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9/5/09 - Ka'ohe GMA, West slope of Mauna Kea

Posted Sunday 6th September 2009 at 05:07 by bkrownd
Updated Sunday 6th September 2009 at 07:33 by bkrownd
Saturday dawned with a heaping helping of rain and fog. This is my last free day before bird surveys on Maui, so it was very disappointing. I watched some football and headed out a bit late. I needed to practice bird counts, so I had to head all the way to the leeward slope of Mauna Kea to find dry weather where I could count and practice with my laser rangefinder. IIRC, I haven't been to Ka'ohe GMA since the end of the palila survey in early February. I've been so busy searching for rare plants on the windward side that I've even been searching in the windward rain.

I got to Ka'ohe GMA about 9:30AM, and set off up the dusty road R-1. It was a pleasantly cool and breezy mostly cloudy morning, which only happens in the wettest weather. I only went about 2/3 of the way up R-1 to Pu'u La'au and the old state cabin. The area between 1/3 and 2/3 of the way to the cabin gets me through the highest concentration of birds, with plenty of opportunity to find pretty much everything that's there. (except perhaps 'io)

On the first third of the road I noticed that the wonderful leeward ko'oko'olau species, bidens menziesii, and 'ilima were both flowering.

My first count at the lowest 'akoko grove was a good start. I had almost every common species here, and a couple of puzzlers. One turned out to be african silverbill. Another may have been a yellow-fronted canary, but stayed hidden. A pueo soared upslope past ahumoa as I counted.

Subsequent counts were fairly quiet. Red-billed leiothrix and 'elepaio seemed unusually numerous. 'Amakihi lead all, as expected. House finch and Japanese white-eye seemed sparse. I thought I heard 'apapane fly by once, but was not sure. There were 2-4 palila during my first visit to the big sandalwood tree, but I didn't hear any others. I was back to the car by 4PM.

These were the counts, but there's no obvious good way to format them in this silly web system:

turn around and return after palila gulch

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