Modified marine surveillance radar was used to study the presence/ absence, abundance, and flight activity of four nocturnal species: Hawaiian darkrumped petrel [Pterodroma phaeopygia sandwichensis (Ridgeway)], Newell's shearwater [Puffinus auricularis newelli (Henshaw)], Band-rumped storm-petrel [Oceanodroma castro (Harcourt)], and Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus Sanborn & Crespo). Hawaiian seabirds were recorded flying to or from inland nesting colonies at seven sampling sites on the windward side of the island of Hawai'i. In total, 527 radar "targets" identified as petrel or shearwater-type on the basis of speed, flight behavior, and radar signal strength were observed during eight nights of sampling. Mean movement rates (targets per minute) for seabird targets were 0.1, 0.1, 0.3, 3.8, 0.9, and 2.2 for surveys at Kahakai, Kapoho, Mauna Loa, Pali Uli, Pu'ulena Crater, and Waipi'o Valley, respectively. Two percent of the petrel and shearwater-type targets detected on radar were confirmed visually or aurally. Flight paths for seabird targets showed strong directionality at six sampling sites. Mean flight speed for seabird targets (n = 524) was 61 km/hr for all survey areas. Peak detection times for seabirds were from 0430 to 0530 hours for birds flying to sea and 2000 to 2150 hours for birds returning to colonies. Most inland, low-elevation sampling sites could not be surveyed reliably for seabirds during the evening activity periods because of radar interference from insects and rapidly flying bats. At those inland sites predawn sampling was the best time for using radar to detect Hawaiian seabirds moving seaward. Hawaiian hoary bats were recorded at eight sampling sites. Eighty-six to 89 radar targets that exhibited erratic flight behavior were identified as "batlike" targets; 17% of these batlike radar targets were confirmed visually. Band-rumped storm-petrels were not identified during our surveys.
Additional publication details
Radar study of seabirds and bats on windward Hawai'i