Black Noddys

While I got a lot of my target species on the Kona pelagic, I had not added any noddys to my list, either black or brown.

One of the the most beautiful drives I experienced on Hawaii was in Volcanoes National Park along Chain of Craters Road.

It starts off just near the Visitor’s Center in the heart of the park which seems like it’s stuck in a perpetual rain cloud. Indeed the rain forests that flank the road are lush and something out of the Jurassic Period. One expects a T. Rex to cross the road at any moment.

After a few miles heading downslope towards the Pacific, you cross the alien barrens of lava flows.

This 1973 lava flow covered the Chain of Craters Road. The Hawaiian goose or nene can be seen here. When I saw one, I made sure I didn’t feed it.

You eventually wind down via a few hairpin turns, altered by lava until you can see the Pacific Ocean, about 40 minutes drive from the Visitor’s Center. When it gets close to the ocean, the road parallels the lava cliffs. Within a mile I would run out of road as the lava flows reclaimed the road and closed it for the foreseeable future.

Off to my right and with the naked eye, I spotted black birds skirting above the waves. This could be only one bird: Noio or the Hawaiian black noddy.

I stopped the car and walked to the edge of the cliff to get a better look at the birds through binoculars. The bird’s scientific and common name comes from the noddy’s lack of fear around humans, making them easy to catch. The genus Anous, comes from the Greek, meaning silly, without understanding, and mindless. In English a noddy is a fool or simpleton. It is certainly not easy to catch a good photograph of the noddys as they strafed the waters and disappeared around (or into) cliffs. They are sea cliff nesters and I enjoyed my time with them as they flew to the lava cliffs and foraged in flocks, on the Pacific waters.

A black noddy, photographed from shore.
Two noddys flying from the lava cliffs where they nest.

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