Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where has the time gone?

Sorry for the delay; I have been slacking.

It is hard to believe that I only have two and a half days left here. Though I have done quite a bit, there are still things on my list. Guess I'll just have to try to sneak out again sometime.

On Friday, my mom and I went with a local bird expert out to Mauna Kea to try to see some of the more rare and endangered birds of the big island. The first stop was a nature preserve on the eastern slopes of the volcano (the wet side). We saw a bunch of very colorful and two and a half of the three endangered birds we were looking for. One them we only saw briefly and never got a good look at. (I cannot remember all if the Hawaiian names of the birds so will not even try to here.) That afternoon we worked our way to the western slopes (dry side) to try to see a few more birds and one other endangered species. There was not quite the diversity of birds on this side but we did manage to see 4-5 of the bird we were looking for. It was a neat, but sad feeling getting to see a bird that was so rare.

Saturday morning we got on the road at 4:30 to make it over to the Kona side for a whale watching tour. The day started off interesting as we had to make most of the drive in a severe thunderstorm. (Whereas Hawaii does get a lot of rain, it typically does not come so violently.) But we made the nervous drive just fine and were even a little early for the trip. Once we got on the boat we were told that we would start by going about 2 miles off shore to see if we could see some of the toothed whales (sperm whales, beaked whales and pilot whales) that stay around the island all year. Sadly after about an hour and a half without seeing anything we had to start making our way back to shallower water and begin the search for humpbacks. While we did get to see spinner and spotted dolphins we never did manage to see any whales.

Sunday was a bit of a wash as the thunderstorms had continued and did not let up until late that afternoon. We were actually pretty happy to just have a day to rest and recover from our two previous early mornings.

Monday we got off to a leisurely start and meandered our way south until we came to South Point, the southern most point inthe US. It is a pretty interesting place. Severe cliffs down to the ocean and tall grass prairie on top with very little to break the wind. On our way back to Hilo we stopped at two black sand beaches and saw several sea turtles basking. Apparently the green sea turtles will bask for up to 24 hours and during much of this time look completely dead. After talking to some volunteers that were watching over some turtle nests, we were relieved to know that these weren't just sick or dead turtles on the beach.

Yeaterday did not take us far from Hilo. We went over to the second house to clean out the pool and while there we saw a couple of humpback whales breaching off the coast. The show did not last but for two or three jumps, but it kept us glued to our binoculars scanning the surface for more activity. That afternoon we headed into Hilo to go see a few parts of the town that I have yet to see and to do a little shopping.

Over the next two days I am hoping to make it up to the northern tip of the island and take a hike through one of the valleys and also head back south to check out more of Volcano National Park. Not sure which one will be done on which day, but we shall see.

Hope that all is going well back on the mainland. Miss y'all. I think I am off for a run before this day gets started.

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