Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Green Anole on Maui

After hiking around Haleakala (the tallest dormant volcano in the world, on Maui during our vacation last week, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant for lunch. They seated us right at a window with a view of a neat little rock garden just outside. And while we were eating, this guy appeared on the rocks.  He sat in the sun for awhile, then scurried to and fro, jumped from rock to rock, then lazed in the sun some more.  Every time a fly or other insect buzzed passed him, he would lift up his head and watch it closely, but we never saw him catch one.

He has a dewlap or throatfan under his chin that he would open up from time to time.  It was bright red or orange in color and would stick out from under his neck by half an inch or so.  He wouldn't do this when I had the camera on him, though. But, here is a picture of a gecko with his dewlap out.

The waitress said it was a gecko, and they like the geckos on Maui because they eat a lot of bugs.  A gecko in your house is considered a good sign.  But after researching him up on the web, I see he is not a gecko, but  a Green Anole (Anole carolinensis), a lizard that is native to the the southern United States and was introduced to Hawaii in the 1950's.  Some say they escaped from a pet store. Who could blame the critters? Life in a Maui rock garden beats a box in a pet store.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back from Hawaii

Maui Grey Francolin
In late July, we took a vacation on the island of Maui in Hawaii, and while we were there we kept an eye out for the local critters. We saw many, although few are native to the islands. Birds, lizards, goats and mongeese, to name a few.  Here is the noisiest of them, the grey francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus).

Frankolin Hen and Chicks, Top View
We noticed these birds soon after we arrived. It would be hard not to. They are one of the largest birds in the area,  and did not seem to mind humans coming within a few feet of them.   We were marveling at these birds in a Kihei park when an apparently inebriated local gave us a 5 minute dissertation on how noisy they are.  When we asked what they are called, he struggled to remember, but could not think of it.  But as he walked away, he yelled back,  "Oh yeah, I remember, they are 'Franklins'".

Francolin Chicks Learning to Squawk
The francolins were brought to Hawaii from India in the late 1950's to establish a flock of game birds.  They have flourished on the islands.  It appears they have no local predators, but if they continue to squawk at the top of their lungs at sunrise, just outside of the hotel rooms and condominiums of late sleeping vacationers, this might change!  Just as the sun comes up these guys can make one heck of a racket.  And there were several flocks of them scurrying around the gardens, lawns and open spaces near our hotel.  We saw a couple of litters of young as well.

They look a bit like partridge or quail, and are about the same size. If you plan to visit Maui, and like to get up with the sun, just leave your windows open and you'll have an authentic Maui alarm clock awakening.