birding with our guide in the Alakai Swamp. He mentioned that it is the largest dragonfly in the world. It is called the Giant Hawaiian Dragonfly (Anax strenuus). It has a wingspan of 7.5".

Giant Hawaiian Dragonfly

Another interesting species of nature that we came across was a lobelia plant with a very curved flower. This lobelia served as a nectar source for the Iiwi bird with the semi circular bill. When we birded on the big island of Hawaii in June, our guide there pointed out several species of lobelia that were critically endangered with only a few individual plants known in the wild. It turns out that all the lobelias of Hawaii all descended from a single species. There are 126 species known in 6 genuses. These comprise 1/8 of all the native plant species of Hawaii. For more information on the amazing Hawaiian lobelias, read this blog where I got this information.

The flower can be seen in the upper central part of the photo.


Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2013 David McDonald

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