Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Playing Hooky in Hawaii

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


  1. Are you sure you didn't capture these Nenes in a Parking Lot and transfer them to a more Natural Setting?!?! Just Kidding! We all know what a TRUE BLUE Naturalist you are! Love the Stretch shot! See ya in Canton, MA. Look forward to the lecture!

  2. They are so pretty! I'm glad you had the patience to wait for the shot.