Welcome to Birdquest
Friday 8th November - Tuesday 19th November 2013
Mark Van Beirs
Our recent foray to the extinction capital of the world gave us a very nice selection of Hawaii’s endemics. The birds of the trip were the incomparably bright scarlet Iiwi, the dazzling Akohekohe, the truly bizarre Maui Parrotbill (mega views for all of the rarest of the Hawaiian Honeycreepers), the outstanding Akiapolaau (with its exceptional bill) and the beautifully ungainly Laysan Albatross. Other great birds seen included Nene, Hawaiian Hawk, Bristle-thighed Curlew, the stunning Palila (the last of the Hawaii Grosbeak Honeycreepers), the lovely Maui Alauahio, Hawaii Creeper, the orangey red Akepa, Kauai and Hawaii Elepaios, Omao and Oahu and Kauai Amakihis. Sadly, for the first time, we missed several of Hawaii’s very rare endemics as most of them are gradually becoming harder to see. BirdLife International recently changed the status of several of Hawaii’s endemics for the worse... We admired some outstanding scenery and a bit of volcanic activity at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island and stood in awe at the top of Haleakala Volcano. The heart-warming bird activity in the forests of the Hakalau and the Waikamoi forest reserves will not readily be forgotten. We added two species to the Birdquest Hawaii list, which now stands at 141: Band-rumped Storm Petrel and Belted Kingfisher. Notable mammals included Hawaiian Monk Seal and False Killer Whale. The Hawaiian endemics are not in good shape at all and I urge every international birder who has not visited these beautiful islands to get there as soon as you can. Extinction is happening there as you read this and the Hawaiian Honeycreepers (Drepanidinae) are, at the moment, by far the most threatened bird group in the world. In the last twenty years several birds have totally disappeared or can now only be found in captivity... Don’t hesitate or wait!