Recently I’ve been spending more time with birds. Yes, that kind. I wrote here about quail, and previously I’ve written about gulls, ducks, blackbirds, thrushes, even sparrows have had a mention. Birds are near and dear to my heart I guess it’s fair to say, however I don’t feel I have the expertise to write dedicated to birds. The utmost authority on birds – pigeons, to be precise – has to be straight from the pigeon’s mouth – the pigeon blog. Everything else is just an opinion, this is the final word.
Then there’s the Snail’s Eye View – straight from the Snail’s mouth – writing and pix dedicated to natural history, and hosting I and the Bird #41 – I just can’t wait. I may’ve missed the deadline to submit – argh! Snail has written about an encounter with a local Cape Barren Goose. You know the ones – they’re the sumi-soft grey feathers with the candy pink legs and the almost lime green patch around the nose. What’s not to love?
So what’s that wierd duck picture here all about? That’s no duck, that’s a Nēnē (Branta sandvicensis) – the rare Hawaiian goose – and also the official bird of the state of Hawaii. I’m rather proud of this image – I know it’s a long way from being technically superb – right out on the very end of the digital zoom – but I made the photo myself back in August 2006, on Kaua’i. The Nēnē is the world’s rarest goose – numbers had dwindled down to about 30 in the 1950’s, but fortunately it has made something of a comeback to about 500 birds in the wild. When we went to Kaua’i I had expected to see some birdlife, but it was beyond my wildest dreams to see the Nēnē just lounging, catching some rays, on the edge of a taro field near Hanalei. This was the first time I’ve ever seen a very rare animal in the wild. Zoos/parks just aren’t the same. I was just stunned, and initially
thought it was a decoy or toy – cargo cult perhaps – the Nēnē was within 20 metres of the main road, and perhaps 200 metres from the edge of town. Kaua’i – everything is relaxed.
I guess if Puff the Magic Dragon can be there, bird magic is a distinct possibility.