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10/4/09 - Kipuka Ainahou, Pu'u O'o Trail

Posted Monday 5th October 2009 at 06:45 by bkrownd
Updated Monday 5th October 2009 at 06:54 by bkrownd
Sunday was wet wet wet. Wet! I slept in again, since the rain on the roof makes me sooooo sleeeepy in the morning. When I finally got started I headed up Saddle Road since I needed as many options as possible with this unsettled weather. I really didn't want to bake in the sun on the leeward side of Mauna Kea again, so I decided to stick to the windward side. I hoped that it would turn out like Saturday, which cleared up after noon. If so, I planned to wait for the rain to end with a short visit to the Pu'u O'o Trail area, then head over to Powerline Road to try to find the plantago (native plantain) species I've never seen before. Unfortunately the weather cycled between drizzle, showers and fog and I just ended up with a short day doing a circuit of all my old kipuka ainahou point count areas.

I haven't been to kipuka ainahou much this year. I have so many new places to explore these days, and I don't have much motivation left to visit this area since I pretty much stuck my nose into every last corner of it long ago. My last string of regular visits were aimed at figuring out the resident creeper quite a while back. It's pleasant, but limited and not terribly interesting. Unfortunately the result is that my point counts here have become very sparse.

Well, it's red bird season on the Saddle. They were numerous, they were active, and they were LOUD. 'Apapane and i'iwi buzzing everywhere like bees, tweeting and hooting madly. Even the occasional solid rain hardly dampened their spirits until sunset. (How nice it would be to have water-repellent feathers.) As with yesterday, 'amakihi and all the alien green birds were scarce or perhaps hiding under a dry tree limb. Abundant 'elepaio as are the norm in this area, but 'oma'o seemed a little less numerous or talkative than usual. I hit a few pockets of kalij pheasants, too. Perhaps some of them were even the tiny chicks I once scattered across a nearby clearing one morning a couple years ago.

I didn't detect either 'akiapola'au or creeper, save one unseen bird that sounded somewhat like the juvenile 'akiapola'au beacon. After not hearing any adult 'akiapola'au during an hour in the same area I had to discount it. For 5 hours in the area I was surprised I didn't encounter any, though the rain, wind and drip noise made it difficult to listen for them between counts.

Lots of pig diggings and sheep poo. Somebody from the State recently put ugly blue flagging along the trail, sadly. They also were a bit overzealous in cutting trees at the edge of the trail. The large fallen tree from about a year ago was finally cleared away, as well. I saw one other group of people briefly out in the rain, but we didn't cross paths.
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