(From the notebook of seasonal technician Darin Ripp)
Here we are on Kaua`i! All of us 2015 field crew members have arrived on the Garden Isle, and are excited to be involved with the dynamic group that is KFBRP. Many of us got here a couple of weeks ago, and have gotten settled rather quickly, so as to be ready for the field season that is already under way. The majority of the seasonal field crew this year will be staying at some old cabins within Koke`e State Park while not in the field, which lends itself to some beautiful Hawaiian canyon scenery and plenty of Koa forest canopies, all among a good ole rural feeling. Many of us look forward to the hot and dry climate of the western coast of Kauai when hiking out of the field (which tends to be WET and a bit chilly at times), which Koke`e doesn’t always provide since it is still very much so in the mountains and also tends to reside in the clouds. With that said, coming down to the coastal lands to catch some beach time, or even to work on some office projects here in Hanapepe is a true refreshment filled with sun and clear skies. Regardless, there is a sense of fortunate feelings to be able to live, work, and play in such a special and unique place that is this island.
The crew this season comes from areas wide and far, which is great since their experiences are all different. There are plenty of interesting stories about conservation projects, animals seen along the path, and simple day to day words (such as weasels…which apparently are called stoats in New Zealand). Everyone on the crew this year has been working hard, getting to know one another, and having fun all at the same time.
About half of us have already been in and out of the field since March has rolled around, while the other half is still experiencing their first trip into the field. We all crossed paths on the trail as some folks were hiking in and the others out, and it seemed all too right to have some laughs about the amount of mud and pasta that the first trip seems to entail. Everyone was in high spirits, even though the hike in and out of camp can be a tough one indeed (and even tougher if one were to carry four, 2lb. blocks of cheese on their first hike in, which happened this year, and yes, the cheese was a great addition to all that pasta…and mud).
On the first official nest searching trip of the year, we had visuals on seven of the native forest birds, and heard all eight (the illustrious Puaiohi was the only one that missed our curious gazes). All of the native birds here have been a joy to briefly get to know, as they all have their little something specials about them, quirks included. I am looking forward to enjoying more time with them inevitably as the field season progresses. We have found two nests thus far, both `Akikiki! The birds are flying around up there on the `Alaka`i, nesting material in their bills, welcoming the days!