Hawaii, 14th - 28th November 2003

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT surfbirds.com)


By John Clarkson, Brian Fletcher, Richard Thomas and Sarah Thomas

Itinerary and site info (all dates in November)

Friday 14th November JC, RT and ST flew London to Honolulu via Los Angeles, where Western and California Gulls and Black Phoebe were seen during a stopover in the airport. Met BF in Honolulu (who had arrived from Sydney). Flight time London to LA 11 hours. Five hours LA to Honolulu.

Saturday 15th Birding around hotel before flight to Maui. Visited Hosmer Grove in Haleakala National Park for our first endemics: I'iwi, Apapane, Hawaii Amakihi and Maui Alauahio, then to Kanaha Ponds before dark at 6 pm for Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Coot, Ring-billed Gull and Wandering Tattler.

Sunday 16th Returned to Hosmer Grove to await free afternoon guided walk to Waikomoi Preserve boardwalk. These take place on the third Sunday of each month and must be booked no more than one week in advance by calling the National Park Service on (808) 572-4400. Very few flowering trees, so no sign of Akohekohe, but very lucky to get excellent views of a Maui Parrotbill. Private visits to the boardwalk can be arranged but are expensive; USD100 per person entrance fee payable by non-refundable advance cheque to TNC, plus professional bird guide's fee, which depends on group size but is up to USD100 per person. Best guide is said to be Renate [renate@lava.net]. After the walk went to Haleakala Crater at 10,000 ft in the hope of finding a lingering Hawaiian Petrel but failed.

Monday 17th Followed directions in Pratt's "Enjoying Birds in Hawaii" site guide to Waikomoi Flume, an alternative site for Akohekohe (note there is a new reservoir you have to skirt around not mentioned in Pratt's otherwise spot-on directions). Unfortunately Flume trail boarded up with "Keep out - Trail under construction" signs on it. Excellent numbers of Common Honeycreepers near the entrance, but no sign of Akohekohe.

Tuesday 18th Early morning flight to Kauai where picked up a Hertz '4WD'.. Drove to Hanalei for Hawaiian Duck (and Moorhen, Stilt and Coot, plus vagrant White-faced Ibis seen), then to Kilauea Point for nesting Laysan Albatross, Red-footed Booby and Wedge-tailed Shearwater plus two tropicbirds. Sea watching produced views of a Hump-backed Whale fin slapping. Drove to Kokee Park and our pre-booked cabin (these are excellent value self-catering accommodation, close to the birding area. They are popular, so make sure you book in advance on (808) 335-6061).

Wednesday 19th Drove the poorly signposted 'Camp 10' road to the end. Early part of the road in poor condition; wet and slippery. Just as well our vehicle did have high ground clearance, as this was essential. Long walk in the rain along the Kolea Stream trail where failed to locate Puaihoi or Akikiki but saw Kauai Amakihi, Anianiau, Akekee and Kauai Elepaio.

Thursday 20th Drove (tarmac road) as close to Puu o Kila lookout as possible - the road is closed and you have to walk the last mile or so to the start of the Pihea Trail from where it is 4 miles to the intersection with the Alakai Swamp Trail. Spent all day in this area on the boardwalks, especially the section along the Alakai Swamp trail east to the stream crossing. No sign of Puaiohi or Akikiki, but plenty of rats, mice, and introduced species.

Friday 21st Returned '4WD' then flew to Hilo on Hawaii (Big) Island, where picked up a 4WD from Harpers - the only hire company that allows you to drive the dreaded Saddle Road. [There is a $5,000 non-waiverable excess on their 4WD vehicles and the agreement says you are not allowed to take them off tarmac, except for the short section to the top of Mauna Kea!]. Stayed at the excellent value and very hospitable Wild Ginger Inn where our host even got up early next day to provide breakfast at 6 am. The new owners were most interested in why we were on the island and are investigating the possibilities of helping guests to go on birding tours. www.wildgingerinn.com/, (808) 935-5556 or (800) 882-1887. Good, cheap food nearby at Ken's House of Pancakes.

Saturday 22nd Drove the Saddle Road - and found it to be a tarmaced dual carriageway with a slow ascent and gentle curves. It is inexplicable why any rental company would ban their vehicles using it - a drive to your local shops would be far more challenging. Turned off onto the Mauna Kea summit road then onto the well-maintained Keanakolu dirt road, which leads to the Hakalau Forest Wildlife Refuge. Public access is allowed into the upper, Maulua Tract, on weekends and public holidays. You need to book a week in advance on (808) 933-6915 and to get the combination to a locked gate. The road beyond the gate needs a high clearance vehicle, but it is not far (ca. 2 miles) and could easily be walked. Maulua Tract has all the birds except Akepa. This species is common in the lower Pua Akala Tract, but to visit there, you have to go on an organised birding tour. The best of these is said to be through Hawaii Trails & Tours: (808) 331 8505. Alternatively, you can be lucky like us. Akepa are sometimes seen in the kitpuas alongside (mile 21) or 1.5 miles along the trail off to the west at mile 22 of the Saddle Road. Quickly saw Omao, Hawaii Elepaio, Hawaiian Hawk (Io), Nene, Hawaiian Creeper and Akiapola'au at Maulua Tract. Returning to the Saddle Road, we were very lucky to find a pair of Akepa.

Sunday 23rd Braved the Saddle Road again and drove to Puu Laau Dry Forest Reserve at the 43.3 mile mark. Turn right past the hunters check-in station, then right again to the Ahu Moa cinder cone. Stop by the gamebird watering unit. Palila and Mauna Kea Elepaio both easy. Went sightseeing to the top of Mauna Kea, 13,796 ft. Returned 4WD to Harpers as no need for it and got an ordinary car. Sightseeing in Volcano NP. Saw Black Noddy off Chain of Craters Road.

Monday 24th Drove to Manuka State Park in the south-west for Volcano Elepaio, which was found easily about 300 yards along the walking trail. Sea watching at South Point produced nothing of interest. Back to Hilo via Black Sands where Hawaiian Green Turtles rest on the beach. More sightseeing at Volcano NP, then visited Loko Waka and Waiakea Ponds in Hilo for a few duck trip ticks.

Tuesday 25th Flew to Ohau and drove to James Campbell Reserve. Walked through golf course to dunes for Bristle-thighed Curlew. A sea watch off Kailua produced Glaucous-winged Gull. Back to Waikiki where Aqua Marina Hotel good value at $50 for a double room with kitchenette.

Wednesday 26th Kuliouou Valley Trail for Oahu Elepaio. Single bird seen at the trailhead after about an hour's wait. This site is thick with mosquitoes. Drove to start of Aiea Ridge Trail and quickly saw Oahu Amakihi, although walked rest of the trail anyway. Tried to book a pelagic on a sport fishing boat but nothing doing because of Thanksgiving Day.

Thursday 27th Drove to south side of Kaena Point and walked to end for Laysan Albatross colony and a sea watch. Though slow, Black-footed Albatross, Juan Fernandez Petrel and Pomarine Skua all seen.

Friday 28th Local sea watching before eight-hour flight to Chicago and another eight hours to London.
Weather A variety of climatic conditions can be experienced here, from freezing on Mauna Kea to hot and muggy on the beaches to prolonged heavy rain in the forests, particularly of Kauai. Effective wet weather gear is essential and an umbrella useful.

Cost Flight from London to Honolulu £488. Pre-booked inter-island flights £180. Car hire from $60-$140 per day depending on vehicle type. Accommodation variable but expect to pay at least $50 per day for a double room. Food; self-catering supplies at normal supermarket prices, and restaurants from $35 - $85 for 4. Total cost about £1,300 each.

Systematic List:

Black-footed Albatross Diomedea nigripes 1 past Kaena Pt, Oahu 27th.

Laysan Albatross Diomedea immutabilis About 15 at each of the nesting colonies at Kilauea Pt, Kauai and Kaena Pt, Oahu.

Juan Fernandez Petrel Pterodroma externa 1 past Kaena Pt, Oahu 27th.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus 1 distant past Kilauea Pt, Kauai on 18th and a few fully fledged nestlings present.

Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda 2 past Kilauea Pt, Kauai on 18th.

White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus Kauai: small numbers Kilauea Pt, 18th. 1 from Kolea Stream Trail 19th, 1 below Kokee Lodge 20th, Hawaii: 2 near Black Sands, 24th.

Red-footed Booby Sula sula Large nesting colonies at Kilauea Pt, Kauai and Kanahoe Marine Base, Oahu. Small numbers on all sea watches.

Brown Booby Sula leucogaster A few on the island off Kilauea Pt, Kauai 18th and small numbers on all sea watches.

Great Frigatebird Fregata minor Small numbers Kilauea Pt, Kauai 18th and 2-4 were noted daily on Ohau.

Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax Small numbers widespread e.g. Oahu: Keehi Lagoon, 15th, 2 James Campbell NWR, 25th and 1 in a storm drain in Waikiki, 26th. Maui: Kanaha Ponds, 15th. Hawaii: Hilo ponds 24th.

White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi 1 Hanalei, Kauai 18th.

Hawaiian Goose Branta sandvicensis Plastics at Hanalei, Kauai 18th. 4 near Hakalau Forest, Hawaii 22nd.

American Wigeon Anas americana 2 Hilo ponds, Hawaii 24th.

Hawaiian Duck Anas wyvilliana Kauai: 10 Hanalei 18th, 1 Alakai Swamp 20th. Hawaii: 2 over Hakalau Forest 22nd. Oahu: 2 James Campbell NWR 25th (plus x Mallard hybrids).

Northern Pintail Anas acuta Hawaii: 3 Hilo fish ponds 24th. Oahu: 2 James Campbell NWR 25th.

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata Hawaii: 3 Hilo fishponds 24th. Oahu: 2 James Campbell NWR 25th.

Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris A drake James Campbell NWR 25th.

Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis Hawaii: 3 at Hilo ponds, 24th. Oahu: 4 at James Campbell NWR 25th.

Hawaiian Hawk (Io) Buteo solitarius 3 Hakalau Forest, Hawaii 22nd.

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Kauai: 10 Hanalei, 18th. Oahu: 5 James Campbell NWR 25th.

Hawaiian Coot Fulica alai Maui: 5 Kanaha ponds 15th. Kauai: 5 Hanalei 18th. Hawaii: Hilo ponds 24th. Oahu: James Campbell NWR 25th.

Hawaiian Stilt Himantopus knudseni Up to 10 each at: Kanaha ponds, Maui 15th. Hanalei, Kauai 18th and James Campbell NWR, Oahu 25th.

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva Common and widespread on all islands.

Bristle-thighed Curlew Numenius tahitiensis 10 James Campbell NWR, Oahu 25th.

Wandering Tattler Tringa incana Maui: 1 Kanaha ponds 15th. Hawaii: 1 Black Sands, 2 South Point, 1 Hilo ponds all on 24th. Oahu: 1 James Campbell NWR 25th, 1 Kaena Point 27th.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata 1 James Campbell NWR, Oahu 25th.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Small numbers, up to 10, were recorded on all islands at various coastal sites. About 150 Kualoa Pk, Oahu 25th.

Sanderling Calidris alba 2 Kualoa Pk, Oahu 25th.

Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1 past Kaena Pt, Oahu 27th.

Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis 1 Kanaha ponds, Maui 15th.

Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens 1 first-winter around Mokulua Islands, Oahu 25th and presumed same bird past Koko Head 27th.

Black Noddy Anous minutus 10 close inshore past the end of Chain of Craters Road, Hawaii 23rd.

Common White Tern Gygis alba 10 Kapiolani Pk, Waikiki 25th and 2-3 around Waikiki 27th and 28th, Oahu.

Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus Kauai: 1 late evening near Kokee Pk 18th, 1 Alakai Swamp 20th. Hawaii: 1 Hakalau Forest 22nd.

Omao Myadestes obscurus 4 Hakalau Forest 22nd, 1 heard Volcano Pk 24th, Hawaii.

Hawaii Elepaio Chasiempis (sandwichensis) sandwichensis 2 Hakalau Forest, Hawaii 22nd.

Volcano Elepaio Chasiempis (sandwichensis) ridgewayi 1 Manuka State Pk, Hawaii 24th.

Mauna Kea Elepaio Chasiempis (sandwichensis) bryani 2 Puu Laau, Hawaii 23rd.

Oahu Elepaio Chasiempis ibidis 1 Kuliouou trail, Oahu 26th.

Kauai Elepaio Chasiempis sclateri 10 Kolea Stream trail 19th, 10 Alakai Swamp trail 20th, Kauai.

Palila Loxioides bailleui 2 Puu Laau, Hawaii 23rd.

Maui Parrotbill Pseudonestor xanthophrys 1 Waikomoi Preserve, Maui 16th.

Kauai Amakihi Hemignathus kauaiensis 5 Kolea Stream trail 19th 5 Alakai Swamp trail 20th, Kauai.

Hawaii Amakihi Hemignathus virens Maui: 5-10 Hosmer Grove 15th, Waikomoi Preserve 16th and Waikamoi Flume trail 17th. Hawaii: 5-10 Hakalau Forest 22nd, 2 Puu Laau 23rd, 2 Manuka State Pk 24th.

Oahu Amakihi Hemignathus chloris 2 Aiea trail, Oahu 26th.

Anianiau Viridonia parva 5 Kolea Stream trail 19th, 2 Alakai Swamp trail 20th, Kauai.

Akiapolaau Hemignathus wilsoni Pair Hakalau Forest, Hawaii 22nd.

Hawaii Creeper Oreomystis mana 2 Hakalau Forest, Hawaii 22nd.

Maui Alauahio Paroreomyza montana 2 Hosmer Grove, 15th, 10 Hosmer Grove and Waikomoi Preserve 16th, Maui.

Akekee Loxops caeruleirostris 2 Kolea Stream trail 19th, 2 Alakai Swamp trail 20th, Kauai.

Akepa Loxops coccineus A pair close to Saddle Road, Hawaii 22nd.

Iiwi Vestiaria coccinea Maui: 4 Hosmer Grove 15th, 10 Waikomoi Preserve 16th, 4 Waikomoi Flume trail 17th. Kauai: 1 Kolea Stream trail 19th. Hawaii: 30+ Hakalau Forest, 22nd.

Apapane Himatione sanguinea Maui: 4 Hosmer Grove 15th, 20 Waikomoi Preserve 16th and 10 Waikomoi Flume trail 17th. Kauai: 10 Kolea Stream trail 19th, 30+ Alakai Swamp trail 20th. Hawaii: 10 Hakalau Forest 22nd.

Introduced species:

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Chukar Alectoris chukar, Grey Francolin Francolinus pondicerianus, Erckel's Francolin Francolinus erckelii, Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus, Kalij Pheasant Lophura leucomelana, Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus, Golden Pheasant Chrysolophus pictus 1 (escaped) male Waikamoi, Maui 16th. Common Peafowl Pavo cristatus, Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo, California Quail Callipepla californica, Rock Dove Columba livia, Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis, Zebra Dove Geopelia striata, Barn Owl Tyto alba, Mariana Swiftlet Collocalia inquieta bartschi 1 Aiea Ridge, Oahu 26th. Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis, Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer, Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos, White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus, Hwamei Garrulax canorus, Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea, Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus, Common Myna Acridotheres tristis, House Sparrow Passer domesticus, Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild, African Silverbill Euodice cantans, Nutmeg Mannikin Lonchura punctulata, Chestnut Mannikin Lonchura malacca, Java Sparrow Padda oryzivora, Yellow-fronted Canary Serinus mozambicus, House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus, Red-crested Cardinal Paroaria coronata, Yellow-billed Cardinal Paroaria capitata, Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola, Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis, Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta.