Fiji, 27th Nov – 5th Dec. 2004, Paul Noakes

This is a report on a birding trip that I did with Chris McGuigan to see as many of the Fijian endemics as possible. It was part of a longer birding trip in which we visited New Caledonia and Hawaii, with a few days in California on the way back home to the UK.

Birds

There are no endemic bird families on Fiji although the odd Silktail is most unusual and has uncertain affinities. There are about 25 endemics although some of these are extinct and others only occur on very distant offshore islands which are difficult or time consuming to visit. There are several species only shared with a few neighbouring island groups such as Tonga. Pigeons are particularly well represented with some stunning fruit-doves. For the average birder there are three main islands to visit, Viti Levu, Taveuni and Kadavu.

Islands

Viti Levu

Kingfisher in FijiThis is the main island and holds a good number of species. Golden Dove and Masked Shining Parrot are endemic. It is also the island on which you are most likely to see Black-faced Shrikebill and the recently rediscovered Long-legged Warbler is also here. The traditional sites include the Nausori Highlands which we did not visit. Instead we stayed in the east at Suva and birded around the Rainforest Lodge and Suva Forest Park. We also visited Monsavu Dam which is a day trip from Suva in a four-wheel drive. This is very good for many species and a site for Long-legged Warbler.

Taveuni


Kadavu
Although there are no endemics there are several species shared only with nearby Vanua Levu. More Fijian endemics can be seen here than anywhere else including the stunning Orange Dove and Silktail. The best site is Des Voeux peak. To reach this you really need a vehicle to take you up at dawn to just below the peak. It can then follow you back down and return you to your hotel. This should be arranged the day before in order that you can collect the key to the gate across the road in the morning. We did not do the Vidawa forest hike  on the other side of the island.

This small island has four endemics which can be seen easily in a day. However you really need to stay overnight on the island as the flights do not give you enough time otherwise.

Logistics

Fiji Vanikoro BroadbillFlights. All our internal flights were booked via the Air Fiji website. They were reasonably good value and ran exactly on time. Our time in Fiji was dictated by the limited flights from New Caledonia and to Hawaii. We could easily have spent less time on Viti Levu.

Accomodation on Taveuni was booked in advance at The Garden Island Resort (www.aquatrek.com ). This is mainly a dive resort but is used to looking after birdwatchers. It is very good value if you book a dormitory. For this you get a standard room but with four beds in it. If it is not busy, then like us, you get it to yourself at a fraction of the cost of a standard room. It is handily located for Des Voeux Peak.

On Viti Levu we stayed at the very good Rainforest Lodge (www.raintreelodge.com) near Suva which was excellent value for money and was also very good for birds. Again this was pre-booked over the net. We also stayed one night at West’s Motor Lodge in Nadi and just turned up here. On Kadavu we stayed at Biana’s which we booked over the phone from Taveuni.

Money This is the Fiji dollar. There are about 3 to the pound sterling. Prices are on the whole pretty cheap although they are higher around tourist areas.

English is very widely spoken and all the people we met were extremely helpful and friendly. NB the letter N although not written is often pronounced before the letter D, hence “Nandi and Kandavu”

General

We used several trip reports from the web the best of these being Tony Clarke’s.
Lonely Planet Fiji has details of all the accommodation needed.
The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific by Pratt et al covers all the bird species.

Fiji, 27th Nov – 5th Dec. 2004, Paul Noakes

Read full report here: Birdwatching Trip Report from Fiji

 

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