Saturday, April 21, 2007

A visit with the Big Island Woodturners - Part I

I left Australia on April 6, flying from Sydney to Brisbane and then to Hawaii via Fiji. I had a very long layover in Brisbane scheduled, so Theo, Stella and Melissa fetched me from the airport and took me to their home for a nice Good Friday brunch. I had left my heavy gear with them while I went to Sydney and so I had a chance to reorganize all my gear during the layover. (Thanks, Theo and Stella!).

The three of them took me back to the airport and kept me company prior to my departure. Here's a family photo (L to R: Melissa, Theo and Stella).

Father and daughter - Melissa and Theo.

It was really great to be able to spend a good part of the day with the Haralampous. I very much enjoyed my time in Australia, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to stay with this wonderful family.

The flight to Honolulu was broken up by a stopover in Nadi, Fiji. When you get off the plane to go through customs or transfer, there's always a sarong-clad guitar band to serenade you while you wait.

I left Australia late in the afternoon of April 6, had about 10 hours of flying time plus a long layover, and I still arrived in Hawaii on April 6th. That international date line confuses me everytime. . .

My layover was shorter than what was shown on my itinerary in Fiji by about 4 hours and so I arrived in Honolulu ahead of schedule. I was able to rebook my flight on Aloha airlines for the interisland hop from Oahu to Hawaii.

I don't usually fly on airlines with open seating (first come-first served), but this worked out ok. I was at the front of the line for the zone three passengers and ended up with an exit row seat that was by the window.

I had some good views of some of the islands on the way over to the big island. This is a view of Diamond Head just after we took off from Honolulu international airport.

It's an extinct volcano, but you don't see that it's a crater until you climb to the top or look at it from the air.

I had visited this stretch of coastline with Craig and Teri Mason just a couple of weekends before this flight.

A quick glimpse of Molakaii as we're flying over. It's a long, narrow island that isn't nearly as mountainous as Oahu or Hawaii.

Just a glimpse of the coastline of Maui. It was mostly covered in clouds.

Jack Straka was there to meet me at the Hilo airport and he gave me this patriotic-themed lei. It sure smelled nice, and I used it to decorate the lathe I used for my demo the next day.

I had asked Jack if he would mind taking me to some natural areas so I could get some birding in while I was visiting the Big Island. He took me to Volcanoes National Park and one of our first stops was the Thurston Lava Tube. There's a nice overlook there that provides some good opportunities for seeing some of the endemic species.

The lava tube is also interesting to walk through. This one is well lit with laterns. You can see how lava tubes form by clicking on the previous picture.

I thought it was neat to see the tree roots growing through the top of the lava tube. I'm sure there were a lot of interesting invertebrates all through here, too, but I didn't have a flashlight with me that would have helped me to look for them.

Trees in flower made for some great view opportunities to see the local avifauna.

The most abundant endemic species was the Apapane. It's a beautiful red bird and quite busy in its foraging activities. We also saw Amakihi and Elepaio here.

A short drive away from the lava tube, Jack showed me a parking area where one can usually see the Kalij pheasant. It showed up right on schedule,

as did the hen. This species was introduced as a game bird.

The last stop of the day was the Kilauea crater. The island was having quite a lot of vog this day so it wasn't a great look at the crater.

However, the overlook was perfect for watching Apapane forage in the tree tops.

I was really glad to add this and the other species to my life list this day. Thanks, Jack!

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