Apapane thing happened on our way to the Volcano
On our first full day of birding we went to the Volcano National Park about 30 miles south of Hilo and over 4,000 feet in elevation. Based on our research, we hoped to be able to see some Hawaiian Endemics in this area. Hawaiian avifauna is composed of introduced species and a few remaining endemics, the latter being confined to the highland forests.
After consulting at the Visitor's Information Center, we headed supposedly towards the forest area but apparently we took the wrong direction. I stopped our car at a nearby military camp to get our bearings. As I was trying to figure out east from west, Cynthia yelled, "Red bird!" I looked and saw tiny red birds flying about. I grabbed my gear and walked towards the tall tree where the tiny red birds landed. Soon enough I was getting good looks, though a bit far, at our first endemic, the lovely Apapane!
Having finally figured out where to go, we proceeded to the "Bird Park" which is basically a small patch of forest with a 1 mile loop trail. The first bird that greeted us were the Kalij Pheasants, an introduced species that thrived well here in the Big Island and our first lifer.
A short walk up the trail gave us our second and last lifer of the trip. But this bird is one of my sought after species. The Red-billed Leiothrix is a colorful small bird that originally came from the far east. In the pet trade it was also known as the Pekin Robin.
Still further up the trail we encountered the very active female Elepaio, another Hawaiian endemic.
We decided not to continue the loop because a school was having a nature walk and the children were quite boisterous. What happened next sort of set the rule for our subsequent birding outings: a bonus bird, a serendipitous encounter, if you may. This time it was a pair of Saffron Finches who were perched on our car roof when we were about ready to go home. These bright yellow birds flew to the ground as we approached and stayed there just a few feet away from us.
But we have to leave, albeit reluctantly, because it was already noon and the rumblings in our stomachs can no longer be ignored.