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10/10/09 - TNC Kaiholena Preserve & Kipuka Puaulu, HVNP

Posted Monday 12th October 2009 at 07:24 by bkrownd
Updated Monday 12th October 2009 at 07:34 by bkrownd
Saturday was a volunteer day at The Nature Conservancy's Kaiholena Preserve in central Ka'u. We explored a small area of the preserve to find and remove weeds. This has usually been the volunteer day activity, so there were very few weeds except in some isolated mud pits. The koli'i population in the preserve is doing nicely, and I wonder if they're getting any more numerous in the fenced areas. In areas where they're doing well they pop up like...weeds! There were few birds - fewer than I remember in the past. I heard only 'apapane, 'amakihi, Japanese white-eye and red-billed leiothrix. I lengthened my counts to 20 minute windows, and only heard 1-3 of each species in that amount of time. Unfortunately heavy rain cut our weed hunting short in the afternoon.

Apparently the primitive road through the lower part of the preserve was used by hunters to reach Ka'u Forest Reserve before TNC purchased the land from the defunct sugar company. (Various other roads still provide access points.) There was a wooden "Kau Forest Reserve" sign at the top of the road which I forgot about since the last time I was that far up about 3 years ago.

From late afternoon until sunset I stopped at kipuka puaulu in the volcano park to fill the last couple of hours of the day. I checked the big maua tree, and unfortunately found that I missed its flowering this year - it was well into producing lots of fruits/seeds. The manele trees are filling with leaves again - I think last time I was here was in the middle of the summer leaf drop. I checked various other rare plants and interesting ferns, and tried to get interesting photos of some not-so-rare plants. It's getting to the point where I've pretty much seen everything there is to see there, though I do still want to get a photo of a butterfly probing a hibiscadelphus flower which frustrated me earlier this year.

There was a lot of common bird activity in kipuka puaulu. The pheasants were looking for handouts as usual, and followed me around a bit when I imitated their murmurs. Foghorn Leghorn was still hanging out with the pheasants near the hibiscadelphus, but escaped my attempts to get a photo. The only bird that seemed to be missing was yellow-fronted canary, but 'elepaio were unusually elusive. I encountered 3 hwamei, whereas I usually hear one or none. The hour or so before sunset saw the normal assembly of loud congregations of 'apapane in the large 'ohi'a and koa trees. It's unfortunate that I didn't get started early enough to drop by at dawn, as well.
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