Birding Kadavu and Nadi in Fiji

10,000 Birds

As introductions to tropical Pacific birding go, you could do a lot worse than Fiji. It was just such a layover that landed me in Fiji a few years ago. I stayed on a small beach resort just next to the small town, but even here there was plenty to keep a birder occupied, including a bunch of Fiji Woodswallows on all the wires and some White-faced Herons stalking the bushes around the resort. Destinations Fiji Marine Pacific Pacific birds parrots

Fiji 63

Armchair Splits in the Pacific

10,000 Birds

I’ve written before about how the Collared Kingfisher is a million splits waiting to happen (not happened yet), and the golden whistlers of the Pacific have been split now (giving me on from Fiji, one in Australia and one in Vanuatu), but I hadn’t really expected the Wattled Honeyeater to be a split. The Wattled Honeyeater is a species, or now more accurately a genus, found in eastern Melanesia (Fiji) and in western Polynesia (Samoa and Tonga).

2014 64

Bristle-thighed Curlew

10,000 Birds

You can encounter them from Hawaii across to French Polynesia and Fiji. There cannot be many ABA area breeding birds harder to get than those that only breed on the remotest tips of the north of North America and then fly off to places that aren’t on the major continental flyways. One such tricky bird is the Bristle-thighed Curlew , a species that complicates the matter by looking suspiciously like the common or garden Whimbrel.

2012 70

Some thoughts on scientific collecting

10,000 Birds

I remember looking at a single skin of a Long-legged warbler from Fiji, the only known specimen or record of its particular subspecies, the sum total of all knowledge about its kind. A few weeks ago a colleague of mine at work expressed delight as he looked over my shoulder at work and saw a large photo, the first such photo ever, of a Moustached Kingfisher.

Restless New Zealand Fantails

10,000 Birds

The family also reaches into India and as far east as samoa and Fiji. In his comment in last week’s post on the Marlborough Sounds , Beat writer Jochen described the New Zealand Fantail as one of the best birds in the world. It’s a sentiment I can get behind. Also known by its Maori name of P?wakawaka, wakawaka, the New Zealand Fantail is a delightful inhabitant of New Zealand, and one of my favourite local birds.

Diving New Zealand – Goat Island

10,000 Birds

Diving has taken me to places like Belize, Fiji, Vanuatu, and Egypt, places that coincidentally are fun to bird. In my opinion, if you’re a birder you should diver too. Not because you generally see many birds while diving, although the experience of seeing shearwaters flying underwater while cage diving, as I once did, was one I think most birders would enjoy. But no, the reason I think birders should be divers is because it ticks, figuratively, many of the same boxes.

Clearing up the Collared Kingfishers

10,000 Birds

Subspecies vitiensis , Fiji. All the way back in 2011 I wrote about the confusing taxanomic enigma that is the Collared Kingfisher , a species that ranges from the Red Sea to Tonga in a bewildering variety of forms. I’m happy to report that an analysis of the species and some relatives has found that, as suspected, it isn’t a single species.

2015 68

Rails: The Once and Future Kings of the Pacific

10,000 Birds

Outside the truly ancient islands that are fragments of sunken continents; New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia and the like, the Islands of the Pacific are, geologically, ephemeral things. One of the less well remembered awful things that happened in the Second World War (a six year period of history filled with an uncountable number of awful things) is that war’s direct role in the extinction of two species of rail.

2014 78

Big Ticks; What Was Your Last New Family?

10,000 Birds

I remember my first sunbird (Nectariniidae, seen near Carins) my first auks (Alcidae, near my parents home in North Wales), my first finfoot (Heliornithidae, in a lake in Uganda), stone-curlew (Burhinidae, same lake as it happens), wood swallow (Artamidae, on the wires near Nadi airport in Fiji), tinamou (Tinamidae, Tikal in Guatemala), sugarbird (Promeropidae, drove past one in a protea farm in South Africa, obviously), or pitta (Pittidae, on a river trail high in the hills of Vietnam).

Grey-headed Robins

10,000 Birds

It is, instead, a member of the Petroicidae, the Australasian robins, a family mostly found in New Guinea and Australia but also reaching here in New Zealand and as far across the Pacific as Fiji. The Grey-headed Robin of Australia is not a robin as Americans would know one (thinking, inexplicably, that a thrush is a robin), nor is it a robin as an European would understand it either.

2013 54

The complete guide to Dodo relatives, living and dead

10,000 Birds

In 2001, Trevor Worthy described a set of bones from Fiji as a new species of very large, flightless pigeon: the Viti Levu Giant Pigeon ( Natunaornis gigoura ). The Dodo ( Raphus cucullatus ) — that towering icon of modern anthropogenic extinctions — was a pigeon. Not, as Linneaus thought, an ostrich, nor even, as later scientists concluded, a distant cousin of pigeons deserving of family rank, it was an honest-to-goodness pigeon, deeply embedded within the family Columbidae.

2014 87

Lords of the Forest

10,000 Birds

It should actually be the New Zealand kauri, as the genus is found from Borneo to Fiji and down to New Zealand. Although the only pine forests found in New Zealand are recent plantations of Northern Hemisphere Pinus species like the Monterey pine, the country does have native conifers. Some of these are found throughout the country, but the most impressive species is found in the north of the island, around the Coromandel and in Northland.

2011 58

The Long Reach of the Poor Knights

10,000 Birds

I’ve subsequently managed to dive in some spectacular destinations, including Turneffe Atoll in Belize, the Great Astrolabe Reef in Fiji, the kelp forests of Monterey and the wreck of the President Coolidge in Vanuatu. Long before I moved in New Zealand, or visited or even knew much about the wildlife here, way back then I knew about the Poor Knights. I knew about them because I was a scuba diver.

2011 69

Confusing Collared Kingfishers

10,000 Birds

Vanuatu has five subspecies, Fiji has three, and the far flung Solomon Islands have twelve. Tom Tarrant The extent of buff and rufous on Fijian birds has lead one author to place them with the Sacred Kingfishers instead of the Collared Kingfisher, even though there are none in Vanuatu (which is between New Caledonia and Fiji.

2011 64

The Pelican is not a New Zealand Bird

10,000 Birds

Like Snowy Owls or crossbills they are also prone to irruptions, caused by Australia’s extreme climate, that have seen birds wandering as far from Australia as Indonesia, Palau, and Fiji. As 10,000 Birds’ New Zealand beat writer, I sometimes should write about New Zealand birds, but today I thought I’d talk about a bird that people thought was one but almost certainly wasn’t.

What Exactly is a Pardalote?

10,000 Birds

Insofar as they relate to other bird families, they are perhaps closest to the thornbills, another family that is mostly Australian but reaches as far as Thailand and Fiji. Sometimes, when I’m writing trip reports about far off places (relative to most of my readers) I wonder what exactly people make of some of the birds I mention seeing.

2014 62

Land Bridges are Back in Season!

10,000 Birds

Enter the Silktail , an odd little bird found only on two islands, Taveuni and Vanua Levu, in Fiji. Ideas, like catwalk fashions, come and go in cycles, and so even the worst scientific mistakes will one day be back in some new form, possibly in plaid. Catastrophism , the creationist explanation for the apparent multiple creations and extinctions in the fossil record, once held sway before being utterly rejected.

2012 59

Regarding Kakariki

10,000 Birds

It was long expected that the fossil record would show extinct members of the genus in the islands between New Zealand/New Caledonia and the Society Islands (places like Tonga, Fiji, the Cook Islands) that had gone extinct before Europeans arrived, but no such fossils have been found. Incidentally the two genera form a sister clade to another Pacific genus, Prospeia , the shining-parrots, a gorgeous trio of parrots endemic to Fiji.

2011 56

Tongatapu and ‘Eua; Birding Southern Tonga

10,000 Birds

A combination of extinctions and proximity to Fiji means that a trip to that island group would net you pretty much all the same birds plus a whole raft of others. According to the guides it is a forest bird in Fiji (and an elusive one, I never saw one in my week there in 2005) but in Tonga I saw it in the towns and country gardens. I mentioned last week, while talking about rails and the Pacific, that Tonga is not a particularly birdy birding destination.

Tonga 63