journal
Rain and rainbows
February 11, 2018

If I just remembered how to write a journal entry... Ah-here we go... Kauai: rain, birds, beaches, rainbows, palm trees and starry nights.

It wasn't my first trip to Kauai, but it was the first with a camera in tow, and although it wasn't a photography trip in specific, I still managed to spend some time out on the trails looking for wildlife and landscape inspiration. If you would like to see the gallery images first, feel free to click here.

The most defining characteristics of the island are its rugged and colorful landscape with seemingly prehistoric flora, reminiscent of Jurassic Park, which was indeed filmed there. Clouds periodically emerge from one side of the island to produce rain storms, including everything from drizzles to downpours, giving the island a lush greenery, immense waterfalls and beautiful rainbows.

The winter rain also posed another challenge once the sun set and the milky way emerged. Clear evenings were usually deceiving, with clouds appearing on such short notice and never quite in sync with the local weather forecasts. Nevertheless, each night beneath the stars was as beautiful as the one before with meteors streaking across the sky.

Winter also happens to fit in with the humpback whale migratory schedule, specifically the one bringing the whales back to Hawaii. While not a primary goal of wildlife viewing, I certainly spent a good few hours searching the horizon, until finally one day I saw at least two pods of whales about half a mile off shore breaching and splashing. The amazing part was just how immense they were as evidenced by such clear visibility from even so far away.

And of course, I have a birding list to share:

Brown booby ('Ā)Laysan albatross (Mōlī)
Cattle egret (introduced)Northern cardinal (introduced)
Common myna (introduced)Pacific golden plover (Kōlea)
Great frigatebird ('Iwa)Red-crested cardinal (introduced)
Greater scaup (introduced)Red-footed booby ('Ā)
Hawaiian duck (Koloa maoli)Red junglefowl (introduced)
Hawaiian gallinule ('Alae 'ula)Wandering tattler ('Ūlili)
Hawaiian goose (Nēnē)Wedge-tailed shearwater ('Ua'u kani)
Hawaiian moorhen ('Alae ke'oke'o)Western meadowlark (introduced)
Hawaiian stilt (Ae'o)White-tailed tropicbird (Koa'e kea)
Japanese white-eye (introduced)Zebra dove (introduced)

I found many of these birds around the two wildlife refuges on the island as well as local beaches and cliffs. One interesting set of native Hawaiian birds that I did miss happen to dwell in the forest where the combination of rugged trails and constant rain made it too difficult to photograph on a short schedule. Instead, I happily settled for listening to their beautiful songs from within the dense forest.

And here is just one more photograph to share. Every trip, I try to incorporate a new technique or concept into the unique scenario at hand, and more often than not, most of the aspects in mind do not quite align as imagined. I had spent a few days touring the island to find the a few spots that would best characterize the island beneath the starry night, and after many sleepless nights of less-than-stellar results, I found myself here, on the edge of a taro field, watching the clouds float on by. This evening was abuzz with insects and birds sleepless under the shooting stars, and it took a while before I could feel comfortable in the complete darkness. I searched about, trying to overlay that mental photograph with the nearly unseeable reality before my feet. And finally, I ended up at this spot, where I waited and waited for the clouds to clear just a bit. With a bit of luck, the watery channels through the flat leaves illuminated with the stars above and held for just a few minutes before darkening under yet another approaching storm.

I hope you've enjoyed this journal entry. If you haven't already, click here to see the gallery photographs from this trip, and I'll see you back soon for the next journal entry!