Trip Report: Fiji (6 Islands), July 4 - August 6, 1999

Barry Levine, Seattle, Washington, USA; levineb@bsd

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. People still greet each other, and foreigners, with a friendly "Bula". We were fortunate to get to spend 5 nights with a Fijian-Indian family and form bonds that hopefully will last our lifetime. Often times as we were walking down roads to look for birds, farmers would stop and talk to us and offer a papaya. Theirs is a culture that seems to want to make time to be more human with each other. Probably not a bad idea for other cultures to emulate.

Fiji is the kind of place where birding can be much more leisurely than in other locales. There are not that many birds that can be seen (somewhere around 120 according to Pratt, et al). Most of the birds are fairly easy to see, with the more difficult species creating enough of a challenge to make it interesting. It was because of this that we found we had time to enjoy other activities as well. Therefore, it made for a much more rounded trip than other journeys where birding was our only focus.

Here is the list of birds seen and the islands they were located on. The letters following the species relate to the following:

K= Kandavu
VL= Viti Levu
T= Taveuni
O= Ovalau
N= Nananu-I-Ra
W= Waya

Taxonomy is taken from The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific by H. D. Pratt.

Brown Booby                T,K,O
Great Frigatebird          K
Lesser Frigatebird         T,VL
Pacific Reef Heron         VL,T,K,O  (all three morphs seen)
Gray Duck                  T
Swamp Harrier              VL,K
Fiji Goshawk               VL,T,K
Banded Rail                T
Spotless Crake             T
Purple Swamphen            T
Great Crested Tern         VL,T,K
Black-naped Tern           O
Brown Noody                T
Black Noddy                N
Rock Dove                  VL
Spotted Dove               VL,T
Many-colored Fruit-dove    VL
Whistling Dove             K         (found  across the water from Reece's
Golden Dove                VL        (Colo-I-Suva)
Orange Dove                T         (Qilene Road sp??)
Peale's (barking) Pigeon   VL,T,K
Collared Lori              VL,T,K
Red-throated Lorikeet      T         (very nice bird, found near the top of
                                     Qilene Rd. near Thomas' house)
Red-Shining Parrot         T
Masked-Shining Parrot      VL
White-rumped Swiftlet      VL,T,K
Sacred Kingfisher          VL,T
Pacific Swallow            VL
Australian Magpie          T
Polynesian Triller         VL,T,K
Red-vented Bulbul          VL
Scarlet Robin              VL
Golden Whistler            VL,K
Fiji Shrikebill            VL
Black-faced Shrikebill     T         (1 female seen on road about 1 mile from
                                     the communications tower on Des Voeux peak)
Slaty Flycatcher           VL,K
Vanikoro Flycatcher        VL,T,K,O,N
Blue-crested Flycatcher    VL,T
Silktail                   T         (15 individuals seen at Lavena Falls,
                                     along the road to the tower at a similar
                                     spot as the Black-faced Flycatcher, and
                                     on the trail to Lake Tagemouthia (sp??)
Steaked Fantail            VL,T
Kandavu Fantail            K         (across the water from Reece's Resort)
Fiji Bush-Warbler          VL,T
Island Thrush              VL,T
White-breasted Woodswallow VL,T
Polynesian Starling        T,K
Common Myna                VL,T,O
Jungle Myna                VL,O
Orange-breasted Honeyeater VL,T,K,O
Wattled Honeyeater         VL,T
Kandavu Honeyeater         K         (seen at Reece's Resort)
Giant Forest Honeyeater    VL,T
Layard's White-eye         VL,K
Silver-eye                 VL,K
Avadavat                   VL
Red-headed Parrotfinch     VL,W

Overall 55 species seen. The only disappointments were the very difficult Pink-billed Parrotfinch, which we didn't attempt at Joske's thumb, due to bad weather. Also, the Kandavu form of the Island Thrush. Finally,the Shy Ground Dove, which certainly appeared to be just that to us. I have refrained from changing some of these innocent bird names to more funny bastardized forms (as I have in previous trip reports) due to the recent thread that is circulating on Birdchat. I hold this forum to be sacred and if in the past I have crossed the line, then I apologize. If you would like more information on this trip feel free to e-mail, and I'll gladly supply that to you.

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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; January 5, 2000