Jun 30, 2009

TAHITI, NEW CALEDONIA AND FIJI Trip Report September 1 - 18 2008


...with Mark Finn
September 1 - 18

This was the first Birdwatching Breaks tour of the South Pacific taking in the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, New Caledonia, Lifou and the two Fijian islands of Viti Levu and Taveuni. We started by visiting Tahiti where we quickly located all the remaining endemic birds including the globally-threatened Tahiti Monarch and Tahiti Reed Warbler. A highlight of the islands was a visit to a cave for breeding Tahiti Swiftlets (one of only three known sites) and connecting with the rarely seen Chattering Kingfisher. Moorea was delightful with its endemic sub-species of Tahiti Kingfisher surely a credible split. The sea crossing across to Moorea offered us our first Tahiti Petrels of the trip. New Caledonia was next on the tour agenda an extremely French influenced island although sparsely populated in the interior. Within Parc Riviere Bleau we literally observed the vast majority of the islands remaining endemics including the rather tame and endearing Kagu and the little-know Crow Honeyeater the latter only being known from this area. The area around La Foa was different in many ways with extensive mud flats, lowland marshes (a rare habitat on South Pacific Islands) and high forests. A few unexpected species were located here – Dusky Moorhen, White-eyed Duck and the beautiful New Caledonia Goshawk. The only species to elude us was New Caledonia Grassbird although we did hear it on occasions. The finale of the tour was the Fijian Islands of Viti Levu and Taveuni a truly beautiful place with friendly people and the ambiance of paradise. With our excellent local Fijian guide we located the vast majority of Fiji’s remaining endemic birds including the recently rediscovered Long-legged Warbler. Highlights for many were the two shining parrots, Rainbow Lorikeet and the elusive Fiji Bush Warbler. Taveuni was our final destination where the forest held the little-known Silktail and the spectacular Orange Dove. The tracks here were alive with the endemic sub-species of Island Thrush surely one of the best place to see this ‘elusive’ species.
Special thanks go out to Herve, Tom and Eric on Tahiti for their knowledge and where to locate the endemic birds. Jean-Marc on New Caledonia surely one of the best guides I have come across and finally Vili on Fiji and absolute master in his knowledge of Fijian birds.
I am sure the following trip report will bring back happy memories of an excellent trip.
September 13th: La Foa, Nadi, Tomanlivi Nature Reserve, Wananavu

Weather: Hot and sunny 30c
We left La Foa at 0500 hours in order to reach the international airport and the short flight eastwards to Fiji. The flight arrived on time at Nadi situated on the east coast of Fiji. Pacific Swallows, Fiji Woodswallows, Common Myna and Red-vented Bulbuls were common on airport buildings. After picking up two 4x4's we set off along the coast towards the north and turned inland to Tomanlivi Nature Reserve. Birds along the road included the endemic Fiji Goshawk and Pacific Harrier. In the gardens of the first village flocks of Red Avadavat and a pair of Wattled Honeyeaters. The road towards the high forest is in poor condition and passes through extensive sugar cane fields and smallholdings. Our first stop produced Barking Pigeon, Polynesian Triller and Vanikoro Flycatchers. At the summit a late lunch was taken, afterwards a short walk along the forest edge. Many birds were only heard here with sightings of Orange-breasted Myzomela, Fiji White-eye, Fiji Parrotfinch, Scarlet Robin and Collared Kingfishers. Returned to the main road and onto our accommodation situated on the north coast.
September 14th: Wananavu, Vatu-I-Ra

Weather: Sunny with afternoon showers 26c
Before breakfast we embarked on a short walk around the hotels grounds and adjacent areas to the hotel. Species were similar to yesterday afternoon with the added sightings of Fiji Shrikebill, Golden Dove, Many-coloured Fruit Dove and Fiji Parrotfinch. Several birds were heard including Fiji Bush Warbler and Slaty Monarch. At 10am we set off to the remote island of Vatu-I-Ra. En route Red-footed and Brown Boobies and Crested Terns. On arrival at Vatu-I-Ra the tide was low so we had to anchor offshore and wait for a rising tide. Several members of the group went snorkeling and the wonders of a living coral reef. At 1300 hours we managed to land and observed nesting Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Lesser Frigatebird and Brown and Black Noddies. Offshore rocks attracted Black-naped Terns, Grey-tailed Tattlers and a single Ruddy Turnstone. A Pacific Harrier flew past with pursuing terns. Little else of note apart from one White-tailed Tropicbird and an impressive gathering of frigatebirds.
September 15th: Wananavu, Central Highlands, Raintree Lodge

Weather: Warm and sunny 28c
Collared Lory - Barry LancasterWe left Wananavu at first light in order to join the rough central track towards Suva. At higher elevations birding was tough due to persistent cloud and drizzle. New birds here included Masked Shining Parrot and Giant Honeyeater. Next stop was an isolated village with the first Collared Lory's of the tour feeding on purple flowers. In an area of mature trees and adjacent scrub we stopped for Barking Pigeon, Golden Dove, Many-coloured Fruit Dove, Fiji White-eye and brief views of Black-faced Shrikebill. Further birding areas held similar birds until we stopped for lunch. Lush vegetation next to a river attracted singing Long-legged Warblers with one bird observed near a waterfall. The road to Suva was long and rough in places and we eventually arrived at Raintree Lodge for our last night on the 'mainland'.
September 16th: Raintree Lodge, Colo-I-Suva, Suva Point, Taveuni

Weather: Warm and sunny 27c
Before breakfast we embarked on a walk in the hotel grounds and into nearby forest habitats. Flowering trees attracted Masked Shining Parrots and Collared Lory's. In trees along the track Polynesian Triller, Vanikoro Flycatcher, Wattled and Giant Honeyeaters. Returned for breakfast and afterwards a foray into Colo-I-Suva Nature Reserve a long patch of native forest. At the turnaround we made short walks along the trails recording the beautiful Blue-crested Flycatcher and insect-gleaning Slaty Monarchs. Time was running out as we had to pass through Suva the capital of Fiji and onto the airport for an internal flight to Taveuni. We stopped at Suva Point where the commoner seabirds were present on the extensive mud-flats. Checked in with Air Fiji and over to Taveuni which is known as the 'garden isle'. Transferred to our hotel situated on the Somosomo Straits. At 1600 hours a walk along the road and inland along rough tracks added Collared Kingfisher, Fiji Woodswallow, Pacific Swallow, Orange-breasted Myzomela, Polynesian Triller and Vanikoro Flycatcher (the last three being endemic island subspecies). Further up the track a calling Fiji Goshawk and Fiji White-eye. Returned to base for a relaxing evening and entertainment by the hotel staff and traditional Fiji music and dancing.
September 17th: Des Voeux Peak, Somosomo Channel
Final species total: 128

Weather: Overcast with occasional sunny spells 24c
Our last full day of the tour started at 0500 with a drive up to Des Voeux Peak the highest point on Taveuni. The track is only accessible by 4x4 and is badly rutted and muddy in several spots. Near the summit we started to encounter the endemic Taveuni sub-species of Island Thrush. We walked slowly down the track taking two trails into the forest. I had brief views of a Silktail as it flew across in front of us. Further down the track we encountered our first Orange Doves and the Taveuni race of Giant Honeyeater a good candidate for a future split. The birding was good with sightings of Barking Pigeon, Blue-crested and Vanikoro Flycatchers, Wattled Honeyeater, Fiji White-eye and the first of several Red-shining Parrots. On one trail we located a pair of Fiji Bush Warblers, Slaty Monarch and another Silktail feeding low in the vegetation. At 1030 we returned to base and organised an afternoon boat trip into the narrow and deep Somosomo Channel. At 1500 hours the diving boat picked us up and we started to explore these relatively unknown waters for seabirds. After an hour a large flock of Brown and Black Noddies was located following game fish (disturbing smaller fish). In among the noddies were at least two Pomarine Skuas, Brown and Red-footed Boobies, Wedge-tailed Shearwater and at least eleven Tahiti Petrels. On the return voyage Lesser Frigatebirds were noted harassing noddies. Back to base after an enjoyable boat trip.
For details of the full species list or to request further information about the next time we will be offering this trip. Contact us at enquiries@birdwatchingbreaks.com.

Trip Reports

Jun 27, 2009

From Prioritisation to Conservation Action: Community-Based Conservation Groups at Fiji’s Key Conservation Sites

From Prioritisation to Conservation Action: Community-Based Conservation Groups at Fiji’s Key Conservation Sites

BirdLife Fiji
Map showing Fiji’s IBAs: Circled are the four target sites of this the Darwin Project.
Zoom In

Darwin Initiative project ref: 162/15/019

Between 2002 and 2005, the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative supported a project implemented by BirdLife International’s Fiji Programme to identify Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Fiji. This project identified fourteen sites of global importance for birds during three years of extensive field work and the subsequent inventory: Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Fiji: Conserving Fijis Natural Heritage was launched in 2006 (see BirdLife's news story, Fiji's IBA book launched).
Having identified Fiji’s IBAs, the challenge is to turn research in to action which is now being undertaken with further support from the Darwin Initiative. In 2006, a project called Community-Based Conservation Groups at Fiji’s Key Conservation Sites was initiated. The overall purpose of this project is to build the capacity of Fijian conservation professionals to conserve forest resources through the establishment of protected areas, management planning processes and monitoring frameworks. These conservation professionals will then train community members in the management of their own forest resources.
The challenges remain significant, however. Fiji has already lost the majority of its forest resources with logging, urban and agricultural encroachment and invasive alien species posing the greatest threats to these forests, often all at the same time.. Logging operations disturb forest blocks while logging roads increase access by agriculture pests and alien plants and animals.

BirdLife Fiji
Poor logging practices are one of the major threats to the Fiji’s IBAs
Zoom In
Four sites are the target of this project’s activities: three have no formal protection and one is reserved. They are:

  • The Natewa / Tunuloa Peninsula (FJ03) on Vanua Levu, which has lowland forest and, together with the island of Taveuni, supports the only populations of the charismatic Orange Dove and Silktail. The area is under particular threat from logging;

  • Nabukulevu and Kadavu East on the island of Kadavu support four bird species and several subspecies endemic to Kadavu; they are threatened by agricultural encroachment and invasive alien species; and

  • Taveuni, the only formally protected area, which is under looming threat from agricultural encroachment and invasive alien species.
The main objectives of the project are to:

  • develop models of community-based protected areas;

  • establish management plans for priority sites;

  • develop an IBA monitoring framework and establish a baseline on which to assess future conditions of IBAs; and

  • raise resources for the further development of managed areas in Fiji.
Significant progress has been achieved. Highlights include:

  • positive responses from communities and provincial governments for the development of managed or protected areas;

  • the establishment of a community conservation group on the Natewa Peninsula while continuing work with existing conservation groups in two other IBAs;

  • the establishment of a community-declared protected area totaling about 5000ha on the Natewa Peninsula;

  • a management plan drafted for the statutory reserves on Taveuni;

  • two university students supported to develop frameworks relating to bird populations and forest management;

  • the establishment of a draft monitoring framework and initial baseline;

  • a fundraising workshop resulting in funding for two project concepts from the GEF Small Grants Programme;

  • extensive awareness work in Fiji through media, community work and awareness materials

  • International promotion at the 2006 British Birdwatching Fair.

BirdLife Pacific
Fijian Warriors stand proudly beside Birdlife's stand at the 2006 British Birdwatching Fair
Zoom In
The challenges to conserving Fiji’s forest resources remain substantial: the causes of deforestation are deep-seated with low local capacity to manage forests. Communities, however, are often under great pressure to derive income through logging. On the hopeful side, many communities would like to manage their forests in sustainable ways, often aware that forest management is related to water quality, fresh water and marine fisheries, the availability of sustainable forest products including fruits and vegetables and flood risk management.
This Darwin Initiative project is building the capacity of a cohort of young Fijian conservational professionals who are developing skills that will contribute to sustainable forest management in the future. Another exciting development this year is the launch of Fiji’s first national NGO committed to terrestrial conservation: Mareqeti Viti/NatureFiji which is working closely with Birdlife International to develop a terrestrial conservation programme.
Important Bird Areas in Fiji: Conserving Fijis Natural Heritage is available from Environment Consultants Fiji.
For further information contact:
Vilikesa Masibalavu,
Fiji Programme Conservation Manager,
James Millet,
Senior Technical Advisor,
Birdlife Pacific Partnership,

From Prioritisation to Conservation Action: Community-Based Conservation Groups at Fiji’s Key Conservation Sites

Jun 24, 2009

$863 -- Fiji from Los Angeles (Roundtrip), incl. Taxes

$863 -- Fiji from Los Angeles (Roundtrip), incl. Taxes* new

Fares to Fiji from Los Angeles have been slashed to an amazing price of $863 roundtrip, including taxes. This fare is available for travel June 10 - Dec. 30 on Air Pacific to Nadi on Fiji's the main island of Viti Levu.

This sale ends July 14.

Click here to purchase tickets directly with Air Pacific. Look for the "Get Packing" fare at a base fare of $565. Final price will include approximately $298 in taxes and fees.

Cheap Flights - Flight Specials - Air Pacific

Jun 21, 2009

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

8 Days / 7 Nights
Odyssey School

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 ::

Special place! - Review of Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort, Kadavu Island, Fiji - TripAdvisor

Matava is a special place. It is not a luxury eco resort and not for the high maintenance crowd. It is simply a wonderful eco resort with a fantastic staff. The lure of Matava draws the same type of people here. If you want to spend some time with those who like adventure and are well travelled, then you picked the right place. We usually stay at the best places when we travel but we wanted to take it down and notch, kick off our shoes (literally) and enjoy a bit of the “real” Fiji.

Hopefully you’ll be greeted by Maggie when you arrive. He makes the whole place come to life. When he isn’t there you miss him greatly. He’ll have you cracking up laughing every time he talks and don’t believe a word he says! You’ll see what I mean when you get there. .. :)

Speaking of getting there, the boat transfer is an adventure in itself so be prepared. Check out the picture with my husband standing in front of our boat. It takes about an hour to get to the lodge. If it is windy and there are waves, you’ll probably be very wet by time you arrive. They give you raincoats but they are so full of holes they don’t help much. They can’t use large boats because the tide can get VERY low. Large boats can’t make it through the reef passages. If you arrive during low tide be prepared to have to walk through some mud to get to and from shore.

Now I say Matava is not a luxury eco resort but if you stay in the Honeymoon bure it will feel like it is. The Honeymoon bure is beautiful and has the large deck with fantastic views. The mosquito net over the bed adds ambience to the room but it is not just for looks. Luckily, it was cool and windy while we were here so mosquitos only bothered us a bit on one night but we slept with the net every night. There are no ceiling fans or a/c, just the ocean breeze. There is also no heat in the rooms so you bundle up or snuggle to get warm. We were there at the end of May and it was chilly, almost cold. Bring a jacket or long sleeve shirt and pants.

All power is solar and there are on-demand gas water heaters. There is a charging station in the main lodge where you can charge batteries, laptops, etc… There are no plugs in the rooms and they do not allow hairdryers to run. In your bure there is a welcome book and it explains that running a hairdryer for 5 minutes uses enough power to run the resort for a week. The book continues to say that however, they will give you a ride in one of their boats for 5 minutes to give you what they like to call the windswept and wild look. I cracked up when I read it!

Adding to the laid-back appeal of Matava is they ask you to go barefoot in the main lodge. In the evening, they sound the drum at 6pm to let everyone know the bar is open (if you want something before then you can get it). This lets all know that if they want to come down to share stories of the day, come on down. Gas lanterns provide light giving everything a warm feeling. One night we had a kava ceremony during the cocktail hour. After we started dinner, the Fijians who were still drinking began singing. It was magical and they were in perfect harmony. It was a very special evening.

Dinner is served at 7pm (or around there in Fijian time). The food here is FANTASTIC, especially the soups! There is lots of variety, fresh ingredients, and flavor. We were here for 5 days and we had something new every day.

When you are finished socializing for the night and ready to go back to your bure, you either use a flashlight or take one of their lanterns to light the way. Once you get back to your bure, look up. The night sky here is unbelievable! The Milky Way is right above you. It is awesome what you can see without any light pollution.

Staying at Matava is a special experience and one we are glad we did. We wanted a true Fijian experience before we went to Taveuni for a completely over the top one. The Fijians here are extra warm and welcoming. We met Jennie, one of the owners, and she was equally as friendly and welcoming. Visiting Kadavu and getting away from all the super touristy stuff gives you a chance to be a part of the real Fiji.

Things to do:

If you want some exercise, take a walk up the trails behind the property. Hike up to the house at the top, go right then keep taking the trails to the left and you’ll go up, up, up to some great views overlooking the ocean and the island.

Definitely hike to the waterfall in the village. It is beautiful!

Dive Manta reef. They try to make sure everyone that stays here goes at least once. We were lucky and saw 3. We hung out by one just watching him feed. It was wonderful! The only thing is we were surprised at how poor visibility was. We had expected better but they also said it was the time of year. Taveuni has much better visibility but you rarely see any big stuff there. We also found out about a place on Viti Levu called Pacific Harbor that is known for Tiger sharks.

Special place! - Review of Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort, Kadavu Island, Fiji - TripAdvisor

Jun 14, 2009

WORLDTWITCH - Fiji Birding Trip Report, Dec 96 - Jan 97, by Phil Gregory


by Phil Gregory

Sicklebill Safaris Report #2
Composite list 29th December 1996 - 5th January 1997
Phil, Sue, Kaja and Rowan Gregory from PNG and Chris Eastwood from Australia.
We arrived from Honiara at Nadi on 29.12.96 skirting cyclone Fergus en route, and spent the first two days in the Nausori Highlands, having hired a small Suzuki at the airport. We did well and saw all that we could expect, including good views of male Golden Dove and Black-faced Shrikebill, so headed over to Taveuni on 31.12 for a 3-night stay. Prior to going to Taveuni we checked up on flights to Kadavu, which used to have just a couple a week, and were delighted to find that we could fit it into our schedule as flights are now daily.
Taveuni had the Silktail as the priority, with some anxiety as a recent Aussie trip had failed to find it. Fortunately we had no such problems and saw it easily on both of our visits to Des Voeux Peak, along with male Orange Dove and the Giant Forest Honeyeater that we had heard but not seen at Nausori. The weather was problematic on New Year’s Day, and poor on January 2nd, but we did very well and failed to find only the Red-throated Lorikeet, Charmosyna amabilis.
We flew back to Suva on 3.1.97. and then over to Kadavu that afternoon for two nights at Reece’s Place, on an island near the airport. This was brilliant as his lodge is just a 5 minute boat ride from forest that holds all the Kadavu endemics. That afternoon we saw all except the Whistling Dove, even Mayr’s Flycatcher that we had dipped thus far. Chris began next morning in spectacular style by scoping the Whistling Dove from Reece’s Place on the mainland opposite! I missed it so was a little apprehensive, but we had no problem locating it in the tall trees along the creek opposite Reece’s Island.
* and bold italic Latin name denotes a Fiji endemic.
WORLDTWITCH - Fiji Birding Trip Report, Dec 96 - Jan 97, by Phil Gregory

Jun 12, 2009

Mai Veikau – Tales of Fijian Wildlife

Mai Veikau – Tales of Fijian Wildlife By Dick Watling

Illustrated by Ian Rolls

Soft Cover, Colour & B&W illustrations, 160 pages

An immensely popular introduction to Fiji’s varied wildlife. 30 short stories written in a popular style but factual and informative.

There is no better reference for learning about Fiji’s snakes or why Banded Sea Krait’s should be treated with respect (Fiji’s Snakes: Fact and Fiction).

  • Why Taveuni’s stick insect shocked the scientific world (Taveuni’s Mythical Mimimata); 
  • some of the most successful biological control work in the world (A Coconut Trilogy) 
  • Fiddlers on the Reef; 
  • Tombs of the Living Dead;
  • When the Vunivalu was bitten.

Jun 10, 2009

BirdQuest | Tour Reports | NEW CALEDONIA & FIJI


Saturday 8th October - Sunday 23rd October 2005
Richard Thomas

The October 2005 tour to the island archipelagos of New Caledonia and Fiji was the most successful Birdquest ever to this magical part of the South Pacific. In 2003, Birdquest became the first tour company to record all known 21 extant endemics on New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands, and this feat was emulated in 2005.

Highlights included stunning views of the notoriously skulking and elusive New Caledonian Grassbird, superb views of male Cloven-feathered Doves and Crow Honeyeater, and all topped off by the incomparable Kagu. Our visit to Fiji recorded 22 endemic species and, thanks to help from my contacts, we became the first bird tour to see the exceedingly rare, localized and highly elusive Long-legged Warbler, an endemic species “lost” on the main island of Viti Levu for more than 110 years, until its rediscovery in 2003. Other highlights of this tropical island nation paradise included a stunning array of fruit-doves: Many-coloured, Velvet and Golden plus the unimaginable Orange Dove – one of the world’s brightest species, plus a total of three male Black-throated Shrikebills, an increasingly scarce and elusive endemic species.

The tour recorded 118 species, 42 of them endemic to either New Caledonia or Fiji, plus around 20 regional specialities.

BirdQuest | Tour Reports | NEW CALEDONIA & FIJI

Birdwatching in Fiji : Gowealthy.com

Bird watching is a pleasure in Fiji, with a variety of rare and indigenous found in its forests.

You can observe the Fiji Goshawk glide majestically, a bird you only find in Fiji, or the Blue-Crested Broadbill, found only in the Viti Levu rainforest, or hear the deep hollow call of the Barking Pigeon at the Colo-I-Suva Forest Park.
There are about 80 species of terrestrial and freshwater birds of which about 10 have been introduced. They are distributed throughout the islands but those interested in sampling an array bird should consider visiting three islands: Viti Levu (which has 56 of the 81 known species found in the group), Kadavu, and the Garden Island of Taveuni. In general, the larger islands tend to be more ecologically intact and the bigger birds--notably the parrots and pigeons--are easily seen.
There are three species of hawk in Fiji. The most common is the swamp harrier, Circus approximans, which is most commonly seen over the grasslands, swamps and wooded areas. It feeds on rodents, birds and occasionally snakes. The Fiji Goshawk, Accipiter rufitoques, ranges from the coast to inland areas and preys on lizards, insects and other birds. Peregrine falcons, Falcus peregrinus, can also be found in Fiji but are not commonly observed. 
There are several varieties of dove in Fiji. The most common is the introduced spotted turtle dove, Streptopelia chinensis, which is also among the most destructive vis a vis fruit crops. Among the most sought after by birders is the orange dove, Ptiliponus victor found in Vanua Levu, Taveuni and some of the other offshore islands. The male of the species is a bright orange with the exception of an olive green head. So rare is this bird that you'll be hard pressed to find a photo of it in any book.
Peale's pigeon, Ducula latrans , as Paddy Ryan, the South Pacific's premier nature photographer points out in his superb Fiji's Natural Heritage guide, is "more likely to be seen than heard" and sounds a great deal like a barking dog. Thus when walking through a remote rainforest, the bark you'll hear is more likely avian rather than canine in origin.
The white-collared kingfisher, Halcyon chloris, is a striking blue with a white collar around the neck. I've often seen them dipping into a friend's swimming pool in Taveuni. Also seen on Taveuni is the silktail, Lamprolia victoriae. Once thought to be a bird of paradise, it is becoming increasingly rare on other islands most likely because of logging. Paddy Ryan describes it as a deep black with metallic blue spangling on the head and breast.

Birdwatching in Fiji : Gowealthy.com

Jun 8, 2009

Oceanic Society

Oceanic Society Expeditions serves over 5,000 individuals annually through international natural history journeys, participatory research expeditions and California whale watching trips. The Expeditions programs offer opportunities for the public to enjoy and learn about wildlife and natural habitats or to assist scientists with field research. Please visit Natural History Expeditions and Research Expeditions.
We believe that responsibly conducted nature tourism can help save natural areas by contributing financially to conservation. By traveling to the worlds parks and reserves, individuals help protect those wilderness areas by contributing to an economy that is in harmony with conservation. Oceanic Society follows a code of ethics in all of its ecotours and research expedtions. Please check out our Ecotourism Code of Ethics.

Thank you Outside Magazine and National Geographic Traveler for acknowledging several of our expeditions in their Trips of a Lifetime Series:

Oceanic Society online | Oceanic Society

Jun 5, 2009

Fiji’s Natural Heritage By Paddy Ryan

Fiji’s Natural Heritage By Paddy Ryan

First published in 1988 to critical acclaim, the second edition is now out.

This time in a hard cover with a staggering 500 color photos and an enormous compendium of useful information packed into 288 pages.

You cannot get a better introduction to the breadth of Fiji’s wildlife – a masterpiece and labour of love for Paddy.

Jun 3, 2009



Including Vanuatu and Samoa
Friday 24th July - Sunday 9th August 2009
(17 days)

Leaders: János Oláh and assistant

Group Size Limit: 10

The wonderful Kagu – in a family of its own and without doubt the avian highlight of a visit to New Caledonia (Richard Thomas)
The wonderful Kagu – in a family of its own and without doubt the avian highlight of a visit to New Caledonia (Richard Thomas)
The words ‘South Pacific’ conjure up images of curving white sand beaches, sparkling turquoise seas, exotic coral reefs, swaying coconut palms, emerald green hills and soaring volcanoes under deep blue skies. The various island groups, scattered throughout the vast Pacific Ocean, have been isolated for almost 80 million years. Despite their relative proximity to each other, a high degree of endemism has developed, especially in the larger, more diversified archipelagos. This is particularly evident amongst the island groups of New Caledonia and Fiji, both of which support endemic-rich avifaunas.

These groups lie near the western edge of the South Pacific and are made up of numerous volcanic and coral islands which are inhabited by people of Melanesian origin. The moisture-laden southeast tradewinds have swept the islands for millions of years, ensuring that the many volcanic peaks are draped with lush, tropical rainforest. Scattered like pearls across the ocean, it is little wonder that these beautiful islands are thought of as a heaven on earth. This is a tour for those keen to observe the many island endemics of this fascinating region, including the monotypic bird family Rhynochetidae, whose sole member is the renowned Kagu. Living costs are high in the area, but as compensation the standards of accommodation and food are good throughout and travelling conditions in general are well above average. For those who love tropical islands, beautiful scenery, unique endemic birds and that ‘get away from it all’ feeling, this is a wonderful experience.

We begin our travels in New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France, which comprises the large island of New Caledonia itself (known as Grande Terre) and a chain of much smaller islands, the Loyalty Islands, to the northeast, as well as a number of other small islands and islets. The main island is the largest island in the South Pacific, apart from New Zealand and New Guinea, being some 400 km long by about 50 km wide. Most of our time will be spent on the main island, centred around Noumea in the southeast, but with short explorations of the far less visited islands of Lifou (or Lifu) and Ouvea (or Uvea) in the Loyalty Islands. The New Caledonia group has at least 22 endemic species, of which two are feared extinct, but we have a very good chance of seeing all but one of the others, including the spectacular Kagu, the sole member of the family Rhynochetidae.

From New Caledonia we fly to Fiji, a group that comprises two large islands (Viti Levu and Vanua Levu), two medium-sized islands (Taveuni and Kadavu) and a large number of small islands and islets. We will visit three of the larger islands, where we should see all of Fiji’s 27 endemic birds except for two restricted to remote islets and four others that are exceedingly rare (and hardly ever observed). Firstly we will explore Viti Levu, the main island, followed by relaxing visits to the peaceful, beautiful and largely undeveloped islands of Taveuni and Kadavu. It will be hard to drag ourselves away from such a paradise.
See full trip details here: BirdQuest | NEW CALEDONIA & FIJI

Jun 1, 2009

Practical Advice for Foreign Bird Trips and Recommended Birding Equipment

Study principal language(s) spoken in area of trip. The better you are able to communicate, the more you will enjoy your trip. Plan to spend an hour per day for at least six months (Western European languages) to one year (e.g., Polish) to more than a year (e.g., Mandarin Chinese) to attain minimal competence for birding. You shouldn't be discouraged because of unfavorable classroom experiences. While language classes can be quite helpful when reading advanced works, at the basic, conversational level, you will progress much faster on your own, studying what you need to learn for practical communication instead of what happens to be in the course materials. Moreover, the vocabulary needed to get along on a birding trip is only a fraction of that required in university classes. You don't have to be able to translate Cyrano de Bergerac to hire and communicate with porters in Congo. See the WorldTwitch Language Resources page.

Study tapes of bird vocalizations. It is best to dub study tapes of voices you don't know and need to learn and to listen to a short tape of a few cuts repeatedly until you are intimately familiar with them. Periodic repetition of your study tapes will help solidify what you have learned.

Exercise daily. Running is good for overall conditioning, but for bird trips it should be combined with uphill exercise, at a minimum, stair climbing machines set at high resistance. There's quite a substantial difference between the most strenuous workout on a stair machine and real mountain hiking, and no gym equipment can prepare you for steep downhill descents.
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WORLDTWITCH - Birding Travel - Practical Advice for Foreign Bird Trips and Recommended Birding Equipment