Oahu Part 8 – Final Chapter

On our last morning on Oahu, just hours before our plane was to take off, we dared to squeeze in one more hike. Tomas’s legs had healed enough to walk normally and I couldn’t resist another chance for seabirds.

Makapu`u Point Hike on the southeastern point of the island is rumored to have amazing sunrises and good odds of birds from nearby nesting sites. We’d bailed twice before due to large crowds and traffic from another commercial film shoot.

But this morning we arrived so early I thought we might have trouble getting in. It was two hours before the park officially opened and the parking lot is gated. I had read controversy about people parking on roadsides as well as car break-ins and possible police citations. There is (legit) high demand for early entry since often the sun rises well before 7am.

We noticed a police car parked up the road so we figured either the rental car would be well protected or we’d get ticketed. We got out and entered the park under the moonlight and no one approached us. Step 1. complete. Feeling like we got away with something we continued along the path. Not long after, more rebellious souls casually joined along the trail in the dark. Hiking is totally normal.

The views were beautiful and the sunrise lovely.

Even prettier was the view on the opposite side of the lookout.

That’s Moku Manu, or “Bird Islandacross the water. We looked down below and were graced with views of Red-footed and Brown Boobies flying along the water surface.

Friends

They flew in mesmerizing formations over the water, a truly beautiful show.

I wasn’t entirely thrilled with my photos; leave it to Tomas to take the best booby picture.

Yesss. A ranger had mentioned if you get to the point early and are patient enough you might pick out a Masked Booby, but we didn’t on this morning. We were lucky to see more Humpback Whales breaching in the distance though. A nice consolation.

Then droves of tourists approached on the trail, and (to my horror) blasted music on small crappy speakers. The magic was over. We were running out of time and I was coming to terms with the fact I wasn’t going to see every bird species on the island hard as I tried. Shocker.

I missed out on White-tailed TropicbirdsĀ and Shearwaters, and I even missed the mascot of Hawaii Audubon Society, the cute little forest dwelling ‘Elepaio.

Doesn’t count

I ended the trip with a total of 44 bird total species (+1 for the “Hawaiian Duck“). 9 migrants including 2 uncommon – Cackling Goose and White-faced Ibis, 6 indigenous species, 24 introduced species, and 5 endemics: Hawaiian Gallinule, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Stilt, and the ‘Apapane, and ‘Amakihi.

Minor unfinished business and a great excuse to return to paradise. This trip was so fun. I’ll never forget the first foggy steps off the plane, the Great Frigatebird at Kona Brewery, my first Pacific Golden-Plover

Watching flying crabs at sunset (A’ama or Lightfoot Crabs!)

That crazy-eyed Mongoose at Diamond Head

Cattle Egrets chasing lawn mowers for insects

The unreal scenery

And of course the albatross that completely stole my heart

I have much to be grateful for. It was all worth it and the Makapu’u Hike was no different. We made it back to the car and on our way without incident.

And we enjoyed the last birds along the way.

Red-vented Bulbul

Red-crested Cardinal (for once I was okay with a backlit bird)

Spotted Dove

It was still early, but much brighter and we soaked up the sun’s warmth enjoying our last views before making the long journey home. And I’m glad we savored those moments because as it turns out we flew home to a major snowstorm in Portland…but more about that later.

Cheers to many more tropical adventures! And thanks for reading.

Mahalo,

Audrey

Oahu Part 3 – Waimea Valley

I had an endemic reason to visit Waimea Valley. A “species and subspecies that evolved in Hawaii and are found nowhere else in the world.” The prize lay conveniently just beyond the ticket booth.

The Hawaiian Gallinule (also called Hawaiian Moorhen, Common Hawaiian Gallinule, Common Hawaiian Moorhen) is a subspecies of the Common Gallinule. A rail of many names, the best I’ve seen is the Hawaiian `Alae `ula which means “burnt forehead.”

I tried but couldn’t get a peek of any burnt foreheads in the pond without paying the $16/each entrance fee. Determined to see my first endemic subspecies, I ponied up and in we went.

Achievement unlocked! Endemic birds!

That is a big foot. We watched them preen, bathe, and walk along the lily pads while they clucked and cackled. Worth every penny and more. And we’d only stepped five feet into the park. We figured we might as well continue along the paved trail toward the waterfall. Bonus birds along the way:

Red-Crested Bulbul

Red-vented Bulbul

Common Waxbill

White-rumped Shama (!)

Scaly-breasted Munia

Zebra Dove

Northern Cardinal (female)

I saw one Common Waxbill that I thought either had strange parasites on its bill or some bad-ass piercings.

After a bit of research, I learned this is the normal fleshy gape of the juvenile Common Waxbill. Most young birds have gape flange, and this is one of the odder-looking examples. I was relieved to know it’s normal and not a sick bird.

Then, about halfway through the hike something flew down in front of me on the path and I froze.

It looked at me. I looked back. It was Pacific Golden-Plover love at first sight. Not caring about anything else, I plopped down on the ground and watched.

The Pacific Golden-Plover runs in short bursts, run, run, run, stop. Run, run, run, stop. Look for a worm.

Run, run, run, stop. Ignore White-rumped Shama.

Run, run, run, stop. Find and attack worm.

Run, run, run, stop. Repeat. They breed in arctic tundras of Alaska and Siberia and regularly winter in the Hawaiian Islands. This was one of those priceless birding moments and a lovely first encounter.

The waterfall was nice, though packed with tourists, and not as beautiful as the Indian Peafowl’s feathers.

I’m a spoiled Oregonian when it comes to waterfalls.

Before returning to Honolulu, we made a quick stop at Waimea Bay Beach Park where I noticed a pretty little yellow bird in a not so pretty place. Native to South America and introduced to Hawaii in the 1960s, here was a Saffron Finch introduced to his reflection in the parking lot.

Here’s one in a more natural setting.

Tomas and I stuck our toes in the sand and called it a day.

It was a birdy good day indeed.

Mahalo,

Audrey