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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
FIJI, March 3 to 11, 2008,
We visited the islands of Taveuni, Kadavu and Viti Levu in Fiji between March 3 and 11, 2008. It was a successful trip, seeing all but one of the birds we hoped to find, and making up for that with one species we had not expected to see (Pacific Imperial-Pigeon).
Flights: We flew from Sydney to Nadi on Air Pacific and back on Pacific Blue. Going on Air Pacific who fly out of Sydney early on three days per week was the only way we could connect through to another island on the day of our arrival.
Internal flights were booked on an Air Fiji airpass. This cost A$572 per person for 5 flights. The way the flight times worked out it would also be possible to book the cheaper 4 flight airpass and then get a bus from Suva to Nadi. Or it may be possible to pick up that flight more cheaply once in Fiji – we were told that sometimes the 6 am flight from Suva can be discounted to as little as F$29. The order of the trip was determined by the fact you could fly from Nadi to Taveuni directly, but the only flights to Kadavu were from Suva.
Given that most of our internal flights were delayed to one degree or another (which caused us to miss a connection at one point and reorganize the rest of our trip) it would be unwise to assume you can fly from a different island to Nadi and connect to an international flight on the same day.
Taveuni: Like most birders we stayed at Garden Island Resort ( www.aquatrek.com ). Accommodation was fine and there was fairly good snorkeling off the resort. They can organize all transport for you once you get there, but take a fee for doing so. Try to pay your driver directly to avoid that happening. It’s a good idea to book your driver for the first morning up des Voeux Peak in advance.
A 4WD is needed for Des Voeux Peak, sometimes referred to as Mount Devo. We paid F$130 for the first morning (departed at 5.30 and returned at 10.30) and F$110 for the second morning when we left at 6 and returned at 9 – both payments made directly to the driver rather than via the hotel. Some reports suggest getting the driver to leave you at the top of the hill so you can walk back. The steep road with lots of rough sections and loose gravel, plus the fact that most of the walk would be through cleared land, meant that plan didn’t appeal at all. Also the level of bird activity seemed to die down by about 9am. The first time we visited the gate was open so we started about half a kilometre above it, but didn’t see anything we would not have seen if we had just walked up a hundred metres or so above the gate. We did try one of the trails off the road that is referred to in other reports (about 100 or 150 metres below the gate, on the left as you descend) but didn’t see much by doing so.
It is definitely worth visiting Nabogi Ono Farms, ( www.taveuniconservation.com ) often referred to in trip reports as Bobby’s Farm. The best time for a visit is the late afternoon – we left Garden Island at 3pm and still had plenty of time to see everything. Therefore a morning on Des Voeux, lunch at the hotel and an afternoon at the Farms makes sense. Bobby charges a small fee of F$25 for admission and guiding and can also pick you up and return you for F$50. We had to arrange a lift with a driver via the hotel as Bobby was not available, and they charged F$70. The hotel can arrange your visit once you are there, or Bobby can be contacted in advance at email@example.com . Bobby is trying to preserve one of the few remaining patches of lowland forest on that side of the island and needs the support of birders to do so, as he has to make do without any official support.
Some trip reports refer to Qeleni Road which is on the east coast of Taveuni. We were told that the forest has been cleared back from the road now, and therefore it is no longer a good place for birding.
Kadavu: The accommodation choice on Kadavu is a bit less clearcut. Many birders have stayed at Reece’s Place. From what we could discover on the web the place is allegedly being renovated, but if it is possible to stay there at the moment you will have to bring your own food and stay in something that may fall down around you. But it’s not clear whether things have changed since that was written. With most of the other places astronomically expensive we decided to opt for Matava ( www.matava.com ) which is a long boat ride away from the airport. The only birder we had read of having visited found all four Kadavu endemics on the grounds. It was a nice place and the service was good. But from a birder’s perspective the long boat trips mean you really have to stay on Kadavu for two nights rather than one to get a decent amount of time in the field. And the risk you run – as we found out – is that if there are no fruiting trees around the Resort at the time you visit then there may be no doves, and because of the lack of roads, there are no opportunities to other parts of the island easily. So while Matava is good, and some of the nearby snorkeling excellent, it may not be the best choice for birders. One trip report mentions Biana Guest House but we were not able to find out anything about it.
Note there is no electricity at Matava, though you can recharge batteries as there as there is a generator somewhere. See the diary section for comments about trails.
Viti Levu: we stayed at Raintree Lodge near Suva ( www.raintreelodge.com ), which has good birds on the grounds and is only 5 minutes’ walk away from Colo-i-Suva. The gate at Colo-i-Suva says that the park only opens at 8 am and that you have to pay your admission beforehand at the office opposite. We were assured at Raintree Lodge that there would be no problem with us going in before the park officially opened. While we are not aware of any birders having problems at Colo-i-Suva there seems to be a safety problem. The Lonely Planet guide recommends that you take a guide with you for that reason, and the material available at Raintree Lodge recommends the same thing, plus that you do not take valuables. There are signs in the park about the times at which the area is patrolled. Trail maps are available from Raintree Lodge.
We spent one afternoon and one morning exploring Nabokalevu with Vili Masibalavu who works for Birdlife Fiji and is happy showing birders around on weekends, subject to availability. He charges F$150 at the moment per day (or in our case, for an afternoon and the following morning). Vili knows the birds well and we enjoyed his company. The site is reached by taking a left turn a couple of kilometers to the north of Raintree Lodge and then continuing on that road for a long time until you reach a slope below a television tower. A 4WD is required to get there.
On the way we passed Pipeline Road which is mentioned in a number of reports. There is now a big gate and a fence on that road so access to it is no longer possible (even on foot).
Getting to the Long-legged Warbler site is more problematic. We opted against it when Vili said we would need to hire our own 4WD and that would probably add F$300 to the cost of our day with him. Given Vili then took us out in a 4WD anyway we never worked out why we would have needed to hire one. But apparently storms last year destroyed a number of bridges on the way and it’s necessary to drive through creeks to get there. Vili said that if he’s not available to take people to the site he is happy to provide information on how to get there. He knows quite a few LWW sites, but only the one that does not involve a very long walk. He said they are very easy to hear, but seeing them is harder.
Timing: We visited in the wet season and made sure we had more than one day everywhere, on the assumption we would lose a day or two to rain. As it turned out we only had rain on one day (on Kadavu) and overnight on Viti Levu.
Field Guides and site information: We took Pratt, Bruner and Berrett’s A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. It was adequate, though a little light on detail when it came to separating shrikebills and fruit-doves (see comments in the species accounts). Depending on what other locations you are visiting, a better choice may be Dick Watling’s A Guide to the Birds of Fiji and Western Polynesia including American Samoa, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis & Futuna (available from www.pacificbirds.com). While the illustrations in it are not exceptional, the text covered some of the tricky identification points in more detail. It also contains some site information.
We took a number of recent trip reports with us, obtained via www.travellingbirder.com
Mobile phone coverage: Vodafone is the local supplier. We had coverage pretty much everywhere (except that at Matava they said you had to wade offshore to get reception), which was lucky given we had to reorganise things half way through.
Monday 3 March: We flew from Sydney to Nadi on Air Pacific. The flight to Taveuni was delayed for a couple of hours. We wandered around the Nadi Airport carpark and saw Wattled Honeyeaters, Fiji Parrotfinches and Vanikoro Flycatchers easily, together with Red-vented Bulbuls. After arriving in Taveuni we saw Fiji Woodswallows and more Vanikoro Flycatchers during the short car trip to Garden Island Resort, and a short walk along the road near the hotel gave us Orange-breasted Myzomela and our first Fiji Goshawk.
Tuesday 4 March: This day was the highlight of the trip. We were picked up at the hotel at 5.30 am and driven up Des Voeux Peak. We saw our first Island Thrush on the road on the way up. The gate was open so we continued about half a kilometre past it before getting out. It was still dark at that stage. Unlike many other birders we had perfect clear weather with no wind. As we started down the hill we added Peale’s Imperial-Pigeon, Fiji Bush-Warbler and Layard’s White-eye fairly quickly. The left corner just above the gate turned out to be a good spot. One or possibly two Silktails were soon found. It was good to have the main target bird for the trip out of the way before 6.30 am on the first full day. Their behaviour was certainly more nuthatch like than anything else. A single Red Shining-Parrot and many Collared Lories were nearby, and Giant Forest Honeyeaters were conspicuous thanks to their loud calls. Blue crested Flycatchers were another impressive addition to the list.
Just below the gate we found our first Orange Doves with a group of females sitting quietly in the canopy waiting for things to warm up. Then we had our first Shrikebills. Initially we thought we may have had both Fiji Shrikebill (based mainly on call) and female Black-throated Shrikebills. However we became suspicious as all of our presumed Black-throated birds would have had to be females. It turns out that there is a degree of overlap in their calls, and the Fiji Shrikebill is a lot duller than the bird illustrated in the Pratt field guide. All we did see on Taveuni were Fiji Shrikebills, which is consistent with other trip reports – the Black-throated seems to be quite rare on the island. See the Checklist section for more on how to separate these species.
Moving down the hill a little we saw another Silktail, added Slaty Monarch, a few stunning male Orange Doves, a pair of Pacific Robins, and many Streaked Fantails. A few Polynesian Trillers were seen on tree tops, plus we saw a few more Island Thrushes briefly, and the yellow-throated Taveuni race of Golden Whistler. As we drove back down the hill we had a good view of a perched Fiji Goshawk.
After lunch and some snorkeling in front of the hotel we headed to Nabogi Ono Farms. We departed at 3pm and it took about 45 minutes to get there. We were keen to start birding straight away but Bobby told us there was no rush, and he turned out to be correct. We mentioned the only birds we hadn’t seen on Taveuni at that stage were some of the pigeons and Polynesian Starling and he pointed out that a starling was calling at that moment – several were on the trees right behind his house. And pretty soon he located the first of several male Orange Doves – we had great views of them all. He said they are present year round. Then we headed along some of the trails. Once he had persuaded his dog to stop following us, he headed off away from us into an area where he has sometimes seen Shy Ground-Doves. Soon he was calling out that he had seen one, and after several attempts he was able to flush one towards us onto a low branch in front of us, where we had had good but brief views.
Bobby had mentioned Pacific Imperial-Pigeons. At first we were skeptical as from what we had read they are almost never seen on the larger islands. But it turned out that he was correct, because soon we were looking at the first of nearly fifty birds that flew in to roost in the tall trees around the property. We were able to see the paler face, different coloured undertail coverts, and note the different bill shape. The birds were photographed.
All of which left Many-coloured Fruit-Dove as our only outstanding target species. Bobby kept telling us they would get there shortly before it became dark and told us which trees they would roost in. As we waited we saw a White-throated Pigeon feeding near his house. Finally he admitted that the birds were a few minutes late but as soon as he said that the birds swept in over our heads and landed right where he said they would. We saw about a dozen in all. So adding in the Spotted Turtle-Doves that were in the area we had seen seven species of pigeons that day, including six at Bobby’s place. Quite an amazing selection, given that the site is secondary regrowth including a substantial portion of non native trees.
The strange yellow coloured Dove (possibly a hybrid) mentioned in several trip reports is still present according to Bobby, but we did not see it.
Wednesday 5 March: With all possible Taveuni birds other than the Black-throated Shrikebill and of course the critically endangered / possibly extinct Red-throated Parakeet in the bag, we had a spare day up our sleeve. We went back up Des Voeux Peak again. Things seemed to be a bit slower today, but by the end of the day we had seen all but three of the species we had seen there the day before, plus Polynesian Starling which we had not. We had a single Silktail about 150 metres below the (now locked) gate, and more Fiji Shrikebills, and better views of RedShining-Parrot.
We spent the rest of the day entertaining ourselves snorkeling, and taking the GPS for a walk across the 180 degree meridian.
Thursday 6 March: Today we were supposed to have a 10 am flight to Suva followed by a noon flight to Taveuni. However shortly before the aircraft was due to arrive we were told it would not be arriving until 1 pm so we would not be able to get Kadavu today. We filled in time in the grounds of a nearby resort. Subsequently we were able to easily reorganise flights and accommodation bookings so that we came back from Kadavu a day later than planned and therefore got to spend as much time everywhere as we had originally planned.
Eventually we got to hastily booked Raintree Lodge near Suva at around 3pm and after a late lunch we started birding the grounds and around the entrance to Colo-i-Suva which is only a few hundred metres away. The Viti Levu races of Fiji Bush-Warbler and Giant Forest Honeyeater (the latter surely a candidate to be split one day) were located easily. We could hear a shining parrot calling for a long time and eventually we got onto it from the roadside – our first Masked Shining-Parrot. There were at least fifty Peale’s Imperial-Pigeons around plus more Fiji Shrikebills. We also noticed our first Jungle Mynas.
Friday 7 March: With the morning available before our delayed flight to Kadavu, we got up early and headed into Colo-i-Suva park (see logistics section for comments). We birded the road as far as the trail to the Upper Pools, then returned towards the lodge via the Falls trail.
Our main target species was soon in the bag when Chris picked up a male Golden Dove right next to the road – a suitably impressive bird # 3,000 for Murray. Masked Shining-Parrots were far more visible this morning and Chris saw the local race of Golden Whistler. Other birds included more Peale’s Imperial-Pigeons and Slaty Monarchs. Along the Falls trail we heard at least two Black-throated Shrikebills but we could not coax them into view.
After an uneventful flight to Kadavu we found no one to meet us and were left standing at the airport as everyone packed up and left. Fortunately we were able to ring Matava, and while they had no more idea than us why no one was there they assured us someone would pick us up. On the positive side the only large sign outside the airport was one illustrating the four endemic birds of Kadavu. While we were there Murray noticed a green dove speed past in the distance and keep going. With other things on our mind at the time, and on the assumption that the first bird you see when you get off the plane is going to be a common one, we didn’t think any more about it, which turned out to be a mistake (though of course it may have been a Many-coloured rather than a Whistling Dove). Eventually the boatman turned up and we were driven the short distance to where we climbed into the boat for the hour long trip to the resort. We passed one islet with seabirds including Brown Noddy, Crested, Bridled and Black-naped Terns roosting on it. It started raining heavily when we got to the resort (and luckily not before as there was no rain protection on the boat).
We started with the track to the west of the resort along the water’s edge. Before too long we had our first view of Kadavu Fantails when we saw a pair from the trail. And it wasn’t much longer before we had a Kadavu Honeyeater too, though the view was not great. All this was within about 400 metres of the resort.
With visibility from that trail limited we decided to try elsewhere for the parrots and headed to the east of the resort (accessed by heading for the resort vegetable garden, along the trail that takes you past the office). With a bit of bush bashing we made it as far as a big line of pine trees, just short of the local village. Some Polynesian Starlings could be seen on top of trees in the village. We could hear parrots, and eventually picked up some distant Crimson Shining-Parrots on the skyline. So now we had a day and a half left to concentrate on the dove.
Saturday 8 March: We had heavy rain overnight and patchy rain throughout much of the day. Having spoken with the lodge owners about the best place to find the dove, we decided to head for the plantation area. To get there, from the main burré cross the creek and then head uphill – the track runs between the creek and the top hut. At the top of the hill you will find a house, then head for the trails behind the watertank. Head east (i.e. to the right) for about a hundred metres. This section was particularly birdy: we had the Kadavu races of Golden Whistler and Fiji Bush-Warbler here, as well as Kadavu Fantails. Then you emerge at the bottom end of the local village’s plantation area.
We spent a lot of time in this area but did not see many birds. The two Fiji Goshawks in the area would not have helped. By heading up to the top of the plantation area you can join a series of trails that head east and fan out in a couple of different directions. We covered those trails pretty thoroughly, but once again had no luck with the dove. After a number of distant views of Crimson Shining-Parrots we eventually came upon a group of about eight which we had good close views of.
In the afternoon we went snorkeling at Astrolabe Reef, which requires a boat trip. We saw Brown Boobies on the way. The coral there was amongst the best we have seen. In the evening we saw a Barn Owl fly from behind our hut across the resort clearing. Several more Kadavu Honeyeaters were seen during the day, including around the resort.
Sunday 9 March: We started by exploring further along the coastal trail to the west, seeing the usual birds again. Murray decided to see if he could find where the Barn Owl was roosting, and got a very painful wasp sting for his troubles (and no owl). On the boat trip back we saw more of the same seabirds, plus a couple of Lesser Frigatebirds. We decided to spend the hour we had up our sleeve before the flight looking for the dove in the area near Vunisea mentioned in Tony Clarke’s report. Be aware that Tony’s compass seemed to be misbehaving because the area he describes as “forest area west of Vunisea” is actually to the east and some of the other directions didn’t make sense to us. It was mid-morning and hot by the time we started looking which did not help, and we did not see or hear any doves. So reluctantly we had to give up on Whistling Dove, which most people seem to find or at least hear fairly easily. We guess they were all off wherever the fruiting trees were at the time. Back at the airport we saw one Polynesian Starling.
Upon arrival back at Suva Vili Masibalavu picked us up and after checking in at Raintree Lodge we headed for an area called Nabokalevu. We had told Vili that the two birds we wanted to see were the Black-throated Shrikebill and Pink-billed Parrotfinch and he thought this was the best area. We tried a couple of shrikebill sites but only heard the birds. Nevertheless the area was full of birds including about eight Golden Doves, a Masked Shining-Parrot, a couple of Fiji Shrikebills, lots of Collared Lories and several Blue-crowned Monarchs. On the way back we saw two White-throated Pigeons.
Monday 10 March: Vili picked us up again and we headed back to the same area at Nabokalevu. Birds were much the same as the day before, including 3 Golden Doves, 2 or 3 Masked Shining-Parrots, Golden Whistlers (heard only), and Fiji Parrotfinches. We had more luck with shrikebills today, eventually getting reasonably good views of both male and female Black-throated Shrikebills. They appear to be extreme skulkers compared to their Fiji cousins. And we had untickable views of our other target when Vili recognised a Pink-throated Parrotfinch by call and we saw a small dot zoom overhead. Island Thrushes could be heard calling and one was glimpsed crossing the road. Our final addition to the trip list was the Fijian race of Fan-tailed Cuckoo.
We spent the rest of the day at Raintree Lodge. Incredibly Chris had a Shy Ground-Dove walking around only a metre or two away from him on a small patch of cleared ground near the swimming pool (on the right side of the pool when facing the small dam). We tried to lure it back with playback later, and it did come in but we didn’t see it until it was flushed by people. Later in the day Murray saw it on the road to the huts at the top of the hill. Also seen were several Golden Doves and a female Many-coloured Fruit-Dove, plus commoner birds including Giant Forest Honeyeater and Masked Shining-Parrot.
Tuesday 11 March: We had an early morning flight to Nadi then spent a few hours in town before our afternoon flight to Sydney. No birds of note seen.
T = Taveuni V = Viti Levu K = Kadavu
Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)
K: several seen during boat trips around Matava.
Lesser Frigatebird (Fregatta ariel)
T: one seen near the airport.
K: several seen around Matava and on the boat trip back to Vunisea.
White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)
V: several seen at Nadi Airport.
Pacific Reef-egret (Egretta sacra)
T: a couple around Garden Island Resort
K: several around Matava.
Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans)
A couple of sightings on each island.
Fiji Goshawk (Accipiter rufitorques)
T: seen near entrance to Garden Island Resort as well as on Des Voeux Peak.
V: seen at entrance to Colo-i-Suva and at Nabokalevu.
K: two up the hill from Matava.
Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)
V: one present at Suva airport. Apparently has been there for a while.
Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva)
T: seen at Taveuni Airport
V: seen at Nadi and Suva airports
Wandering Tattler (Tringa incana)
T: one tattler thought to be this species seen about a kilometre south of Garden Island Resort.
K: one present around Matava.
Brown Noddy (Anous minutus)
K: seen on boat trips to and from Matava.
Bridled Tern (Onychoprion anaethetus)
K: seen on boat trips to and from Matava.
Crested Tern (Sterna bergii)
T: several seen.
K: seen on boat trips to and from Matava.
Black-naped Tern (Sterna sumatrana)
T: distant birds thought to be this species seen near the airport.
K: seen on boat trips to and from Matava.
White-throated (Metallic) Pigeon (Columba vitiensis).
T: One at Nabogi Ono Farms.
V: Two seen from the road when returning from Nabokalevu, not far from Pipeline Road.
Spotted Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia chinensis)
Seen on Taveuni and Viti Levu.
Shy Ground-Dove (Gallicolumba stairi)
T: one seen at Nabogi Ono Farms, thanks to Bobby who knew where to look and managed to flush the bird towards us.
V: one seen several times on the grounds of Raintree Lodge on the afternoon of 10 March. Vili was not aware of anyone having seen them there previously.
Many-coloured Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus perousii):
T: about a dozen seen well at Nabogi Ono Farms, where they came in to roost at dusk.
V: one female seen in one of the tall trees along the road up the hill to the cabins at Raintree Lodge.
Note on identification of fruit-doves: at first we thought the female bird we were looking at might have been a Crimson-crowned Fruit-Dove (P. porphyraceus). However once you examine the text of the Pratt field guide in relation to the variation between races, you realise those species are harder to separate than the pictures initially suggest. The undertail pattern is important. Vili suggested he is skeptical of some of the reports of Purple-capped Fruit-Doves from the main islands that are in some trip reports.
Orange Dove (Ptilinopus victor)
T: several seen each day on Des Voeux Peak, including a couple of females that seemed to have roosted overnight just below the gate. Also outstanding views of around four males at Nabogi Ono Farms where Bobby said they are present year round.
Golden Dove (Ptilinopus luteovirens)
V: one male seen along the road at Colo-i-Suva on the 7th. Fairly common, though skittish, in the Nabokalevu area on the 9th and 10th. Several, including males, seen on the grounds of Raintree Lodge on the 10th.
Pacific Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula pacifica)
T: the surprise bird of the trip, with a group of around 50 birds present at Nabogi Ono Farms. Photographed.
Peale's (Barking) Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula latrans)
T: numerous on Des Voeux Peak.
V: up to 50 along the road near the entrance to Colo-i-Suva. Also seen at Nabokalevu.
K: present around Matava.
Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis)
V: One bird seen at Nabokalevu. Probably also heard on Taveuni at Des Voeux Peak.
Crimson Shining Parrot (Prosopeia splendens)
K: present around Matava although many birds seen distantly. Seen well around the plantation.
Masked Shining Parrot (Prosopeia personata)
V: seen at Raintree Lodge, Colo-i-Suva and Nabokalevu.
Red Shining Parrot (Prosopeia tabuensis)
T: one or two seen each day on Des Voeux Peak.
Collared Lory (Phigys solitarius)
Common and widespread on all three islands.
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
K: one bird seen at dawn flying above Matava.
White-rumped Swiftlet (Collocalia spodiopygius)
Seen on all three islands.
Sacred Kingfisher (Todirhamphus sanctus)
Seen on all three islands.
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)
Widespread on all three islands
Polynesian Triller (Lalage maculosa)
Seen on all three islands.
Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer)
V: common around towns, including on grounds of Raintree Lodge.
Pacific Robin (Petroica multicolor) (still regarded as part of broader Scarlet Robin P. multicolor by Clements and some other checklists, but split accepted by several recent lists)
T: race taveunensis. A pair seen on Des Voeux Peak.
Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis):
T: race torquata. One seen well on Des Voeux Peak.
V: race optata. One seen at Colo-i-Suva and others heard at Nabokalevu.
K: race kandavensis. Seen on the hill above Matava.
Fiji Shrikebill (Clytorhynchus vitiensis)
T: Several seen on Des Voeux Peak on the 4th.
V: One seen at the entrance to Colo-i-Suva and another at Nabokalevu.
Black-throated Shrikebill (Clytorhynchus nigrogularis)
V: heard along Falls trail at Colo-i-Suva. A pair eventually seen thanks to using playback at Nabokalevu.
Note on identification of shrikebills: The pictures in the Pratt field guide are somewhat misleading as they show the Fiji Shrikebill as being more distinctively marked than they are. Also note that while some calls of Black-throated Shrikebill are distinctive, there is an overlap in calls. As several trip reports note, the Black-throated Shrikebill is a skulker. It is noticeably bigger than the Fiji – which of course is not much use if you are looking at them for the first time. Distinguishing features of the female Black-throated that we found useful include a pale tip to the bill, and (based on our sample of one) the wings looked more rufous. Plus the bill is clearly bulkier. Handbook of the Birds of the World has a far better illustration of them. For a comprehensive review of the differences between them see G. Dutson (2006) The Pacific Shrikebills (Clytorhynchus) and the case for species status for the form sanctaecrucis. Bull. BOC. 126: 299-308.
Slaty Monarch (Mayrornis lessoni)
Widespread in small numbers on all three islands
Vanikoro Flycatcher (Myiagra vanikorensis)
Common on all three islands, including around towns.
Blue-crested Flycatcher (Myiagra azureocapilla)
T: reasonably numerous on Des Voeux Peak. Also at Nabogi Ono Farms.
V: seen at Colo-i-Suva and Nabokalevu.
Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae)
T: several seen each morning on Des Voeux Peak. Views were adequate but as the birds were very active they tended to be brief. Best views were obtained on the outside of the left bend just above the gate.
Streaked Fantail (Rhipidura spilodera)
T: very common on Des Voeux Peak with up to 25 seen. Also at Nabogi Ono Farms.
V: seen at Colo-i-Suva and Nabokalevu.
Kadavu Fantail (Rhipidura personata)
K: Reasonably common along trails around Matava .
Fiji Bush-Warbler (Cettia ruficapilla)
T: race funebris. Reasonably conspicuous on Des Voeux Peak.
V: race badiceps. Seen well at the entrance to Colo-i-Suva and heard elsewhere.
K: race ruficapilla. This distinctive race (with a rufous cap, as its name suggests) seen on the hill above Matava.
Island Thrush (Turdus poliocephalus)
T: race tempesti. Reasonably common on Des Voeux Peak, particularly very early in the morning, though views tended to be brief.
V: race layardi. One seen flying across a road at Nabokalevu.
Fiji Woodswallow (Artamus mentalis)
T: common and widespread, especially along coast.
V: seen at several locations.
Polynesian Starling (Aplonis tabuensis).
T: several at Nabogi Ono Farms. One seen on Des Voeux Peak on the 5th.
K: several near Matava. One seen briefly at the airport.
Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus)
V: present around Raintree Lodge.
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)
Seen on Taveuni and Viti Levu. Abundant.
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)
T: common lower down Des Voeux Peak, at sea level and at Nabogi Ono Farms.
V: common at Colo-i-Suva.
K: seen around Matava.
Layard's White-eye (Zosterops explorator).
T: common on Des Voeux Peak with up to 20 seen.
V: seen at and at Nabokalevu.
Note: Layard’s were only seen in primary forest at high altitude.
Orange-breasted Myzomela (Myzomela jugularis)
Common and widespread on all three islands. Up to 20 seen at some locations (e.g. Des Voeux Peak).
Wattled Honeyeater (Foulehaio carunculata)
Common and widespread on Kadavu and Viti Levu.
Kadavu Honeyeater (Xanthotis provocator)
K: several seen around Matava. Not particularly numerous.
Giant Forest Honeyeater (Gymnomyza viridis)
T: race viridis. Several seen each day on Des Voeux Peak.
V: race brunneirostris. Seen at all sites visited. Loud and conspicuous.
Fiji Parrotfinch (Erythrura pealii).
T: Seen on Des Voeux Peak
V: seen at all locations visited, including the carpark of Nadi Airport.
Pink-billed Parrotfinch (Erythrura kleinschmidti)
V: untickable view of one bird overhead at Nabokalevu on the 10th. Identified by Vili based on call.
Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava)
V: A couple seen from the car between Suva airport and Raintree Lodge.
Samoan fruit bat (Pteropus samoensis )
Tongan fruit bat (Pteropus tonganus)
We saw both these species but did not always keep track of which we saw where. The Tongan species is the larger, darker one with a contrasting rufous collar. Samoan is smaller and paler, and often seen flying and feeding during the day.
Small Indian Mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus)
V: one seen crossing the road between the airport and Raintree Lodge.