Thirteen hours, State Forest Permits, National Wildlife Refuge Permits, and keys to private property all…
After my Land Board Meeting in Honolulu on Friday, I travelled to the Ewa/Waianae coast to do some birding. I hoped to spot a visting Bar-tailed Godwit at Honouliulu and a Whimbrel at Mailiili. Missed the Godwit but got the Whimbrel. Nice to add a species to my Hawaii list!
Saturday also provided some birding, this time closer to home on the Big Island. While much of Kona was watching or avoiding the Ironman Triathalon (which, are very own Tour Manager, Lisa Nelson, finished in a little over 13 hours—her ninth Ironman competition!), some of us Kona folks took advantage of the annual Open House at Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge. Each year HFT donates a couple vans and employees volunteer their time to drive up Kona residents that don’t have four-wheel drive vehicles to access the refuge. This year we took up a little over 20 folks who joined another 500 island residents on this unique day to visit an area usually closed to the public. Lisa Kummer and I volunteered this year and were treated to a rare cloudless day. Puu Oo vent was clearly visible as we made our way along Keanakolu Road to the refuge.
We spent the morning and lunch in the Pua Akala meadow birding and enjoying the forest. Even with such a large crowd, we managed to see all the forest birds except the Akiapolaau and Omao. HFT past and present were well represented at the Open House with past guides Geoff Gilbert , Dr. Pat Hart, and Dan Nelson along with current employee Kim Hata and Lisa and myself. It was wonderful to share the forest with so many folks, especially all the kids who were there, but it also made me realize how blessed we are at HFT to do tours there and have the place to ourselves most of the time.
Hakalau is one of the great conservation success stories in Hawaii. In the fifteen years since I’ve been visiting the place, it’s very uplifting to see the change in the forest health and amazing to witness pure grassland pasture returned to a young thriving koa forest. An area that I first saw with no trees is now habitat utilized by Akiapolaau and other forest birds. And finally, it was great to catch up with my friend and mentor Jack Jeffrey who is the heart and soul of what Hakalau is all about. Jack has touched thousands of lives, won numerous awards, and when you spend a few moments in the field with him you realize what a great naturalist and person he is. It was a great day to cherish.
Posted by Rob Pacheco at 10:21:42 PM in Blogs by Rob Pacheco, HFT Founder (16) | Comments (0)