Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hawaiian Rare Plant Program

I with a few other friends got to tour the Lyon Arboretum Hawaiian Rare Plant Program.  A friend of a friend reached out to me and ask if I'd like to come tour the facility.  Of course I jumped on it and here is what we saw. 

The program's facilities have three different sections.  The micropropagation lab, seed lab, and the greenhouse. 

In the microprop lab Libby was doing some maintenance on the tissue culture.  Here she is separating some of the dead or rotten parts of the plant away from the good parts of the plant.  Then when she is done she puts it back into the vials and seals them up. 

She works diligently and in a clean environment, the box seen above this picture is called a hood, it filters air through a fan and she uses the flame to sterilize her tools.  Everything is pretty much sterile under this box while working with the tissue. 

Here is the tissue culture library!  This place holds roughly 250 plants of the 1400+ Hawaiian plant taxa. 

Here is Katie looking at some of the most rare and endangered plants in test tubes. 

Hopefully all these guys get to be out planted into the forest one day.  It all depends on the front line people such as myself and other conservation organizations to help build fences and keep ungulates out from terrorizing these beautiful plants. 

Tim picks out a vial for me to photograph. 

Anyone recognize this plant?  This is a Cyanea grimesiana ssp. grimesiana.  It is extinct in the wild! 

Looking through all the specimens in test tubes I had requested to see a plant I had never seen before, a new species of Cyanea. 

Has anyone seen such a hairy little plant? 

That little guy is the recently discovered Cyanea konahuanuiensis.  Read about it here.

Another part of the facility is the seed lab. 

Literature is important too!

The seeds are all different shapes sizes and some are difficult to get to. 

Tim looks under a microscope at the seeds. 

Behind me is their seed bank storage, something like 10 million seeds!  Roughly representing 40% of Hawaii plant taxa.  Half of these seeds are listed as federally endangered or threatened!

Tim shows me how tiny the seedlings are. 

Inside the germination chamber. 

Last leg of the tour is in the greenhouse.  Tim points out this large Cyanea truncata.  More can be read here.

The mist bench.  Plants seem happy!

Some of the rarest of the rare!  This plant pictured here was found after hurricane Iniki hit Kauai. 

Tim shows us this cute Cyanea. 

Hopefully all these guys get to be out planted in their habitat.

Have questions?  Feel free to ask!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Backyard adventures

This post is not for people to go and do.  There is a lot of risk involved in this activity compared to others I write about. 

I've had an awesome opportunity to do some high angle rope work in waterfalls on a neighbor island.  I had the most awesome time exploring places that people never get to set foot on unless you have equipment and the skill to get to and from these places SAFELY. 

Pictures by: Liz and Andrew

Clermontia sp. dot the side of the stream we go down. 

The group prepares for their first wet canyon of the weekend. 

Coming down waterfalls and swimming across cold pools of water is a must. 

Kicking back and enjoying what many people dream of. 

Some decide to use the rope while others jump from high places. 

Another native plant is near where we come down.  Cyrtandra sp.

The group anchoring and getting ready for a four person rappel and one guided rappel. 

This is what it looked like. 
Mist from the waterfall created a rainbow near the bottom of the rappel. 

This is me in action. 

Weird aquatic life.  Could possibly be a dragonfly nymph? 


One of the rappels swung you into a cave. 

Sick reflection shot courtesy of Liz.

Mental wet cave shot by Andrew.

Group photo.  Thanks for the epic adventure.

Backyard adventures from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Native Forest Birds

I haven't been updating my blog but I've been so busy enjoying life.  Over the past few months I've taken up an interest in photographing birds, the birds you rarely see.  You need to go deep into the mountains where most of the forest is dominated by ohia and koa trees to find these colorful, beautiful, and small, winged animals. 

The first time I saw a native forest bird on Oahu was when I was hiking with my friends coming down a ridge trail on the East side of the island.  My friend Josh pointed out a red bird in a koa tree.  It wasn't a cardinal and he said, "I think that's and 'apapane!"  I tried to bring my camera up to photograph it but before I could it flew away.  I would have never guessed that Oahu still had native forest birds.  I've only seen those on the outer islands.  That same week I decided I had a little bit of time before work so I should go see if that really was a native forest bird.  I hiked up to where we saw it in the koa trees and waited around to see if they'd come around.  To my amazement THEY did.  Four landed on some dead branches.  That's when I snapped this picture. 

I was instantly hooked then and there.  How could I have not seen these birds since I started hiking!?  From then on, every trail that I hiked within the last few months I've had my telephoto lens on while hiking.  Snapping photos like this. 

Juvenile 'apapane (Himatione sanguinea) spreading it's wings and taking off. 

I've found out that hiking and trying to take pictures of these guys are extremely difficult, they are very skiddish and wouldn't come close.  So I would wait, in the bushes on some days and get photos that were a little better. 

'Apapane on some ohia canopy. 

Sitting and waiting allowed me to compose shots a little better.  I can sit and watch and ohia tree and think about where the bird might land. 
'Apapane flying between some branches. 

What's pretty amazing is that my friends told me that 'apapane aren't too common on O'ahu.  But for the first few months that's all I've been seeing.  Those guys and non native forest birds.  They said there are two more birds that are more often seen by birders, the 'elepaio and the 'amakihi. 

The next native forest bird that I started to see after 'apapane were the O'ahu 'amakihi (Hemignathus flavus).  The first time I saw them was on a central O'ahu hike. 
This guy spotted me and was scared to come any closer. 

I never could get a good picture of this species, but sooner or later I will. 

Another backlit 'amakihi picture. 

The last of the three species left on O'ahu is the O'ahu 'elepaio (Chasiempis ibdis).  I only have one picture of the O'ahu one, this guy came really close to me to check me out. 

Perky shot of an O'ahu 'elepaio. 

After seeing all three birds I've wondered if there might be any other birds living deep in the mountains such as an I'iwi or an O'ahu 'alauahio where they've been pushed deep or are extinct on O'ahu island.

Big Island is where I saw lots of native forest birds.  I've taken two trips to Hawai'i island and both times I went to photograph birds.  There are so many birds there if you know where to look.  One of the first time I saw an I'iwi...

I'iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) sipping on ohia nectar.

A little further down the trail I was greeted by a Hawai'i 'elepaio. 

Hawai'i 'elepaio ( Chasiempis sandwichensis).  Notice the difference between the Hawai'i island one and the O'ahu 'elepaio. 

Going back to the car and the trail head we saw plenty of Hawai'i 'amakihi. 

Can you spot the Hawai'i 'amakihi (Hemignathus virens)?

Lastly on the way down driving in our car we saw the Hawaiian hawk or I'o perched on a dead tree. 

One of the only predatory birds native to Hawai'i, I'o (Buteo solitarius).

On the second trip back to the Big Island I brought along a longer telephoto lens.  There were a ton of i'iwi and 'apapane to photograph. 

I'iwi making it's way to some ohia flowers.  

'Apapane trying to balance on an ohia tree.  

I'iwi can take off like a hawk too! 

The bird was sipping nectar and flicking water off of it's bill and head. 

Looking for the next flower.  

They can hang upside down and eat.  

  This guy posed for me!

Surprised that I didn't see more of these guys around.  Hawai'i 'amakihi.

I wish I got a better shot of this 'oma'o (Myadestes obscurus).

Native forest birds from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.