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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 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!