Faces of Polynesia: Fiji to Tahiti Oct 22—Nov 07, 2017
Posted by Brian Gibbons
We started our adventure on Viti Levu, Fiji at the Westin Denarau resort, which is a set in a tropical garden paradise where we found our first Fijian endemics. Fiji Parrotfinch was quite charming and common. Western Wattled-Honeyeater, Fiji Woodswallow, and the ubiquitous and sometimes feisty mynas all reside around the resort. After a tour of the Garden of the Sleeping Giant and Viseisei Village, we embarked the Caledonian Sky, our fine home in the South Pacific for the next two weeks, as we island-hopped through this beautiful slice of the world.
Taveuni, Fiji Dous Voux Peak, and Bouma National Park were sunny and hot with quite slow birding. Our first proper birding in Fiji took a good deal of effort, but we made it into a good day after working through the heat and sun to find some great Fijian endemics. After climbing ashore we got into five 4×4 trucks for the long ride into Bouma National Park. At first the road was a good dirt road, but it changed as we climbed higher and higher into the mountains. We went through deep ravines followed by steep climbs, and in a couple of places our drivers had to place rocks into the deeply rutted tracks so the trucks could pass. We made it up to the Taveuni Silktail trail, and we all clambered into the forest; a few folks glimpsed the Silktail, but the real prize in the woods was a calling male Orange Dove! His strange click, click, click call could be heard from a distance; finally he came into view, glowing on a distant branch. I retrieved the scope, and we got nice looks at this odd tangerine-colored dove. We proceeded further up the mountain, seeking the emerald cloud-forest like surroundings of the land. Tree ferns, epiphyte-laden branches, and moss made everything green. We tracked down Northern Wattled-Honeyeater, Chattering Giant-Honeyeater, Collared Lory, Many-colored Fruit-Dove, and Peale’s Imperial Pigeon, and got good scope views of Fiji Goshawk and Layard’s White-eye. As we descended the mountain, we tried again for Silktail; the repeat visit was very productive for folks adventurous enough to try the trail again. Late in the afternoon, with our time waning, we finally caught up with a stunning Red Shining-Parrot that we studied in the scope, as it devoured the flower of a bromeliad. The long, bumpy road back to the dock was softened by our wonderful collection of birds from Bouma National Park. Just before reaching the ship, we stopped to take a few photos of a large roost of Flying Foxes just hanging out in a tree in someone’s backyard.
Read Brian’s full report in his Field List.