12 October, 2017
Kaneohe Bay. Gillagan’s Island is on the right.
Monkey pod tree.
Albizia saman is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to the Neotropics. Its range extends from Mexico south to Peru and Brazil, but it has been widely introduced to South and Southeast Asia, as well as the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii. Common names include saman, rain tree and monkeypod.
A Pacific Golden Plover seen at a heiau above Aiea.
The Pacific golden plover (Pluvialis fulva) is a medium-sized plover. The genus name is Latin and means relating to rain, from pluvia, “rain”. It was believed that golden plovers flocked when rain was imminent. The species name fulva is Latin and refers to a tawny colour.
We just had a big rain storm in Honolulu tonight and I can hear the call of the plovers, tu-tuuuit!
It is migratory and winters in south Asia and Australasia. A few winter in California and Hawaii, USA. In Hawaii, the bird is known as the kōlea. It is very rare vagrant to western Europe. They return to the same wintering territory each year, which allowed scientists in Hawaii to attach tiny light level geolocator devices to the birds and then retrieve them the following year in the same location. This research revealed that these birds make the 4800 km non-stop flight between Alaska and Hawaii in 3–4 days.
Alaskan breeders winter in Hawaii, Fiji, South Pacific Islands, all the way to New Zealand.
Pacific golden plovers breed in Siberian tundra and in West Alaska in June-July. Males usually return to the same nest site, even to the same spot. They form monogamous pairs. Relying on their excellent camouflage to avoid predators, they simply nest on the ground. They prefer well-vegetated well-drained tundra, often on hillsides or ridges. The nest is just a shallow scrape lined with lichens. Four eggs are laid, incubated by both parents (26 days). Soon after hatching, the chicks and parents move off to moist shrubby or grassy tundra. Young plovers are able to run soon after hatching. When threatened, the parent distracts the predator from the nest or chicks by pretending to have a broken wing.
Hawaiians may have found their islands by following the spring migration of the golden plover from Tahiti to the Hawaiian chain, as the birds returned to the North American mainland.
The plover’s migration route strongly suggested the presence of land to the north, prompting the Polynesian explorers to sail in that direction and eventually discover the Hawaiian Islands. As critical as celestial navigation was to their success, it is important to note that the correct compass heading required to reach the Hawaiian Islands from Tahiti could only have been confirmed following successful landfall by the first mariners.
Apparently, long-distance flights of the Pacific Golden Plover also served as inspiration to early British explorers. In 1773, Captain James Cook sailed the waters of Tahiti during his second expedition.