On Friday, the 22nd of January 2016, J. Michael Scott, Jack Jeffrey, and I joined forces to attempt to break my Big Day Big Island record of 64 species set in February 2015. We could not have asked for better weather throughout the day. We finished with 60 species and a memorable and fun day. If we had perhaps another hour we may have been able to scramble for another two or three species.
We left Pepeekeo at 5:45 A.M. and headed to Hilo to a parking lot where Java Sparrows were recently known to roost, however, on this important morning of our Big Day Big Island, they seemed to have decided to roost elsewhere that night. One of our hotspot locations of the day, Lokowaka Pond, was an amazing way to start our day. We watched over 5000 Cattle Egrets leave their nesting roost in two continuous massive flights, one headed west and south. Our first vagrant of the day was an immature female Belted Kingfisher was spotted across the street from the pond.
Our next stop was another popular hotspot, Wailoa River State Recreation Area where an amazing gathering of waterfowl can be seen including a vagrant, Pied-billed Grebe, Northern Pintails, Lesser Scaups, Eurasian Wigeons, American Wigeon, Nene (Hawaiian Goose), and a collection of domestic/feral ducks and geese. At nearby Hilo Bay area, we missed Laughing Gulls that were frequenting the area in recent weeks.
We were really lucky to see/hear everything we hoped for in a very brief visit to Hakalau Forest including endangered Hawaiian honeycreepers. Surprisingly, no Pueo (Short-eared Owl) along Keanakolu Road in either direction.
Along Old Saddle Road, we were very lucky to get our only Pueo (Short-eared Owl) for the day. Not surprisingly it was pretty quiet in the early afternoon.
To end the day, we had a late rally for about five species at Kealakehe WWTP. We were grateful to see the White-faced Ibises still there before they leave for their evening roost along the coast. Keahole Point was the perfect location to end the day and witness the sunset.