Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia And Vanuatu – 7th October – 24th October 2005

Full report here: Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia And Vanuatu – 7th October – 24th October 2005.

See Fiji Sector info below, thx Graham

Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia And Vanuatu bird watching

We decided to continue our South Pacific Odyssey with a trip to Fiji.

The logistics at first appeared daunting as we had to visit nine islands in four different countries and flights between countries were not daily. After many weeks of studying various options and permutations we managed to come up with an itinerary that worked, but was very tight for time. If the birds fell into place and the flights all departed on time, it would work.

Accommodation/Food/Health

Accommodation ranged from a spiffy resort in New Caledonia to camping on Pic Santo in Vanuatu. In the end we stayed in nine different hotels and camped on two nights. We did not pre-book any accommodation on Samoa, where we just found a motel for two nights and a beach fale for one night. On Fiji we stayed at the Raintree Lodge on Viti Levu and the Garden Resort on Taveuni, both pre-booked over the internet. On Kadavu we just turned and stayed at the Airport Inn next to the airport which consisted of three beach huts which although basic were very good value. In New Caledonia we stayed in pre-booked resorts/hotels and on Vanuatu we camped for two nights and stayed in a motel for two nights. None of the accommodation was particularly cheap, the most expensive being in New Caledonia.

We ate well. Instead of the usual junk food, we ate proper meals most nights in Samoa and Fiji. In New Caledonia, due to the cost we opted for French bread and cheese from the supermarket and picnicking. For the trek to Pic Santo we took rice and canned fish and cooked over an open fire.

Neither of us suffered any medical problems during the trip. The main problem we encountered were ticks on the trek up Pic Santo and both of us suffered a number of bites. Although malaria is widespread in Vanuatu we encountered very few mosquitoes.

 Weather

We were very fortunate with the weather during our stay we had no rain to speak of, just a short shower in Samoa. The temperature was a very pleasant in the mid to high twenties with low humidity.

Islands and the Endemics

 Fiji 

Fiji was our favourite of the countries we visited. The people were very friendly and the three islands that need to be visited to see all the endemics each have their own unique charm.  Access between the islands is by small inter-island planes which were efficient and ran on time. All the endemics are fairly easy to see with the exception of Long-legged Warbler. We basically messed up for two reasons. Number one we failed to contact Vili from Birdlife International as soon as we arrived in Fiji to get the latest information and to hopefully employee his services to show us the best site. When we did try to contact him he was not in the office and so we were left to our own devices. Secondly, the drive from Suva to Monasavu Dam took longer than expected and we lost time birding en route. In hindsight we should have driven up in the evening and camped so we were on site at first light, giving us longer and the advantage of dawn. In the end we didn’t get to the site until 8.30am and only had three hours. We did hear at least two birds calling intermittently but had no sightings.

If we had more time, it would have been worth spending a evening seawatching off Taveuni as we saw a large number of distance birds at dusk, but there was just not enough light to identify them.

We didn’t even plan to try for Pink-billed Parrotfinch as to quote Guy Dutson, it’s seen once in about every 40 hours of searching. As for Red-throated Parrot there have been no sightings for many years.

 Sites

Kadavu

This was our favourite island mainly because it is still totally unspoilt by tourism and there were no introduced Mynas or Bulbuls.  We stayed at the Airport Inn, a three-minute walk from the airport. The accommodation consisted of straw huts on the beach and although basic, it was excellent value for money as it included meals when we wanted them, e.g. breakfast at 11am after we had finished birding.  The best birding area can be reached on foot so there is no need to organize transport

Contrary to what some reports stated, we found a really good large tract of undisturbed forest just outside the main town. From the airport, turn right and follow the coast for about 500m. Take the first main track on the right leading uphill. Follow the track past the school on your right-hand-side and you arrive at a six-way junction. Take the second on the right and continue along this track and after a km you reach some great forest. We walked for about further 4km with good forest most of way, which appeared to continue further.

We saw the Parrot, Fantail and Dove fairly easily, though the Honeyeater proved a little more difficult. It was easier in the morning especially around the town.

Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia And Vanuatu – 7th October – 24th October 2005

Published by Graham Talbot (gtalbot AT netvigator.com)

Participants: Chris Campion, Graham Talbot

Speak Your Mind

*

Find us on Google+