ARTICLES ON HAWAIIAN AND PACIFIC BIRDS, BIRDWATCHING AND WILDLIFE
A Big Day Bird Count on O'ahu, November 2004
by Kurt Pohlman
Hawaii (Oahu) 20 Nov. 04 - 0230 to 1830 - Species total 57:
( Team ): Kurt Pohlman 57.
237 miles by car, 4 miles by foot.
Visiting: Kapiolani Park, Honouliuli N.W.R., Makakilo, Aiea Trail, Honolulu Memorial Cementry, Kuliouou Trail,
Makapuu Beach Park, Nuupia Ponds, James Campbell N.W.R.
Species of note: Ibis sp.(R/S), Greater white-fronted Goose (R/S),Canada Goose (cackling )(S),
I (Kurt Pohlman) decided to do a Big Day to see if I could break my record, and since it was during the winter time I went on the same route as most of my other Big Days. The morning got started off when I set my alarm clock wrong and awoke two hours early but since I was up... The first stop is to go down to Kapiolani Park and try to spot light a Yellow-fronted Canary in the Ironwood Trees. After finding three yellow fluf balls roosting, it was off to Kalakaua Ave. to find a roosting White Tern. It took about five minutes before I found one. In fact two, as an adult was on a low hanging branch with its chick! The chick was about the size of my fist, amazing since this very noisy and active road cuts through Waikiki. But at least they are safe from cats. Off to Honouliuli N.W.R.,and after going through the gate I had the first of many Pacific-golden Plover. Parked my car and waited for dawn. Had Black-crowned Night-Heron, Black-necked Stilt,and Hawaiian Coot calling. When dawn came the ponds were very active. I found a juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, and two Long-billed Dowitchers in quick order. A female Lesser Scaup was working the shallows for fish as two Blue-winged Teal and a Northern Pintail were out in deeper water. Two Drake and a female Ring-necked Duck were in an adjoining pond. As I watched a Wandering Tattler rapidly work a mud flat a large wader came into view. It was an Ibis! A great bird for a Big Day. It flew to about fifty feet away and I got some great views. It was an Immature bird and not showing any field marks that would confirm it as White-faced, although all the Ibis (10) that showed up on Kauai last year turned out to be. There was a fly by of a group of Cattle Egrets, and behind me in the Kiawe Scrub I had the usual birds Zebra Dove, Spotted Dove, Red-vented Bulbul, Red-crested and Northern Cardinal,Common Waxbill and Common Myna. Heard only were three or four Grey Francolins. On the way out along a dirt road was Japanese White-eye, Java Sparrow, House Finch and two Saffron Finch. The Saffron Finch was lucky as now I can save twenty minutes and skip a spot that has a staked Saffron Finch.
First-year presumed White-faced Ibis at Honouliuli NWR, O'ahu September 2004. One of the scarcer species seen by Kurt during his Big Count day.
Photograph © by Peter Donaldson
Its now 0745 and I am in some wild grass fields of Makakilo. A few minutes of walking and I can hear the Melodious calling of Skylark high above me and later good looks at one too. Nutmeg and Chestnut Mannikin are feeding on the grass seedheads. And at a dripping water tank a stunning male Red Avadavat flew in to drink. Higher up the slope I can here Grey Francolin and Erckel's Francolin with its manical laughter calling. Back down the road through a sub-division I picked up House Sparrow, a species I dont want to have to search for later. Now down the Highway to Aiea Trail. I arive at the trailhead at 0930, Shama Thrush is calling with its beautiful song. Further up the trail a flock of Red-billed Leiothrix scold me. Not long after that I come across three Red-wiskered Bulbul. Since the Swamp Mahogany trees are in Bloom I have a good chance of seeing Apapane. And sure enough their flute like calls come from the tree tops. Amakihi the only Oahu endemic I am likly to see calls from the same area. With that I start to run down the Trail to save time, still listening for Elepaio but it looks like I will have to make a special stop for it. I made good time and am leaving for Honolulu Memorial Cementry after only an hour. Arriving at the cementry I hear some squawking and so I get out of my car and a small noisy flock of six Rose-ringed Parakeet fly by. Lucky as some Big Days I have missed this species.
Cackling Goose with Koloa on O'ahu, 5th December 2004. Another of the scarcer species seen by Kurt during his Big Count day.
Photograph © Peter Donaldson
Since I missed an Elepaio at Aiea I am at Kuliouou trail head hiking up the valley. I only go as far as necessary to hear one. Some days it takes me until I am at the back of the valley to hear it. Not today as I only hike a mile when I hear Ono ka i a . And so I turn around and start running down the trail to save time. I arrive at my car at 1220 and ahead of schedule. A check at the Blow Hole to scan for seabirds nets nothing and so I head to Makapuu a bit worried. Arriving at Makapuu and scanning Manana Island I find Wedge-tailed Shearwater and Red-footed Booby. A Greater Frigatebird is hanging out at Sealife Park. And I count a Rock Pigeon, at least this one is not all white like the Pigeons at Kapiolani Park. But I was unable to find a Brown Booby and even though I checked one last spot for it I came up empty.
Over to Kaneohe Marine Base and Nuupia Ponds I had six Black Noddy flying around the shallows looking for small fish. Also a Hawaiian Moorhen in the reeds. And on to my last stop, James Campbell N.W.R. out in Kahuku on the north shore. Once arriving there I had a Bristle-thighed Curlew in the grass. A male Ring-necked Pheasant called in the distance. The staked out Canada Goose (cackling) and immature Greater White-fronted Goose were feeding together on a grass berm separating two ponds. In the back ponds I was hoping to find the ducks that I had missed at Honouliuli. And the ponds didn't disappoint as Northern Shoveler and Green-winged Teal were feeding in a muddy area. And some nice drake American and Eurasian Wigeon were to finish my count. I stayed until dark trying to find a Short-eared Owl but my luck had run out.
Looking back I could have tried harder for a Brown Booby and next time get a staked out Mockingbird. And also there is Kaena point that has nesting Laysan Albatross. But I beat my personal best Big Day and there is always another time.
Kurt Pohlman, O'ahu, Hawai'i, December 2004
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