am back in sydney now after a superb two weeks in fiji.
i started off with 4 days in the Yasawa group, a small island chain off the west coast of fijis main island viti levu. as the yasawas are pretty poor for birding i decided to hang up the bins and be a regular tourist instead. time was spent, sunbathing, snorkelling or getting wasted, occasionally with combinations of the three. The snorkelling was far and away the highlight with some superb coral reefs offshore islands that were teeming with some unbelievably brightly coloured fish, starfish and and i had a breif view of a seasnake. this was pretty boring stuff though compared to snorkelling with a masssive manta ray in the deep channel off the south end of naviti island. swimming alongside this huge beast was just awesome. having heard of the tragic death of the legend that was steve irwin i took all the safety precautions anbd wore lots of suncream cos it said on the bottle "protects from harmful rays"
also spent a lot of time sampling kava, the local drink that is made from mixing water with the pounded up dried roots of ssoem wierd plant. it looks and tastes like muddy water thats been strained through dirty socks but has a rather fun tranquilising effect, and it doesnt cause a hangover effect! unfortunately i dont think the plant woudl be able to grow in english conditions.
after the third day i was getting a bit tetchy about the lack of birds (running up and down the beach pulling my hair out and screaming to get me off this godforsaken avian desert island). luckily the boat back to the main island of viti levu produced some cracking seabirds, with red tailed tropicbird, brown booby, lesser frigatebird, audobons shearwater, sooty and bridled tern all being seewn well but briefly thanks to the boat being too fast.
i then headed over to the east side of the island to stay in the colo-i-suva forest park. thsi was more like it, soem decent patches of rainforest that had escaped logging produced some great fijian endemics, Golden dove, blue crested braodbill, masked shinging parrot, giant forest honeyeater and peales imperial pigeon being the highlights.
after that i took a very small plane over to the island of taveuni, much less popualr with tourists and with soem very rugged hills, which meant that it still retained much of its forest. a hike up to des vouex peak (1192 metres) in 30degree plus heat and starting from sea level was very tiring but produced the three taveuni endemics, orange dove, red shining parrot and silktail, all superb birds, as well as many coloured fruit dove and good views of the endemics seen on viti levu which were much more abundant. a snorkelling trip to korolevu island produced red footed booby and blaack naped tern.
i then flew in an even smaller plane to kadavu island, south of viti levu, and after an hour long speedboat transfer arrived at the far eastern end of the island that was almost completely untouched apart from a few small beachside resorts. the four kadavu endemics were all seen well in the two days, kadavu fantail, kadavu honeyeater, kadavu shining parrot and whistling dove.
when i have the time i will write a full birding trip report cos there dosent seem to be that many for fiji, anjd hopefully i'll post some pics if blogger stops being gay and lets me.