Oahu Part 3 – Waimea Valley

December 23, 2016 3 By Audrey

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.