800mm Z Lens Backcountry Off Trail Hike Kauai Nikon Z9 Photography Wilderness Wildlife Z9 400MM F2.8 Lens

Capturing Kauai: Focus on One Bird and Getting Another

On this day, I am attempting to photograph wild birds in the Alakai Wilderness on the Island of Kauai.  My trip will take me along the high ridgeline of the Pihea Trail and down into the Alakai Swamp. The terrain is remote and otherwise demanding. Especially, for someone hiking with 40 lbs. of camera gear on their back. The conditions are made a little bit more challenging as the winds become 25-50 MPH, about 30 minutes into the photo-shoot. Luckily, this is my home turf.  This is not to say that covering 4+ miles and 1,500 vertical feet of change of travel starting at 4,000 feet elevation is easy for anyone.  However, the travel route is well-known to me.  I’ll be honest, I like the condition and situation.

The Apanane.

I am hoping to capture an image of any of the birds in this habitat.  The Apanane is one at the top of the list.  I am prepared to sit for hours in the hopes of getting one decent shot.

I see the bird a number of times, but do not capture a decent image. I decide to hike back up and over the ridgeline and head home.  About 1/2 way back up to the ridgeline, the situation changes suddenly – materially.  My subject is a bird.  However, it is mechanical in origin.


At first I think the Helicopter is one associated with tourism.  However, the Helicopter, if tourism is its nature, would be moving decidedly to my left – such as to show the Na Pali Coast and the Kalalau Valley to its occupants.  No such movement occurs.


The Helicopter appears to be hovering over and tilting upwards and downwards for a view of the floor of Alakai Swamp below me.  The Helicopter leaves and returns to the same area three more times.

View of Kalalau Valley from Pihea Ridge

Once at the ridgeline, I capture an image of the Kalalau Valley and head back to the truck for the trip home.

*** Jeff’s Thoughts and Other Worthless Trivia ***

My friend Jack Takemoto looked into the bird.  Here is what he found:

Airborne Hawaii


One Reply to “Capturing Kauai: Focus on One Bird and Getting Another

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *