HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran
Nice Weather for Ducks
“Duck Duck Goose” is a kids’ game of tag. But there are plenty of real ducks and geese in Hilo; and you can see them, any time, at the Wailoa River Recreation Area, better known as “Wailoa Park.”
Ducks and geese at Wailoa Park
It’s the estuary of the river whose flow waxes and wanes with the rainfall, which is low right now. It drains half of Hilo, spreads out into ponds, in the park, that spanned by Oriental bridges; then it narrows again where small boats are moored; and finally it flows under the Wailoa Bridge and out into Hilo Bay just beside the racks of racing canoes.
The park’s pavilions are rented well in advance for parties and civic functions. But the sprawling, grassy, inland acreage is rarely full of people. Some of the trees along the Park’s boundaries fell during August’s hurricane, closing a footpath to the Waiakea Villas condo complex.
Downed trees on the water’s edge of Wailoa Park
The main entrance to the park, however, is always open. And it’s easy, especially on a weekday, to wander all over and cross the bridges, without seeing anyone except the occasional fisherman, or a family with a small child feeding the ducks.
Feeding time at Wailoa Park
Fisherman and son at Wailoa Park
When I say it’s “nice weather for ducks,” I don’t mean it’s raining. (And I have no idea whether water really does roll off a duck’s back.) What I mean is: these last few weeks of hot, relatively dry weather, are perfect for getting down to Wailoa Park and seeing those ducks. And geese.
Among the ducks, Mallards and Muscovys predominate. Mallard males are the ones with greenish-black heads and iridescent back feathers; the female Mallards are dowdy by comparison, with light-brown and dark-brown feathers and a blue splash in the wing.
A Mallard couple
Muscovys are unmistakable – they’re the ones with bright red fleshy growths on their heads.
You will always recognize a Muscovy duck
Among the geese, many are the gray Canada geese, with a white “stripe” on their necks.
You’ll see so many geese and ducks together that it’s likely all their genes are “kapakahi” – the local/Hawaiian term for all-mixed-together (like a chop-salad, or vegetables in a stir-fry).
Which reminds me: you can’t eat any of these birds from the park – they’re all protected.
And, speaking of the Waiakea Villas condos located adjacent to Wailoa park, check out this featured listing — it’s the largest condo in the complex: