Fall Hawaii Oct 11—20, 2017
Posted by Brennan Mulrooney
Our Fall Hawaii tour visited three of the four main Hawaiian islands. We spent time exploring Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii, in that order. Each island had its own distinct character, and each island offered unique birds for us to pursue. In addition to the wonderful birds of the islands, we were treated to an unending succession of amazing views and scenes: stark lava cliffs meeting tumultuous seas, forest-clad mountains rising up into the clouds, waterfalls cascading into incredible canyons, and so many astounding rainbows.
On Oahu we made the most of our brief stay. We found the beautiful and bizarre White Tern in the park across the street from our hotel prior to breakfast. As the day warmed we headed up to the forested slopes above Honolulu in search of endemic songbirds. We were successful finding both of the Oahu endemics, the Oahu Amakihi and the Oahu Elepaio. After lunch we worked our way around to the North Shore where we walked the edges of a golf course and a National Wildlife Refuge, and found several Bristle-thighed Curlews foraging in the grass and snoozing in the shade. It was agreed that this was a much easier endeavor than trekking across the Alaskan tundra to see this species.
On Kauai, the Garden Isle, we had amazing views of White-tailed and Red-tailed Tropicbirds at Kilauea Point, where we also enjoyed watching as Great Frigatebirds harassed Red-footed Boobies returning to their nest colony. Nene (Hawaiian Geese) were at arm’s reach here, as were Wedge-tailed Shearwater chicks sitting at the entrances to their nest burrows. Our second day on the island saw us heading up to the upper elevations where we birded the native forests at Kokee State Park. The native songbirds are just barely holding on up there on the Alakai Plateau, and it took some effort to see them, but we eventually found Kauai Elepaio, Kauai Amakihi, and Anianiau on a forest trail near the end of the park road. Signs of feral pigs and the damage they cause were easily seen here, but the birds are still hanging on, for now.
Read Brennan’s full report in his Field Report.