May 30, 2009



by Petri Hottola

Bula! The following notes will provide some up-to-date information for bird tourists visiting Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji, and Kadavu (pronounced Kandavu), another Fijian island, as collected during a one week visit, 17th to 22nd January, 2009. The main emphasis is on endemic bird species, sites and travel arrangements. A few of photographs have been included to illustrate some of the locations and conditions on the islands. F$ refers to Fiji dollar, the local currency.

My itinerary in Fiji was pretty straightforward. Soon after my arrival from Brisbane, Australia, to Nadi (pronounced Nandi), I took a domestic flight to Vunisea, Kadavu, and spent one afternoon, night and morning there, to see the island’s four endemic species (Whistling Dove, Red Shining-Parrot, Kadavu Honeyeater, Kadavu Fantail). After a return flight to Nadi International Airport, I rented a car and drove to Suva (driving time 3 hours 15 minutes), together with a new local friend, Buka, and stayed at the Raintree Lodge. The lodge was used as a base for four days of birding in and around the capital
region. On the last day, I spent the morning in Suva, did some seabird observations on the way to Nadi and eventually arrived at the airport well after sunset, having had a supper at the close-by Raffle’s Gateway hotel. I had an early hours Air Pacific departure to Apia, Samoa, on the 23rd.

BIRDING SITES : Vunisea, Kadavu

In Vunisea, Namara Road is the place to go for the Kadavu endemics. All four species are readily seen there. In fact, I saw three of them already on the first afternoon at the Biana Accommodation, scanning the treetops of Vunisea. Red Shining-Parrots flew over the forest, a single Kadavu Honeyeater sat on top of a close-by tree and a pair of Whistling Doves were seen flying by, late in the afternoon. One night on Kadavu clearly is enough to ‘do’ the main target species. There is no need to hire a taxi and a guide to take one to more remote forest locations, unless you prefer it for the fun of it. A Pacific Black Duck, Lesser Frigatebirds, Eastern Reef-Egrets, Swift Terns, a Wandering Tattler, Collared Kingfishers and White-rumped Swiftlets were among the other birds recorded in Vunisea. The village is one of the blessed places on earth with hardly any noise of engines. Relax and enjoy the sounds of waves braking against the tropical shoreline...

The Namara Road is easy to locate as long as you know where to go. From Biana Accommodation, proceed on the bayside road towards the air strip, for a short distance, and turn left at the first major crossing. The climb up a hill, to a distinctive roundabout, had many Kadavu Honeyeaters, Collared Lorys and a few Fiji Parrot-Finches. At the five-way roundabout, take the second road to the left, signposted as Namara Rd (Fig. 6). The endemics will start to show at the first trees of secondary forest, and should all appear within the next few hundred meters. I was greeted by my first Kadavu Fantails right by the edge of the secondary forest, and saw many Red Shining-Parrots along the road, which could have been walked for several kilometers. The most difficult of the endemics, the Whistling Dove is easier in the proper forest, but two birds were seen in the beginning, too. Other nice birds along the Namara Road included Fiji Goshawks (breeding), Barking Pigeons (very common, great views), Slaty and Vanikoro Flycatchers (both quite common), a Fiji Bush-Warbler (Kadavu subspecies), Polynesian Trillers and Starlings, Fiji White-eyes and Silvereyes, and Golden Whistlers (Kadavu subspecies).

A very attractive feature of Vunisea were the hundreds of magnificent Tongan Flying- Foxes (Fruit-Bats), active both day and night, and much easier to observe there than on Viti Levu.

Birdwatching Trip Reports Fiji - Birding Travel Fiji