11- 15 April Aloha Big Island

11 – 15 April Big Island pelagic trip, and clean sweep of the island specialty birds.

Following is a brief pictorial recounting of my first Hawaiian trip of the year: Big Island. The timing reflected the opportunity for a Kona one-day pelagic trip with Alex Wang. But I a few days of terrestrial birding provided a clean sweep of Big Island specialty birds – with exception of ‘heard-only’ Hawaiian Hawk – while birding Hakalau Forest Reserve with guide Lance Tanino – the place is off-limits to independent birders. Lance’s keen ears proved invaluable in picking out the hawk, and the ‘big one’ Akiapolaau. It was lots of fun and I highly recommend Lance to anyone wishing to visit Hakalau for the perhaps only option to see the highly contracted specialist forest birds such as Akepa, Omao, Hawaii Creeper, and Akiapolaau.

The super-positive Big Island attitude.


The outhouse of the Kailua Kona Reserve. I doubt that the architect, who took a design challenge to its most expensive and hideous result falls into the sort of ‘Triumph’ envisaged by the above banner.


Big Island – Hawaii’s biggest and newest island, where volcanos continue to affect the landscape.


View from Pu’u La’au Palila Discovery Trail – a most fabulous birding area, and perhaps the only place for ready views of Palila.


Alex Wang – master seabirder and organiser of successful one-day pelagic trips out of Kona.


ABA listing champ Macklin Smith adding to his Hawaiian seabird life-list.


Unmistakably Hawaiian colours. The addition of Hawaii to the ABA area was a superb move.


Sooty Shearwater



Bulwer’s Petrel


Wedge-tailed Shearwater


Mottled Petrel


Juan Fernandez Petrel


Hawaiian Petrel


White-tailed Tropicbird


One of the layers of threat faced by native Hawaiian wildlife – Mongoose.


Kalij Pheasant – one of numerous game birds imported from all over the globe.


Palila feeding


Hawaii Amakihi


Hawaii Amakihi


IIwi – a previous ABA ‘Bird of the Year’, and my favourite Hawaiian bird.


The diminutive, but totally awesome Akiapolaau. It uses its lower mandible for ‘wood-pecking’, and upper ‘hook’ for extracting insects from nooks and crannies.

Nene – aka Hawaiian Goose – the State Bird of Hawaii.


Hawaiian Short-eared Owl


Pacific Golden Plover


Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse.