August 9 and 11, 2010
My family and I went to Maui for a conference and added a few days for vacation. My parents went with us so my dad and I went birding two days while my wife went to the conference and my mom watched the kids. There is not a lot of information on birding trips to Hawaii so I thought I would add this brief information to aid anyone planning a trip to Hawaii. This information is to aid those searching for the Maui endemics and pelagic birds off the Maui coast.
Aug 9: landbirding on Maui (Hosmer Grove, Waikomoi Reserve, Kealia Pond NWR, and Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary)
Aug 11: 8 hour Fishing Trip out of Maalaea Harbor on the boat, Rascal.
Guides/Charters: We contacted Maui Forest Birds Recovery Project for assistance with the forest specialties (Maui Parrotbill and Crested Honeycreeper). We chartered the boat for pelagic birding/fishing through Rascal Charters. Rascal fishing charters http://www.rascalcharters.com/
Weather & Clothing: It is warm/hot in August. There was no rain but realize that it frequently rains in the areas for the forest birds. It was also cool at Hosmer grove in the early morning (0630). It was also initially cool on our boat (0530) but quickly warmed up.
Biting animals: We had no problems.
Advice: The best time for the Maui forest specialties is December through April (nesting and more vocal). The best time for pelagic birds tends to be summer/fall.
Pelagic birding: There is limited information on pelagic birding off Hawaii. We had a lot of success out of Lihue off Kauai in late April. This time, we chartered a boat for an eight hour fishing trip (did not catch any fish). I would assume that you could charter a boat and simply go around the ocean at cruising speed and cover more ground, but that would obviously need to be discussed with the captain prior to departure (since it likely uses more gasoline). Our (very nice) boat went out of Maalaea Harbor and headed southwest and paralleled the northern shore of Kahoolawe island. We saw the majority of our pelagic species off the northwest tip of Kahoolawe island and to the offshore buoy. This gets to deep water. We then headed north from the buoy to Lanai and paralleled the south shore of Lanai back to Maalaea Harbor. We saw very little as we paralleled the south shore of Lanai. If you are going out of Maalaea Harbor and are solely interested in pelagic birds, I would guess that heading due south from the harbor and birding the area south of Maui and Kahoolawe would be the best (as this appears to be the deepest water/steepest areas that are easily accessible).
Resources: There is a good website for Hawaii birding. It is not up to date but it provides information on locations. Please see: Hawaii bird information
Peter Pyle has developed an excellent site that includes a checklist and status of the birds of Hawaii. I believe much of this is based on the work by his father. Hawaii bird checklist and information
Maui Forest Birds Recovery Project: This is a group involved in research and conservation of the Maui forest birds (Maui Parrotbill and Crested Honeycreeper). If you are interested in either of these two species, you should contact them via the information on their website. Maui Forest Birds
Halekala National Park/Hosmer Grove/ Waikomoi preserve – accessed from state hwy 378 (Crater road). The turn for Hosmer grove is on the left just after you enter the National Park (shortly after you pay your entrance fee). You can park at the trees and bird the trail through Hosmer grove. The Waikomoi preserve and the boardwalk (best spot for Crested Honeycreeper and Maui Parrotbill).is accessed from Hosmer Grove. You need special permission (i.e. you need someone to take you in). In 2006, we went on one of the nature conservancy guided walks to the boardwalk area but only spent one hour along the boardwalk and did not see the Parrotbill or the Crested Honeycreeper. Apparently, these guided walks rarely see these species. If you want to do these guided walks, see the park/Nature Conservancy’s information (from their website: Hikes for Conservancy members are scheduled on the second Sunday of each month. Reservations are required in advance, and should be made directly with the Preserve manager by calling (808) 572-7849. In addition, the National Park Service conducts hikes at Waikamoi Preserve on Monday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. Contact Haleakala National Park for details and reservations; the telephone number is (808) 572-9306.) Alternatively, you can contact the people at the Maui Forest Birds Recovery Project. I would recommend contacting Maui Forest Birds Recovery Project.
Kealia Pond NWR– at the south end of the Isthmus. It is a good spot for shorebirds and ducks (depending on the time of year). It is northwest of the junction of state highway 310 (North Kihei road) and state highway 311 (Mokulele highway). The entrance is from Highway 311 and is signed. It is open on Monday through Friday until 4pm.
Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary– near the airport. The ponds are best viewed from state highwy 36 or Amala road.
August 9, 2010:
Hawaiian Duck – most at Kealia Pond NWR
Chukar – a family group on the way up the road to Halekala National Park
Gray Francolin – groups at the Grand Wailea hotel
Ring-necked Pheasant – severak on the way up the road to Halekala National Park
White-faced Ibis – two at Kealia Pond NWR
Pacific Golden-Plover – common at Kealia Pond NWR
Black-necked Stilt – common at Kealia Pond NWR
Wandering Tattler – one at Kealia Pond NWR
Ruddy Turnstone - common at Kealia Pond NWR
Sanderling - several at Kealia Pond NWR
Western Sandpiper - two at Kealia Pond NWR
Least Sandpiper – one at Kealia Pond NWR
Japanese Bush-Warbler – down the trail from Hosmer grove
Red-billed Leiothrix – seveval on the trail from Hosmer grove
Northern Mockingbird - Halekala National Park headquarters
Red-crested Cardinal – grounds of the Grand Wailea
Northern Cardinal – Hosmer grove
Maui Parrotbill – one bird heard singing and then seen at the end of the boardwalk at Waikomoi preserve, if you want to see this bird (and Crested Honeycreeper), I would strongly suggest contacting Maui Forest Birds Recovery Project. Maui Forest Birds
Hawaii Amakihi – a few in the Waikomoi preserve
Maui Alauahio (Maui Creeper) – common in the Waikomoi preserve (native vegetation area).
Iiwi – four along the boardwalk
Akohekohe (Crested Honeycreeper) – one bird seen repeatedly from the platform at the end of the boardwalk. It kept coming to feed on a certain plant.
Apapane – most common “Hawaii” bird in the Waikomoi preserv
August 11, 2010 - Pelagic
Red-footed Booby - after reviewing my photographs, one was photographed in the background of a Hawaiian Petrel photo. Not sure how we missed this in real time.
Hawaiian Petrel – we saw 18 birds and got some photos. There were additionally some Pterodromas in the distance that we did not identify to species that were most likely additional Hawaiian Petrels. Most were off the northwest tip of Kahoolawe and from this area to Lanai.
Black-winged Petrel – one crossed the front of the boat off the northwest top of Kahoolawe. Surprisingly easy to identify when it arched and showed the underside of its wings which are quite striking.
Bulwer's Petrel – eight seen, again not seen until we got off the northwest tip of Kahoolawe
Wedge-tailed Shearwater – very common. We started seeing them a few miles out from the harbor and saw them throughout until we got to the south end of Lanai. We did not see any along the south shore of Lanai. A total of 130 for the day. Note that 95% were light phase.
Townsend's Shearwater (newelli) – one bird in a large flock of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters off the northwest tip of Kahoolawe. This species is easier off Kauai but is known to breed in small numbers on Maui. Some experts elevate this bird to full species, as Newell's Shearwter (I believe this would make it an endemic Hawaii breeder).
White-tailed Tropicbird – five birds, most flushed while sitting on the water
Great Frigatebird – 13
Black Noddy – We had at least 8 Noddies. Initially, everything I looked at through binoculars was Black. However, on reviwing my photos, at least one was a Brown Noddy.
Brown Noddy - at least one photographed (see comment above)