All CBC circles for the Hawaiian Island Region were successfully counted this year with the exception of Kaho`olawe, and weather did not present any unsurmountable difficulties.
Counts of resident seabirds remained within the usual limits, although an extraordinary 80,000 Sooty Terns were reported from Johnston Atoll. A Brewster’s Booby, an eastern Pacific form of Brown Booby, showed up on Midway again this year, reflecting a trend of recent sightings for the Hawaiian Islands. Migratory seabird reports focused on gulls, specifically Laughing Gulls which erupted across the State this winter season, as demonstrated by one at Waimea Circle, Kaua`i and two on the `Iao Circle, Maui, although many more were reported outside the count week. In addition, two Glaucous-winged Gull turned up on Midway.
Resident waterfowl showed well this year, with high counts again for Hawaiian Goose (Nene) on the two Kaua`i circles—54 for Waimea Circle; 524 for Kapa`a Circle—and seven more on the `Iao Circle, where also an impressive 614 Hawaiian Coot were counted. Last but not least, 21 Common (Hawaiian) Gallinules were reported for the Waipi`o Circle, O`ahu. This year was also good for migratory waterfowl. Straggler geese included a Greater White-fronted Goose at Midway; a high count of 17 Snow Geese on the `Iao Circle; a Canada Goose on the Kapa`a Circle; and a Brant (black) on the Honolulu count. Notable for migratory ducks were the big numbers of scaup this year, nearly all Lesser Scaup: 58 on Molokai Is, 29 in North Kona, and another 29 in Hilo. But there was also a first report of a Greater Scaup for the Kapa`a Circle. Two Blue-winged Teal were a first for the Hilo Circle.
Rare migrant shorebirds were incredible this past Christmas season. Starting at the top of the island chain, Midway reported: two Black-bellied Plovers, a Gray-tailed Tattler, a Far Eastern Curlew, a Bar-tailed Godwit, no fewer than four Ruff, a Wilson’s Snipe, and as if by way of comparison, a Common Snipe! A notable 21 Bristle-thighed Curlews thronged the Honolulu Circle. Semipalmated Sandpiper on Molokai was the only member of its species present in the islands this past winter. The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper on Lana`i was the first ever for that circle. And the `Iao Circle reported a Least and a Western Sandpiper. Lastly, a Spotted Sandpiper entertained viewers at `Aimakapa Pond on the North Kona Circle, Hawaii Is. Two non-shorebird migrants of special note were a Belted Kingfisher at Kapa`a and an Osprey discovered on the Hilo, Hawai`i Is. circle at Ha`ena, although the bird moved on in later weeks.
Sadly, there was little to report for native forest birds, which participants encountered in modest numbers. By contrast, non-native species continue their march though the Islands. A Gray Francolin was the first reported for Waimea, as were the 21 Rose-ring Parakeets and two Red Avadavats, lately exploding on Kaua`i. The Lana`i City count reported seven Gambel’s Quail, a rare species and new for the circle, and a high count of 31 Chukar. A Mourning Dove was new for the Hana Circle, Maui. Slowly but surely, numbers of Red-crowned Parrots continue to build on O`ahu with 118 counted for Honolulu Circle this CBC. Lately, more Red-billed Leiothrix are turning up lower elevations outside their mountain strongholds, as demonstrated by 16 birds on the Molokai circle. High counts for Saffron Finches included 31 in Honolulu where the species has yet to prosper and a staggering 801 on the North Kona circle where it has. The Common Waxbill recently exploded on windward Big Island, with high counts of 404 for Hilo and 12 for Volcano.
Highlights for the Mariana Islands included: a Green-winged Teal for the first time each on Rota Island and Saipan Island; five Gray Herons across Saipan; high counts of Eurasian Moorhens with 14 on Rota and 64 on Saipan; a Common Ringed Plover for Tinian Island; an unprecedented 30 Common Snipe in a single flock on Rota; 45 Gray-tailed Tattlers on Saipan; and a first-ever Pectoral Sandpiper for Saipan.