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U.S.A.  --  Hawaii – Kaua’i & Oahu

2 - 6 December 2002

by Robert Grimmond

Sunday 1st December (Fiji)

Kaua'i and Oahu

Our flight to Honolulu was with Air Pacific via Nadi, Fiji.  We left Auckland later than scheduled, not discovering until we got to Nadi that our late evening connecting flight to Honolulu was delayed until 8.30 on Tuesday morning (allegedly because one of their planes was out of place due to fog in Vancouver).  Had they told us in Auckland then we could have requested they put us on a direct flight to Honolulu.  So we spent the night in a resort near the airport courtesy of Air Pacific, frustrated at the prospect of losing a day in Hawaii.  At least we managed to build a tiny Fiji list, with two endemics, Orange-breasted Myzomela and Fiji Parrotfinch, plus Red-vented Bulbul and Spotted Dove.  I had to identify them next day in a field guide in a shop at the airport!

Monday 2nd December (Fiji)

Needless to say, the flight out of Nadi was delayed until nearly 10.00 am.  By the time we got to Honolulu, picked up our rental car from Alamo and checked into our hotel in Waikiki (Queen Kapolei) it was 8.00 pm Honolulu time (1st December).  We should have got there at 7.30 a.m. so we'd lost a day on the car rental as well as time we couldn't make up.

Air Pacific is the least efficient airline we've flown on.  Not only did they not tell us what was going on but their in-flight entertainment was a shambles.  On one leg they started the feature film so late that we missed the ending and on another it had broken down.  Their cabin service isn't that speedy either.  I know they have only six aircraft in their fleet but that doesn't totally exonerate them.

Monday 2nd December (Hawaii)

Looking out from our hotel balcony first thing, we were lucky to see two White Terns flying over Kapiolani Park.  We had just one full day on Oahu now so we decided to do a circuit of the eastern side of the island.  En route Pacific Golden Plovers were quite common on roadside verges and in parks.  otherwise most birds we saw that day were introductions - primarily Spotted and Zebra Doves (the latter very common), Red-vented Bulbul, Common Myna, Red-crested Cardinal and Java Sparrow.

Tuesday 3rd December

We took an early flight to Lihue, in Kaua'i with Aloha Airlines (I was amazed how they served refreshments on a 20 minute flight - Air Pacific, take note!).  After picking up our car from Alamo we headed straight up the east coast of the island.  Our main port of call was Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.  Here we saw a Short-eared Owl just as we were getting out of the car.  In the area of the lighthouse we saw at least 10 Laysan Albatrosses (on the ground and in the air), the last remaining unfledged Wedge-tailed Shearwater chick of the season), 6+ White-tailed Tropicbirds (I can't tire of these birds), many Red-footed Boobies of different morphs, 2 Great Frigatebirds (male and female), Nene, Pacific Golden Plover, Japanese White-eye and a Hawaiian Monk Seal (rare on Kaua'i) on the beach.

Elsewhere on the island we saw many Cattle Egrets, Red Junglefowl, Pacific Golden Plovers, Black-necked Stilt, Java Sparrow and Chestnut Mannikin (at Princeville).

Late afternoon we checked in at the Aston Islander on the Beach at Kapaa, where we had pre-booked a sea view room but received a room with good views of a tree and a sliver of sea and a tatty bathroom, with mirrors with so many cracks that they looked like a spider's web.  After our experiences with Air Pacific our patience was now short so after a dispute with the front desk and a discussion with the manager we were moved to a room with a decent view and a somewhat less shabby bathroom.  The fact that another couple of guests had been so unhappy that they had checked out just after we arrived before may have helped us.  The accommodation certainly needs some refurbishment!

Wednesday 4th December

We travelled over to the west of the island, to Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park.  The views were wonderful.  At various lookouts there were White-tailed Tropicbirds, Red Junglefowl and Japanese White-eye.  Along the Waimea Canyon Road we also flushed 2 Erckel's Francolins.  The Kalalau Lookout was particularly good.  Here we saw our first native passerines - Apapane and Kaua'i Amakihi - and the introduced but attractive White-rumped Shama.  Apapane proved to be quite common, both at Kalalau Lookout and around Kokee Lodge.

Near Kekaha we saw Black-crowned Night Heron and Northern Mockingbird.

Thursday 5th December

We spent the morning at tourist sites such as Wailua Falls.  We spent little time birding.  Late afternoon we flew back to Honolulu.

We hadn't managed to see Hawaiian Coot and Hawaiian Duck.  This was mainly because I'd left my books and notes at home and I'd also adopted the approach of 'let's not worry about them here, we'll find them later on' (which if course we didn't!).  Still, the seabirds were the main targets of the Hawaiian part of the trip and here we had largely been successful.  We'd like to go back again someday and spend more time looking for native birds.

Friday 6th December

We left Honolulu for Vancouver on Air Pacific - the plane was on time, though they did manage to check our bags through to London but not give us boarding cards for Vancouver to London!  Early in the afternoon of Saturday 7th, we arrived back in London.

Robert Grimmond
Kent, UK

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