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7/09/09 - Upper Waiakea Forest Reserve, Diagonal Northeast Trail

Posted Sunday 19th July 2009 at 06:34 by bkrownd
Very busy recently with holidays and volunteer activities, so I'm behind on posting my outings.

July continues to be very wet, and my outings have suffered. Thursday 7/9 was another wet morning, and I only got a half day. I went to the diagonal northeast trail across the road from Pu'u Maka'ala Army Road. After going down the trail just a little I headed directly into the forest to the northwest, into an area which is partially acacia plantation and partially native wet forest. In keeping with recent weather the morning rain ended about noon and I had a cool and mostly dry afternoon of exploration.

I didn't have much hope for this area at first, but quickly discovered a number of interesting things. This fairly rich native forest varies between heavy pig damage with light weed infestation to really nice native wet forest. I quickly discovered a cluster of uncommon trees such as 'anini and 'ohe mauka. (not uncommon in this particular area, but indicative of rich native wet forest) The understory was occasionally very nice.

I went in until I came to the edge of the acacia plantation. This alien acacia species looks similar to koa, but they grow very tall and slender. The understory was all bulldozed out in the plantation, though some tiny native forest remnants remain where the topography was very uneven. I found a hunter trail in this area, and it appears to be by the same person who has hacked the large number of other destructive trails off of diagonal northeast trail. I followed it around for a little while to get the path into my GPS, and quickly found myself near a trail I had followed in the past.

I left the trail as it descended onto the bog surface and spent a while walking through gullies and mud pits, trying to find rare plants protected in these areas. I found a couple of giant phyllostegia mints, which I was expecting more of. I also scared up a very large moth at one point, but was unable to get a good look at it. There was an interesting variety of bog grasses and weeds, and I need to explore this boggy area more thoroughly because of the potential for rare plants. Eventually I was starting to run out of light, and climbed back up onto the higher canopy forest surface and worked my way back onto the bulldozed trail. With the remaining light I went further down diagonal northeast trail with the last light to check various rare plants further downslope. During this time I was dismayed to see a grey rat in the rare plant area, not far from where I saw a very similar rat last year. It was an interesting tour for a short afternoon.

Birdwise, the morning rain and grey afternoon made it fairly quiet. 'Oma'o and 'elepaio are numerous in this forest, often two or three to a spot count, and there are usually a small scattering of Japanese white-eye. I didn't hear a lot of other aliens nearby, though there are a few that like to inhabit the nearby open 'uluhe areas such as Japanese bush-warbler and hwamei. In the mud pit area I encountered the two 'io (one constantly screaming - a begging juvenile?) 'Apapane were scarce until sunset, when large numbers started to come in and congregate in the tall acacia trees of the plantation. They must roost somewhere nearby. Oddly I'm not encountering many pheasants recently, and none on this day.
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