In January of this past year a pretty amazing thing happened: two nēnē whooshed down at Mid Pacific Country Club in Lanikai, the first time that wild nēnē have touched down on Oʻahu since the 1700's. After delighting golfers near the fifth hole, they later settled down at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on Oahuʻs North Shore. Within a month the pair had nested; another month later three goslings hatched out. Experts identified the special geese as K59 and K60, the "K" indicating Kauaʻi as their original home, specifically the Kauai Lagoons golf course. Turns out the links was a favorite spot for quite a few nēnē, but due to its close proximity to Lihue Airport, 200+ of the geese were translocated to the Big Island in an effort to reduce the risk of a bird strike at the airport. Itʻs believed the pair were flying back to Kauaʻi for the breeding season. Happy to have them do a little island hopping.
Once plentiful on all the islands, the nēnē population was down to less than fifty or so individuals in the early 1950ʻs, a result of habitat degradation, hunting, and predators such as feral cats and mongooses. Today, they are climbing back, thanks in large part to captive breeding programs. The population now hovers around 2500, with birds on all the major islands with the exception of Oʻahu. The largest numbers are found on Kauaʻi, most likely due to the lack of mongooses (though they have recently been identified there) as well as lots of lowland habitat. On Hawaiʻi and Mauʻi, they tend to be found at mid and high elevations.Though related to the Canada goose, nēnē are smaller and more terrestrial, with feet showing reduced webbing and padded toes for waddling on rough terrain. Vegetarian grazers, nēnē browse on a range of leaves, berries, seeds and flowers to start their day off right.
Some say that "trouble comes in threes," and many would agree that the islands would be better off without the triplicity of duplicity: the Pacific rat, the Black rat, and the Norwegian rat. Their rap sheet is as long as their scaly tails: they carry over forty diseases, cause enormous agricultural damage, and prey on animal and insect populations, including native snails, turtle eggs, spiders and birds. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the removal of rats from Mokoliʻi (Chinamanʻs Hat) saw an increase in wedgetailed shearwater chicks from 0 to 126 the following year. When I had an unwelcome visitation by some rodents not so long ago, I decided to do a little investigative work to see which one of these three was guilty. Turns out the black rat (Rattus rattus) a.k.a. roof rat and tree rat, was the culprit. This expert climber and jumper (leaping up to three vertical feet and four horizontal feet) has bumped the Norwegian rat (Rattus norvegicus) from its top spot as the most common rat living close to humans, particularly if there is a source of water nearby, like a ditch or canal. You can tell the two species apart with a few key characteristics: the black rat is smaller, has a pointier snout, a tail longer than its body, and a more slender haunch. The Polynesian, or Pacific rat (Rattus exulans) is the smallest of the three, and is rarely found near buildings, preferring fields and woodlands at lower elevations. By the way, the tails are interesting, if not very well-liked features of these rascally rodents. Mostly naked and scaly, they are actually very important to the rat for heat regulation and balance.
Here's a beetle that will make your plumeria shudder. It's the plumeria borer, Lagocheirus undatus, and it's no friend of the blossoms that spread so much aloha here in the islands. Getting to about two centimeters in length, you can i.d. this hefty beetle by the antennae which are longer than its body, and darker brown blotches at its "waist." It's a species of longhorn beetles, family Cerambycidae, which is a large family, but has several members that earn the dubious distinction of being pests. The plumeria borer larvae are known to drill beneath the bark of the plumeria; you may notice a small hole on the stem with black ooze. Insecticides don't have an impact as the damage occurs internally. Withered stems need to be cut of and destroyed pronto! The adult pictured above decided to pay me a night visit, and while I admire its beauty, I love the beauty of my plumeria a whole lot more.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.