Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 9, 2010

I have been to the Big Island of Hawaii twice before.  Each time I discover many new things. This time the highlight came on a day when we were out on the slopes of Mauna Kea chasing birds. This meant walking across wide lava fields at about 2500 metres (7500 feet) to get into the native forest where the rare endemic birds ply their trade. We certainly saw some rare birds, but I was most impressed by the discovery that  the lava fields around the forest were entirely covered in a fuzzy layer of a grey lichen called Stereocaulon.  I could hardly believe that all this tumbled lava was essentially invisible under its coat of lichen. Ferns are also early colonizers..
Life abounds in the most unlikely places, as the pictures show..

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