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8/29-30/09 - North of Saddle Road 19mm Area

Posted Monday 31st August 2009 at 18:26 by bkrownd
Updated Monday 31st August 2009 at 19:37 by bkrownd
The weather this weekend was unpredictable. The forecast was fairly average, but Saturday and Sunday were vastly different. Saturday was very wet, with fog and variable drizzle on the Saddle. I got a very late start after hearing the rain pound on the roof in the morning, only getting up to the Saddle at noon. On Sunday the forecast was the same, but instead it was partly cloudy, pleasantly cool and dry. I got an 8AM start on Sunday. I stayed out until dark both days, leaving at 7PM.

On Saturday I continued searching the big forest North of Saddle Road. The two main trails run North-South. In previous weeks I explored upslope (West) of the main trail, and between the two trails. Disappointingly, pig rooting was widespread and occasionally heavy. Saturday I started exploring downslope (East) of the lower trail. Fortunately for some reason the area just downslope of the lower trail has much less pig disturbance. I didn't get far, and didn't discover anything particularly exciting.

On Sunday I went further in the same area East of the trails. I discovered that the good area extends about 200 meters below the lower trail. Some of the 'ohi'a trees in this area are very large, and one tree was impressively huge. Pig damage was only in scattered areas, with large undisturbed areas. There are surfaces of several ages and compositions in this forest, but it is difficult to tell if this pocket of forest is geologically distinct from the surrounding heavily pig-damaged areas. The flora is similar, except for the level of disturbance and the large population of 'anini trees that seems to be centered here. Google Maps: 19.68808,-155.32996

Eventually downslope/East I came to the head of a steep slope that was the end of the less disturbed forest. (It also marked the Eastern boundary of the 'anini population.) The slope and the areas below (East) were heavily pig damaged, and as I started to descend the slope a noisy pig fled before me. I worked my way northeast down a neat ravine that I hoped might have a different flora and gnarly protected spots where rare plants might persist. Eventually I dropped all the way down onto the next major surface to the North - the bog level on an old pahoehoe surface. After a brief rest on a little hill overlooking the surrounding bog level I climbed back up (South) into the canopy forest. After continuing East a bit, and shooing another pig, I made a loop to return West and start heading back up to the slopes. The slope is cut by numerous ravines with ridges, which are the edges of the ancient 'a'a lava flow(s) that the canopy forest grows on. While climbing the slope I explored the ravines and ridges as well as I could without getting too far off track. There will be other days to cover this area.

When I got back up to the top of the slopes I criss-crossed a section of the (mostly) undisturbed forest looking for rare and unusual plants. Eventually I ran out of time. One major accomplishment this weekend is that I got a much better sense of the boundaries of the 'anini population, and found 2 young tetraplasandra trees. Didn't find any other notable plants. There is a lot of area left to cover. On the way out I crossed through a new area of bogs and lower canopy forest that was pretty interesting.

I'iwi were ever-present and vocal both days. There were usually 2-5 overhead at any time. 'Apapane were also usually milling around overhead, and their numbers were much higher on dry Sunday. Few 'amakihi, which probably found a drier place to be higher up. Aside from the i'iwi, bird counts were normal. There was one 'io in the big trees on Sunday.
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