On January 2, 2018 I volunteered to co-lead the Waipio Christmas Bird Count in Oahu. Thanks to Lynette’s help, Roy, Chris, Lynette, and myself were able to access the Palikea Trail in the Waianae Mountains from Palehua Road.
Audubon has been organizing a Christmas Bird Count for over 117 years! For more information about Audubon’s CBC click here.
We started off birding by car along Palehua Road after the second access gate. At one of the sharp hair pin turns I heard high pitched trills coming from the tall grasses and I knew we had heard Yellow-faced Grassquits! I know grassquits are not native to Hawaii but it is one of the most difficult species to find. I quickly pulled over, jumped out of the car, and ran down the road to where I heard the birds calling. I got great views of 2 males and 2 females together right off the road! Not far from there Kalij Pheasants strolled across the road in front of us, which are also introduced, but rare in Oahu. There were many Spotted Doves, Zebra Doves, Japanese White-eyes, Red-billed Leiothrix, and cardinals calling and flitting about. At the trail head there was a family of Oahu Amakihi calling up high in the eucalyptus trees. The views along trail ridges were stunning and about a mile into the forest we enjoyed great views of more Oahu Amakihi and Apapane with calls from Oahu Elepaio and Japanese Bush Warbler. On the hike out Lynette shared more of the endangered, endemic plants and found us a beautiful Happy Face Spider.
I feel very fortunate to have enjoyed this experience with new friends and great birds. I look forward to assisting with many more Christmas Bird Counts to come.