Oahu Part 5- Marathon Birding

The alarm went off at 3:30am the morning of Tomas’s marathon. The earliest of birds. I dropped him off near the start line, found a parking spot by the finish line and weighed my options in the dark. Waikiki parking and driving is too complicated to move the car. So I decided to stay and bird in Kapiolani Park, close to the beginning/end of the Honolulu Marathon.

This gave me over 7 hours to bird the 300 acre beachfront greenspace. As soon as the sun rose it was on!

Ready, set, go!

The first birds came to me first.

Clearly no one feeds these Red-crested Cardinals.

Clearly not.

Why feed the wildlife when they can feed themselves?

Spotted Dumpster Doves

Feral foragers

Some birds were foraging on more natural foods, many flocked to the large fruiting Indian Banyan trees in the park.

Including Yellow-fronted Canaries.

Common Myna.

And Party Parrots!

I’d been trying to catch up with this raucous bunch of Rose-ringed Parakeets for a while, and I finally had the chance to mingle with them.

From the Banyan trees, they flew to the Palm trees. These birds became established in the 70s after escaping captivity. They are tropical, loud, and colorful, but they are native to India and cause problems for Hawaiian crops and native birds.

It doesn’t get more tropical than that.

After playing peekaboo with the parakeets I noticed some other birds in the trees.

Japanese White-eye

Common Waxbill

Then they hopped to the ground. So I did too.

Common Waxbill

Yellow-fronted Canary

And there was no shortage of Pacific Golden-Plovers on the lawns.

It’s like looking in the mirror

Or as I’d call them: Pacific Golden-Worm-Killers! Dangly-dirt-eaters beware.

There was no escape.

Gotcha.

Then a fight broke out between the Common Mynas. It was brutal and I may have stepped in to break it up.

Just play nice guys.

In contrast, a pair of Zebra Doves were all about the love. They made me melt.

They cooed, cuddled, and alternated preening each other. I don’t think I’ve seen anything more romantic.

It was about this time Tomas was nearing the finish line, so I gave the doves some privacy and left to cheer him on.

Go, Tomas, go!

But my birding marathon wasn’t quite over yet. Near the finish line, large terns fluttered and flew overhead high up in the trees. Yes! — White Terns!

Once called Fairy Terns (a name I think I prefer), these birds are indigenous, established and thought to have arrived on the island unassisted by man. Of the Hawaiian Islands, they are only found on Oahu and this population is listed as “threatened.”

One of the most intriguing things about this species is they don’t make a nest, instead they lay a single egg directly on a ledge or tree branch. And some northwest birds lay their eggs on the ground. I was in awe of their clean white lines. So pretty!

And perfect timing. I met Tomas at the finish line just in time.

Congratulations, Tomas!

Mahalo,

Audrey

Lloyd Lunch Walk II

Bingo.

Red-tailed Hawk

That, my friends, is a red tail.

I found the nest! One advantage to working super early on the 10th floor, I’m up with the birds.

Stressing out the neighbors

Stressing out the neighbors

10th floor perspective

10th floor perspective

Incoming

Incoming

Red-tailed Hawk

Later in the day, I found a better vantage point of the nest. But no one was home. I’ll check back another day.

Nest

Earlier this same week there was Red-tailed drama in the sky.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Upon closer inspection on the second bird…

Flight

White breast, blackish barred undersides, dark mustache visible – that’s a Peregrine Falcon! In the Lloyd District!

Okay, then. Wow. I will have to keep an eye out for that one.

In cuter, fluffier news. I found a Bushtit nest!

Bushtit nest

Sadly, I did not have the camera poised when the birds were flying to-from the nest and I had to get back to work before they came back. Next time!

And finally, a Rock Pigeon, because this is a bird walk in the city after all.

Rock Pigeon

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Christmas Bird Count 2015

Last weekend I participated in the 115th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. What a treat! Originally I was hesitant because of my beginner skill level, but was assured all skill levels are welcome and I’m happy I participated.

I was shocked when I learned the history of the census. The holiday tradition started in response to what was called a “side hunt” where people went out and shot as many mammals and birds as they could find, and the “winner” was who killed the most. Heartbreaking (and infuriating…).

Bird populations declined, and the concept of conservation emerged. We can thank early Audubon ornithologist Frank Chapman for proposing a “Christmas Bird Census” to count rather than kill birds beginning on Christmas day 1900. More about this fascinating bit of history here. And here.

On January 3, 2015 our group of 12 volunteers spotted 71 different species in Area 1; the entire Columbian riparian area totaled 108 species.

image_preview

Image credits: http://audubonportland.org/local-birding/cbc

Portland’s 89th Christmas count is still being tallied (I’ll update), but per my insider information from Wink Gross, CBC compiler:

“The 89th Portland CBC was held today in chilly weather under overcast skies (i.e., “fog that you walk under”).    Over 230 field observers found 118 species, significantly below our 5-year running average of 124 and change.  The best bird was a PELAGIC CORMORANT, which is a new species for the Count and earned Adrian Hinkle the coveted “Eagle Eye Award”.  (Adrian also shared the award with his brother Christopher in 2009 for a Black-billed Magpie.)  Congratulations, Adrian!

Other good birds were, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, RED-NECKED GREBE, COMMON TEAL (aka “Eurasian Green-winged Teal”), GLAUCOUS GULL, and BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD.  There were no howling misses, but many of the species that “could go either way” went the wrong way.”

Wink mentions Adrian and Christopher Hinkle, who I met on the bird count. They are twins who are celebrities in the birder community. Their eye-sight, speed, attention to detail is incredible. According to an Oregonian article the boys have had an interest in birding since they were 5. They’re ~18 now and have evolved into birding savants.

Birding with experts blew my mind, and it was also exhilarating (to have the answers to the puzzles right next to you!). I saw way more birds than I would have on my own and I learned so much. To share the joy of birding with others who feel the same passion was refreshing and I look forward to joining more group birding experiences.

I didn’t take as many pictures as I normally would (busy counting birds!):

Sadly, I didn’t take a picture of the TWO GREAT HORNED OWLS we saw! A major highlight of my day. As a consolation, I have this video of a great blue heron ice-skating on a frozen pond:

Total new-to-me species I personally witnessed during the CBC:

Cackling Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Bald Eagle
American Kestrel
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bushtit
Brown Creeper
Bewick’s Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Fox Sparrow
Lincoln Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Anna’s Hummingbird
Red-winged Blackbird

 

So thankful to be a part of this awesome event. Here is an Audubon Magazine article with highlights: 7 Surprises from the Christmas Bird Count