Veg survey adventures in the “off” season

(from the notebook of Americorps intern Nicki Ozaki)

Breeding season hasn’t started yet, so life has been pretty quiet for us birders so far. Lots of office work and data management, which is quite interesting actually, looking at the data KFBRP has collected over the last several years. But we have had a few trips into the field to conduct vegetation surveys. One particular event I remember was an epic adventure at Kawaikoi stream near the Alaka’i Swamp Trail. It was after a week of veg-plot surveys at our Halepa’akai camp. We hiked out on Mohihi Trail heading towards Camp 10 road. After a brief civilization experience in the Durango, we parked at the Alaka’i Swamp Trailhead and hiked to our Kawaikoi camp. We spent one night there and in the morning, tackled a few veg-plots that were left over—the ones that no one really wanted to go to. After a several hours of climbing ginger ridges, sliding through mud, trekking through streams, and tunneling through uluhe, we arrived at our spot—well, the general area, it took us another 10 minutes to find our point; the flag was hidden, even though it was in a pretty open field. It was a crazy forest adventure I hadn’t experienced before. No trails, no transects, just looking at a map and a GPS, and going. I saw some parts of the Kawaikoi area some people have never seen before. Although there were a lot of invasive plants, it was pristine in its own sense. I was exhausted from the previous week, but that was my favorite part of the trip. It took us a whole day just to do that one point, but it was totally worth it.