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HAWAII

Monday 12th April - Sunday 25th April 2010

Mike Watson

The rare and poorly-known Bristle-thighed Curlew is always a favourite (Mike Watson)

The rare and poorly-known Bristle-thighed Curlew is always a favourite (Mike Watson)

Our seventh visit to the ‘world capital of endangered species’ recorded a modest total of 93 species but these included all 24 endemic to the ‘main’ islands (or 26 if the five forms of elepaio are split into three species), six of which are classified in Birdlife International’s ‘critically endangered’ category: Palila (the last of Hawaii’s grosbeak honeycreepers); Akohekohe (the spectacular largest surviving honeycreeper); Maui Parrotbill (ever-elusive and glimpsed by only two of us); Akikiki (a.k.a. Kauai Creeper); Akekee (a.k.a. Kauai Akepa) and Puaiohi, one of Hawaii’s two remaining solitaires. A further six ‘endangered’ endemics included: Hawaiian Duck; Newell’s Shearwater; Akiapolaau, with its unfeasible bill; Hawaii Creeper; Akepa (the only hole-nesting honeycreeper) and Maui Creeper. Another 10 ‘vulnerable’ and three ‘near-threatened’ species included: Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses; Hawaiian Petrel; Hawaiian Goose, Hawk and Coot; the enigmatic Bristle-thighed Curlew (23!); Elepaio (of five different forms); Omao; Oahu and Kauai Amakihi; Anianiau and Iiwi. We also saw another four species represented by distinctive local forms: Common Moorhen; ‘Hawaiian’ Stilt; Black Noddy and Short-eared Owl. Another ornithological highlight of a memorable tour was some great seabirding: White and Red-tailed Tropicbirds, Brown and Red-footed Boobies; Great Frigatebirds; Spectacled (or Grey-backed) and Common Fairy Terns plus Brown Noddy. We also added another three species to the Birdquest Hawaii list, which now stands at a dizzy total of 139 – a vagrant Curlew Sandpiper, two adult Long-tailed Skuas and an unwanted introduction, Indian Peafowl. We tried our best not to look at the numerous introduced species but sadly most of them are unavoidable. Hawaii’s scenery certainly matches its avian splendours, whether it is the breathtaking volcanic landscape of the Big Island with its active lava flows, marooned patches of ancient native forest, perfect cinder cones, the erupting vent of Kilauea or the awesome caldera of Haleakala on Maui, Hawaii is blessed with some incredible natural wonders! Not to mention the palm trees gently swaying in the trade winds and the rolling Pacific breakers of Oahu’s North Shore or Kauai’s spectacular Waimea Canyon and Alakai Wilderness.

The endemic Newell's Shearwater was seen particularly well this year (Mike Watson)

The endemic Newell's Shearwater was seen particularly well this year (Mike Watson)