Fiji Birdweek June 13th - 20th 2012

June 13, 2012

This was the inaugural Bird Week set up by Daku Resort at Savusavu as a part of their programme of diverse activities, focussing on the accessible endemics of Vanua Levu and set during the winter season when the temperatures are very pleasant and the nights even cool. Rain is theoretically much less likely, though in fact we hit a few days of distinctly adverse weather, so much so our Islandhoppers flight from Nadi to Savusavu was cancelled and we came on one of the larger ATR 42 planes of Pacific Sun later that day.  


Itinerary

Wed Jun 13 Nadi to Labasa depart 1200 and transfer across to Savusavu, Daku Resort 14230 on. Heavy showers.

Thurs Jun 14 Daku Resort area, showers.

Friday Jun 15 Daku Hill walk 0700-0800 Savusavu Bay boat trip 0930-1045. Drive to Tukavesi Village along coast of Natewa Peninsula (3 hrs) for overnight stay. Overcast but dry.

Sat Jun 16 Tukavesi village to Natotovo D 0530 A 0630-1100. Return to Savusavu after lunch. Overcast, some sun later.

Sun Jun 17 Waisele NR D0600, A 0700-0900. Rain. Birding roadsides back to Savusavu

Mon Jun 18 Oneva 0700-0900; Waisele 1030-1130 Rain and fog.

Tues Jun 19  Savudrodo 0630-0800, overgrown and slippery! Birding road around Waisele in bright sun.

Wed Jun 20 Deprat Savusavu on Islandhoppers for Nadi 1115.

Daku Resort was a very pleasnt place to base and we made oursleves at home amongst sundry Tom Robbins motivational course participants (at $10,000 a throw!), snorkellers and a group of Beaders.  JJ was an excllent and convivial host, and the staff were great, particular thanks to multi-tasking and hard working Keni who bore the brunt of our early mornings and odd requirements, and to his lad John who helped us on the Waisele day and clearly has some talent at bird-realted things- I am glad he did not get suspended over the stone-throwing punch-up at his school!

Locations visited

Savusavu Vanua Levu Fiji

Wildlife

Mammals 1 species
Indian Mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) 1 Regrettably seen every day on Vanua Levu where it is obviously abundant and explains the lack of Buff-baneded Rails and Purple Swamphens!
Seabirds 5 species
Black Noddy (Anous minutus) 60 Seen off Daku
Black-naped Tern (Sterna sumatrana) 12 Seen off Daku
Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor) 6
Bridled Tern (Onychoprion anaethetus) 3 Seen off Daku
Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) 3
Land Birds 26 species
Wandering Tattler (Tringa incana) 5 Tukavesi
Pacific Reef Heron (Egretta sacra) 5 A bird on the sports field near Savusavu looked like a pale grey typre Reef Heron, with a white chin and throat, but also seemed structurally more likea White-faced, raising the intriguing possibility do they hybridize here/
Fiji Bush Warbler (Cettia ruficapilla) 1 Common by voice but hard to see, with the race castaneoptera on Vanua Levu. We saw one quite well up at the Silktail site.
Fiji Shrikebill (Clytorhynchus vitiensis) 1 Good views up at the Silktail site at Natotovo seeing a couple of birds, then a nixe look at one at Oneva in regrowth forest. This is the race buensis with 8 taxa recognized here in Fiji, differing in minor colour and size characters.
Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae) 1 Probably the highlight of the stay was the finding of the rare kleinschmidti taxon of Silktail in the forest at Natovotovo, at the site of the former Silktail Lodge. Eddie the laondowner took us right to the spot after a fairly easy walk crossing one shallow creek and we had nice views of at least two birds. I was surprised at how small they seemed, and the way they were foraging high in branches and creepers, picking about like a creeper. The head had a dull bluish iridescence, and the tail was silky satin white with a narrow black border and tip. No voclaizations were heard. It occurs only on the eastern part of the Natewa Peninsula and must be pretty darn rare as the forest is pretty disturbed and not too extensive, though they have 2500 acres here which they are currently preserving. It’s also amazing how Blue-crested Flycatcher does not overlap with it.
Pacific Robin (Petroica multicolor) 1 Good views of a male at Oneva and another at Savudrobo next day, this is the race kleinschmidti. It was heard up behind Daku Resort as well but was very skulking.
Sulphur-breasted Myzomela (Myzomela jugularis) 1 Small numbers daily on Vanua Levu, where we had up to 6 per day. it’s a very striking species with red on the rump.
Barking Imperial Pigeon (Ducula latrans) 1 Common and very vocal
Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava) 1 Small flocks aound Savusavu and at Tukavesi, quite an attractive small finch and probably harmless here.
Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) 1 A very distinct form, and the whole complex of 49 taxa is way overdue for radical splitting. We saw the pale and rather Sacred Kingfisher-like vitiensis on Vanua Levu, which looks to be sexually dimorphic with one sex being whitish beneath, the other a rich warm buff, and both very unlike Collared Kingfisher.
Polynesian Triller (Lalage maculosa) 1 Quite common out in the wooded areas, this is the race woodi which has quite dark blackish upperparts in some birds, more brown in others, presumably a sexual dimorphism.
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica) 1 A few round Savusavu
Orange Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus victor) 1 A male at Natovotovo Silktail site gave fantastic views, and we saw another up on the Waisele Trail in the rain, with one heard at Savudrodo and another near Savusavu. The birds were singing well, depressing the tail slightly with each call so the bird gave a quiver, and making the bizarre “click” call.
White-rumped Swiftlet (Aerodramus spodiopygius) 1 10+ per day
Fiji Whistler (Pachycephala graeffii) 1 We saw two rather distinctive taxa on Vanua Levu which were new for my collection of “Golden Whistler” taxa: The nominate aurantiiventis was quite common in tall forest and is entirely orange-yellow below, with dark blackish upperparts and no yellow collar; the female is drab brown with a pale throat. and buffy underparts. The Natewa Peninsual race ambigua has a narrow black breast band and yellow underparts, and a richer coloured female. I wish I’d been able to tape the calls, but at least I got a good series for aurantiiventris which is very vocal at dawn at Daku. The whole complex of 64 “Golden Whistler’ taxa is way overdue for a massive split-up, which the IOC have now begun with Fiji and White-throated Whistler (Kadavu) here in Fiji.
Fiji Woodswallow (Artamus mentalis) 1 Common- up to a dozen a day
Streaked Fantail (Rhipidura verreauxi) 1 This was fairly common on Vanua Levu but only in good tall forest. The race here is erythronata, and Fiji birds seems pretty different to the New Caledonian birds too in both calls and morphology.
Collared Lory (Phigys solitarius) 1 Great views of them feding in a bottlebrush at Daku Resort, and small numbers were around in thr coconuts at various sites.
Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) 1 Small numbers on Vanua Levu, it’s actually quite an attractive species!
Wattled Honeyeater (Foulehaio carunculatus) 1 Common at Daku where they were coming in and chasing around the bottlebrush, this is the race viunensis with a well-developed orange wattle.
Fiji Parrotfinch (Erythrura pealii) 1 A group of about 4 feeding by the roadside en routre to Waisele was a good find and gave nice looks.
Fiji Goshawk (Accipiter rufitorques) 1 3-4 seen daily
Maroon Shining Parrot (Prosopeia tabuensis) 1 Distant and rather frustrating views of singles and twos near Tukavesi and up near Waisele, they were both uncommon and secretive on this island even though we had 5 day records. It’s a striking large parrot with a very strange flight, with deep slow wing-flaps, the wings raised very high over the back.
Slaty Monarch (Mayrornis lessoni) 1 First seen up at the Devo Silktail site, the harsh scolding call is diagnostic, then again at Oneva.
Vanikoro Flycatcher (Myiagra vanikorensis) 1 Quite common on all 3 islands, we saw rufiventris on Vanua Levu. It is virtually a Fiji endemic, as the nominate is only on remote Vanikoro in the Santa Cruz Islands, Solomons.
Fiji White-eye (Zosterops explorator) 1 Common in wooded habitats
Bats 2 species
Pacific Flying Fox (Pteropus tonganus) 1 This was quite common on Vanua Levu with camps of 40 + and 100+ in day out in the degreaded woodlands, and often seen flying over Daku. The buffy neck fur seemed to go onto the mantle which I think makes iut this species and not the rather larger Samoan Flying Fox.
Samoan Flying Fox (Pteropus samoensis) 1 A few near Tukavesi

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