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BIRDING TRIP REPORT:

HAWAII: Oahu, Kauai & Big Island,

JULY/AUGUST 2006

By Stephen Burch, England

Introduction
This is a report on a three week family holiday to Hawaii. As our children are close to fledging, we decided on this grand holiday which might be the last altogether. As such, this was by no means a 100% birding trip, and I was further hampered by a knee problem, which ruled out any 'proper' walking. Fortunately, Hawaii has several good birding locations easily accessible by car, though the scarcer endemics were more of a problem.

Hawaii is in many ways an unusual destination for the birder. As you quickly learn, all the 'normal' birds seen in lowland areas are introduced. The endemics are confined to mountain areas above about 4000ft, where disease carrying mosquitoes have not penetrated. There is however good seabird watching on both Oahu and Kauai, which I was more successful with than the endemics.

My priorities were principally the seabirds and endemics, but I have ended up adding the introduced birds to my life list as well (although I didn't positively search for any of them, honest!). After all, we in Britain happily tick Little Owl, Pheasant, Ring-necked Parakeet etc! I was also keen to try out my new DSLR, and I also took all the digiscoping gear as well. I ended up hardly doing any digiscoping - the photo opportunities were much better suited to the DSLR.

General
This was a holiday we assembled ourselves, staying in a variety of hotels and houses, all booked direct. We did however use a travel agent (North American Travel) for the flights, as they were cost effective and able to book the international flights out to Honolulu back from Kona on Big Island.

Flights
The international flights were with United, via San Francisco, where we had profitable one night stop-overs both ways. The flight to San Francisco is about 11hrs, with Hawaii a further 5hrs. As a carrier, United seemed about average, not particularly good or bad. Food pretty mediocre on the long flights to/from San Francisco, and absent, unless paid for, on the Hawaii flights.

The very short inter-island flights were with Aloha - seemed OK, and got free soft drinks even on the 30 min flight to/from Kauai!

Car Hire
We used Alamo from the airport on all three islands, as they were reasonably cheap (worth not booking over the Internet, but negotiating by phone instead, if you can find a cheaper price, they tend to match it).

Importantly, Alamo do allow their cars to be driven over the Saddle Road on Big Island, where we also upgraded to an SUV (we got a 50% discount on the quoted upgrade fee because we had flown with Aloha). The SUV was useful for the road up to the Palila site - not recommended in an ordinary car.

Maps
We made do with the standard Rand McNally map of all the islands together. There are more detailed maps of the key tourist areas to each island available free at the airports and from the car hire offices (important as they tell you where to return the car to!).

Birding Field Guides & Site Guides
'THE' field guide is "A field guide to The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific", by H Pratt et al., although many pages are not relevant for Hawaii.

The best site guide is also by Pratt - "Enjoying Birds and other wildlife in Hawaii". I also had "The Birdwatchers Guide to Hawaii" by Rick Soehren. Not as detailed generally, though quite good for Big Island.

Weather
The weather was a bit mixed, and certainly not as good as we had expected. Generally I thought rain, especially in summer, was less frequent and confined to the windward sides of the islands. Not so when we were there! We had a fair bit of rain both on the leeward side of Kauai (especially on the boat trip day - more of which later!), and also on Big Island, where there was at least some rain almost every day, even in Kona.

Temperatures were pretty warm, though - usually about c. 30 C when sunny. The sea was always nice and warm - just a bit warmer than around the UK!

Sites
As this trip featured quite a lot of non birding days, it seems best to concentrate on site information, rather than give a detailed daily itinerary.

1. Oahu

Kapiolani Park/Kaimana Hotel
This park, on the edge of Waikiki, is famous for its White (formerly called Fairy) Terns, and it did not disappoint! Our hotel, the Kaimana Beach was very convenient for this site, and our Diamond Head rooms overlooked the park. This provided me with a White Tern within about 10 mins of arrival! Generally, the birds were more active early morning, although they could be seen throughout the day, on and off. The best area seemed to be directly opposite the hotel, rather than in the trees by the fountain mentioned by Pratt.

White Tern from Kaimana Hotel room balcony (the only digiscope pic shown in this report!)
White Tern

More White Terns in Kapiolani Park (click top left and bottom left to enlarge)

White Tern

Around the hotel and in the park, were several introduced species, including Red-billed Cardinal, Common Waxbill, and a roost of Java Sparrows in the trees opposite the hotel.

Common Waxbill

Red-crested Cardinal

Also of note over the park, seen from our hotel room in poor, windy weather was a Giant Frigatebird. I saw no seabirds out in the bay during our stay, apart from the odd White Tern.

Arizona Memorial/Pearl Harbour
I bet this site doesn't feature in many birder trip reports, but this was a family holiday, and we had to visit here. There was a birding bonus as well, in the form of a Wandering Tattler, seen from the Arizona Memorial - it flew in and landed on one of the nearby preserved battleship moorings, and afforded distant views before flying off. Just shows the value of taking bins everywhere! Also around the harbour, and well seen from the USS Missouri were more White Terns - at least 5-6.

Koko Head Regional Park
We stopped more than once at the parking area for the Halona Blowhole, including once in the evening near dusk, and saw no seabirds offshore, despite what the Pratt book says. However, there were some obliging Red-tailed Tropicbirds in the general area, coming very close to the road between the blowhole and 'scenic point' car parks, just inviting themselves to be photo-ed:

Red-tailed Tropicbird
Red-tailed Tropicbird
Red-tailed Tropicbirds (click top-left and bottom right to enlarge)

Makapuu and Manana Island
This site was within reasonably easy reach of Waikiki, and I visited it three times. The best place to stop seemed to be the beach park, opposite the Sea Life Centre, where there was a separate small parking area up a rough track to the left of the main car park. This gave a reasonable viewpoint, but be warned the islands are distant, and most birds are a long way off, even with a good 'scope.

On the first occasion, during mid morning, there was a strong onshore wind and a brief squall of rain. Several Red-footed Boobies were flying close into shore. In the distance over the islands, it was just possible to identify Sooty Terns (plenty, but not the thousands mentioned by Pratt) and some Brown Noddies. A subsequent evening visit in poor weather turned up large numbers of very distant Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. There may also have been some Brown Boobies at this site.

James Campbell NWR
This famous nature reserve was closed for the Stilt nesting season during our visit. The Pratt book mentions a nearby Golf Course which provides distant views. There did appear to be an adjacent golf course, but it did not seem to welcome visitors, with the access road saying "no un-authorised vehicles", and nothing about golf. So, I managed with roadside views. These produced a close pair of Black-necked (Hawaiian?) Stilts, Hawaiian Coots, Common Moorhen and Black-Crowned Night Heron. I tried 'scoping the dunes, in the extreme distance, for Bristle-thighed Curlew, and had some waders of roughly the right size in flight, but could not possibly tick them unless they had been much closer.

Hawaiian Coot

Hawaiian Coot (click top left to enlarge)

Black-necked (Hawaiian?) Stilt

Black-crowned Night Heron

Tantulus Drive
To locate this site for Oahu Amakihi (now a separate species?), I carefully followed Pratt's instructions from downtown Waikiki, which worked out OK. This is a winding road which leads up into the hills immediately behind Waikiki. There were notices at the start indicating that the road was closed at some point, presumably preventing the motorist from taking the full circular drive including RoundTop drive.

As instructed by Pratt, I started at the Tantulus end, and drove up to the 3rd left hand side pull out, which can be recognised because it has a reasonable view (Punchbowl lookout). I spent some time here being eaten by mosquitoes (I had forgotten the repellent, as it wasn't needed in Waikiki!), and seeing nothing but introduced species, including the ever present (infuriatingly at times) Japanese White Eye. So, I gave up, and drove further up without seeing anything notable. I then returned the same way, and gave the lookout another go. Almost immediately, I had an Oahu Amakihi in a tree almost dead centre in the lookout. It was feeding on down-turned flowers which were hardly noticeable. It soon moved on, so I reckon I was quite lucky.

2. Kauai

Kauai provided a nice contrast to the crowded Oahu, but even here there was plenty of traffic, and it could hardly be called quiet. Some of the areas were very scenic. No Mongoose means plenty of Red Jungle Fowl (i.e. chickens) all over the place, including in close to proximity to our house. They started making their presence known around 4am!

Poipu
This was where our privately rented house was, with a sea view, just. In fact, on the windy day of our arrival, I was able to 'scope both Red-footed Booby and Wedge-tailed Shearwater from the sofa! I also tried to get to the nearby Makahuena Point, but there did not seem to be any legitimate access. The vacant lot referred to by Pratt had "Trespassers will be Prosecuted" signs all over it. However, by walking a little way towards the point from the Poipu Beach side, it was possible to get closer to the masses of seabirds which appeared late afternoon on windy days. But I couldn't find anything different from R-F Booby and W-T Shearwater.

The Poipu Beach Park opposite the house had quite reasonable snorkelling, and also in the evenings, a large Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle hauled itself out onto the beach to sleep.

Opaekaa Falls/Wailua River Valley
The Wailua Flats area, mentioned by Pratt, appeared very overgrown and had no birds. However, the scenic Opaekaa Falls had the White-tailed Tropicbirds immediately on arrival (near mid day), but disappeared later in the day. I had time for some photography, but with the family present, time was limited!

White-tailed Tropicbirds

Further up the valley, the Wailua Reservoir had a few Coot, and plenty of (introduced) White rumped Sharma by the road.

Kilauea Point NWR
We visited this famous seabird reserve late morning, and it gave good opportunities for flight shots of a few species - Great Frigatebird, Red-footed Booby and both Tropicbirds. Also some very tame (introduced) Nene round the car park. No sign of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters at this time of day. Apparently they come in at dusk, when the reserve is closed. The last remaining Laysan Albatrosses had departed some 10 days earlier, but this was not unexpected.

Red-footed Booby

Red-footed Booby (adult - left ; juv - right - click to enlarge)

Great Frigatebird

Great Frigatebirds (click right to enlarge)

Red-tailed Tropicbird

Great Frigatebird chasing juv Booby!

Red-tailed Tropicbird (click to enlarge)

Hanalei NWR
A brief stop at the overlook by the main road was sufficient for the main objective - somewhat distant, but acceptable 'scope views of Hawaiian Duck (Koloa) in the flooded fields below. Also there were Black-necked Stilt, and Moorhen.

Boat Trip to Niihau & Lehua Islet
We signed up in advance, while still in the UK, for the Tuesday 7hr boat trip to Niihau/Lehua, run by Blue Dolphin Charters. The advance Internet prices were considerably discounted, but still very expensive for four, and required a phone call to "open-up" the Internet bookings. Check-in for this memorable trip was at a challenging 06:15. It was a standard tourist cruise which gives about 1hr snorkelling in the very clear waters near Lehua, and a run along the Na Pali coast.

Unfortunately, the weather was quite atrocious for large parts of this lengthy trip - I have never been wetter! On the way out, the weather was reputed to be better at Niihau, so we went straight there, and only had sufficient rain to move us off the upper, unprotected desk, to a lower side view. Birds on the outward leg included the usual R F Boobies, W T Shearwaters, but also one or two smaller all dark Shearwaters which must have been Christmas Shearwaters.

As we approached Niihau, it even brightened up, allowing a few pics of the passing seabirds, which included good views of a few Brown Booby.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater

Brown Booby

Fortunately, there was even some sun for the snorkelling at Lehua - the waters were very clear, but the fish somewhat distant due to their depth. My wife saw a ray species, but not I. After about an hour of this (we later learned that a shark had been watching all the swimmers from under the boat!), it was time to head for the Na Pali coast.

No sooner had we set off, than the rain started. Initially reasonably light, it rapidly turned torrential, and stayed that way for the remaining c. 3-4 hours of the trip! Perhaps because of this, in the channel between Kauai and Niihau, the birds were better than the way out, with 1-2 presumed Band Rumped Storm Petrels and a Bulwer's Petrel. Both seen reasonably, before my bins became too saturated for use!

The Na Pali coast was very atmospheric in the downpour, being very "Jurrasic Park" with mist/cloud shrouding the upper parts. Lots of waterfalls too, and several Black Noddy when we made a closer approach to land. We also saw a single Turtle and quite a large group of Spinner Dolphins. On the return to 'base', it was very rough, and some of the other passengers were distinctly unwell. There was a Monk Seal briefy to keep our spirits up. Quite an epic!

Waimea Canyon/Kokee State Park
Our visit here was a disappointing day. Despite brilliant weather (what a contrast to the boat trip the day before), I did not see any of the endemics I had hoped for, and I was considerably frustrated by my lack of mobility. We managed a reasonably early start, but it was still after 10:00 before we reached the end of the road in Kokee - at Kalalau Valley Lookout. The road to the Puuo Kila Lookout is now closed to traffic, which means an extra 1 mile each way for anyone attempting to reach the Alakai Swamp by this route (the alternative requires a 4WD).

I was however confined to the parking areas, but according to Pratt these could well contain endemics. At the Kalalau Valley Lookout, there was building work in the vicinity of the trees by the restrooms. Whether due to this disturbance or not, there was no sign of any endemics. Only the inevitable introduced Japanese White Eye, and also brief but good views of an (introduced) Hwamei (a Laughing Thrush) almost immediately on arrival. There was some compensation in the form of a few very large dark dragonflies with a brilliant blue region at the base of the tail. I believe these were Giant Hawaiian Darners - apparently native, and the largest dragonfly in the USA!

The Waimea canyon lookouts were also very scenic, but there were building works in the upper one, and not a sign of any endemics. Plenty of tourists, though. I also drove some way down the dirt road opposite the Kokee Lodge (to Camp Sloggett), as I had read an Internet report of both Apapane and Iiwi here. Not that day, though!

Of some note were plenty of tickable Red Jungle Fowl (have been in Hawaii since the Polynesians arrived!), and even some (introduced) Nene in the Waimea parking lots.

In comparison with Big Island (see later), the endemics seemed very scarce here. I would recommend hiring a 4WD to get within easy reach of the Alakai Swamp trail, and staying overnight in one of the cabins, or making a very early start to arrive before all the visitors.

3. Big Island

This is by far the largest island, and again was very different from the other two. We spent 2 nights in the Volcano NP area, one in Hilo and 4 on the Kona coast. Weather was very mixed, with rain all day in Hilo, and plenty in the supposedly drier Kona region, as well as at Volcano.

Volcano NP
This was the only area where endemics were expected in the immediate vicinity of our accommodation.

Volcano House Hotel
We stayed at the Volcano House Hotel. This was good for one endemic - plenty of Apapane - you couldn't miss them, even in the rain! They were high in the trees (look for the red flowering Ohia) between the main hotel block and our wing (appropriately named Ohia). Also, the viewing area immediately behind the main restaurant gave views down on the canopy, with good photography potential. The birds were most active here early in the morning, when it rained heavily (both times). Not the best photographic conditions.

Some rather damp Apapane and Ohia trees (as was the photographer!)

Also, I think I heard Omao singing here, but I found these birds totally invisible, and never caught even a glimpse of one. Another notable sighting from this spectacular viewing area was two small parties of Nene, flying over, towards the crater, at dusk. Oh, and the crater itself was well worth seeing as well!

Kipuka Ki
This group of trees is the second one reached up the Mauana Loa road. The best area seemed to be about midway though the Kipuka, near a bend in the road, where it was bit more open. Here I had loads of Apapane on the flowering Ohia trees, and 2-3 Hawaii Elapaio lower down. Also, there was almost certainly the song of the ever invisible Omao.

Volcano Golf Course
We visited this 'site' in the late afternoon, and as advertised, there was an obliging pair of 'real?' Nene present. These were distinctly more wary than the birds on Kauai, but with very obvious rings!

Elepaio Nene

Elepaio

Nene in the sun! (click to enlarge)

Thurston Lava Tube
According to Pratt, the balcony-like lookout at the entrance is the best place to see Omao, but I visited here at least three times and failed every time, though on the first visit I met an American birder who had seen one on the path some 30 secs before I arrived! My other two visits were around 7am, and hampered by heavy rain and also, once, a park employee with a very loud leaf blower! I could hear some intermittent song, but never saw the originator. The trail opposite also has them, but
viewing is less good (the American birder apparently had excellent views by 'pishing'). In fact the only bird of note I saw here was the introduced Kalij Pheasant, which I saw by the roadside early morning, but not later.

Chain of Craters Road
We drove down here towards dusk, and were surprised to find vast numbers of people, all presumably planning to walk out to the lava viewpoints beyond the road end. Although parking was impossible anywhere near Holei Sea Arch, I did see some Black Noddies flying around. We drove back up to a viewpoint which looks out distantly over the lava sea outfall, and waited for dusk. The 400 mm lens was useful for capturing this view.

Saddle Road
This road is the location for endemics on Big Island, and with our Alamo hire car, no restrictions on driving it. The road was a bit rough and narrow in places, but traffic was light so no real problems. We left the disappointing Wild Ginger Inn (see accommodation notes below) in Hilo as early as an 08:00 breakfast and a family of 4 allow.

Kipuka 21
It didn't take more than c. 40 mins from Hilo to get to the main objective - Kipuka 21, which is a stand of native trees readily accessible from the road. It was at the 21.2 mile point (from Hilo), on the right side of the road, just as the power line crosses the road. Some parking beside the road. After yesterday's solid rain, today was better but even so there was some rain and cloud up here at c. 6,000ft.

The best spot seemed to be towards the lower, Hilo end, where a path led down into the trees. In this 'corner', before descending into the trees, there were a few flowering Ohia, which attracted several Apapane. I also caught a glimpse of a Hawaii Amakihi, and there was more song from the ever invisible Omao. Suddenly, however, a real gem appeared, in the form of a pair of IIWI, which flashed across in front of me. Only brief flight views, but the male was brilliant red, with black tail and wing tips - unmistakeable & completely different from the Apapane. Iiwi was one species I was really hoping for, and for once I got lucky! Nothing other than this brief flight view though, and after an hour or so, I had to leave.

Puu Laau
This is the site for Palila, and is at the 43.3 mile mark from Hilo. It is reached up a 4 mile rough, un-surfaced track off the Saddle Road, which appears to have eroded considerably recently. It was OK in our SUV, but would have been quite problematic in an ordinary vehicle. On the way up, there was party of introduced Californian Quail, and some Skylark(!). By the time we reached the hunters cabin it was around mid-day - not the best time for birding. Sure enough there was no sign of Palila, but this was a pleasant spot, and had numerous Hawaii Amakihi, and a couple of Hawaii Elapaio
(different race from at Volcano).

Hawaii Amakihi

Hawaii Amakihi (click to enlarge)

Kona
We stayed in a splendid, privately rented house which was right on the shore close to Kealakekua Bay. This is a marine reserve, and snorkelling off the rocks by the house was the best of the holiday. We saw several Spinner Dolphin, but no Manta Ray, which can sometimes be seen from the house at night.

On the first evening, I had two Wandering Tattler which flew in to some rocks within good 'scope range. Also of note were distant White-tailed Tropicbirds over the bay itself. Maybe they breed on the cliffs near to the Captain Cook memorial? The house was a great, relaxing end to our stay, and gave good sunsets over the ocean (although it was usually cloudy overhead, it was clearer out to sea). Introduced birds included Yellow-billed Cardinal and the common Palm Dove.

Palm Dove Common Myna (indeed common...)

In the general Kona area, I had another Wandering Tattler, again at dusk, from a restaurant by the sea in the Ali Drive area. The nearby Honaunau Bay and Historical Park was notable for good views of several Green Sea Turtle. We even managed to snorkel with Spinner Dolphins (and the odd turtle) in the Bay!

The Historical Park had a very approachable Black-crowned Night Heron and (introduced) Saffron Finches. On the lava, on the seaward side of the park, there was a single Ruddy Turnstone. Pratt says this is a good wader roost site, in winter.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron (click to enlarge)

Sunset from house

4. San Francisco
We opted to break our journey in San Francisco, as we couldn't face 16+ hours of flight, plus associated airport waiting time, without a break. The airport Clarion hotel had, to my surprise, good birds in it's 'back-garden' between the hotel and pool. On the first evening, I got two lifers here - Brown Towhee and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. Also an un-identified small hummer sp.

On the return, we had a morning in San Francisco, where I spent some time on Fisherman's Wharf with the camera. The end of Pier 39 proved to be a good location for overflying Brown Pelicans (directly overhead), and the gulls were by a quieter car park nearby.

Heerman's Gull

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican (click to enlarge)

Western Gull

Systematic List
A relatively modest list of 50 species for a three week stay:

Bulwer's Petrel 1 in the Kaulakahi Channel (Niihau Boat Trip) on 1 Aug
Wedge-tailed Shearwater Plenty seen on Oahu from Makapuu Beach Park in evening 28 July. Many also on Kauai - Poipu bay in late afternoon and from the Niihau Boat Trip on 1 Aug
Christmas Shearwater c. 3 on the Niihau Boat Trip between Niihau & Kauai outward bound (Kaulakahi Channel) on 1 Aug
White-rumped (Madeiran) Storm-petrel c. 2-3 on the Niihau Boat Trip between Niihau & Kauai Na Pali coast (Kaulakahi Channel) on 1 Aug (return).
Red-tailed Tropicbird Several at Koko Head on Oahu (26 July), 1 distantly from Kualoa Regional Park (Oahu). Plenty at Kilauea Point (Kauai) on 2 Aug.
White-tailed Tropicbird Several seen on arrival mid-day at Opaekaa Falls, Wailua River Valley (Kauai) on 31 Jul. A few on the Niihau boat trip. Also several at Kilauea Point (Kauai) on 2 Aug. On Big Island a few seen distantly over Kealakekua Bay from rented house - do they breed on the cliffs there?
Brown Booby On Oahu possibly seen in extreme distance from Makapuu Beach Park. Much closer views on Kauai, during Niihau Boat Trip.
Red-footed Booby On Oahu seen from Makapuu Beach Park, close-in on 26 Jul in windy conditions. Thereafter much more distantly. Also some associating with adjacent Sea Life Centre. On Kauai, seen in Poipu Bay, and Niihau Boat Trip & Kilauea Point.
Great Frigatebird A lone individual first seen over Kapiolani Park, Waikiki in windy conditions on 28 Jul. Thereafter a single seen on Kauai at Poipu Bay, several over Kilauea Point, and many over Lehua rock on the Niihau Boat Trip.
Cattle Egret Seen at various locations on Oahu & Kauai. Don't recall it from Big Island.
Black-crowned Night Heron Approachable birds seen at James Campbell NWR, Oahu on 26 Jul, and at the City of Refuge, Honaunau, Big Island, 9 Aug. Also various other locations on Oahu (e.g. Waikiki)
Hawaiian Goose Supposedly wild (but ringed) pair on Volcano Golf Course, Big Island, late afternoon 4 Aug. Also, two parties of 2-3 flying over Volcano House towards the crater at dusk on the same day. Introduced birds on Kauai seen at Kilauea Point, Waimea Canyon look-outs and over Alakoko Pond.
Hawaiian Duck Tickable birds seen only at Hanalei NWR, Kauai on 2 Aug.
California Quail A family party seen on way up to Pu'u La'au, Saddle Road, Big Island, 7 Aug.
Red Junglefowl Very abundant on Kauai, from airport onwards.
Kalij Pheasant A few seen early in the morning by the road in the Thurston Lava Tube area, Volcanoes NP, Big Island, 5 & 6 Aug.
Common Moorhen First seen at James Campbell NWR, Oahu on 26 Jul. Also on Kauai at Hanalei NWR, Kauai on 2 Aug.
Hawaiian Coot First seen at James Campbell NWR, Oahu on 26 Jul. Also up to c. 5 on Kauai on Wailua Reservoir.
Black-necked Stilt A pair close to the road at James Campbell NWR, Oahu on 26 Jul. Thereafter, on Oahu by road between Koko Head & Makapuu. Also on Kauai at Hanalei NWR, Kauai on 2 Aug.
Wandering Tattler A single seen from the Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbour, Oahu on 25 Jul. On Big Island, 2 seen from house on Kona coast near Kealakekua Bay at dusk, and 1 from sea-side restaurant on Ali Drive, also at dusk.
Ruddy Turnstone Just 1 seen on lava flats on seaward side of City of Refuge, Honaunau, Big Island, 9 Aug.
Sooty Tern Several in extreme distance from Makapuu Beach Park, Oahu on 26 July.
Black Noddy c. 10 seen in atrocious weather off Na Pali Coast on Niihau Boat Trip (1 Aug). Also 1-2 on Big Island, in vicinity of Holei Sea Arch (Chain of Craters Road), late afternoon.
Brown Noddy Several in extreme distance from Makapuu Beach Park, Oahu on 26 July.
White Tern Several in Kapiolani Park, Waikiki, Oahu including within 10 mins of arrival at hotel. Especially active opposite Kaimana Beach Hotel early morning. Also seen in Pearl Harbour, from boat trip to Arizona and inland from USS Missouri.
Spotted Dove Abundant on all three islands.
Zebra Dove Abundant on all three islands.
Skylark On track to Pu'u La'au, Saddle Road, Big Island on 7 Aug.
Red-whiskered Bulbul A single seen on Tantalus Drive, Oahu, near the Amakihi lookout, on 27 July.
Red-vented Bulbul Abundant on Oahu, especially Kapiolani Park.
Northern Mockingbird Seen from rented house in Poipu, Kauai 30 Jul only.
White-rumped Shama Seen in various locations on Kauai, including rented house in Poipu, and the Wailua River Valley - especially near the Wailua Reservoir.
Elepaio 2-3 seen at Kipuka Ki, Mauna Loa Road, Big Island on 5 Aug. Also a pair at Pu'u La'au, Saddle Road, Big Island, 7 Aug.
Hwamei A single at Kalalau Valley Lookout, Kokee SP on 3 Aug.
Japanese White-eye Abundant on all three islands. Always hoping they were endemics!
Common Myna Omnipresent on all three islands.
House Sparrow Common around habitation
Common Waxbill Seen on Oahu only, at Visitor Centre, Pearl Harbour (25 Jul), and at Kapiolani Park, Waikiki.
Nutmeg Mannikin 2 at Kapiolani Park, Waikiki, Oahu on 26 Jul.
Java Sparrow On Oahu, at Visitor Centre, Pearl Harbour and also a roost at Kapiolani Park, Waikiki, opposite Kaimana Beach Hotel.
House Finch Seen on Oahu, Kaimana Beach Hotel & Kapiolani Park, and at various locations on Big Island.
Yellow-fronted Canary First seen from Kaimana Beach Hotel, Waikiki
Hawaii Amakihi Very abundant at Pu'u La'au, Saddle Road, Big Island on 7 Aug.
Oahu Amakihi A single seen briefly at second attempt at Punchbowl Lookout, Tantalus Drive, Oahu on 27 Jul.
Iiwi A pair briefly in flight at Kipuka 21, Saddle Road, Big Island on 7 Aug. Probably the best bird of the trip, especially if it had been seen better.
Apapane Difficult to miss, even in rain, around Volcano House Hotel, Big Island. Also many at Kipuka Ki, Mauna Loa Road and several at Kipuka 21, Saddle Road.
Saffron Finch Seen at various locations in Kona, including car park of City of Refuge, Honaunau, Big Island, 9 Aug.
Red-crested Cardinal Common on Oahu and Kauai.
Yellow-billed Cardinal Only on Kona coast area of Big Island, where common.
Northern Cardinal Seen on all 3 islands. Common.

Accommodation

Place/address Comment
New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, Waikiki, Oahu A pleasant if comparatively pricey hotel, right on the beach. Away from downtown (about a 10-20 min walk to the centre of the action, if you want that sort of thing!), opposite the Kapiolani Park. Our compact Diamond Head view rooms conveniently shared a balcony, from which I had two lifers - White Tern and Great Frigatebird! Friendly staff, and a nice restaurant overlooking the beach. Expensive dinner (not tried). If you have a car, expect to pay extra for Valet parking (c. $14 per day).
Beachside Poipu Hale Poipu, Kauai Good quality privately rented house. We had the upstairs, which slept 4 (with one on a sofa bed in the living room). The downstairs is also available, and both can be hired as one combined larger property. Very close and convenient for Poipu Beach Park, and with a sea view (just) from the lanai (and living room), which gave distant 'scope views of R F Booby and W T Shearwater! Beware Red Jungle Fowl calling from around 04:00 onwards! Other introduced species from the lanai included White-rumped Sharma.
Volcano House Hotel, Volcano NP, Big Island Adequate, somewhat aged hotel in a splendid location. Our Ohia wing rooms were OK, but seemed a bit pricey for the quality/size. Splendid view over the crater from the restaurant, with reasonably good food. Apparently v. busy at lunch time, but we avoided it then. See comments in main report about birding in grounds.
Wild Ginger Inn, Hilo Budget hotel with good internet reviews, which we did NOT agree with at all. Probably under new management, this place was poor/bad and is certainly not recommended. Various things wrong with rooms (defective W/C, shower broken, lights not working) & damp (though this probably due to torrential rain all day). Pathetic 'continental' breakfast (sliced bread, fruit & coffee, not even any fruit juice) not available until 8am. Unhelpful staff, and very noisy (both road noise & loud frog chorus!).
Kealakekua oceanfront rental, Kona, Big Islandi The find of the holiday. This privately rented house was superbly situated right on the shore, close to the famous Kealakekua Bay. Well equiped, modern and very spacious, the only real drawback was its remoteness - it was a 4-5 mile drive along a steep winding road to get anywhere for shopping/eating etc. A very peaceful and relaxing end to our stay, and thoroughly recommended, though expect to pay for all this! See notes in text about local birding/wildlife. Absence of Red Jungle Fowl on Big Island - too many Mongoose - made for better sleep than on Kauai

All pictures copyright Stephen Burch

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