|Nene Goose stretching, Kauai|
Just returned from a welcome family vacation in Hawaii – a nice break
from the recent cold snap in Seattle. To make it a true vacation, I took
only one camera body and one lens (albeit the handy Nikon
18-200mm) rather than the usual 50-60 lbs of gear I normally haul
around. This is a great lens for snapping the grandkids surfing, and
(with the benefit of a sturdy plastic bag) shots of them underwater in
the resort pool.
But since I don’t get to Hawaii all that often, I took a few hours off from
the pleasures of grandparent-hood and went looking for Nenes – the
endangered Hawaiian Geese. Although threatened by habitat loss,
they are not hard to find in a few locations on Kaua’i, most notably
at Kokee State Park and all along the north shore.
I was lucky on this occasion to 1) find them easily, 2) have bright
overcast light (full sun can be a picture-killer) and 3) to find adults
without the ubiquitous numbered leg bands. These bands help
scientists ID and track birds, but look a little jarring in a picture.
These particular Nenes seemed to like hanging around parking and
picnic areas – apparently hoping to cash in on human discards. This
made for some pretty unnatural backgrounds: car tires, yellow lines
on asphalt, and garbage. In the end, however, I managed to find birds
in more wild settings, including a pair with a young chick.
Photographing that chick, however, proved a challenge: like most
parents, the adult Nenes were forever blocking my view to protect
their little one. Patience, and persistence, eventually afforded me
a few quick glimpses, nothing more.
After an hour or so, the sun came out, the birds left, and my
grandkids needed my attention. Would I have loved a little more
time with the Nenes? Sure… But hey, this was a vacation and
time with the grandkids is almost as rare as these birds.
Nikon D300 with 18-200mm lens