Monday, July 9, 2012

Shoot Me Monday

On our last day in Kaua'i, Gaby and I decided to check out the Pihea Trail along the Na'Pali Coast.  This was my only chance to try and see some forest birds.  The weather up there was perfect, a cool 68 degrees, 20 degrees cooler than down below.  Amazingly, it barely rained while we were up there.

The trail runs along the ridge and had the most stunning view I've ever seen.

Kalalau Canyon on the Na'Pali Coast
This photo can't begin to do it justice.  We had already seen this canyon on a boat tour, but that didn't stop my jaw from dropping.  Looking out over this view was an incredible experience.  It made me forget about the birds for a minute, really.  While snapping a few dozen photos, I saw some distant White-tailed Tropicbirds circling in the canyon.  We continued on our hike and I couldn't help but notice how quiet the birds were.  Maybe because it was after noon?  The trail was getting more muddy and the people that passed us had mud everywhere.

I heard Japanese Bush-Warblers nearby, but never got a visual.  To me, it sounded like they were saying, "It... wasn't me!"  As I scanned the side of the ridge I spotted a red bird in the distance.  I was excited to see it was a honeycreeper, an 'Apapane!

I learned they are the most abundant species of Hawaiian honeycreeper.  It was feeding on red lehua flowers, its primary food source.  They are found in forests where this 'ohi'a plant grows and above where mosquitoes thrive.  Mosquitoes have severely impacted the populations of Hawaiian forest birds because they transmit avian malaria and avian pox to native birds.  However, a new study suggests that these birds may be developing immunity to these diseases.

As we continued on the hike I saw a distant immature 'I'iwi, my target bird.  It was not the brilliant red color of an adult bird and it managed to stay out of photo range, but it was still exciting.  It was the only one I saw on the trip. 

We managed to hike past the junction with the Alakai Swamp Trail, but stopped when it got too muddy.  I had hoped to see more honeycreepers, but that just means I'll have to go back someday.

On our way down, we checked out the view of Waimea Canyon.
Waimea Canyon
By the time we got to Koke'e State Park, we were pretty tired.  The only other birds I saw here were mynas and wild chickens, aka Red Junglefowl.

Red Junglefowl
Hopefully the next time I visit, all the native forest birds will still be there.         


  1. Such gorgeous scenery! Love that little honeycreeper.

  2. Stunning scenery and fascinating birds Jeremy!