Posted by: kerryl29 | April 6, 2020

Hawaii Day 13, Part III: Kealia Pond

[If you’re wondering why I’m detailing photographic experiences on this blog as if a pandemic wasn’t ravaging the planet, click here.  Be sure to read the comments.]


When I wrapped up at Iao Valley State Park it was late morning and, truth be told, I wasn’t sure what to do.  I wanted to check out the coastal area of Maui south of where I had already explored in Wailea,  so I headed in that direction–south from Wailuku.  But, just shy of Kihei, on HI-310, I approached the western access point for Kealia Pond National Wildlife Sanctuary, and I quickly made the decision to stop.

I’d driven past both of the entrances to the refuge multiple times since arriving on Maui, beginning with the day of arrival.  The guidebook I was using made it sound as though there was no point visiting the refuge at this time of the year; the pond apparently dries up in the summer and doesn’t replenish itself until the early stages of winter, when the sanctuary is evidently teeming with birds.  But I thought I’d have a look anyway.

The main part of the pond lies on a good-sized tract located between HI-310 and HI-311, and that was indeed mostly–if not completely–dry.  But the section of the refuge I was visiting–accessed by a boardwalk that runs for at least a half-mile, between HI-310 and the shore–was another matter.  In this location, water remains in a number of spots–all year long, apparently.  Expecting to see nothing, I left my gear in my vehicle and started to wander down the almost entirely deserted boardwalk.  It wasn’t long before I saw some birds and, in short order, returned to the car, snagged my tripod and the camera with my 80-400 lens, and went back to the boardwalk.  For the next 90 minutes or so I had fun trying to photograph the surprisingly large number of birds, given the time of the year, that I saw.  It kind of reminded me of the time I spent in south Florida, several years earlier.

As I have noted a number of times previously on this blog, I’m no wildlife photographer; I simply take photos of wildlife from time to time.

The first images I made at Kealia Pond were of Hawaiian stilts, an interesting looking shorebird that’s a native sub-species of the long-necked stilt.  Unfortunately they never came particularly close to the boardwalk, so I had to settle for long distance shots.

Hawaiian Stilt, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Hawaiian Stilt, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

After that, I was able to get relatively close to all of the other species that I saw that day, including the native Hawaiian coot–about the same size as the American coot.  The Hawaiian coot is an endangered species, but, fortunately, appears to be slowly increasing in number throughout the state.

Hawaiian Coot, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Hawaiian Coot, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Hawaiian Coot, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

The smallest bird I saw at the refuge was the Pacific golden plover.  It’s a migratory species by nature, but apparently some stay in Hawaii year-round.  The Pacific golden plover is a bit smaller than the European golden plover, but has longer legs, and is a bit slimmer than the American version of the species.

Pacific Golden Plover, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Pacific Golden Plover, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Pacific Golden Plover, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

I also saw some mallard-Hawaiian hybrid ducks.  These ducks, the result of natural interbreeding between the endemic Hawaiian duck (koloa) and mallards, look superficially very much like mallards in terms of coloring, but they’re notably larger and have longer bills.  The native Hawaiian duck is endangered and its numbers appear to be decreasing throughout the state, unfortunately.

Hawaiian-Mallard Hybrid Ducks, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Hawaiian-Mallard Hybrid Ducks, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

I was surprised to find black-crowned night herons at the refuge.  They were all over the place in south Florida and I hadn’t realized that they were found all over the world.  They made some of my best subjects at Kealia Pond.

Black-Crowned Night Heron, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Black-Crowned Night Herons, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Black-Crowned Night Heron, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Black-Crowned Night Heron, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Black-Crowned Night Heron, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

It was early afternoon by the time I left Kealia Pond and moved on to what would be the final adventure of Day 13…


Responses

  1. Recently photographed a heron on the River Dee here in Chester. Wonderful bird, graceful when fishing and in flight. Not so hot on take-off!

    • What kind of heron did you photograph? Based on your description, a great blue, perhaps?

      • Hi, Not sure about the blue, in the UK we call them grey herons and as kids we called them storks! It is pictured on my blog at richardlinnettphotography.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/2nd-april-2020-coronavirus-lockdown-day-10-in-the-uk/. First came across them in regents Park as a student, lots nesting on the lake.

  2. The sense of coot as “a silly person, a fool” is attested from 1766. Have you observed coots to be any sillier than other birds?

    • The coots I saw at Kealia Pond were not only no sillier seeming than the average bird, they didn’t even strike me as the silliest bird I photographed that day. The pacific golden plovers earned that title.

      • Then perhaps you’ll begin referring to silly people as old plovers.

  3. Those creatures are beautiful!

  4. Loved these bird photos, Kerry – coots, plovers and stilts, oh my!

    • Thanks very much, Lynn. I’m only left to wonder what it’s like during the winter, when the entire refuge is covered with water and the birds are apparently everywhere.

      • Hmm, sounds like a return trip for the future?

        • I suppose anything is possible, but I’d say the odds of my ever being there in the winter are extremely slight.

  5. It is so nice to see some of my favourite birds here! The Pacific Golden Plovers are quite amusing.

  6. Its nice to see your photographs..Tah k you for sharing…

  7. Thank you

  8. […] was early afternoon by the time by the time I wrapped up at Kealia Pond,  That meant there was still time to explore the area of Maui south of […]


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