Click here to return to 2011 Quest for Birds:† http://www.barry15.com/2011_Quest/
Saturday, October 22
OK, here come the birding reports again.† Iím in Honolulu, at the start of a three week trip to Hawaii.† I hope to pick up another 30 or so species for my year list while here, of which 6 or 7 should be lifers.
I flew in to Honolulu last night, arriving after dark, so the birds didnít start until today.† Before I even got out of bed, I heard doves cooing and some other bird singing.† Iím staying with my cousin, Bruse, in his condo in Honolulu, and I picked up my first new birds for my year list from the lanai (balcony) before I even got out of my nightshirt.† ZEBRA DOVE and SPOTTED DOVE, followed soon thereafter by RED-VENTED BULBUL.† I hope to have pictures of those birds eventually, when the conditions are better.
A little later, I picked up the other bulbul, the RED-WHISKERED BULBUL, and there were also a couple of COMMON MYNAS flying around and perching for me.† So, without leaving the unit, I have five new birds for my year list.
Here is a rather distant picture of a Red-whiskered Bulbul:
We have an appointment at 3:30 this afternoon to go on a nature walk at the James Campbell National Wildlife Reserve, up on the north end of the island. I hope to stop at a couple of other places on the way up there, looking for birds.† Iíll continue this later, at the end of the day.
We left Bruseís apartment at about 11 and stopped at the local Safeway to get a soup and sandwich lunch and some water, and then headed across the island to the eastern side.† We stopped at several little parks on our way up the coast, mainly to look for sea birds, of which I didnít see any.† At one of the parks, we noticed there were a lot of cats and also quite a few chickens around.† Then we saw a woman who was ladling out piles of what appeared to be dry cat food, and both the cats and chickens were gobbling it up.† It was amusing to see cats and chickens co-existing without any signs of conflict.† There were lots of very small chicks, but the cats ignored them.† Here are some pictures.
Here is a handsome rooster whom the others seemed to defer to:
There are lots of wild chickens on the various islands, and most of the ones here on Oahu are mixtures of domesticated chickens and a countable species called Red Junglefowl.† This rooster has all the characteristics of a wild one, but I wonít count the species unless I see them in the highlands of Kauai, where the wild ones are still considered ďpureĒ.† Oh, the complications of the birding gameÖ
It was a beautiful drive along the coast, and at Kualoa Regional Park I picked up some more for my lists.† Iím keeping a trip list as well as adding to my 2011 Quest for Birds year list.† To refresh your memory, species shown in all caps are new for my year list.† I wonít necessarily list all the ones I see for the trip list, but I am writing them down.
Here is a common little introduced bird from South America called a RED-CRESTED CARDINAL:
There were lots of Cattle Egrets around, but they werenít new for my year list.† I have seen Cattle Egrets in the US, Australia, and Britain.† Most of the year they are all white, but here is one showing its breeding plumage:
Another common bird in grassy areas is the PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER:
I also picked up COMMON WAXBILL at that park, but my pictures are poor, and they are a common bird, so I will try for decent pictures later.
All I was seeing was common birds, but since this is a new environment for me this year, I was getting lots of them for my year list.
Our tour was supposed to start at 3:30, and we got to the area by about 3.† We looked around a little while we were waiting for someone to open the locked gate, and I picked up HAWAIIAN COOT while we waited.† I saw several other birds for my trip list, too, including the Hawaiian subspecies of Black-necked Stilt.† Here is a picture of the Hawaiian subspecies of the Common Moorhen:
I donít count subspecies on my year list, only full species, but these Hawaiian subspecies went on to my trip list.
At about 3:20, two volunteers, Lance and Kurt, showed up and opened the gate.† It turned out that Bruse and I were the only two people for the tour today, which was wonderful for us, as it turned into a private guided tour, with two local experts.†
My main target and chief reason for signing up for the tour was to see a particular species of shorebird, and both Lance and Kurt guaranteed me that we would see them.† I had no idea how common they would be at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge at this time of year, but we did in fact see a lot of them.† Here is my best picture of a BRISTLE-THIGHED CURLEW (lifer):
These birds breed in Alaska in the summer and spend their winters in the Pacific, including here in Hawaii.† I am not likely to see them anywhere else, so it was great that I was able to sign up for this tour.† The reserve is closed to the public, but has these tours a couple of times a week in the winter.
Here is another picture of one of them, with the lighting coming from the back.† I like it because it shows the bristles on the upper legs that give the species its name:
Here is a picture that shows a size comparison of the curlew and a Cattle Egret:
There were some ducks that had arrived to spend the winter, on the various ponds of the reserve.† I got several species for my trip list, but nothing new for my year list.† There is a species of duck that only lives here in Hawaii, and I hope to see some pure-blood ones later in the trip, on Kauai.† Here on Oahu, they have interbred with Mallards and none of them are considered ďpureĒ enough to count.† We saw a lot of hybrid ones on our tour.
We saw several Black-crowned Night-Herons while on the tour.† Here is a picture of a sub-adult one:
Here is the bird that was my secondary target for the day, a WANDERING TATTLER:
We saw other interesting things for my trip list, like Ring-necked Pheasant, Least Tern, Long-billed Dowitcher, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, and Sanderling.† Most of those are pretty uncommon here in Hawaii, so they were great additions to my trip list, even though I had seen them on the mainland earlier this year.
I added NUTMEG MANNIKIN to my year list, though and then a real surprise, a lone SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER.† I even got a poor picture of that little darling:
That was a new one for my US list, as I had only ever seen them in Australia before.† They are an Asian species and are only seen in the US infrequently, when they get lost.
There were quite a few Ruddy Turnstones around, and I got a picture:
Here is a picture of the viewing structure that you go to on the tour:
One of the main purposes of the reserve is to provide a protected breeding place for the Hawaiian Stilt, the local subspecies of Black-necked Stilt.† Here is a group of the stilts:
There was an attractive sculpture of a stilt and its nest near the start of the tour:
Because there were only the two of us, we not only got a custom version of the tour, but more time than usual as well.† By the time we left the reserve it was getting on for six oíclock, and we still had an hour of driving to do to get back to town.
We stopped at Panda Express and picked up some dinner and went home and enjoyed a couple of mai-tais and ate our Chinese food.† I had only slept about six hours the night before, and was feeling the effects of the time change (and maybe the mai-tais?), We were both ready to settle down by 9:30, so I didnít process my pictures until this morning (Sunday) and now Iíll get this out by email and up onto my website, hopefully.
It was an outstanding first day of Hawaii birding, and I added 13 new birds to my year list (including one lifer), to bring me to 392 for the year, of which 114 are lifers.
Sunday, October 23
I had a lot of pictures from Saturday to process in the morning, and we headed out at about noon.† Sunday was the final performance of Phantom of the Opera at a local community theater, and Bruse wanted to go.† That is definitely not my kind of thing, so I dropped him off to wait in line for three hours, so he could get one of the forty tickets sold on the day of performance.† I went off on my own, looking for sea birds.
As I pulled out of the campus where the theater is located, I saw a little flock of birds feeding in the grass, though, and darned if they werenít a species I was specifically looking for in that area.† Just like that, I added CHESTNUT MANNIKIN to my lists.† Here is a picture of one of the little guys:
With that one under my belt, I headed down the coast, under threatening skies.† I guess it turned into quite a rainy day in the area of the theatre, but I had good weather where I was all day.
I motored on down the coast, stopping from time to time to look out over the water for sea birds.† The idea of a ďsea watchĒ is to stand on the shore, on a cliff usually, and use your telescope to look out over the water to see flying birds.† They tend to fly along the coast, but they are usually out pretty far, so the views are pretty distant.† Since I was not familiar with the birds, it was a challenge to identify the species, even when I did see anything.† Most of the time, there was nothing to see.† Here is the view from Makapuu Lookout, which was supposed to be the prime place to do this sea viewing.
Several species of sea birds breed on little islands just off that point.† Here are the islands, which are roughly half a mile offshore:
Unfortunately for me, this was the wrong time of year, and the birds seem to have left the area by now.† I did see a few dark birds flying around the farther island, but they were much too far away for me to identify them.† If I was familiar with the local birds, maybe I would have known what they were, from their patterns of flight or something, but I could only guess, so I didnít count them as anything.
Farther on around the island, I stopped at a view point and I did see some birds, anyway.† I eventually decided that some of them (large, pure white, with a distinctive way of wheeling and diving) were RED-TAILED TROPICBIRDS.† There are a limited number of possibilities, and I was satisfied that they must have been tropicbirds.† I also saw various groups of two to five birds flying along the coast.† They seemed to resolve themselves into two types.† There were brown ones with white undersides, and I decided that those had to be BROWN BOOBIES.† I had fairly good, though distant, looks at a number of those.† The other type was white on top with black wing tips, and I decided that they were the other commonly expected species of booby seen in the area, RED-FOOTED BOOBY.† I didnít see as many of those, and my looks were not as good as what I had of the Brown Boobies.
I stood in the sun for maybe as much as an hour at that view point, until I started wishing I had brought my sunscreen along.† I then moved along to another view point, where I could stand in the shade of a wall and continue my watch.† It either wasnít as good a location or the activity had slowed down, because the 30 or 40 minutes I spent there was not nearly as productive.† There was a steady stream of tourists, though, to entertain me.† Most seemed to assume that I was looking for whales, and they kept asking me if I had seen any.† No one seemed interested when I said I was looking for birds.
I kept that up all afternoon, and as it got dark, I headed back to pick up Bruse.† The rain was really bucketing down in the area around Kaneohe, which is where the play was.† It let up just about when the play was due to get out, which made it much nicer for the play goers who had to walk to their cars.
So, it was kind of a slow day of birding, but I did manage to add four more species to my year list.† I had wanted to look for those particular species, and even though I missed some of the less common ones, Iím glad to have made the effort.
That brought me to 396 species for the year, of which 114 are lifers.† Maybe today Iíll get to 400.
Monday, October 24
I took care of yesterdayís pictures and report this morning, while Bruse did real estate business.† At noon, we headed out and picked up sandwiches at Safeway, taking them to Kapiolani Park, where I wanted to look for birds.† We ate our sandwiches, and Bruse went off to do more real estate stuff, while I wandered around the park and took pictures of birds.
Before I even left Bruseís, I got this picture of a Red-whiskered Bulbul, taken from the lanai.† They have a very pretty little song, and three or four of them were singing to each other.
At the park, there were tons of little JAVA SPARROWS foraging in the grass.† Here are three of them all lined up:
There were also lots of Common Waxbills in the grass.† I had seen them the other day in Kaneohe, but I finally got a picture I like today.
Still another little bird that was foraging in the grass was one of my targets for the day, the YELLOW-FRONTED CANARY.† Here is one of them:
The Java Sparrows arenít very big, but the waxbills and the canaries are even smaller.† Here is a picture that shows the size difference between a Java Sparrow and a Yellow-fronted Canary:
The waxbills are even smaller than the canaries.
I walked to the edge of the park, where there were houses with vegetation, and was rewarded with a great view of a beautiful bird I hadnít expected to see in the park, a WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA.† Here is a picture:
There were also a number of Red-vented Bulbuls in the area.† It was hard to get a good picture, but this one shows the red undertail area:
As there are everywhere, there were lots of Common Mynas around.
In that same area, I saw another little bird that is very common here, and that I expected to see eventually, the JAPANESE WHITE-EYE.† No picture, though.† It was high in a tree.† I will undoubtedly see more of them, but they are pretty small and donít sit still for long, so getting a picture is going to be a challenge.
I walked down by the beach, hoping to see a White Tern, but never saw one.† There were lots of white pigeons, which superficially resemble the White Terns, but no terns.† It is not nesting season, and that makes it harder to see them.
At one point, I found a picnic table in the shade and sat down just to rest and cool off.† Almost at once, I heard some squawking, and when I looked up, I saw some parrots fly in.† There are various parrots that have escaped and now live in Honolulu, but only one is considered a self-sustaining population and is therefore officially ďcountableĒ by the rules of birding.† Here is a picture of three ROSE-RINGED PARAKEETS.
I saw this same species in England, near London, where they are even more established than here in Honolulu.† They are considered pests and are establishing themselves through out Europe these days.
So, in a couple or three hours I had seen five more species for my year list.† Those of you who have been following my Quest from the beginning may remember that my original expected number of species was 272.† That turned out to be woefully conservative, and now with the addition of my Hawaii trip, I have topped 400.† I now stand at 401 species for the year, of which 114 are lifers.† What a life!
Wednesday, October 26
Nothing on Tuesday.† Tuesday morning, Bruse and I went on a hike up in the hills, on the Aiea Loop Trail, and it was virtually birdless.† That was supposed to be my best shot at seeing forest birds here on Oahu, and it was a complete bust.† Here is a picture of the beginning of the trail:
We walked for two hours, and it was a nice walk in the woods, but there werenít any birds.† In the afternoon, we went up to the Makiki Valley and tried again for forest birds, but again saw almost nothing.† I did get a picture of the little Zebra Doves that are everywhere.
There is another dove, too, the Spotted Dove, but I havenít gotten a picture of one of them yet.† The Zebra Doves are more common, and you see them everywhere, in the city, in parking lots, and in the forests.
So, that was Tuesday Ė two nice walks in the hills, but no new birds for my year list, and damn few birds of any description.
This morning, Bruse had some real estate stuff to do, so I headed out on my own, in search of a bird that has been reported at a local park.† This park isnít in any of the bird books or bird websites, and the species is not very widespread on Oahu, so I hadnít expected to see them, but I noticed on the website eBird.com that people regularly reported this species at the Puumalu Community Park.† So I looked that up and found my way there this morning.† Sure enough, I hadnít even gotten out of the car when I saw a couple of little yellow birds feeding in the grass, and I had added SAFFRON FINCH to my year list.† It is like a bonus bird, because I only had it at 10% in my spreadsheet for the trip.† What that means is that I thought I only had a 10% chance of seeing one on the trip, so picking it up this morning was like a bonus that I wasnít figuring on.† Here is a picture of one of the little beauties:
There were also Chestnut Mannikins at that park, and I got a picture I like of one of them:
So, having accomplished the main objective of the morning, I decided to go back up the Aiea Valley to try for forest birds again.† This time I did see a couple of Japanese White-eyes, but nothing of any interest.† I walked a little way out on the lower part of the loop trail this time, and here is a picture of the ocean in the distance:
I stopped back at Bruseís condo, but he had more stuff he needed to get done this afternoon, so I headed out on my own again.† This time I headed south to the Kuliouou Valley, to look for forest birds in another place.† I had another nice walk in the woods, a different kind of forest this time, but there werenít many birds.† Here is a picture of one part of the trail:
I walked slowly and sat from time to time, watching and listening for birds.† I did see a few white-eyes, and a couple of Yellow-fronted Canaries, and then I got an excellent look at a beautiful little introduced bird called a RED-BILLED LEIOTRIX, which was one of my three target birds on this walk.† Later I saw two more of them.† So, I finally had success and saw one of the elusive forest birds of Oahu, even if it was an introduced bird, and not a native one.† I expect I will see more of this species on Kauai, where I also hope to see some of the native forest species.
At the end of my walk, almost back at the car, I heard and saw a Red-crested Cardinal in the top of a tree.† I have seen a lot of them, but it was nice to see one out in the ďwildĒ, rather than in a park or yard.
So, I spent most of two days looking for forest birds, and finally managed to see one of them.† I am now at 41 species for the trip and 403 species for the year, of which 114 are lifers.† I donít expect to see any more here on Oahu, and I hope to pick up my reports again from Kauai by Sunday or Monday.
Saturday, October 29
Iím on Kauai now.† Christina arrived in Honolulu on Thursday, and we stayed in a great hotel at the end of Waikiki, the Ilikai.† Bruse had gotten an award that gave him two free nights at this place, and he let us use his award.† We had a great room with a fantastic view and a full kitchen.† Here is a picture of C sitting on the lanai (balcony), with the sunset in the background:
Yesterday (Friday), Christina and I drove around the south end of the island, stopping at various places to look at the views.† Here is a picture of Hanauma Bay:
I didnít see any new birds for my list, but I did see more Red-footed Boobies than I had seen before.† Here is a picture of four of them.
Bruse, Christina and I had dinner that night with my cousin Nancy and her husband Denny.
This morning while eating my breakfast out on our balcony, I saw a new bird for my year list!† I had looked for WHITE TERNS in various places around Honolulu, but hadnít seen one until this morning.† There are lots of white pigeons around Waikiki, and they superficially resemble the White Terns, but when I saw this white bird flying over the small boat harbor, I could see right away it was different.† The wings were thin and sort of sickle shaped - like a tern, in fact.† I would have liked to have seen one perched, but I am going to count it from my flying view.
Christina and I took a taxi to the airport this morning, as Bruse had a previous commitment, and we caught the short flight to Kauai.† We picked up our rental car, stopped at Costco and got a load of food and drink, found our rental house, went back to the local supermarket and got still more food and drink, and met Johanna and her two cousins (Erin and Colleen) at the house.† We went out for a little drive around the local area, and on our way back, I saw a new bird for my trip list, a Northern Mockingbird.
So, I picked up one bird for my year list and two for my trip list today.† Tomorrow I plan to wander along the coast and maybe up into the highlands, and Iíll see if I can see anything else new for my lists.† Christina and the ďgirlsĒ are going to head up to Kokee State Park to hike, and I might see them along the way somewhere.
Sunday, October 30
I was up and out this morning at about 8:30.† The ladies were ahead of me by about half an hour.† I stopped at Salt Ponds County Park on my way, to see what I could see.† I picked up a Northern Cardinal, which was a new bird for my trip list, although not for my year list, as I had seen them in Arizona in April.† The park was interesting, with some campers and other locals, but not the bird species I was specifically looking for.† When I was getting ready to leave, I saw a car drive up and two or three cats came out of the bushes and were rubbing against the tires.† A woman got out and put out some food for the feral cats.
After that, I headed up Wailea Canyon.† Here are a couple of pictures of the canyon, which was called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific by Mark Twain.
Here is a view of Wailea from part way up the road:
From the view points along the canyon I could see WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRDS.† I took a lot of pictures, trying to get a good one, and this was my best effort.
The black marks on the top of the wings is the distinguishing feature from the Red-tailed Tropicbird, which I had seen out over the ocean from Oahu, so I was glad to have gotten a picture that showed the black marks.
Along the road, I saw my first lifer of the day, an ERCKELíS FRANCOLIN (lifer).† I even got a picture.
Later I saw another one, and then still later, I saw what I think was a Black Francolin, which also would be a lifer, but I didnít see it well enough or long enough to count it, so Iím not doing so.
I also counted RED JUNGLEFOWL today.† The ones in the high country (I was up over 4000 feet today) are considered ďpureĒ, not contaminated by interbreeding with domestic chickens (which are the same species).† Here is a rooster:
And here is a hen with four young:
At the end of the road is the trailhead for the Pihea Trail, which is where the ladies were hiking today.† I saw their car there when I got there about 11:30 am, so I knew they were out on the trail.† Here is the start of the trail:
I stopped a number of places, looking for some of the native forest birds that were supposedly common up in that area, but had no luck at all.† Someoneís idea of ďcommonĒ is very different from mine, and also different from any other birding list I have ever seen.† I spent about 5 or 6 hours at the appropriate elevations, and never had even a sniff of one of the ďcommonĒ native forest birds.† I ate my humble lunch, which I had brought along, and I enjoyed my time in the mountains, but it sure wasnít very birdy.
I got back to the trailhead about 2:00 and the ladies came along about 2:30 or so.† Here they are on the last little climb:
It seems that some of the hike had been kind of muddy, and here is a picture of the muddy white legs of the four ladies:
I stopped some more places on the way back down the mountains, but didnít see any good birds.† I planned to visit Salt Pond County Park again, to look for this one particular species that has been reported there, but when I got close, I was going by a cemetery and saw some little birds in the grass.† They turned out to be Chestnut Manikins, which I had seen on Oahu, but then I looked further and saw another flock of little birds feeding in the grass.† I was confused at first, as there seemed to be two types in the flock, but then I realized they were the males and the females.† I had my RED AVADAVATS (lifer).† Here are some pictures.† They are also called Strawberry Finches, which is easier to pronounce, anyway.
I guess that one was a male, although the books show the males as being all red, with the white dots.† This one must be a female:
It was a pretty long day of birding for this Old Rambler.† I was out by 8:30 and didnít get home until about 5:20.† I picked up five species for my trip list and four for my year list, of which 2 were lifers.† That brings me to 48 species for the trip and 408 for the year, of which 116 are lifers.
I donít know what I am going to do tomorrow, but I certainly wonít pick up that many again, whatever I do.† I am officially giving up on all the native forest birds.† They are just too difficult for me, I guess.† That is it for now.† Tomorrow is Halloween, and we have been warned that last year they got more than 250 Trick or Treaters, so we will be busy tomorrow night, I guess.† The day after that is my 67th birthday.† How did I ever get so old?
Monday, October 31
So, today the ladies were going snorkeling, and I set off to try to see some birds and if not, then a couple of waterfalls.† My first stop was Wailua Falls.† I hadnít realized that it was a four mile road that ended at the falls, but I guess I would have done it anyway.† I like waterfalls.† Here is the falls at the end of the road:
There were White-tailed Tropicbirds flying around, and I got my best looks yet at them.† It was hard to get a picture, because they were so close, but here is one I like:
From there I went on to Opaekaa Falls.
Continuing up that same valley to the end of the road, I came to the Keahua Arboretum.† You were supposed to be able to see a couple of birds I wanted to see there.† One of them is described as ďusually extremely easy to see hereĒ.† I spent a couple of hours there, and didnít get a sniff of one, nor of any other interesting or new birds for me.† I did manage to get a very distant picture of a Nutmeg Mannikin there, my first picture of one for the trip:
Where the paved road ended, there was a creek crossing, which was fun.† Here is a picture of a pickup charging across it:
I walked around, up hills and down, and sat out a rain shower at a covered picnic table, but didnít see anything except the Nutmeg Mannikins and two White-rumped Shamas.† Here is a picture of one of the Shamas:
Soon after that, I ate my humble lunch in my car (ham and cheese sandwich and some Fritos), and then I headed out to my next destination.
I was headed to Ninini Point, which was billed as the best seawatching spot in Hawaii.† I eventually found my way there, although the directions I had were woefully inadequate.† I didnít see a single bird while I was there, which wasnít really a surprise, but I wanted to give it a shot.† The only thing more boring and unproductive than forest birding is a seawatch.
The road to Ninini Point went through the Marriot Resort Grounds, including a portion that goes right across the golf course.† I knew that a species I wanted to see was supposed to be there some of the time, but I wasnít expecting to see so many and to have them be so tame.† I added the Hawaiian Goose, called the NENE, to my year list.† Here are some pictures:
On my way in to the place, I also got a look at a Western Meadowlark flying away from me, and that was one for my trip list.† I drove around and stopped a couple of places, including in the middle of the resort to walk around what are called the Kauai Lagoons, which are bodies of water with paths and lots of plantings around them.† There were a number of Black-crowned Night-Herons there, and I got this picture of one that I like:
Along the way, I saw a flock of a couple dozen Ruddy Turnstones, feeding in the grass.† At home, I only see them on rocky ocean shores, but here they were grubbing around in the grass for something.
At one point I saw a Northern Mockingbird, and it kept playing peek-a-boo with me, hiding in the vegetation.† Here is a peek-a-boo picture of it:
Finally, it flew out into the open and I got a nice picture of the little beauty:
Another bird I have seen quite a bit is the tiny Japanese White-Eye.† I havenít been able to get a picture of one until today, though. Here is a pretty good look at one:
There were also some pretty flowers in the resort grounds, and here is a yellow hibiscus that I liked:
And here is a pink one:
By that time it was after 4, so I headed for home.† I stopped at Costco and filled my tank, so Iím ready for more Rambling around Kauai tomorrow.
Back at the house, the ladies had also gone to Costco, and they had picked up a couple of take and bake pizzas for dinner.† It was Halloween, and we had been warned to expect 250 or 300 Trick or Treaters, so the ladies set up on the front porch with the candy and some wine, and took care of the little ankle-biters, while I worked on my pictures.† Here are the ladies on the porch, awaiting the little dears:
Iím told that there were only two of the 300 pieces of candy left when they gave up and came in, but I understand that maybe as many as ten pieces were consumed by the staff.
So, that was my day in Hawaii today.† One more species for my year list, and one other one for my trip list.† I am still figuring out what to do tomorrow, while the ladies go off on a catamaran/snorkeling trip for the day.† It is 9:30 now, and I think I will settle down pretty soon.† What a life!
Tuesday, November 1
My 67th birthday.† Who would have ever thought I would make it this far?
The ladies were up early today for their 6 AM departure on a catamaran.† They tell me it was starting to get light by then, although it seemed pretty dark to me when I got up to pee the last time, at about 6.† I was up about 7 and out of here by 9:15.† I had a new plan for today.† Before the trip, I had bought a CD of Hawaii bird calls Ė a two CD set, actually.† I canít remember calls worth a damn, but I ripped the CD and put about 20 of the calls and songs on my phone, so I could listen to them in the field.† I also planned to play them in the field, to see if any of the native birds would react to their calls and songs being played.
Having done that preparation, last night and this morning, I went back up to the Kokeíe State Park area, where we had been on Sunday.† That is the only accessible place on the island to see any of the native forest birds. It is about an hour and fifteen minute drive from here.† I had a list of 8 potential species, of which 6 were sort of reasonably possible, and 5 of those are supposedly ďcommonĒ, according to the Birding Hawaii website.† Well, their idea of ďcommonĒ is different from the way any other birders use the term, I think.† Normally, when I visit a place for several hours, I expect to see about 70% or 80% of the birds listed as ďcommonĒ.† Not so here.† I had spent several hours on Sunday and hadnít had a sniff of any of the native species.
When I got up this morning, it was raining like mad here, and it didnít really stop until about the time I left.† Even then, it was very cloudy up in the mountains, and showery off and on along the coast, as I drove to Waimea, where the drive up the mountains starts.† I was concerned it would be rainy up there all day, but I went ahead anyway, to see.† As it turned out, it stopped raining just about the time I got up there, about 10:30 or so, although I had sprinkles from time to time all day, and a couple of real showers.
I stopped at the park headquarters and museum and looked at their map of the trails and roads.† I also walked up on their little nature trail behind the museum.† On the trail, I played the call and song of what was reported to be the most abundant forest bird in the park, and a bird seemed to be answering it.† I didnít see anything, but after walking the short length of the trail, I backtracked, and when I got the start again, I played the call/song again.† (A call is a very short note or two that birds make when they are just letting other birds know they are there.† A song is longer, sometimes only several notes, and sometimes much longer.)
This time, I definitely got a response.† I am terrible with recognizing calls and songs, but I had heard this one enough by that time that I recognized it as coming from a bird overhead.† Then the bird flew down close, presumably to take a look at this strange being that was making this song.† I got an excellent look at my first native Hawaii forest bird, a lovely little APAPANE.† It wasnít a lifer, I had seen them in 1999 when I was here, but it was a great one for my year list.† It flitted around, and I tried for pictures.† What I got is terrible, but they do show the bird enough to identify it, and since this is the only native forest bird I have seen so far, I am going to show three pictures, despite the fact that they are blurry and from underneath. †Just scroll though them; Iím putting them here for myself.
I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures.† I am just pleased to get anything at all.† Here is a picture of the little nature trail where I saw this gem:
As it turned out, just about when I gave up on the nature trail, we had one of the pretty good showers, so I hotfooted it to the car and moved on.† Along the road, I once again saw an Erckelís Francolin, which had been a lifer on Sunday.† Here is a picture:
Francolins are grouse-like birds, introduced to Hawaii, presumably for hunting.† There are three species here, on the various islands.
I next stopped at Kalalau Lookout, because it was listed as a place to see 4 or 5 of the birds I was looking for.† I spent at least two hours walking around that area, and I did see another Apanane, but nothing else.† No other birds, anyway.† There was a lovely rainbow that could be seen from the lookout, and people were snapping pictures like mad.† Here is my best effort.† It looked a lot brighter and more impressive in person.
I ate my humble lunch (ham and cheese sandwich, which I had made, and some Maui Onion potato chips, with a Diet Coke Ė a typical lunch for the Old Rambler) and I wandered around, playing bird calls and songs, and enjoying the day.† There was a Pacific Golden-Plover up there, which surprised me.† The elevation was 4000 feet, and that bird winters in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, and it spends its time on grassy fields.† Somehow this one had found this grassy area at the lookout, way up here in the mountains, and presumably it is spending the winter here.† I pondered on the amazing fact that these birds spend from September to April here in Hawaii, in a virtual paradise, and then in the summer they fly thousands of miles to Alaska or northern Canada to mate, lay their eggs, and raise a family.† Then they all fly back here for the winter.† I would have thought that at least some of them would be smart enough to just save all the flying and have their families here in the summer, but as far as I know, they never ever do that.† Amazing.† Here is the Golden-Plover:
After a couple of hours there, I headed back toward ďhomeĒ and stopped once more, at the trailhead for the Awaawapuhi Trail.† There was a lot of birdsong there, and I saw Apapane again, more than once, and I saw one flash of a yellowish bird flying (would have been a lifer for sure, but I couldnít tell which one of three species it might have been).† I walked a couple of hundred yards along the trail, but didnít see anything except another Apapane.† Here is that trail:
After that, it was about three oíclock, and I headed for home.† When I walked in here at ďhomeĒ, I was treated to a chorus of Happy Birthday, and after drinkies, we had a special dinner, which consisted of grilled pork tenderloin, squash and spinach raviolis, salad, and a sautťed mixture of tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, onions, and okra.† They had also gotten me what has become my favorite wine, Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.† I just asked about dessert, and was told to ďjust waití.† (It turned out to be Costco cookies,, and I got three oatmeal raisin ones.)
So, that was my day today.† Tomorrow I plan to head north, to see if I can see a couple more species for my year list.† The ladies are going to drive north in their separate car, and they plan to hike and maybe snorkel in the north, if they can find suitable beaches.† Maybe I will see them somewhere along the way.†
They tell me that they enjoyed their catamaran trip with snorkeling today.† They saw some birds that I would have liked to have seen, especially some Great Frigatebirds, which would be a lifer for me.† That is one of the species I hope to see tomorrow, up north.
I stand at 51 species for the trip now, which is actually very good.† I also am at 410 species for the year, which is also very good.† I have seen 116 lifers so far this year.† Weíll see if I can add one or two species tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 2
I guess I had a good day, as I did better than what I had hoped for last night.† I was up and out of here by about 9:15 this morning.† The four ladies had already left by then, and they were heading for the north end of the island, as was I.
My first stop was the Kilauea Lighthouse, which is also a National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).† My old fartís pass for Federal wildlife places got me in for free, thus avoiding the $5 charge.† I guess there is some compensation for the hell of getting old (not that I would have preferred the alternative, which is to die young, of course).
The weather was extremely changeable today, alternating between heavy rain and sun.† I took shelter as needed and survived just fine.† Here is a picture of the lighthouse from the free viewpoint outside the refuge:
Here is what it looked like up close, soon after a rain shower:
There were at least a couple of hundred Red-footed Boobies roosting in the trees across the way, and they would also fly around from time to time.† Here is a picture of one of them in the air:
And, here is an immature one, recently fledged.† Notice it is much darker:
I was also pleased to get a picture of one of the very few Brown Boobies flying around:
But, the most important one for me was the lifer, a number of GREAT FRIGATEBIRDS (lifer). †Here are pictures of some of them:
Okay, so maybe that was overkill on the Great Frigatebirds, but I was very happy to see them, and I loved their individual look, with the split tail.
There was one other bird I was hoping to see at that place.† They nest there, and the parents lay only one egg each year, in a burrow, of all things, and then when the egg hatches, the parents go out all day long, fishing.† They return at dusk and regurgitate some of the fish they have caught for their young one.† The young one sits patiently all day long in its burrow or outside of it, waiting to be fed.† I knew I wouldnít see any adults, as they are out all day fishing, but I was hoping that the young ones were still at their burrows.† I asked one of the volunteers at the gift shop if the young shearwaters were still around, and she just pointed to a bush about ten feet from where we were standing.† Sure enough, there was a baby WEDGE-TAILED SHEARWATER sitting there, within a few feet of where people were walking into the shop.† Not a lifer for me, as I had seen them in Australia, but one for my US list, my trip list, and my year list.† Here is a peek-a-boo shot of the little fuzzy dear:
After that, I looked around and saw at least six more of them in the area.† Here is another one, in its burrow:
While walking around the area around the lighthouse, I saw a small bird fly in that seemed different form the usual things.† It turned out to be a House Finch of all things.† I had read that the proportion of yellow and orange colored House Finches was much higher here than on the mainland, and here is a picture of an orange colored male House Finch:
On my way out of the lighthouse area, I stopped at the overlook outside the refuge, and I got this picture of a perched Red-footed Booby:
Finally I left the lighthouse area and moved on to the overlook of Hanalei NWR.† I had one bird as a target here, but the overlook was much too distant to be able to pick out individual birds.† Here is a view from the overlook.† It poured rain when I was there, but I ate my lunch in the car and waited for it to end.
I used Google Maps on my cell phone to find the road that went up the valley.† It was very very small, not wide enough for two cars in most parts, but I ventured out on it, in search of my bird.† I managed to negotiate passing a couple of vehicles that were coming toward me, as I wound my way up the valley.† I eventually came to the end of the road at someoneís property, and I backed up and turned around.† On the way back, I finally saw a couple of ducks come out of a pond, and I added HAWAIIAN DUCK to my trip list and year list.† It was probably actually a lifer, as I had counted Hawaiian Duck before, on my 1999 trip, on Oahu.† Now I know that the ducks on Oahu are considered to be hybrids of Hawaiian Ducks and Mallards, but here on Kauai, they are considered to be ďpureĒ Hawaiian Ducks.† Here is a picture of a female Hawaiian Duck:
And here is a male, not much different, except around the head:
On the way out of the valley, I also got this picture of the Hawaiian subspecies of the Common Moorhen, or Common Gallinule, according to the new name.
So, I added three more birds to my year list and trip list.† That brings me to 54 species for the trip and 413 for the year, of which 117 are lifers.† I donít expect any more here on Kauai, but there are two or three that I will look for, and maybe I will get lucky.† We leave for Maui on Saturday, and there could be 2 or 3 that I could add there, as well.† We will see.
Thursday, November 3
Not a very long report today, Iím afraid, and not many pictures.† I was up, breakfasted, lunch made, and on my way by 8:45 this morning.† I headed west, along the southern shore of Kauai.† I was going to Kawaiele state waterbird sanctuary, which I had read about, mainly to look for three species that had all been reported there recently.† None seemed very likely, and none were waterbirds, but my only other real choice would have been to have gone up into the mountains for a third time, to be frustrated by the scarcity of birds up there.†
When I got to the sanctuary, there was a sign on the fence saying it wasnít open to the public, but I turned in and parked in the driveway, down the road from the sign.† The main road going into the area had a locked gate and said No Trespassing.† I wandered around a little, looking across the ponds I could see, but there wasnít much there.† About that time a police car pulled in and the officer nicely asked me what I was taking pictures of.† I explained about the waterbird sanctuary (not mentioning the sign down the road that said it wasnít open to the public Ė a sign he turned out not to be aware of, seemingly) and said I was hoping to take pictures of birds. He explained that adjacent to the waterbird sanctuary was a Navy missile range, and he didnít think they would appreciate someone taking pictures of it.† I assured him I would only take pictures of birds and that I wouldnít go anywhere beyond any No Trespassing signs.† He was fine with that and told me to ďgo for itĒ.
So, given that semi-official permission, I went through a gate that didnít have a sign on it, and I did see a few waterbirds.† I got a picture of some Sanderlings, a common shorebird that I see in California in the winter, and that I had seen on Oahu on our tour of the James Campbell NWR.
There were also a few of the Hawaiian subspecies of the Black-necked Stilt there, and I got this picture of a pair of them:
I wasnít ready to give up on the birds I had come to see, though, so I walked across the road where there were some scrubby trees and bushes, and I played the call and song of a bird I had been trying to see all week here, which I had put on my cell phone.† By golly, I soon got a reply!† I am terrible with bird songs, but even I could tell that I was hearing my target bird, but it was deep in some scrubby trees and shrubs.† It just kept singing and singing, and every now and then I encouraged it by playing the recording some more.† Eventually I got a few glimpses of it, back in the bushes, and at least then I knew where to look for it.† There turned out to be two of them, and they kept flitting around and answering my phoneís recorded song.† Finally, I got a good look at one of them, through my binoculars, and I could see the rich brown color and the white eye ring and white line going back from the eye, which are the distinguishing features of the MELODIOUS LAUGHINGTHRUSH (lifer).† The bird is also called a Hwamei or Chinese Hwamei, but I like the laughingthrush name better, and at least I know how to pronounce it.† They are supposed to be fairly common on Kauai, but this was the first time I actually saw one, and I can see why, the way it stayed in the deep brush.† If I hadnít played the call, it wouldnít have sounded off itself, I suspect, and without it singing, there is no way I would have ever seen it.† I also donít think there was anything special about the location I was in, but the species had been reported there, so I gave it a try there.
After that pleasant experience, I continued down the road, going very slowly, looking for Black Francolin, a grouse-like bird that is sometimes seen along the edges of roads.† There was little traffic, as I was approaching the end of the road, so I could go slowly and look all around.† I drove as far as I could, including on a little road that went up into the hills a little way and ended at a Navy magazine area, where they store munitions.† I wondered why there was a paved road in that place, and I found out why.† I didnít see any francolins, though, or anything else of interest.† I could have taken the 4.5 mile dirt road to a state park beach out there, but the signs were ominous (road not maintained, no emergency services, etc), and even though it looked pretty good at the start, I didnít want to take a chance on getting to a bad part where there wasnít room to turn around.† I guess Iím basically a chicken, when it comes to taking a chance on getting stuck in the wilderness when Iím alone.† I had read several reviews of that road last night, and they all made it sound pretty bad for anything less than a four wheel drive vehicle.† If I had had one of my birding buddies with me, I would have been glad to venture out there, but being alone, it did not appeal to me.
It was getting to be late in the morning by then, so I headed back toward Poipu, where weíre staying.† I stopped at the Port Allen airport, where I had been a couple of days ago, and this time I got a good look at some Western Meadowlarks.† I had seen a lot of them on the mainland, earlier in the year, and I had added them to my trip list earlier this week, even though I had had only brief views of them, flying away from me.† It was nice to see them well, today.† Here is a picture of one of these handsome birds:
I tried Salt Ponds County Beach Park, playing the recording of the other species I was looking for, the Japanese Bush-Warbler, but never got a response.† They are not very common, and the place that they are supposed to be the easiest to see is a place I had been to earlier in the week, before I had put the bird recordings onto my phone.† I think I might go back there tomorrow, and try again for that one, playing its call and song this time.
By that time I was getting hungry, and I drove to a little county beach park near where we are staying and had my humble lunch (ham and cheese sandwich Ė what else? Along with some Fritos, a Diet Coke and a couple of cookies.)† After that I parked at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, which is just down the road from out Poipu digs.† It turned out to be another disappointment.† To really see the gardens, you have to sign up for a tour, and they take you in a group by tram up the valley, and you walk a mile and a half or so, on one of two or three different tours.† I just hung around the shop area for a while, resting in the shade.† I did see a male White-rumped Shama and a number of Japanese White-Eyes.† I got some pictures of the white-eyes.† Here is one:
They move about constantly, so getting a picture is always a challenge.
I finally threw in the towel and returned ďhomeĒ about 3 oíclock or so.† I have been working on my spreadsheet for the trip, to see what is left to look for on Maui.† I have a list of 9 target species for Maui, including the Japanese Bush-Warbler which I plan to look for here on Kauai again tomorrow.† My spreadsheet indicates that I should ďexpectĒ to see about 3.5 of those species, so if I see four more, that will be a victory.† Three more would be satisfactory, and anything less than that will be disappointing.† There are three native forest birds on that list, and you know my luck seeing native forest birds, so maybe my estimates are a bit high.† We will see.
I donít imagine there will be another report for a couple or three days, as I am not likely to see anything else new until Sunday at the earliest.† But, sometimes there are surprises, and Iím not giving up, just trying to be realistic.
I now stand at 55 species for the trip, of which 35 are new for my year list and 5 are lifers.† My trip spreadsheet indicated 32 species for my year list on the trip, so I am doing very well to have 35 already.† I stand at 414 on the year, of which 118 are lifers.† The beat goes onÖ
Sunday, November 6
On Friday I went back out to the Keahua Arboretum, where I had gone earlier in the week.† The water over the road at the creek crossing was higher this time, as it had been raining a lot the last few days, so I parked on the near side, and when the rain stopped falling, I walked across the causeway with my shoes on.† The water was up to the bottom of my calves, and it was moving fast, so I went slowly.† Iím sure I could have driven across, but I didnít want to take the chance of a problem, including the chance of the water rising rapidly if it rained a lot upstream.† I had read warnings that that could happen.† I definitely did not want to be trapped on the other side of a raging creek, as there was no other way out.
I spent a couple of hours there, but never saw either of the two birds I was hoping for.† I had my humble lunch and returned to the house in the middle of the afternoon.
Saturday was a travel day.† I have really come to hate travel by air.† We had to get up early (which always ruins a day for me, anyway), packed and loaded up, got gas on the way to the airport, turned in the rental car, and then stood in several lines, etc.† You know the drill.† It was a short flight to Maui, and after going through the reverse of what I call the Airplane Game, we had our rental car and were headed for our new digs in Maalaea.† I kept asking myself why I had planned a trip that involved four plane flights.† Check in time was listed as 3 PM, but we were there by shortly after 11 AM.† I would have arrived later, but Hawaiian Airlines only has one non-stop a day from Kauai to Maui, and I chose to get up early versus having to change planes in Honolulu.† (Four plane flights is bad enough, five would be over the top.)†
Anyway, when we got to our condo, the last people were just moving out, so we went off and drove down through Kihei to where the road finally more or less ends, beyond Makena.† We had been on Maui together once before, in 1999, and it was interesting to see what things had changed and what things had not.† This island sure is more populated and developed than Kauai.† It was a Saturday, so the locals were jamming the beaches, along with the tourists.
We stopped at Safeway in Kihei and loaded up on food and drink, and got back to out condo just after 3.† We didnít go out again that afternoon, but enjoyed our magnificent view of Mount Haleakala, Kehei, and the bay.† We are on the third floor, oceanfront, and I had deliberately chosen the place because of the view.† Both bedrooms and the living room are on the ocean side, and the unit is on a corner, so we have a partially surround view.† The air conditioning seems to work fine, although we turn it off once the sun is almost down and open the place up for the night.† I love the sound of the waves, which are maybe 40 feet from my bed.
C grilled chicken breast for us at the shared oceanside BBQ grills.† Here is a picture from our balcony (lanai to the locals):
We watched a movie on the large screen TV in our living room and got to bed early (for me, anyway), about 10 PM.
So, finally to Sunday and the birds.† We were up and out of here by 8:30, without really trying to start early, and we headed up to the volcano, Mt Haleakala.† Here is a picture of Haleakala from our lanai, as the sun was coming up:
The only convenient place to see the native forest birds here on Maui is at Hosmer Grove, at the entrance to Haleakala National Park, at an elevation of almost 7000 feet.† There is a 0.6 mile nature trail there, along with a small campground and picnic area.† We got there by a series of back roads across the island, navigating with Google Maps and my cell phone.† I think we got to Hosmer Grove about 10:00, and after putting on long pants and in Cís case, a light jacket, we walked around.
Almost at once, we heard a bird singing, and there in a tree on the edge of the parking lot was my highest priority of the forest birds, a lovely bright red IIWI.† Here it is, with its long curved orange bill and orange legs:
The Iiwi is one of my favorite birds, and I have been using a bookmark with a picture of one that I got here in 1999 ever since then.† I read a lot of books, so I have looked at that bookmark many thousands of times.
That was a great start to our morning, but it slowed down after that.† As in all forests, it was pretty quiet, although a lot better than the forests on Kauai.† We saw several more Iiwi and some Apapane (also red with black wings, so one has to look closely to distinguish them from the Iiwi. I had seen Apapane on Kauai and posted some blurry pictures here.† The other native ones we were looking for are small and greenish yellow in color, and we saw a number of small green birds flash past or got brief views, but not good enough to identify any of them.† There were Japanese White-eyes around, too, and they are also small and yellow green, and that added to the problem.† We walked and looked and listened, and I played some songs and calls, but at the end of our walk (with a lot of time spent stopped), I had still only added the Iiwi to my lists.
C had gone back to the car ahead of me, to read and rest, and when I got back, I wandered around the parking lot, playing my recordings and looking and listening.† There were a few birds around, but not the ones I wanted to see.† Finally, as it was approaching noon (and time to eat our lunch), I got a good look at a COMMON AMAKIHI, a bird I had seen on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1999.† That made two of the three I was hoping for at this location, so I was pleased.† I got another view of another one, or maybe the same bird, and then it was time for us to have our lunch.
Lunch brought out a few more birds.† There were House Sparrows, of all things, and a male Northern Cardinal who came around.† I had seen Northern Cardinals in a number of places on this trip, but this was the first time I could get a decent picture of one.† They are an East Coast bird that was introduced here decades ago, and they are fairly common on all the islands, I think.† I had seen them in Arizona in April/May, so they didnít add to my year list here.
Another surprising visitor to the campground while we were eating was a male Ring-necked Pheasant.† I had seen a couple of them on Oahu, so it didnít add to any lists, but I was able to get a good picture this time.
Then, to our surprise, we had a visit from a Common Amakihi, probably the same one I had seen in the trees earlier.† Here is a closeup picture of that little guy:
The distinguishing features of this species are the long curved bill and the black between the eye and the bill.† These features distinguish it from the other native forest species I had hoped to see at this location.† More on that subject later.† Meanwhile, while I was moving around to get his picture, he discovered my sandwich on the table, and helped himself:
C said he was going for the cheese in the sandwich.
So, with two out of three target forest species under my belt (and multiple sightings of Apapane, too, although no pictures), we headed on up the mountain.† Haleakala is just over 10,000 feet in elevation, and it is a steep road with switchback after switchback.† It was surprisingly uncrowded, which was nice.† We stopped at one or two lookouts, and here is a picture of Christina.† You can see that we were above the clouds at that point, although we hadnít actually had to drive through any clouds to get there.† We had sunny weather all day long.
We finally made it to the top, and here is a picture of the crater of Haleakala, taken from near the crater visitor center:
Here is the visitor center itself:
C went for a little hike, while I sat in the sunshine somewhat out of the wind.† Walking uphill at 10,000 feet isnít my idea of fun.† Here she is, coming back over the hill she climbed.† That is her at the crest, in the middle of the picture:
We moved on from the crater visitor center to the actual summit.† There is a rare plant that grows up there, and nowhere else on earth.† It has a Hawaiian sounding name, but the common name I can remember is Silversword.† It is aptly named, as when it is young, it looks like a bundle of small curved silver swords.
That plant was about the size of a volleyball.† They can live for up to 50 years, and they slowly get larger over that time, I guess.† They only bloom once, and after that, they die.† The blooms are amazing.† We didnít see one with the blooms open, but here is a plant that is blooming and the blooms are about to open.† The flowers are bright red when they finally do show themselves, I understand.
Here is a closeup of the unopened blooms:
On the way up the mountain, I had seen a Chukar standing on a rock next to the road, where we couldnít stop.† That was only the second Chukar I have ever seen in my life, the first being on my way back from Arizona in May this year.† It was one for my trip list, though.† At the summit, there was another one, and this time I got a number of pictures.† Here is one of them:
They are a game bird from North America, introduced here for hunting, I guess.† They are bigger than a quail and smaller than a grouse.† It sure seemed like a strange place to see one, at 10,000 feet on top of a dormant volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
So, after that, we started back down the road.† We stopped a couple of places, including Hosmer Grove again.† I saw a Leiothrix, a very pretty little introduced forest bird that I had seen on Oahu, but I couldnít get a picture.† Then, as we were leaving Hosmer Grove, we saw a large bird flying over the road and hills ahead of us.† There is only one bird that big on Maui, and sure enough, it was the Hawaiian subspecies of Short-eared Owl.† One for my trip list.† I had seen my first and only Short-eared Owls in January, so this wasnít one for my year list, but it was still a nice sighting.† Someday they might make this subspecies its own species, and if they do, I can add one to my life list.† I tried for pictures, but it was too far away and none are any good.
A little later we saw a couple of birds at the top of a tree, and the road was wide there, so we pulled over and I got out to check them out.† I couldnít find them again but in the meantime, C had gotten out, too, and she saw a little greenish-yellow bird, and called me over.† I figured it would be a White-eye, but it wasnít.† It was definitely one of the small yellow green forest birds I had been looking for, but which species?† As I mentioned before, they are similar, and the main difference in appearance is that one has a longer bill and has blackish coloration between the eyes and the bill, but otherwise they are very similar.† I got a good long look at it, and it seemed different from the Amakihi that I had seen earlier and gotten pictures of, but the bill seemed longer than the pictures of the other species.† I couldnít see any blackish color at all around the eye and bill area, which would seem to rule out Amakihi.† It hung around just long enough for me to get my camera and take one picture.† The picture came out surprisingly good, but the distinguishing feathers were hidden behind part of the tree it was in.† Here is the picture:
The picture is not definitive, at least not to me.† It bothers me that the underside looks so gray, for one thing, when for both species it could be it should be yellow green on the underside.† Maybe that was just the light, though, or maybe it is an immature bird.† At any rate, after weighing all the evidence, including its feeding behavior, I am calling it a MAUI ALAUHIO (lifer), formerly called Maui Creeper.† I sure wish I could have gotten a picture that showed the bill area, though.
So, that was number three for my year list on the day, and number 5 on my trip list, but it wasnít over yet.† Farther on down the road, there were a couple of quail like birds feeding on the side of the road.† We went back and I got a good look at them, and they were GRAY FRANCOLINS.† Not a lifer, but a great one for my year and trip lists.† I wasnít able to get a picture, unfortunately, before they spooked and sent into the underbrush.
On top of all that, we got a good look at a bird that was flying and displaying over a field along the road.† It went down into the grass before I could get a good look at it, but I am pretty sure it was a Sky Lark.† That is a European bird that was introduced here way back in the 1800ís.† I have seen them in Britain and also in Australia, where they were also introduced.† I decided that my look wasnít good enough, so Iím not counting it (it would be a year bird for me), but Iím pretty sure that is what it was.† I hope to get back up to that area to look for them, as they are supposed to be common up there.
So, it turned out to be an excellent day of birding.† I got 4 for my year list and 6 for my trip list, of which one was a lifer.† I also got some pictures that I like, and I had a great day out with my honey.† I may not add any more to the year list here on Maui, but even getting four is better than my expectations.† There are three or four more species that are possible, including the Sky Lark, although I donít think any of them are especially likely.
We had dinner in again, as is our custom, and watched the very long movie, Forrest Gump.† I am writing this on Monday morning.
For the trip, I am now at 61 species, of which 39 have added to my year list and 6 are lifers.† For the year, I am now at 418 species, of which 119 are lifers.† Iíll be hard pressed to add many more, but it has been a great project, to keep track of what I have seen all year long.
Tuesday, November 8
Well, I didnít really think there would be another report from Hawaii, but here it is.† The fact of a report implies that I saw a year bird today, but a few times I have posted reports anyway, just because I had some pictures to share or some other story to tell.† Which is this?† Read on to know, gentle reader.
Yesterday (Monday) we drove around the north end of the island, after I finished processing my pictures from Sunday and wrote my report covering Sunday.† We drove through Lahaina, looking for the town center we remembered from 1999, but missed it, as the highway seems to have moved, or maybe we just donít remember correctly.† Memory is a damn funny thing.
We continued through the resort areas of Maui.† Neither of us is the slightest bit interested in staying in that kind of place, but I can understand why so many people would like it.† Golf courses, huge hotels, resorts and condo buildings, with a few obligatory public access points to the beach.† We snorkeled there on our last trip, and the beaches were great, although it was pretty amusing to see how few parking places the resorts have been forced to provide for the hoi polloi who arenít staying in their resorts.† We didnít stop anywhere on Monday.
We drove on around the north end of the island.† There are some beautiful bays and surfing beaches up there.† The country got pretty rugged, and the road got smaller and smaller, until finally it was an unabashed single lane paved road, and you were on your own to find a wide enough spot to pass oncoming traffic.† In some parts, it was right along a cliff, with no guard rail or anything, and C hates heights. She was clutching the seat and gasping some of the time.† We were going the right direction, though, and at least she was on the inside part of the road.† At one point, in the middle of the narrowest stretch of road, there was a tiny community and a guy was there who was selling pineapple and other stuff, and he came right out into the road, to give his pitch to each car as it came along.† Afterwards I regretted not buying a thingie of pineapple, just to reward the guy for his aggressive way of trying to make a living.† He reminded me strongly of the guys who rush out to wash your windshield in some east coast cities, at traffic lights, expecting a tip for their efforts.† Very obnoxious, but at least they are trying.
Anyway, we enjoyed our drive around the unsettled part of the island, stopping a couple of places to walk a little and have our lunch which we had brought with us.† Once we got back to Kahului, we stopped at Kanaha Pond, a wildlife refuge right next to the airport.† There had been a report of a Ruff there last week, and that would have been a really great bird to see.† There was little to see, though.† I did see a bird across the water that I couldnít see well enough with my 10X binoculars, so took some pictures at 30X, and later I discovered that it was only a juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron.† Here it is:
I also took some pictures of some Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones.
After that, we found Longs Drug Store and Safeway and got food for dinner.† So, there were no new birds yesterday, but we had a very nice time driving around the north end of he island.† If you are ever here and want to take that drive, be warned that the road gets very narrow and somewhat rough for 5 or 10 miles along the east side of the island.† After our Christina-cooked dinner of chicken, vegetables and pasta with alfredo sauce, we watched the movie, Quigley Downunder, which I enjoyed very much, as I like both Tom Selleck and Australia.
So, to today, Tuesday.† Today was our day to take the long, slow drive to Hana, on the windward side of the island, at the south end.† It is a slow, twisty road, but very scenic, with lots of places to stop to enjoy the coast.† We did indeed stop several places, and finally came to Waianapanape State park, where there was a bird I wanted to look for.† As we approached the park, we saw a mongoose run across the road in front of us, and then a little while later, we saw another one.† We discussed whether we had seen two mongooses, two mongeese, or maybe even two mongoose (like two moose).† Looking it up now, we saw two mongooses, and there were more in the park, in the parking area.† Here is a picture of one of the slightly creepy little critters:
They have done unimaginable damage to the Hawaiian ecosystem, after having been introduced here deliberately, to catch rats in the sugar cane fields, I think.† Ground nesting birds have no chance on islands with mongooses.† Kauai is one of the mongoose-free islands, which is why the Hawaiian goose, the Nene, can live there.
Here is a picture of the bay at Waianapanape State Park.† You can see the little black sand beach in the background, and in the middle of the picture is a little island rock where my target birds supposedly nest and roost,
I walked around to the left and sure enough, I saw roosting BLACK NODDIES.† Here are some pictures of these members of the tern family:
I hadnít thought it was the right time of year to see these birds, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that they were still around at this time.† I was also pleased that they roost so close to shore, where I could not only see them, but get pictures of them.
Here is another picture of the bay at Waianapanape State Park.† Christina is standing next to the palm tree in the middle.
To show off the zoom ability of my camera, here is a closeup of C, almost full frame, and not even at full zoom:
We had our humble lunch at that park, and then moved on to the town of Hana.† We drove beyond Hana a little way, but we knew the road got smaller and smaller after that, eventually turning into a four-wheel drive road, where we werenít supposed to take our rental car.† So, we turned back, but not after seeing dozens of Frigatebirds wheeling around over an offshore island.† There was at least one Red-footed Booby in the crowd, and probably others and maybe other species as well.
By that time, it was time to head for home, so we retraced our steps along the long twisty road with the dozens of single lane bridges and curves.† It is a very slow drive, but well worth the time.† We stopped in Kahului and picked up some dinner and a movie at Safeway, and came on home.
It was an excellent day on Maui, with a little light rain, but with nice sunshine when we needed it.† So, with the Black Noddy, that brings me to 62 species on the trip, of which 40 are new for my year list and 6 are lifers.† I am at 419 for the year, of which 119 are lifers.† I donít expect any more on the trip, but it is always possible, so we will see.
Thursday, November 10
Omigod!† Another report from Hawaii!† I feel like an aging entertainer who just keeps doing one more tour.† I promise this will be the last report from this trip, and possibly the last one of the year.
Yesterday (Wednesday), we had intended to snorkel, but a big wind came up overnight, and even the people at the snorkel rental place said that snorkeling wasnít a good idea that day.† So we regrouped and decided to go see the Iao Valley, with its ďneedleĒ, then do some errands we had to do.† On our first pass at the Iao Needle site, we couldnít get a legal parking place, so we went back down the road to the park there, and walked around.† Then we went back up to the Needle area and got a parking place.† They charge five bucks, from a machine, and there is no way that it is enforced, but we were good tourist-citizens and contributed our five bucks to the state of Hawaii.† Their parks are very nice, and they donít charge for very many of them.† This was the first time we paid anything at any of their parks, so I didnít mind.
We walked around the paths, along with the crowds who had come by tour bus, limousine, taxi, and rental car.† Incidentally, the five dollar charge for parking only applies to non-residents of Hawaii, thus making the enforcement all the more of a joke, since they would have no way of knowing if a given car was being driven by a resident of Hawaii.† Politics is interesting.† Here is a picture of the ďneedleĒ, which is a rock formation that juts up to 2500 feet:
Here is a picture looking down the valley:
After enough time walking around there, enjoying the other tourists (as they were no doubt enjoying us), we went back down to the little park below the paid area, and had our humble lunch, brought from home, as usual with the Rambler on his travels.† I think I had a ham and cheese sandwich, as usual, but C has added a nice touch to it Ė a single layer of lite salami slices, along with all the ham and cheese I put in.† Very nice indeed.† She puts lettuce on hers, but I donít bother with that.
After lunch, we went looking for a book or books for C, as she was almost through the ones she had brought, and she needs a book to read at all times.† We had previously tried Safeway, but they had no books, and C had written down the addresses of four book stores in the Wailuku and Kahului areas.† As it turned out, none of them were currently in business.† We tried Kmart with no luck, and finally she found a couple of books at Costco.† All that consumed an hour or more, but we had books!
That was pretty much it for yesterday, other than stopping at the post office to pick up a box to ship some material back in.† We had gotten material for 4 or 5 aloha shirts for Josh and me. (C makes them, bless her generous heart.† Us Big Guys need them to be custom made, and I like two pockets on my shirts, and you canít buy them that way, even if you could get the size.)
We did stop at Safeway, to turn in the movie that C had rented the night before and to pick up some shrimp, frozen vegetables, and dessert for our dinner.† I got more water, too, as I am suspicious that the local water doesnít agree with me, although it doesnít taste bad.† After dinner we watched another movie, An American President, and I got this picture of the full moon over the bay, with Kihei and Haleakala in the background:
So, all that was yesterday, Wednesday the 9th.† This morning we had again hoped to go snorkeling, but again it was very windy, and the ocean out in front of our condo had white caps, so we again changed plans.† We drove ďupcountryĒ, as they say here, which means up the road to Mount Hakeakala, to about the 3500 foot level.† I dropped C at a botanical garden there, in Kula, and went on up a little farther, to look for my Bird of the Day.
I stopped a couple of times and played the song, just to familiarize myself with it, mind you.† I knew that this species did a lot of singing and display flights, and I knew they lived in that area.† On the third stop, when I played the song, a bird flew up and around me, and I could see with my binoculars that it was indeed a SKY LARK, a species I had seen in Australia and Britain, but never in the US.† It is a European bird, and the only other place in the US where you could see them was in the San Juan Islands, near where we live.† They might not be there any more, though, Iím not sure, but there are supposed to be a few in a suburb of Vancouver, BC, Canada.† Anyway, it was a nice addition to my lists, year and trip, even if it wasnít one for my life list.† The bird even perched on a bush, and I got this picture, among others:
Not a very good picture, as it was distant and the light was wrong, but it shows the bird, and that is what counts, for me.† The little guy even burst into song, repeating the very song I had been playing on my phone.† He (or she) kept that up for quite a while, and here is a picture of the little darling, singing its heart out:
Again, apologies for the poor quality of the picture, but I was glad to get it at all.
So, my birding mission accomplished for the day, I went back and picked up C at the arboretum, and we proceeded on down the road, going around the island toward Hana.† The road deteriorates and we knew we could only go so far.† It was pretty, though, and interesting.† Wait a minute, before doing that, we did two other things.† The guide book to Maui, that we had gotten twelve years ago when we were here, mentioned that there were quail (meaning California Quail) up a particular very narrow road, so we drove up there.† No quail, but it was a pretty little neighborhood of small farms and houses.† We also stopped along the road and got a picture of me next to a bush called brugmansia.† We first learned about this plant many years ago, at an arboretum in Vancouver, BC, and we see it sometimes on our travels.† We have seen them here in the islands on this trip, but this was an especially nice one, so I had C take my picture by it.† I call this picture ďBrugman with brugmansia bushĒ:
So, it was after that that we went down the road, until it got too narrow and uninteresting.† We had wonderful views of Maui, looking down over Kihei and Kahului, to the north.† On our way back, after deciding to turn around, we stopped at a deli in Ulupalakua and got a big sandwich to split and some macaroni salad (a very much Hawaiian thing), and a coconut chocolate bar for our lunch.† We went back to a park I had stopped at earlier to pee, to have our little boughtín lunch.† One of my few boughtín lunches of the trip.
We had a fantastic view of the north end of the island from our little lunch park, which was in a little place called Kula.† I tried out a feature of my camera I had not tried before, and here is a panorama of the view from our lunch place:
On the left is the bay where we are located, and on the right is Kahului, which is where the airport is.† We were at an elevation of about 3500 feet.† Sky Larks serenaded us continuously, while we ate.
When we were finished eating, I was looking out at the view, as shown above, and I saw a large brown bird Ė a Pueo, the Hawaiian subspecies of the Short-eared Owl.† It wasnít one for my lists, but I managed to get some lousy, distant pictures of it, and I am now going to show them to you.† Isnít the front end of an owl interesting?† The body just keeps getting wider, and then it just ends in a flat face.† For your enjoyment, here is the Hawaiian subspecies of the Short-eared Owl:
I guess those two pictures pretty much look the same, but they were taken at different times.† Here is another one:
Just after that, the bird dove down and we didnít see it again.† I hope it caught something and had a nice lunch.
So, when we got tired of the view, we headed back down to sea level.† I dropped C at a beach at the north end of Kihei, and I went on up to the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge.† There isnít really any good access, but I stopped along the highway and climbed up on a bank, to get a view of the birds on the pond.† I didnít see anything unusual, and it was so windy that it was hard to see anything at all.† I took a lot of pictures, hoping that I might capture something interesting, but there was nothing.† I was just too far away, and the wind was too strong, thus introducing motion blur into my pictures.
I went back and picked C up, and we returned home about 4 PM.† Tonight we went out to dinner (for the second time in the two weeks that C has been here), and now we only have one more night, and then the Airplane Game tomorrow, and we are home.
So, in a revised count for the trip, I saw 63 species here in Hawaii, which is excellent.† 41 of those added to my year list, which is also excellent (I had expected about 32 or 33).† I added 6 lifers on the trip.† That brings me to a total of 420 species for the year, of which 119 are lifers.† Once again, I expect this to be my last report for a while, and maybe the last of the year.† It has been a really great project, to see as many species of birds as I could in 2011.