Dec 22, 2008

Surfbirds Birding Trip Report: Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia And Vanuatu - 7th October - 24th October 2005


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.

Surfbirds Birding Trip Report: Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia And Vanuatu - 7th October - 24th October 2005

Dec 14, 2008

Where do you want to go birding in Fiji today?

....Birdwatching in Fiji - Fiji, compared to other South Pacific nations

    such as New Guinea, lacks a diversity of avian life but there are enough interesting and sometimes spectacular looking birds to attract visitors from throughout the world. In all, there are about 80 species of terrestrial and freshwater birds, 70 endemics and about 10 which have been introduced.
....Bouma Forest Park - Bouma Forest Park and Reserve is a luxuriant
    and secluded setting of colourful tropical vegetation, waterfalls, and clear freshwater pools. Taveuni's birds and other exotic wildlife populate the forest park in abundance.
....Colo-i-Suva Forest Park - Only 11km from the heart of Suva. Observe
    the Fiji Goshawk glide majestically - a bird you only find in Fiji; or the Blue Crested Broadbill found only in the VitiLevu rainforest; or you may hear the deep hollow call of the barking pidgeon - a bird widely hunted, but safe here. Pick up your Colo-i-Suva Bird Guide from the Visitor Center.
....Visit the Shinning Parrots, Fiji - by Peter Lonsdal. It is good news
    that the 3 large Shining Parrots all are easy too see ( Red Shining Parrot easiest along trail to Des Voeux Peak on Taveuni; Masked Shining Parrot at Joske's Thumb near Suva; Crimson Shining Parrot anywhere on Kakavu ).
....Birds of Fiji - this site is under construction and very slow loading.
    A few nice pictures of Fijian birds, including the Many-Collared Fruit Dove, the Collared Lory, and the Giant Forest Honey-eater.
....Trip Reports: Fiji - Dick Wattling has posted a number of trip reports
    from Fiji (note only partially visible in Netscape), including:
    • Koro Island
    • Nanuyalevu (Turtle Island), Yasawa, Ba
    • Nasoata Island
    • Viwa Island
....Trip Report: Fiji, July 4 - August 6, 1999. By Barry Levine. The
    following is a report of a trip taken to 6 islands in Fiji. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit Fiji, I'd say that you have missed one of the truly fabulous places on the planet. Aside from birding, there is ample opportunity to see many of the wonders of the sea and make connections with some of the friendliest people we have met in our travels.
....Trip Report: Kadavu and Suva, Fiji, September 26-29, 1998 - by
    Peter Lonsdale. Attending a scientific meeting in Suva, Fiji, at the end of September gave me the opportunity for some quick nearby birding trips. A couple of years ago I had birded the Fijian islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni, plus the dry leeward side of the main island of Viti Levu (in the highlands above Nadi); this time my targets were the 4 island endemics of Kadavu, and the Pink-billed Parrotfinch that is restricted to the wet (Suva) side of Viti Levu.
....Trip Report: Taveuni (Fiji), November 28 - December 8, 1998, by
    Sarah Vetault. I stayed at the Garden Island Resort for what was primarily a scuba trip, but got a couple of days of birding in. From the balcony of the resort we had Vanikoro Flycatchers and Silvereyes feeding fledglings at eye level, clearly visible without binoculars. As far as I was concerned, that paid for the trip. Even the non-birders were taking photos.
....Trip Report: Fiji (6 Islands), July 4 - August 6, 1999, by Barry Levine.
    For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit Fiji, I'd say that you have missed one of the truly fabulous places on the planet. Aside from birding, there is ample opportunity to see many of the wonders of the sea and make connections with some of the friendliest people we have met in our travels.
....Trip Report: Fiji - by Susan Myers. A report of a trip to Fiji made in
    March 1996 by Susan Myers, Stuart Dashper and our friend Chris Doughty. We visited three islands - Viti Levu, Taveuni and Kadavu-from 24th March to 2nd April. The numerous islands of Fiji are characterised by a high degree of endemicity, most notably the three stunning Ptilinopus fruit-doves, the Silktail and the Shining-parrots. In order to observe most of the endemics it is necessary to go to the three islands mentioned above. The islands are well-endowed with tourist facilities, and on the bigger islands there is a wide range, from backpacker hostels to 5-star hotels. English is widely spoken.
....Trip Report: American Samoa and Western (Independent) Samoa,
    November 17 - 20, 2000, by Craig Faanes. Finding the endemic birds of Samoa is an absolute piece of cake (despite Billy Crystal's admonishment in the movie Forget Paris to "never say it's a piece of
    cake."). Eight of the 10 endemics can be seen within 7 km of Aggie Grey's hotel. When Peter Lonsdale was on Upolu a couple years ago he had difficulty finding the Mao the first trip - he got it the second trip. I guess I was just damned lucky to find mine early the first day.
....Trip Report: Western Samoa, July 1996, by Peter Lonsdale.
    Several weeks ago I asked on BIRDCHAT for advice for birding Upolu, Western Samoa. I didn't get much response, but feel duty-bound to give a Trip Report, even though I ended up with barely 24 hours on the island. An Australian correspondent did provide a 1992 Trip Report, with the pleasing news of two good sites (Vaisigano Valley and Mt.Vaea) close to Apia, the capital city --- more particularly, within walking distance of Fagalii airstrip, making the real hazards of Samoan car rental unnecessary. See also Peter's March/April 1999 trip report.
Where do you want to go birding in Fiji today?

Dec 13, 2008

Bird Watching in Fiji :: Odyssey Travel ::

Birdwatching in Fiji offers the opportunity to see a number of tropical birds in the beautiful natural habitat of Fiji. We'll take trips into areas noted for specific species of bird, and we will also use the extensive land of Daku Resort where we stay. As well as many more common Fijian birds such as the reef heron, the kingfisher, the shrikebill and the honey eater, we will also set out to see the orange dove and the silktail, both of which are to be found on our island, Vanua Levu. In fact, the orange dove has been spotted on the estate of Daku Resort itself. A reasonable degree of fitness is required if you are to access all the sites; the two areas where the silktail and the orange dove are found are steep and difficult. We also set out early on most days.

Course Tutor
Robin Mercer has spent most of his life in Fiji. Originally from New Zealand, he was educated at Suva Boys Grammar School before going on to the Bank of New Zealand where he stayed for 12 years. He then moved to Vanua Levu where he bought a copra plantation, which he turned into the Kontiki Lodge, now known as Koro Sun. He has been a keen birder all his life and is well acquainted with the bird life of Vanua Levu. He is the author of "A Field Guide to Fiji Birds "published by the Fiji Museum 1965 (unfortunately now out of print). Robin has served on numerous statutory boards including the Fiji Visitors Bureau, the Coconut Board, and the National Trust of Fiji. He has been awarded an M B E and the Independence Medal of Fiji.

Visiting Lecturer in 2009

Vilikesa Masibalavu has been the BirdLife Fiji Coordinator since the project started in 2002. Vili is the joint author of Important Bird areas in Fiji, a recent study on Fiji's bird life. Based in Suva, he will be coming across to Daku to talk about the birds of Fiji.

During the week Robin and Vili will be taking you to a number of areas of noted bird spotting potential.

Program Includes

  • Return domestic flight from Nadi to Savusavu.
  • Return airport transfers from Savusavu to Daku Resort.
  • 7 nights accommodation at Daku Resort in traditional bures with private facilities.
  • Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are provided.
  • Services of a course leader and teacher.
  • Course fees.
  • Lectures, excursions as indicated.

Program Excludes

  • Return economy international airfares to Fiji.
  • Departure taxes applicable to the standard itinerary.
  • Comprehensive Travel Insurance.
  • Optional activities not listed on the program.
  • Costs of a personal nature eg laundry, massages, private trips.

Program Notes

  • Prices quoted are per person twin share with private facilities.
  • Ex Nadi.
  • The course is limited to 8 people.

:: Bird Watching in Fiji :: Odyssey Travel ::

Dec 10, 2008


Author: Sue Williams
Location: Fiji
Date: 5/27/2008 1:21:00 PM

Beach with Tongan pumice.
Beach with Tongan pumice.

PURPOSE: Experience the world class snorkeling and nature. We were not disappointed.

BEST TIME TO GO: Emailed the resort (in December 2006) and asked the best time to come for optimal snorkeling conditions, we could come ANYTIME. Joan Moody (owner), replied that October was the best month for snorkeling. So, we made our reservations for October.

WEATHER: Was rotten, such is life. 20-30 mph winds and occasional rain for 8.5 days. We had 1.5 days of sun with gentle breezes. When the sun came out and the wind died down it was heaven.

TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS: Did it all myself, direct, online, with a credit card. Emailed the resorts to ask questions. Travel was smooth. I like having the print-out of confirmation emails, etc.

Research tools below (dont forget to delete from your browser temporary internet files, cookies, and history, frequently):

try the month long search for the days they fly to Fiji and the cheapest days.

Forums and descriptions (just a sample):

Also compare prices at a few travel agencies to see if they can give you a better deal than you can find on your own.

FLIGHTS: 1. Los Angeles (LAX) to Nadi, Fiji (NAN) on Air Pacific, $1,100 person round trip (RT). 2. Nadi (NAN) to Savusavu (SVU) on Sun Air, $200 per person RT. Made reservations directly with Air Pacific on their website. Joan Moody made the reservations for our Sun Air flight to/from Savusavu. To reach the domestic terminal in Nadi, Fiji, just go outside and it is but a few minutes walk along the sidewalk in front of the terminals. I made our reservations in January 2006 with Air Pacific and Moodys. There was an airfare sale in August 2006 for $798 RT LAX to NAN. That was the cheapest airfare within that 10-month time frame.

1. LAX to NAN (and return) try to get seats where you can lay down to sleep (back of the plane). Took Ambien, it worked but I did not sleep well because I couldnt lie down. If my husband and I can get an aisle and a window together (empty seat between us) we can take turns laying down. We got seats with plenty of leg room, but the armrests did not fold up. Food on airplane was, well, airplane food, barely edible. We had noise-canceling headphones (Bose). We could read and relax. You will still hear things, but it is muted.

2. For the domestic flight, Sun Air, they not only weighed our luggage but they also weighed us! We had to stand on the scale with our carry-on bags. Sun Air left an hour earlier than scheduled, so, check in as soon as you can, and stay close. On the return flight we were bumped, twice, because there were a lot of Namale Resort guests flying to Nadi. But, we were only delayed about 45 minutes. Sun Air brought in another plane, a 9 passenger plane, for my husband and I, and a family of 4. This small plane was actually much newer and nicer than the larger one we flew over on. We had a smoother ride as well. Had to pay for overweight luggage (Sun Air) on return from SVU to NAN, $30 total (this is common on small planes).

Returning home we had about an 8-hour wait in Nadi before our 10 p.m. departure NAN to LAX. Got a day room at Tanoa International. They will pick you up at the airport and give you a ride back (or a taxi ride is $5). We had lunch and went to bed. Got up, took a shower, and headed to the airport about 8 p.m. I highly recommend doing this. We do not like to shop and there really wasnt anything else we wanted to do in that time frame. We had bought Fiji souvenirs on our previous trip in 2000.

Returning home to LAX, we decided to just stay the night and not worry about how long customs would take, making our connecting flight, etc. Stayed at Doubletree Hotel Los Angeles Airport. We highly recommend it. Clean, comfortable, quiet. Food in bar was great. There is nothing like that first hamburger when you get back to the States. BOAT

RIDE: Moodys arranged for us to be picked up at Savusavu Airport (very small and primitive) by taxi and taken to the boat dock. Boat ride was 2.5 to 3 hours in extremely rough seas. The boat captain said it was as rough as it gets, lucky us. That was one wild ride. Take something for motion sickness, you may not need it, but better safe than sorry.

RESORT: Cost for 10 days $2,365 x 2 = $4,730. Gorgeous island with astonishingly beautiful beaches. Because it is up on a ridge the views are fantastic. Lushly vegetated (native and introduced), lots of tall trees. The owners, Tom and Joan Moody, are kind and thoughtful, they take care of everything for you.

The bures are attractive and comfortable. Beautifully maintained inside and out. The towels may not match and some have holes in them, but they are clean. Toilets are flushed with seawater into a standard septic system, water for showers, sinks, and drinking is rainwater collected from the roof and stored in a cistern. Shower and sinks have hot water.

Each bure is a self-contained unit. All bures have propane lights (easy to light), some have solar lights, and 2 flashlights. Water pressure was low in our shower, but we had hot water. Your bure has a one-burner propane stove to heat up a hot water kettle for tea and coffee (instant). The floor boards are spaced with a narrow gap in between them (so the bures wont be blown away during cyclones).

To sum up the experience, think of upscale camping with a bed, running water, showers, and flush toilets. Deck around bure for sitting, lounging, tanning, bird watching, reading, and also armchair snorkeling. When on the deck of our bure, number 1, we could look down on the coral reef. I saw a turtle one day, and a giant triggerfish another day. Birds were always flying by, see below for list. Bats fly by in the evening. The wildlife comes to you.

FOOD: Set meal times: 8:00 a.m. breakfast, 12 noon lunch, between 6-7 p.m. dinner. If you get to the dining bure early (before dinner) there is usually a snack chips and salsa, popcorn, cheese and crackers. It is good food (not gourmet), and beautifully presented. John (waiter, etc.) always folded the napkins differently every meal. Mostly Americanized recipes, some Fijian, and some Indian. Lots of variation: Fresh baked bread (white bread) at every meal, fresh fruit and fruit juice for breakfast, eggs cooked to order or pancakes or cinnamon rolls, and coffee. Lunch was soup, sandwiches or lasagna or quesadillas or tacos. Dinner was beef or lamb or fish or chicken, vegetables, salads, and dessert. Ice water with all meals. John is very attentive and always remembers your name, refills your water glass, removes your plate, etc.

COMMUNAL TABLES AT MEALS: There are 2 large round tables in the main dining bure. With a lazy-susan in the center of each table where the serving bowls and platters are placed, and you just spin it to get to whatever dish you want and serve yourself. Everyone sits where they want. My husband and I really enjoyed eating with everyone else and talking. We would compare what marine life we had seen and just visit with each other. The resort was full most of the time we were there (12 guests); one German couple, the rest Americans. Most of the guests were divers. The divers said the diving doesnt get any better than Namena, now we would be spoiled for life. Tom Moody (owner) is a wonderful conversationalist, I enjoyed listening to his stories. Since the weather was so bad this was sometimes the highlight of our day!

ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: There is a refrigerator in the dining room stocked with beer, wine, soft drinks, fruit juice, water take what you want (or ask John) and write it down on your running tab on the bar. For my husband and I we would both have a beer at lunch (Fiji Bitter), and a glass or 2 of wine at dinner. At the end of 10 days our bar bill was $196. Very reasonable for a resort. You might want to bring a bottle of vodka, or whatever, if you like mixed drinks (it would be less expensive). Moodys provides the ice and mixers.

Here are some good photos of the resort on

BIRDS: My husband is the birder.

LIST: White-tailed tropic birds, red-footed boobies, Pacific swallow, lesser frigatebird, crested tern, black-naped tern, Polynesian starling, common mynah (introduced), Vanikoro broadbill, orange-breasted myzomela (honeyeater), spotted dove, grey-back white-eye (Fiji silver eye), Pacific pigeon, white-throated pigeon, wandering tattler, white-collared kingfisher, and bulbul. And the most exciting, the Fiji banded rail (flightless, walks around on the ground like a chicken). The banded rail is extinct in most of Fiji.

At breakfast and lunch we would feed bread crumbs to the birds outside the windows of the dining bure, you can see most of the islands birds from the dining room.

Red-footed Booby Nesting Colony: The boobies nest in trees along the shore, in an area past the dock. They are noisy and smelly, but the red feet and the blue beak are very attractive, and you can get fairly close to them. On Namena they call the booby nests booby BEDS.