20 February, 2010

Mystery Heron in Hawaii

In the second week of February Dennis gave a couple of lectures in a workshop held in Hawaii.  For the sake of marital harmony, I accompanied him so that we both managed a brief escape from winter.  ;-)  It was a terrific trip that I will write about in upcoming posts to this blog.  Today, though, I will concentrate on one bird that I have not been able to identify with certainty.   It is a heron that makes it home near some ancient Hawaiian fishponds that were on the extensive grounds of the resort where we stayed.  I made several hikes around the fishponds durung our visit, and the paths (paved!) were mostly deserted, even the benches that were strategically placed for viewing the ponds. The first sight I had of the heron was just as a dark shape bobbing up in and out of view at the edge of a pond. I tiptoed closer and was able to get these shots while I had its attention. Then it went right back to eating.
It flew off as I walked closer following the path around the ponds.  It didn't fly far, and the path soon led me to more views of the heron, shown below.  Its actions are reminiscent of many a wildlife photographer. ;-)   Check it out ...
There's something I really want down there.
Easy, easy, must tiptoe in.
OK, here we go! 
Dang, missed it.
It will be back and I will get it if I am vigilant and patient.

So, I figured out that this heron is most likely a pond heron of some sort and that it is an adult in non-breeding plumage.  It seems to be out of the range for pond herons, but Hawaii has many introduced bird species, so that does not necessarily rule that out.  As I was perusing online catalogues of birds, I stumbled across this stiking photograph of a Chinese pond heron in breeding plumage.  The cool thing about this photograph is that it was taken by Choy Wai Mun, who I know through his birding blog Reflections of Wings and Wildlife.  I highly recommend you visit Mun's blog to get exposed to his wonderful bird photographs (get it, exposed? hehe).  So, Mun, or anyone for that matter, can you help me out with this ID?  I have considered Java pondheron, Chinese pondheron, and various other herons and bitterns. 

Over the next week or so I will have some more posts about our trip to Hawaii.  But after visiting Mun's blog just now, I don't think I dare show my pitiful shots of the common Myna, since they are in his current post.  Oh well.