Lynn and I were able to take an extended, 4 day weekend trip to Kauai Hawaii over Memorial Day weekend. To maximize our limited amount of time we took a evening flight out of Los Angeles on Thursday, May 25th which got us in to Kauai a little before 9:00 PM, we also took the Monday night red-eye flight back to Los Angeles which gave us in effect 4 full days in Kauai. While this was more of an R&R trip than anything, we did take the opportunity to do some sightseeing and exploration which is what I will focus on in this trip report. We stayed in the Kapa’a area which is about 6 miles north of the Lihue airport on Kauai’s East shore, after picking up the rental car and getting our bearings, we headed to the hotel, checked in and were settled in before 10:00 PM.
May 26th, 2006
We had decided to not push it this trip in terms of doing too much although both of our personalities tend to head quickly to the extreme…:o) So, we started out the day around 9:00 AM, stopped in Kapa’a for breakfast and then headed north, the goal today was to explore all areas north of our hotel so we did. Here are a few shots of the area, it’s really quite spectacular, much of Jurassic Park was filmed here in case any of it looks vaguely familiar.
Our first major stop outside of some pullouts to look at the scenery was the Kilauea lighthouse and Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge. This is the northernmost point on the main Hawaiian Islands and is also on of the only places to see several different species of nesting seabirds on the island. From my observations, as I recall, I did not see another shore bird the entire trip other than in this one spot. The lighthouse is located on a small peninsula with steep slopes that fall to the water far below. From several vantage points you can easily see several endemic as well as Pacific-pelagic species including the likes of the Red-tailed Tropicbird, White-tailed Tropicbird, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Red-footed booby, Laysan Albatross, Great Frigatebird, and others. Here are some of the birds we saw in the area.
Also, we observed another Hawaiian endemic here, the Nene or Hawaiian Goose. This species was actually completely eradicated from the islands due to over hunting, predation from non-native species and disease however some locals managed to keep a genetically pure domestic stock and the birds were reintroduced into the wild where they have begun to once again flourish. There are several groups of wild, breeding flocks now on the island.
Nene – Hawaiian Goose
One more highlight from the lighthouse are were several pairs of Red-crested Cardinals. Quite spectacular birds, I chased a couple around for a while never getting a good shot much to my disappointment. Lynn decided to make a stop at the gift shop at the lighthouse (also to cool off a bit as it was quite hot and humid and Lynn wasn’t faring so well the first day). While she was inside shopping I walked around the back of the shop and was standing there just kind of looking around when a male Cardinal landed right next to me, looked at me, hopped on the lens of my camera (I kid you not), hopped a couple more feet away and then allowed me to do an extensive photo shoot of him…
He hopped over into some nearby brush where he started eating the tips of some young leaves. After observing for a few moments I noted a second bird, inside the bush, it turned out to be a juvenile Cardinal, however we got better pictures of one later so I’ll save pictures of a young one for then.
We spent a couple of hours in the area before heading north along Highway 56 which turns into Highway 560 after some severe switchbacks. Interesting to note is that once on Highway 560 there are a series of one-way bridges that you must transverse until you get the end of the highway, creates some interesting traffic flow problems and is very reminiscent of other areas I have been in such as Mexico and Costa Rica.
Here’s some more scenery from the day…
The say that a picture is worth a thousand words… I am just not sure what words can describe or explain this sight…
This is a Red Junglefowl, A wild chicken, and relative to the domestic chicken, they are common here and in Australia as well.
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