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A Report from

Fiji, Feb 2003,

Chuck Pell

My wife Miho and I, recently returned from a birding trip to Fiji. We closely followed the route of Neil Money, Fiji - 10th to 27th June 2002, and saw pretty much the same birds listed in that detailed report, even though our trip was in February, still the rainy season. I will not duplicate his information here, but do want to pass on some additional information on Suva and Taveuni to aid other people who might make this interesting journey.

The Colo-I-Suva Forest Reserve is a spectacular place a few kilometers north of Suva. It is easier to get under the canopy of tropical rain forest here than in Taveuni, where a significant climb by foot or car is required. There is a person working for the Forestry Department named Sainivalati Vido (pronounced VINDO), who knows the birds and trails very well. He is also a very nice person, and we recommend him highly as a guide. Just ask for him at the visitors' center where one pays the entry fee.

One word of advice. The Raintree Lodge is right next to the reserve, a great place to stay, and the lodges are very comfortable, but we found the food very bad (contrary to Lonely Planet). Just down the road toward Suva is a HM supermarket that has two takeout restaurants, Johnny's, with good roasted chicken and fish and chips, and Dorothy's, with good Chinese and pizza (perhaps a strange combination), but we found these places very nice aternatives.

We also took the Vidawa Rainforest hike. Although it was very strenuous, owing to the rain, slippery red mud and steepness of the trail, this is a must for birders visiting Fiji.

The guide named Isaki that Neil Money mentioned is apparently not doing the hike because of knee problems, but his grandson, Samisoni Kocovanua, accompanied us and did a very good job. We did meet Isaki after the hike and enjoyed talking with him.

Isaki and his grandson, guides for the Vidawa Rainforest hike.

We were able to See several Orange Doves and Silktails, in addition to most of the other forest birds. We were surprised that we were the first tourists to make the hike since November! Hope they can make a go of this enterprise.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about birding in fiji.

Chuck Pell

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