Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lana'i Fauna IV - Humpback Whale Dives

In addition to seeing Humpback Whales (Megaptera noveangliae) engaged in the so-called "head rise" or "spy hop", we also saw humpback whales diving on our whale watch boat tour in the channel between Lana'i and Maui.

Here's a sequence of shots of one whale diving while another whale remained on the surface emitting a series of blows (with Maui in the background).

Humpback Whales


Humpback Whales


Humpback Whales


Humpback Whales



Humpback Whales



Humpback Whale

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Anna's Hummingbird

Today, we walked along Chrissy Field in San Francisco. Along the way, we observed a male adult Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna) sitting on a branch. In the sunlight, we could see his beautiful iridescent red throat. At one point, he was vocalizing the characteristic high-pitched, screechy call. Here's a link to an example of this call. These hummingbirds are very common throughout the year in San Francisco.

Anna's Hummingbird
Vocalizing Male Adult Anna's Hummingbird

Hummingbird
Male Adult Anna's Hummingbird


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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lana'i Fauna III - Humpback Whales and the Head Rise or Spy Hop

Humpback Whales (Megaptera noveangliae) travel from feeding areas in Alaska to the Hawaiian islands in the winter to give birth to their young and mate. As a result, the largest gathering of humpback whales in the world may occur in Hawaii during the winter months. While on Lana'i, we saw blows and tail slaps from humpback whales travelling by the coast and took a whale watch trip into the channel between Lana'i and Maui. There, we had several humpback whale sightings including the so-called "head rise" or "spy hop" in the photos below. Some have speculated that this behavior reflects the whale's curiosity in something on the surface -- perhaps a boat -- as the whale rises relatively slowly out of the water and remains still for a minute or two before finally receding slowly into the water in a horizontal position and creating a large splash.


Humpback Whale
Head Rise or Spy Hop


Humpback Whale
Head Rise or Spy Hop


Humpback Whale
Reclining Horizontally


Humpback Whale
Splash


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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lana'i Fauna II - Axis Deer

The Emperor of India apparently introduced Axis deer to the Hawaiian islands in the 1860s by giving several Axis deer to the island of Moloka'i. A dozen Axis deer from Moloka'i then were introduced to Lana'i in the 1920s. In India, the known predator of Axis deer is the Bengal Tiger. On Lana'i there are no natural predators and thus there are now thousands of Axis deer roaming the island. Axis deer have a very pretty reddish-brown coat with white spots. From our hotel balcony on Lana'i, we saw these three Axis deer blending in well with the Kiawe (Prosopis pallida), a kind of mesquite shrub or tree common to the coastal areas of Lana'i and the other Hawaiian islands.


Lanai (8 of 9)
Axis Deer Doe and two Fauns

Lanai (9 of 9)
Axis Deer Doe




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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lana'i Fauna I - Spinner Dolphins (Stenella Longirostris)



A few weeks ago, we spent a week on Lana'i, one of the smallest Hawaiian islands. While swimming at Hulopo'e Beach, a protected marine life conservation district, a pod of Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) swam alongside, above and below us. When the dolphins approached, we stopped swimming and just watched them swim by (and spin above water) with an underwater camera. It was an extraordinary experience. Here's a video of them swimming by us and a few photos.




Spinner Dophins
Lanai (6 of 9)


Spinner Dophins


Lanai (1 of 9)
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Meyer Lemon Tree

When we first saw our San Francisco home some years ago, we loved the large, established Meyer lemon tree which is the centerpiece of the backyard. It probably has been growing here for some 50 years and is about six feet high by 10 feet wide.

Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange and were brought to the United States in the early 1900s by Frank Meyer, an "agricultural explorer" employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse was one of the first to use Meyer lemons in her cuisine which has resulted in the recent popularity of Meyer lemons. Here's an article from NPR on the Meyer lemon (although it ascribes the popularity of the Meyer lemon to Martha Stewart, not Alice Waters) and another article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. One of our great joys in the garden is harvesting the Meyer lemon fruit throughout the year, particularly during the winter, and using them in recipes/cocktails and giving them to our friends. Here are some recent shots of Meyer lemons on the tree.

Meyer Lemon


Meyer Lemon


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