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 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

Oahu Part 2 – Dole Whip

Our second day on Oahu started with Pancakes and Waffles and a side of parking lot birds- Common Mynas and Japanese White-eye!

I was excited to see this new bird, but unfortunately this cute, charismatic songbird introduced to Hawaii in the late 1920s for bug control turned out to be a problem for native birds. This seemed to be a common theme on my readings about Hawaii birds. “Problem for native birds.”

Because the morning was still overcast and rainy, we decided to check out Wahiawa Botanical Gardens. Most of the botanical gardens on the island are free or very low admission. This one was a neat jungle in the city.

With some neat resident birds, including both types of the Island’s now established Bulbuls (introduced as a result of an unauthorized cage-release in the 50’s and 60s). They are gregarious, noisy, and fun to watch.

Red-vented Bulbul

Red-whiskered Bulbul

And we saw a pretty Spotted Dove.

Then I heard it. The song I’d hoped to hear but didn’t expect to, and certainly not in a city park. “Usually well hidden in dense vegetation,” the White-Rumped Shama! Out in the open! A thrush with a rich song, a long tail, and yep, a white rump.

I couldn’t believe this was a day 2 bird. I could relax a little. And enjoy watching the shama hop to the grass and hunt for food before moving on to our next destination. The Dole Pineapple Plantation. There are few touristy places I will put up with, and this is one of them.

Beyond the selfie-sticks and giant plastic pineapples lives the Dole Whip (whhhhhip). I am a sucker for pineapple flavored soft-serve. While enjoying our non-dairy desserts we watched lizards do battle.

Green Anoles peek their heads out.

And we chased Gold-dust Day Geckos around the landscaped plants.

Did someone say adorable?

Interestingly, Hawaii is one of the few places in the world with no native land reptiles or amphibians. All the herps were introduced intentionally or accidentally. As were most of the bird species we saw on the plantation:

Japanese White-eye

Red-vented Bulbul

Zebra Dove

We also came across an ambitious Black-crowned Night Heron at the Koi feeding pond. Dang.

Those fish were huge and the bank was steep. Set up intentionally, I think, to keep birds like this one from eating the kiddo’s entertainment. So close, yet so far away.

The day was still young, so we headed to Waimea Valley next.

Where I meet a lovely new shorebird.

Mahalo,

Audrey