Aloha Trout Unlimited members – Lots to report for the September 2023 blog.
I was on Kauai at the Rice cabin in Kokee from September 8th – 18th. It was very dry, and I did not loose a single day to bad weather. The streams were running low and water temperature was up as it normally is this time of the year. The Waipopo falls were only a trickle – you do not see that very often.
With the Trout stressed, I did not fish the streams but directed my efforts to discover, locate and get a GPS fix on some rare plants located in the Alakai Swamp area. I had an accomplice, Basel Mayo, a botanist who was looking to find and record the rare Lobelia Grayana plant, endemic only to Kauai.
With it’s curved flower, it is the food source for the rare I’iwi and Apapane bird. Find the plant, you find the bird…Simple eh? Well, not so fast…these rare birds are disappearing from the Kauai forest due to mosquito borne avian malaria.
These majestic honey-creepers found nowhere else in the world but the Alakai swamp is decreasing in numbers fast! Trout Unlimited as a nature conservation organization is doing our part to assist the botanists (plant people) and the ornithologist (bird people) to save these rare colorful birds (and you thought all we did was fish for trout!) no, we are involved in a lot more.
On our quest to find the Lobelia, we also discovered the rare Ie’Ie (Freycinetia Arborea) plant which was a bonus. The Hawaiians used the air roots of this plant for making fish nets. I only knew of ONE location of these plants on the Kawaikoi stream trail. Basel found a 2nd one! Eureka, another high point on this expedition.The location of these rare plants in the Alakai Swamp were recorded on film and we got a GPS on their locations as well, so we can turn this information over to the University of Hawaii Tropical Plant Department.
Hopefully, when I return, the Lobelia will be in full bloom so we can record the I’iwi and Apapane when and if they come to get the nectar of these plants. If it was not for these birds with their long bills, the plants cannot get pollinated and cannot reproduce. The scientific term for this is “Species specific”, where one type of plant is dependent on another animal, bird, or moth to act as the pollinator. It’s an amazing science and our Trout Unlimited Chapter is proud to add our efforts to help the scientists in their quest to save the birds and plants in the Alakai.
That’s it for this blog report.
Deane Gonzalez, Treasurer – Trout Unlimited Chapter #403 Honolulu, Hawaii