Hawaii. South Pacific Islands. June 2018.


Our first three days were spent on Kauai, our first visit was to the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge for seabirds. This is a must do for breeding Red tailed and White tailed Tropicbirds, Red footed Boobies, Wedge tailed Shearwaters and Brown Booby off shore. On both days we had flyby Laysan Albatross. Kermadec Petrel was being reported daily by eBird, on our second visit it flew in to the colonies before being chased off by one of several Great Frigatebirds in attendance. Hawaiian Goose is easy here. Laysan Albatross breeds within the refuge but is fenced off and only juveniles are available to the public with a scope. Still a fantastic site to behold. Rarer seabirds are found regularly but time is needed. Nearby is Hanalei NWR has easy pickings with Hawaiian Coot, Moorhen and Duck, the latter is only tickable on Kauai as birds on other Islands have Mallard genes alas. Koke'e State Park for Amakihi and Elepaio, we failed to find the other endemic birds perhaps due to time. Populations are falling rapidly due to Mosquitoes carrying bird malaria expanding their height tolerance. All endemic species breed above 600 feet. We stayed in the south of the Island and got early morning seawatching every day, Albatross, Shearwaters and Tropicbirds were to be expected, one windy morning produced a Band-rumped Storm Petrel which breeds on islets off shore.

Big Island.

We moved onto Big Island next for another three days which was poor for seabirds but excellent for forest birding. We birded Chain of Craters Saddle Road mostly which produced Liwi, Apapane, Oamo, Amakihi, Elepaio, Paella all with ease. Most of the Volcano National Park was closed due to the ongoing active Volcano. We were lucky to get a place on a licensed metal boat to visit the active volcano where it meets the sea. The trip was two hours out in very rough seas but over an hour on site was mesmerizing and a once off. The heat from the sea could boil a cup of coffee and the steam from the water was like a sauna, incredible to say the least. The smell of boiled sealife was fowl but being so close to a live volcano made it worth the suffering. Live fissures were hitting the sea as we looked on, first the flow of red and black lava then the burst of steam as it flowed into the water. Pretty scary stuff considering we were 100 feet away. Most of Big island was covered in "vog" volcanic ash and steam mixed up, considering where we were sunshine was scarce on Big Island, probably the highlight of our trip. On the way back in we spotted a pair of Hawaiian Hawks and eight Hawaiian Noddies which breed in the cliff edges of the volcano.


Next was an hours flight to O'ahu for a week. Birding the Aiea loop we secured Amakihi and Elepaio thanks to eBird for the later, we failed to find any other endemics although introduced birds are just so common here. We got very lucky with two sightings of Mariana Swiftlett at the highest point, these introduced species breed in small numbers within the caves but luck is needed to see them, we just got lucky! Back at our hotel in Honolulu White or Fairy Terns were said to breed, look for the trees draped with a blue ribbon, we could see then flying up and down the street as were white feral pigeons. Outside our hotel happened to have such a tree and of course superb White Terns, easy as that. Delicate big eyed tame Terns living in the busy town of Honolulu. Seawatching was superb most days at Makapu'u Point with Red footed, Masked and a few Brown Boobies, Brown Noddies, Frigatebirds, White and if lucky Grey backed Terns, and the ever present Wedge tailed Shearwater. Most of these species breed on islet's off shore and on shore winds can produce a fantastic days seawatching. We found the island just a mile north of the point to be best. Another site The James Campbell NWR is closed during summer due to breeding water birds however we had some access north of the reserve just behind "Fumis" permanent shrimp station (worth stopping for the coconut shrimps) this allowed us to walk a few of the ponds. We had nice views of Pacific Golden Plover, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Stilts and Ruddy Turnstone.

Ka'ena Point in the west is a fenced refuge which can be entered right to the light house, Laysan Albatross breeds here and we had about twenty five young birds here, with patience adults come and go giving superb looks. Wedge tailed Shearwater also breeds and are always present. Monk Seal is also present and worth looking for as they are endemic and rare, just off the light house one or two should be loafing on the rocks. The walk to the point takes about an hour so bring plenty of water as it is unprotected sun wise.

Car hire is easy as is the driving as speed limit is 50 miles at best. It takes a bit longer to get places due to low speed, Honolulu peak time traffic is very slow but it does move. Food and drinks are wonderful but can be pricey. Weather was tropical 25-30 degrees but with a helpful breeze most days. In the mountains of Big Island it just rains mostly, not unlike having a warm shower. Vog was also heavy on Big Island away from the coast. Most of the coast line is volcanic rock but with plenty of sandy beaches for a swim. Don't swim where you see surfers as this water can be fast moving and rough.

Paul and Andrea Kelly 2018

Hawaiian Goose (C) Kauai, (L) Big island. Hawaiian Coot (C) All Islands. House Sparrow (C)
Hawaiian Duck (L) Kauai, only countable here. Hawaiian Moorhen (C) All Islands. Lavender Waxbill (8) O'ahu
California Quail (C) Big Island. Pacific Golden Plover (3) O'ahu. Orange cheeked Waxbill (14) O'ahu, Pearl Hrb
Grey Francolin (L) Big Island. Ruddy Turnstone (4). Common Waxbill (C)
Japanese Quail (2) Big Island. Hawaiian Stilt (L) All Islands. Red Avadavat (2) O'ahu.
Black Francolin (L) Big Island. Brown Noddy (C) Hauai, O'ahu. African Silverbill (C)
Erckel's Francolin (C) Big Island and O'ahu. White Tern (C) O'ahu. Java Sparrow (C)
Kalij Pheasant (C) Big Island. Sooty Tern (L) O'ahu. Scaly breasted Munia (C)
Wild Turkey (L) Big Island. Grey backed Tern (5) O'ahu. Nutmeg Munia (C)
Red Junglefowl (C) Hawaiian Noddy (4) Big Island Volcano. Palila (2) Big Island.
Laysan Albatross (L) O'ahu and Kauai. Spotted Dove (C) Apapane (2) Big Island
Hawaiian Petrel (1) Kauai. Zebra Dove (C) Liwi (1) Big Island.
Kermadec Petrel(1) Kauai present for two weeks. Hawaiian Owl (2) Big Island. Hawaii Amakihi (L) Big Island
Wedge tailed Shearwater (C) Kauai, O'ahu. Mariana Swiftlett (1) O'ahu. O'ahu Amakihi (L) Big Island
Christmas Shearwater (2) O'ahu. Eurasian Skylark (C) Big island. Hawaii Creeper (L) Big Island
Newell's Shearwater (2) Kauai.. Red vented Bulbul (C) House Finch (C)
Band rumped storm Petrel (1) O'ahu. Red whiskered Bulbul (C) O'ahu. Yellow fronted Canary (C)
White tailed Tropicbird (L) Kauai and O'ahu. Omao (L) Big Island. White rumped Shama (L) All islands.
Red tailed Tropicbird (C) Kauai and O'ahu. Japanese White-eye (C) Red billed leiothrix (C) All islands
Masked Booby (6) O'ahu.
Northern Mockingbird (L) Big Island.
Japanese Bush Warbler (1) Big Island
Brown Booby (L) O'ahu. Common Myna (C) Rose ringed Parakeet (C) Big Island, O'ahu.
Red footed Booby (C) O'ahu. Kauai. Red crested Cardinal (C) Kauai Elepaio (2)
Great Frigatebird (L) O'ahu. Kauai. Yellow billed Cardinal (C) O'ahu Elepaio (2)
Cattle Egret (C) Saffron Finch (C) Hawaii Elepaio (8)
Black crowned Night Heron (C) Northern Cardinal (C) O'ahu. Kauai Elepaio (2)
Hawaiian Hawk (2) Big Island Volcano. Western Meadowlark (1) Kauai. Hwamei (1)