Monday, September 10, 2012

The Vaux Swift

Darkness is all they've known. Imagine the moment: leaving the black depths of a hollow tree or chimney to emerge into the brightness of an open sky, flying into the light.

The flight paths of Vaux's swifts. Two families, recorded between 6.35pm -6.45pm, above a tiny clearing in the forest.  The palest lines indicate the first minutes, gradually moving to darker for the later ones. Drawn while laid on my back...

Migration path along the West Coast into South America

A detail from the picture, showing the wide mouth and large eyes. Their closest relative is not the swallow - but the humming-bird.


Perhaps their nest fell away from the vertical wall of the chimney, but these five nestlings landed in the hearth, and I was able to sketch them before we placed them in a shallow basket on a low ledge in the chimney. The parents continued to feed them, and they all flew successfully. 

We kept the flue closed after that, knowing the parents would feed any that fell. A relative of these swifts creates the nests used to make the famous "bird's nest soup". The twigs were those from the damaged nest that had been glued together with saliva - the famous ingredient of bird's nest soup. So, how do those nesting twigs taste?...Salty.

What do you feed a fallen nestling? It was so tiny when we found it in the ashes of the fireplace, still with eyes tight shut and no feathers. Thankful for the help and advice of our expert friend Julie Stonefelt, we began intensive care - feeding it every hour. 

As we warmed each feed, I would mimic the sweet swift's call, which communicates that the parents are coming with food - and always got an answer.  In the last few days, he began to make short flights; landing on the stone of the chimney, the sleeve of my cardigan, or in my hair, hanging vertical.

During August, his chimney siblings were the last family to fledge, and we went outside to watch their flight. On the next day, as their flight was reflected in his large dark eyes, he spread his wings and lifted into the air, circling the house to gain height, then flying up and out of sight to join them. 

Throughout the day I watched for him. The young family flew in unison, their flight was less confident with more wing flaps than older birds. Then I saw him - his body smaller, his feathers a little ragged. He was flying lower than the rest, but an adult flew beside him like a guide or companion, leading and following every curve and turn in his flight.

That night, I waited until long after dark, not knowing if he  could or would follow the fast descent of the others into the tiny chimney. When I came indoors I called up into the sooty darkness above the hearth...and he answered. He answered every night until the whole family left together, about a week later.

 Favorite place, clinging to my hair

Every spring when the swifts return, their flights seem joyous. Calling loudly, they circle low around the house, the only time they ever do that. I always go out and answer, wondering if he's there among them...

Monday, March 12, 2012

On the way to the Goblin Hall

  Wizardry and Hobgoblins, Robert the Bruce, composer Carlo Menotti and Lady Gaga all have links to a mysterious 13th century ruin hidden deep in a Scottish wood, known as the Goblin Ha' - an underground chamber built by Hugh de Gifford, the famous Wizard of Yester, where he reputedly practised his art with the help of an army of goblins. This painting contains impressions from our first journey to the Goblin's hall.

On the way to the Goblin Ha'

  The wilder grounds of Yester House where the ruin sits became one of our favourite places when we lived in Scotland; a tangled wood of beech, oak, rowan, and birch. In early spring we would follow the Yester stream, gathering baskets of wild garlic leaves growing in the damp shaded soil, one of the earliest edible green plants of the year. No matter how much we gathered, it was never enough, with two hungry children eating handfuls of raw leaves on each visit; by the time we returned there was barely enough left for soup.

  Walks to the ruins took a longer trail. Rather than crossing the mown lawns of Yester House, we circled around the grounds, following deer trails through the woods.

  With the vaguest of directions, we crossed the stream on the remnants of an overgrown 13th Century footbridge. The lower stones still arched around the stream, a halo of lichen and moss, but many of the upper stones lay half submerged in the bog. We rambled along steeply wooded banks towards the higher ground until suddenly, between the trees, we were confronted by this mysterious anachronism. 

  Completely obscured until you are almost upon it, there stands a ruined tower hidden between leafed trees. There is no path, just the fungal fragrance of sweet beech mulch beneath your feet. 

  The tower has arched windows. Some say the upper one was a door. The lower is almost sunk into the earth. It dates to a time before 1267, when Hugh de Gifford, the renowned magician, first built it. 

  You have to search for the way in. Around the side we found it, hidden on a steep bank high above the stream- a goblin-sized arched door and passageway. Every stone is beautifully cut and tooled, shaped and fitted precisely around the curve. 

  Stepping from the green, song-filled wood, we crouched our way along a dark passage until it opened into a hall, lit by shafts of light from the upper "window". The height, age and beauty of the vaulted ceiling took us by suprise. It is one of the oldest examples of its kind, and is still perfect and completely unexpected after tunneling under tree roots.

  It is said that the wizard worked his magic in this chamber, summoning the help of faeries or goblins. Some suggest he was an educated mage, a man of science, returned from his travels with small dark skinned 'helpers' that appeared like goblins to local villagers. 

  Across the hall an even darker passageway of descending stone steps goes deeper into the earth. An ancient wall now seals off whatever lies beyond, a dungeon, a well?

The owl feather that began the painting

  On the way back from our first visit, at the ruined stone footbridge, a barn owl's pale breast feather fluttered in the breeze, resting on damp liverworts. Inspired, I carried it back with some gathered liverwort, birch bark and leaves. They were the starting point for this painting. The owl feather is on the right, and around it other things from that first walk. I planned a silhouette of the ruined tower - but what emerged was an underground chamber filled with light and ethereal figures. The trees also suggest the shape of the arched structure. The owl sits between the two realities. Above the ground another figure, half seen, dances in moonlight. 

  And what of the famous necromancer, the Wizard of Yester, Hugh de Gifford? He was a well-known local character, both in magic and politics. This one tower and underground chamber are all that has survived of the magnificent castle he built. 
  One other thing did, a wedding present he gave his daughter Margaret a pear, kept in a silver box. He told her as long as the pear was cared for, her family would suffer no misfortune. For 400 hundred years, generations of her family prospered, until 1692, when the bride of the family's head, Sir George Braun, was tempted. 
  She removed the pear from its silver casing. It looked unnaturally fresh, and she tried a bite. It was rock hard - and the spell was broken. 
  Within a short time, Sir George lost the whole estate to gambling. His brother Robert bought it, but soon after Robert and his two sons were drowned on their way to Edinburgh, when an unusual flash flood caused the River Tyne to overflow its banks, washing them off the road. 
  Since that time, the pear has been kept safe in its silver box, and today remains in Colstoun House near Haddington.

Map of Yester estate (outlined in red), Gifford, East Lothian.

  The wizard of Yester's reputation was earned in his own lifetime. Less than a hundred years after his death, the chronicles of John of Fordun mention the underground chamber where he worked his magic. 

  In 1308 the castle was illegally occupied by the English. In later years it was one of many destroyed by Robert the Bruce trying to prevent an English occupation. 

  By 1557 a later castle was abandoned, and the owners built a more comfortable tower-house where Yester House sits today. 

  The last mention of the Goblin Ha' in use was in 1737, by the Marquess' falconer.

  Yester House has always been a house of music. Harp tunes survive which were written in years past in honour of generous patrons. The current Yester house with its Adams interior was sold in 1972 to the composer Gian-Carlo Menotti, who was impressed by the fine acoustics. A few years ago his son put the property on the market, and it became Scotland's most expensive piece of real estate.

  Last year world headlines announced that final papers were signed, and Lady Gaga would be the new owner of Yester House and the famous Goblin Ha'. It was easy to imagine one of her videos being shot in this location, but the rumours were untrue, and it remains unsold.

  This link has photos of the beautifully cut stonework surviving at the Goblin Ha' chamber and passageway. It also gives an indication of the surrounding woodland. If you want to see pictures of the house, or surviving harp tunes just google 'Yester House' and scan the hundreds of pictures. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Singing Stone

A map of the land, with the streams, ponds and house marked. The dotted lines are favourite deer trails I follow. Red dots are recent cougar kills. The position of Songstone is high-lit where the trail past the house meets the stream. 

THERE IS NO HUMAN SOUND HERE. No voices, no machinery, It’s not silence, because the woods are alive with nature.  Even the stones sing…

Music originally heard from nature is a part of every culture in the world. The music might be within a hill or a rock. A fiddler might play a tune his grandfather heard on the hill, a tune the fairies gave him - or the seals sang.  There is a nettle song in the Himalayas, one of plant songs, almost forgotten. When you hear one for yourself, then you believe. A Snoqualmie elder recently shared his river song with us, a song he keeps hearing on one particular stretch of the river.

There is an unusual art form among the native people here, which uses bold painted shapes, and groups of dots. The dots are songs; I was told they represent the number of songs the person had “heard” in nature.

Walking in the un-tamed wood is an aerobic exercise. You have to scramble over high windfalls and tumble into ancient holes where root boles have been pulled from the land by wind or water. A  bear may have her den there. You might disturb ground-nesting wasps, and be chased for hundreds of yards over rough terrain by armed guards flying with the speed of fighter jets. Balancing on a log to cross a waterfall, in a mindless moment you might grasp a devil’s club stem for balance; their 10ft tall, upright staffs follow the water course.  A large cougar might watch you pass, invisible behind a veil of leaves, or laid in wait on the branch above your head. It’s an unnerving experience to find a cougar kill on a trail you use regularly.

Tip of a tall 'devil's club" staff  growing along the stream. The painting is mounted on paper made using Devil's Club fibre, on top of cedar fibre paper.
Awareness is different here.

You pay more attention when there are serial killers loose in the forest. Your senses are sharply-honed, listening to every wild conversation - listening at the edge of sound for a change in the pattern.

It’s nothing like a walk in the park.

I love this place because of all these things.

Songstone: The Songstone stream  flows beside it, a remnant of the glacial flow that once deposited this huge boulder. The stone is granite, with sparkling crystalline structures.
Nothing can prepare you for the day when, standing alone in a familiar place, miles from other people, you hear harp-like music, echoing from a stone as if coming from a great hall or metal room. Others hear it too, in this same place, from this mammoth glacial rock.

There is no human sound here. But the stones sing…

Friday, February 3, 2012

Meeting Treebeard

Golden-Crowned Kinglet - Male (NW Journal)

The snow has almost melted. White water flows from the springs, and night-rains have left fallen branches, sparkling on a carpet of brown leaves.

These revelations from the upper canopy are like hidden gardens; the realm of tiny birds, whose calls, muffled by thick cedar fronds, remind me of tinkling silver bells…

On a low branch, there is a moment’s eye contact before one continues foraging; like a downy seed puff with wings and a tail. If you ever wondered what these birds eat in winter, bring a windfall inside and see how many species of insects and spiders hop, crawl, or fly out. Speckled beetles a sixteenth of an inch long and smaller; long antennae, short antennae, looping caterpillars, or flies with rainbow wings, like specks in the air. It’s another world. A spider an eighth of an inch wide dangles from my lamp, asking to go back outside. I carry it on a silk thread.

Body feather and primary 
flight feather of a Kinglet
These lichens are like a highly-populated shrubbery for all to share, from tiny kinglets to giant ravens. The animals will come too. For the deer and the elk, lichens are a regular part of their seasonal diet, helping them absorb nutrients from other foods. The flying squirrel needs them, in turn the main prey for the spotted owl.

Lichens are the lungs of the trees, cleaning the air - a tangled, inter-dependent mass of growth, several feet thick. There can be dozens of species on the thinnest branch.  They grow so thickly here in the North-West that trees send aerial roots into their mats, drawing nutrients hundreds of feet above the ground.  The lichen is itself a symbiotic plant, (two species - an algae and a fungi - living as one, each unable to survive without the other). Can it then be called a symbiotic relationship with healthy trees? How can we separate one from the other?  There is a web all around us, above and below.

Usnea longisimma, once found worldwide, is now listed as threatened, and classified as one of the most sensitive of all lichens. All lichens absorb pollution, forming a protective skin around the tree, but cannot survive beyond their capacity to deal with the toxins. As I hold them in my hand this year, I think of reindeer on a frozen continent in Europe, their breath misty in cold, un-polluted air – but their bodies  poisoned with caesium from Fukushima, traced to the lichens in their diet. In Malaysia they have a name for lichens, –tahi angin which means ‘excrement of air’.
 Native Americans believe they maintain the lungs of the planet, in a sacred relationship with trees - and the North wind.

All over the world these beings were named variations of  “Tree- moss” or ‘Tree-beard’.
If undisturbed, Usnea longisimma just keeps growing and growing, the wind garlanding it over generations of branches the ‘longest lichen in the world’ with strands measuring  up to 10 feet. The English name “Methuselah’s beard” can be traced back in writing to 1390  a Christianized form of ‘Old- man’s- beard’. Methuselah was said to have lived nearly 1,000 years…. the god, or priests of a god, who prophesized the last great flood if men did not change their ways.

I gathered some fallen bunches today. Usnea is one of the strongest anti-bacterial medicines in the forest able to overcome strep and staph infections, but I was gathering it for help with a respiratory problem – just like the trees.

Kinglet pair foraging lichens by the river,
with scouring rushes (NW Journal)
Detail from larger painting

note:- Usnic acid was named for an active ingredient in Usnea. It was noticed that the same function the lichen uses to destroy bacteria could be used to increase human metabolism. Taken out of context, the knowledge was used to put usnic acid together with other chemicals into pill form, and sold as a diet pill. It caused liver damage. In traditional medicine, usnea was and is used externally on wounds, and occasionally internally for short periods - often in combination with other plants.

Lichens have been used worldwide by hunter-gatherers for weaving, and beautiful colors can be obtained using traditional dye techniques. Gather it after a storm - never from the trees. Once the branch is shed, it rarely survives for long . Do not gather all you see. Leave plenty for the forest.
Usnea longissima had a name change a few years ago. It is now called Dolichousnea, still an Usnea. This is just a case of biologists fine-tuning its heredity by examining DNA  and molecular structure. It’s still the same long, mossy,  “Treebeard”.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A challenge – and bounty - for one of Kauai’s endangered birds

A pair of gallinules beside the Waipa Stream

Four years ago, experts estimated there were less than 300 Hawaiian gallinules – ‘alae’ula - left in the world. They were nearly all in two locations on Kauai. They are normally so shy and hard to count that that 2005 estimate was an optimistic guess. The real number could have been 200. No-one has counted since.

In the last two weeks, after local flooding, between 2 and 4 have been killed every day as they tried to cross a small section of road beside the Hanalei River. Up to 50 lost in two weeks - and no response at all from the state department paid to protect them.

The casualties occur just after the bridge crossing of the Hanalei River. A constant stream of tourist and local traffic cuts through the wetland at 30- 40 miles an hour. Tourists are gazing into the distance at the awe-inspiring scenery; but locals frustrated by the unpredictable speeds are just as guilty. No-one is thinking of the tiny little dark bird trying to cross the road between their wheels.

Elegant in the water - look at the long toes for gripping and climbing submerged rushes ..

The ‘alae‘ula don’t normally cross the road like this, and are not usually victims of road kill. Something happened during the recent flood to drive them from their secret territories.

It was thousands of years ago that a few small-winged gallinules somehow managed to cross two-and-a-half to three thousand miles of ocean and reach the Hawaiian islands. Once here, they adapted, evolving differences that distinguish them from their mainland ancestors. They have become much darker, the tarsi and toes show changes, as well as their voice, and they have been on the endangered species list for several years after most of their wetlands were drained and multiple predators were brought to the islands.

A shy bird, always alert and ready to hide

‘Alae ‘ula have a wealth of history and mythology linking them with the native people. They gifted fire, and all of them belong to the beautiful goddess of the moon Hina.

Found a plum!

There is another, more positive, ‘alae’ula activity happening right now. On Kauai, they have formed a bond with a certain species of tree that for several months in winter scatters generous numbers of juicy plums across the ground. In recent history, every native plant the birds once depended on was grazed by cattle or ploughed up, and is no longer available. But among the thousands of trees that were introduced to prevent erosion there is one called the Java or “China” Plum. For several months throughout the summer it produces panicles of blossom that attract all kinds of nectar-eating birds and insectivores. During the winter, for several months, the same tree scatters its fruit on the ground, fulfilling the need for fruit in the diet of wild birds.

Java Plum trees in the Waipa Valley

At least three endangered species are enjoying its fruit just now. As well as the ‘alae ‘ula, koloa (Hawaiian Duck) and nene (Hawaiian Goose) gather hungrily beneath the trees. There is some competition. In the last two days an ‘alae’ula has been searching beneath one very prolific tree close to the river every hour. The koloa are there at dawn and dusk. But a fruiting java plum tree will bring them into the open even in the brightest hours of the day. Nene always check the ground beneath these trees as they pass, and it is not unusual to see the three endangered species feeding together under a single java plum tree.

Close-up of the prolific fruit

Unfortunately, all that fruit is an inconvenience to people. The Java plum is regarded as a “weed tree” – especially by anyone who unwittingly parks their white car underneath it and returns to find it covered with hard-to-remove bright purple stains. It is among the first tree to be removed when people move into an area.

However, it is clearly playing an important nutritional role for these endangered species at a time when two of them are on the very brink of extinction, Koloa hybrids now outnumber pure koloa because of introduced mallards. The ‘alae’ula’ has a shrinking habitat, extreme vulnerability to predators, and competition for food resources. It would be sad if the next generation of children could not marvel at the fire-giving bird, or gazing in wonder at the moon and imagining Hina could no longer see her cherished bird.

Searching for more plums. The tip of the bill is already stained purple.

For now it is heartwarming to watch these endangered birds feasting together – sometimes with comical results. The koloa especially take the whole fruit in their bills, but are unable to close them. They lean their heads back and roll the fruit around as violet purple juice drips from their mouths, staining their tongues purple. The ‘alae ‘ula, with their sharp-pointed bills, have a more precise peck that removes the pulp from the seed on the ground but leaves the yellow tips of their bills in various stages of purple.

Female Koloa rolling a plum in her bill. Note purple staining of tongue and bill discarded plum on the right after the fruit has been removed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Unexpected Visitor...

Heading back to the studio...

I was trying to concentrate above the sound of geese. I kept hearing their loud territorial calls and the squeals of the defeated as they battled outside for a desirable nesting site close to where old trees overhang the river, very near the window at my desk.

It was almost impossible to focus. When a dominant goose chases a rival, he grabs a beak full of feathers - usually in a most sensitive area, at the butt, where their fragrant powder puffs are (they have a powder which is released from scent glands located there). Then the aggressor tugs until the feathers come out, and the poor victim squeals in such an agonizing way you just want to run out and try and help. But they are wild geese, and emotions and hormones are flooding their brains just now, so there is little you can do.

I was working on a difficult part of the drawing of a life-size bird, where the breast feathers merge, decrease in size and change color, in a faint diagonal pattern. Details like this are missing from photographs, you almost feel the growth as you depict it, there is a rhythm revealed if you get it right… and I kept losing it.

Just then I heard a scratching at the screen door. and turned to see a goose ”asking to come in”. One foot was raised as he tried to step through the screen, but slid down, confusing him. I opened the door and he slipped inside. Outside, the battles still raged.

It was last winter’s young from the green-banded pair, now a fully-grown teenager, just developing his neck collar, but too young to breed this year. He was still following his parents and getting chased away by them - and every other goose around. Life is tough at the bottom of the pecking order.

But he was obviously an inventive thinker. He’d already climbed up 12 steps to get to the door, as the house is built on stilts - something no other goose has ever done. I thought he would panic, so I left the door wide open. He padded in bold and curious, looking around the room, and then walked from my studio into the open door of the living room. He stopped at the floor-length window and studied outside where he could see the other geese still battling and chasing. He had a ringside view.

Returning from the front door, after looking out of the window...

After watching for a few minutes he went to the front door and looked through the screen. I opened it for him, but he turned around and came back, looking up at chairs and settee. Then he wandered towards the bedrooms, but the doors were closed. Next he came back into my studio, looking out the back door, and then back again to the living-room window. He knew his way round now, and showed no sign of leaving.

I’ve noticed before that at this age they seem to be at their most curious, and prepared to investigate things that older geese ignore. As a lone sibling, his actions were isolated. At this time in their lives, siblings being “evicted” by their parents tend to stick together.

I went back to my desk and began to work again. Here was a living model, relaxed and still. It must have been about half an hour before he left the way he had come, but instead of descending the steps he jumped to the handrail and perched for a few minutes before flying down.

It was quiet outside now. His parents had the spot they wanted and were sitting in the shade by the water. Another pair had settled under the mango tree, and the pair with three little goslings were on the lawn. Their young goslings give them immunity most of the time, the other geese rarely attack them. It does happen, though. You can see the other males trying to suppress their instinct to chase, their necks tremble and they “moan”.

He would lie low and follow the parents when they went to roost for the night. If he kept at a distance, that would be allowed.

I had a job to do when he left. He had pooped several little calling-cards over the bamboo floor and a couple on the mat. They were magenta /purple in color, full of Java plums. Luckily I’d folded the fine woven mat out of his way in time.

Note to blog readers.
Apologies for not posting for so long, we were in Washington State for 6 weeks, and since coming back I’ve been focused on getting an outdoor wetland created in a field on our property before the winter rains arrive. It’s already attracting different visitors, and I’ll post pictures soon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Love and War Among the Hawaiian Goose

Love is definitely in the air among the nene this month. Love – and war… Hormones are changing.

We have already had a sample of the noisy territorial disputes to come. A note in my journal for last year mentions that on June 28th many new pairs of geese and small groups arrived in the valley within hours of each other, and began exploring. I was curious to see if there was any noticeable change this year to the peaceful predictability that has settled amongst the different mini-flocks. Early every morning the regulars arrive from the Crater Hill direction and settle in their familiar groups and favorite places, returning the same way before dark.

Morning of June 26: New nene arriving to explore the Waipa valley in preparation for the fall/winter nesting season.

This year on the 26th we saw exactly the same phenomenon. Dozens of new nene began arriving and spread out exploring the wider area, still in their own small summer flocks, made up of established pairs with grown young and single birds – and some of the males were already focusing on their females. A few began “shoulder honking”, following the female’s every step and honking with their necks outstretched close to her ear. This coincides with a new vigor in their chases of other males that they may have tolerated a month ago.

On the 28th June this year Oma’o Dad was mindlessly placing nesting material around himself as his mate slept beside him. When they left, there was a neat arc of dry mango leaves, roots and stems where he had sat.

These are early days; the wars have yet to build in volume and intensity, as chases become fights for the best areas. This bonding and assertiveness lasts a long time. The first nests here were not established until September last year, and this end of June burst of activity seems to herald the beginning. Peaceful tolerance has returned only temporarily.

Where the Waipa joins Hanalei Bay. Geese can often be seen from here as they head back towards Crater Hill in the evening.

In earlier posts I talked about a male who abandoned his mate while she was on the nest, leaving with a female we called Nahe. He and his mate had been a devoted pair for several years, and since their number bands are only five numbers apart, this suggests they may have known each other as goslings.

He was very strong - the beta male - and could hold his territory from all other male birds except the alpha bird of this area.. After every battle he would return victorious to “present” himself, with chest expanded, beak pointing skywards on elongated neck, and stand proudly before his mate. He accompanied her day after day as she searched different areas for a nesting site, but when she chose her place, the separation began. He sat in another place they had also both favored, calling for her.

He showed little interest in the nest she made in a mosquito - infested area, preferring an overgrown breezy spot beside the river, and it was during this time of sitting alone he formed his attachment with Nahe, a first-year bird, and mated with her.

He and Nahe behaved like a couple, but would occasionally go to stand guard together near the nest site. But when he heard the voices of the young goslings, he left Nahe and walked to the nest and gazed at them. Then he became fiercely protective, chasing everything - including Nahe - away from his family.

The upper Waipa Stream

Now he followed his first mate, who led them higher up the river valley. Nahe was abandoned. She called in anguish for two days, and then followed the family trail. When she located them, she walked at a distance behind the family, never wavering even though she was courted by other males.

The Beta male cleared away any male that attempted to court her, but stayed defending his family for two months , occasionally seeking Nahe out and ”presenting“ to her as if she was his real mate. But when mate number one got up to leave with the goslings, he always joined them.

When the youngsters began their first flights, he and Nahe left together and did not return. His first mate stayed alone with the two young ones, was accepted by the alpha pair, and had a high rank within the flock, but her two young became the omega birds. Without a male to protect them, they were chased by every adult and have become thin, nervous birds. On occasion their mother defends them from another female, but never from a male.

This is unusual behavior among supposedly-monogamous nene, especially a successful nesting pair. Conrad Lorenz studied monogamous, non-migratory graylag geese for most of his life, living alongside them. He noticed the same phenomenon on only three occasions, involving just two males. He described it as an intense, passionate attraction - as if the geese were smitten with each other.

Bernd Heinrich, in his study of migratory Canada Geese, thought the timing of the arrival at their nesting site after migration played a crucial part in pair-bonding. Possession of the nest site seemed to be critical with them. But the nene do not migrate, they travel together to slightly different locations for nesting. It is interesting that the nest was a pivotal factor in this story, their separation first occurred over nesting preference.

The passion between Nahe and the male was obvious, and is still there, as well as her grief when he left. They were by the river yesterday. He was an eager male, honking beside her face, edging her towards his chosen nesting area of last year with shoulder pushes.

June sunset over Hanalei Bay