Checklist S7093349

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Owner Michael Todd

  • 1
  • 8 mi

Let me say that I parked my car here, loaded up my backpack with water, extra batteries, etc. and set off for Puo o Kila and the Pihea Trail. I didnt know how far I would hike (I am NO hiker by any means), but I wound up spending the next 8 hours covering approximately 8 miles before I got back to my car, exhausted and in the rain! This being said, this was the highlight of the trip for me. Shortly after I started, I picked up another endangered Kauai endemic, the ANIANIAU*, a tiny little golden bird the color of a yellow warbler, with a warbler bill. Bill shape and facial pattern are very important in distinguishing the honeycreepers. This began the most frustrating day of photography Ive ever encountered, as I exhausted all 3 batteries, and wound up with less than 10 decent shots, and never did get a shot of an ANIANIAU, which I saw several of. JAPANESE WHITE-EYES are abundant in the high elevations as well, and I finally got a mediocre shot of this little sprite. Many AMAKAHI and APAPANE were seen along the road to Puu o Kila.

At Puu o Kila I reached the beginning of the Pihea Ridge Trail, and I spent the majority of the day on this and the Alaki Swamp Trail. This is a very strenuous trail at times, and the fog began rolling in shortly after I started my hike, at times I could only see a few feet in front of me. The farther in I got, the more honeycreepers and ELAPAIO I encountered. I saw AKEKEE twice, ANIANIAU several times, IIWI several times (desperately wanted a photo of this gorgeous bird, but never had a chance), ELAPAIO were common, KAUAI AMAKAHI and APAPANE were everywhere. There were two other birds that I thought I had at best an outside chance at, they were AKIKIKI and PUAIOHI. AKIKIKI was fairly common until not too recently, but are very rare now, and I couldnt get into the best areas so I wasnt surprised not to get it. PUAIOHI* (Small Kauai Thrush), was on the verge of extinction only a few years ago, with the wild population down to 3 birds. A captive-breeding and release program has met with great success, and the population is still very low but increasing. The birds are now encountered with some regularity, and I was lucky enough to both hear one singing a wonderful thrushy song and got a glimpse of one for a brief few seconds.

I reluctantly decided to make the arduous trek back late that afternoon, largely in the rain. The habitat in these upper elevations is spectacular, and must be seen to be believed. After I finally got back to Puu o Kila and hit the paved road, the rain and mist were very cooling, and one of the highlights of the trip was sharing the road with a group of HAWAIIAN GEESE, which cautiously eyed me as I passed, and another group flew over in the mist, calling loudly but out of sight. Activity really picked up when the rain set in, and I could have gotten easy pix of ANIANAU and ELAPAIO several times, if I hadnt been afraid to get my camera back out!


  1. Number observed: 8

    Comments: Very neat experience, in the rain and fog along the road, to pass by one group which kept a close eye on me, and have another group fly over in the fog calling.

  2. Number observed: 8
  3. Number observed: 20
  4. Number observed: 20

    Comments: everywhere

  5. Number observed: 6

    Comments: great looks, in the rain; no photo

  6. Number observed: 3

    Comments: Nice looks, never could get a photo though.

  7. Number observed: 15

    Comments: very numerous as was Apapane

  8. Number observed: 2
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