A hunt for wildlife outside of Idaho — in colorful Hawaii!
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While southeast Idaho was battling the white stuff, my family and I were battling 90 degree heat, colorful flowers and birds and fish, orange colored sunrises and sunsets, sweat, geckos and colorful swim suits that did not cover much.
I hope you feel sorry for me as we were in Hawaii and I generally love cold weather, snow and I hate heat and lots of people. But being with family, the birds, fish and other colorful creatures made most of the time enjoyable.
The first thing I noticed while driving to the house we had rented was the numbers of chickens running all over the place. I was quickly informed that they were not chickens but were wild junglefowl.
“You have a ready supply of chickens running around your business,” I said while ordering an “orange-chicken” dinner from a mobile vender.
“They ain’t chickens; they are filthy junglefowl and we don’t use them,” I was rudely informed.
On Sunday after church we visited the Byodo-In, a Buddhist temple which was home for hundreds of colorful koi fish. To me they looked like flocks of over-grown goldfish that someone had released in the Rexburg Nature Ponds. Kids, and some adults, were purchasing seeds for the Zebra and the Spotted Turtle doves to eat from their hands. I even found a lonely Kolea, a Pacific Golden plover, picking insects out of the grass.
While on a fishing trip a grandson, Lincoln, caught a Humuhumunukumukuapua’a , the state fish, which is commonly known as the Reef Tigerfish. None of us got skunked as I caught only one fish – about a five-inch rock cod, but the sand was full of sand crabs and Kolea which dominated most of my “fishing” time.
As a naturalist my favorite times were getting away from the crowds and into the parks to slip away on the less traveled trails where I found most of the top 20 birds of the island of Oahu. But mostly I was intrigued by the number of lizards that I found. They were everywhere; all introduced from other countries as the only native one, the Hawaiian skink, was declared extinct in 2013.
Out on the trails of Waimea Valley I ran into the Green anole, the Gold Dust Day gecko, the Brown anole and the Orange Spotted Day Gecko. They were climbing all kinds of vegetation including beautiful flowers looking for insects to lunch on and it seemed that garbage cans were one of their favorite place to hang out.
The Gold Dust geckos loved to drink the spilled drinks on the outside tables and loved to stock the flies buzzing around. After locating green katydid, an insect shaped like a leaf, I watched as both a Green and Brown anole ran passed it. It was probably too big for them to bother with since they had many other insects smaller to eat.
The Brown anoles were found everywhere on Oahu including the house we were living in. On the outside there were hundreds of them including tiny ones that looked more like large ants than a lizard. Occasionally we found them on our bedroom walls and on the kitchen doors. We kept the food covered as we did not want some slippery wiggler added to our snack.
There were colorful flowers everywhere including some on the large trees and I soon had my favorite – the Hawaiian state flower, the Yellow hibiscus. Of course it was everywhere, but the biggest and most colorful one I found was in the rain forest of Waimea Valley.
The beaches were mostly abandoned in the early mornings but crowded in the afternoons and evenings. Walking along the trackless sand looking for sea glass, small pieces of coral and other treasures in the early morning while enjoying the sun filtering through the rain clouds was almost as good as sneaking up on a herd of elk.
I loved the time with the family and the beauty of Hawaii but after the torturous less-than-personal seven hour trip back to Idaho, I will be glad to be back home. It looks like the snow will be mostly gone and I can take care of the problems the cold has created for me. Aloha!!