Bird Watching Tours

Birdwatching in Fiji offers the opportunity to see a number of tropical birds in their natural habitat. Our island, Vanua Levu, is home to a large number of birds, including the rare silktail which is found in the eastern end of the island. We offer two options:

1. An escorted tour with renowned ornithologist Phil Gregory of Sicklebill Safaris, who leads his third visit to the island from 18 – 25 April 2015.

2. A  flexible 4 day programme which can be done whenever you want : price only covers the birdwatching.

Birdwatching tour with Phil Gregory 18 -  25 April 2015

 

Orange dove

Course summary:

Dates: April 18 – 25
Programme:Daily bird watching excursions with Phil Gregory; one overnight trip
Suitability: most areas are accessible altho you need a reasonable level of fitness.
Food: Mixed menu.
Itinerary: Arrive Savusavu April 18 (Saturday). Excursions start morning April 19, end April 24. Depart Savusavu April 25 (Saturday).

The island of Vanua Levu is a great birding destination which is, as yet, relatively unknown. It is home to some of Fiji’s most spectacular endemic birds including the Silktail, the Orange Dove and the Red Shining Parrot. We hope to see these and a number of the other Fiji specialities including the the Barking Pigeon, the Fiji White-eye, the Slaty Monarch, the Collared Lory, the Orange-breasted Myzomela, the Fiji Bush Warbler, the Fiji Woodswallow, the Fiji Goshawk and the Fiji Parrotfinch during the birdweek. We will be visiting the site of Devo to see the Silktail.

The week is lead by Phil Gregory of Sicklebill Safaris, who returns to Daku after two successful visit in 2012 and 2013. He is a well-known tour leader, working for Field Guides Inc. and Sicklebill Safaris, and is one of Australia’s foremost birders. He has written species and family accounts for three volumes of the Handbook of the Birds of the World covering monarchs, bristle birds, the Acanthizidae and berrypeckers and longbills, and is involved as an advisor with the IOC and their World Checklist and Recommended English Names of Birds projects. He’s written a full report on the 2012 week on the Daku Resort blog, and a list of the bird species he observed are given below.

Phil Gregory

Phil will lead daily expeditions varying from the very easy – some are found in the grounds of Daku Resort itself – to the arduous. You are welcome to drop out of anything that you consider too hard and we will arrange for you to do something else instead – a snorkelling trip, a bushwalk or just a day of relaxing by the pool. We have described everything in detail below. Phil will also be giving lectures in the evening, with one evening put aside for a birding clinic when you can ask all the questions you want answered of things like binoculars or taxonomic system- and another for a bird trivia night.

 

Fiji Goshawk

In addition to a great birding week, the programme is designed to show you something of the Fijian way of life and culture and to enjoy its marine life as well as its bird life. It’s also designed to be a holiday in Fiji with time for swimming, lying by the pool, maybe having a spa massage and certainly having some fun.

Cost:

A$1950 in twin shared accommodation
A$2300 in single accommodation.

For further enquiries please contact us.

To make a booking, please fill in the booking form.

Price includes
- 7 nights accommodation at Daku Resort
- All meals
- Airport transfers from Savusavu airport

Excludes
- Travel to Savusavu
- Travel insurance

Full programme

Saturday 18 April

Fly to Savusavu.
There will be time for a walk up the hill behind Daku resort in the afternoon.
Evening: Traditional Fijian welcome ceremony.
Dinner

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Sunday 19 April

Bird watching trip to Waisele Nature Reserve. The reserve is about a 40 minute drive up the mountains to the north west of Savusavu, with some beautiful views as you go. . Return to Daku late morning.
1.00 Lunch
2.00 –3.00 pm The Tree of Life: talk on the many uses of the coconut in Fijian life.
5.00 – dusk: bird watching on Daku Estate.
7.00 Dinner and evening surgery – a chance to ask all your birding questions

Daku Estate bush

Monday 20 April

8.00 – 11.00 Morning boat trip.
12.30 Lunch
Afternoon free for swimming / relaxing / taking your own snorkeling trip/ option to visit pearl farm at 1.30 (F$25)
5.00 pm Masi (Fijian bark cloth) making demonstration
6.00 evening presentation by Phil
7.00 Dinner

Daku Resort snorkeling_r3

Tuesday 21 April

7.00 – 8.30 Optional morning walk at Daku
9.00 Breakfast
10.00 Visit to Savusavu town
11.30 leave for Devo; picnic lunch with sandwiches en route.
We will first drive to Tukavesi where we will spend the night. Tukavesi is a small Fijian village about 1½ hrs drive away. The bird watching area, Devo, is another 40 minutes drive. This breaks up the journey – the road in the latter stage is quite rough and tiringIt is also a chance to experience Fijian village life. Please bring a sulu to wear in the village – this is a Fijian sarong and can be purchased in Savusavu before we leave for approx A$12. The drive takes you east along the southern edge of the island; the first section is tar sealed and the rest is a fairly rough dirt road. We will arrive at 4.45 and settle in to the accommodation. There will be time for a beach walk before dark at 5.45.
Accommodation in Tukavesi will be simple: we will stay in a large house with a number of bedrooms and a pleasant living area. There is only one bathroom and toilet but they are clean and tiled. There is electricity from 6.00p to 10.00pm.
We will have dinner in the house and afterwards the village will entertain us with a traditional meke dance. Early bed.

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Wednesday 22 April

We will have a cup of tea / coffee and some bread and jam before we leave at 5.30 am. The track into the forest is easily accessible and not too steep, although if there has been rain it will be muddy. Please wear sturdy waterproof boots with a good grip. There is a small stream to cross as we arrive: you might like to wear reef shoes or rubber sandals and then put your boots on afterwards. You can leave your sandals behind in the lodge. We will return to Devo lodge later in the morning and have time to rest, relax and have something to eat. Once we’ve rested, we’ll drive back to Tukavesi to collect any bags you’ve left, and then drive back to Daku, getting there in the afternoon. There will then be free time until dinner.
7.00 Dinner.

Fiji_Parrotfinch2_Daku_081110

Thursday 23 April

Bird watching trip to Savudrodro. This is also about a 20 minute drive with an
easy walking track. Return to Daku late morning.
12.30 Lunch
Afternoon free for swimming / relaxing / taking your own snorkeling trip/ option to visit pearl farm at 1.30 (F$25)
5.00 pm Masi (Fijian bark cloth) making demonstration
6.00 evening presentation by Phil
7.00 Dinner

Tapa making Daku Resort

Friday 24 April

7.00 Second trip to Waisele.
12.30 Lunch
3.00 Afternoon: trip to Oneva
7.00 Dinner and trivia night

broadbill, vanikoro 09e

Saturday 25 April

Depart Savusavu.

Yoga in Fiji

 

2. Daily programme for flexible 4-day package.

The excursions are to areas noted for particular birds, and we’ll also walk around the extensive land of Daku Resort itself. As well as many more common Fijian birds such as the reef heron, the kingfisher, the shrikebill and the honey eater, we will set out to see the orange dove and the silktail, both of which are to be found on our island. In fact, the orange dove has been spotted on the estate of Daku Resort itself. A reasonable degree of fitness is required if you are to access all the sites; the two areas where the silktail and the orange dove are found are steep and difficult. We set out early on most days.

This is a 4 day programme ; the days can be taken all together, or you can space them out over a week or more. Please check with us first as to whether we can run the excursions on the days you want.

The descriptions of the locations are written by one of our first birdwatcher visitors, Andrew McCutcheon – many thanks to him for his meticulous observations.

Day 1: Trip to Waisele to see the orange dove.
Waisele is a 40 minute drive along good tarred roads. The terrain in the rainforst is steep and can be muddy.

Andrew: This is a rainforest reserve established in a partnership by the local community and the National Trust of Fiji with support from NZ Aid. It forms the central part of the Fj02 Wailevu/Dreketi Highlands IBA, which is important for the Friendly Ground-dove, Long-legged Warbler (Vanua levu subspecies), Black-faced Shrikebill and all other endemics known to exist on Vanua Levu except for the Silktail. The reserve is also significant as it has good examples of tropical lowland rainforest and the best remaining stands of Dakua ‘Fiji Kauri’ trees Agathis macrophylla in Fiji.

Bird Watching at Daku Resort

Despite our high expectations we saw very few birds in the rainforest reserve, but do not for a moment suggest they are not there. The best explanation for finding so few birds was that we arrived too late in the morning well after they had stopped their morning calling. However, two species birds we did see were significant. A couple of members of our group saw a female Black-faced Shrikebill, which was identified by its heavy bill with light markings. This species is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Red List Threat Category. And we all saw a single female Orange Dove roosting high up in a tree.

Other birds either seen or heard include Wattled Honeyeater, Fiji Goshawk, Barking Pigeon, Island Thrush (heard only) and Streaked Fantail.

Day 2: Buca Bay – Devo to see Silktail.
Long and demanding day – 3 hours drive each way, mostly on dirt roads. We leave Daku at approx 4.00am to be there at the best time for the birds. Once there, the terrain is steep and overgrown.

Andrew: This was our opportunity to see two iconic species, the Silktail and Orange Dove and we were not disappointed as both these species were frequently and easily seen (but not so easy to photograph). The Silktail is a truly impressive little bird being deep velvet black with blue spangling on the head and upper body parts, and having a conspicuous silky white rump. We saw at least three individuals in this patch of forest leading us to believe that there must be a reasonably large population of these birds on the peninsula to which the Vanua Levu subspecies of the Silktail is restricted.

The Orange Dove with its vivid orange plumage in the male bird is equally impressive. The call is a very distinctive and mechanical tock repeated at various rates of frequency. In complete contrast the female is a green bird, but despite her effective camouflage was more frequently seen than the male bird.

Lots of other bird species were seen here in a multiple species foraging group the presence of which is signaled by the Slaty Monarch and Streaked Fantail. Looking more closely into the group other species appeared including the Lesser Shrikebill, Golden Whistler (a very colourful and handsome bird) and of course the Silktail. Lower down close to ground level the Fiji Bush Warbler, more often heard than seen also appeared. Other notable birds seen in this area included Barking Pigeon, Fiji Woodswallow and our only sightings of the Red Shining Parrot.

Day 3: Early walk behind Daku.
There is a good dirt road all the way; its very steep up – and very steep down.

Andrew: We all went for an early morning walk before breakfast along the forest tracks in Daku Estate. Although the bird calls were not overly plentiful, the species we did find were interesting. We heard the Scarlet Robin calling in the same place as before and were determined to see it this time. Despite it constantly calling we found the bird to be a ventriloquist, and for this reason good at avoiding detection. After scrambling down the steep slope below the track we finally saw it, a lone immature male calling desperately for a mate. Compared to the Australian Scarlet Robin this is a much smaller bird at 10 cm in length (as opposed to 13 cm for the Aust. Robin), but makes up for its small size with plenty of bright red on the breast which seems to extend further down on the Fiji bird.

The other significant sighting was an immature White-throated Pigeon in the same area as the Scarlet Robin.

In addition to these two species we saw a range of birds frequently seen in the area including Fiji Goshawk, Streaked Fantail, Vanikoro Broadbill, Wattled Honeyeater, Orange-breasted Myzomela and Fiji Parrotfinch.

Day 3: Afternoon trip to Oneva.
(You can equally well do this on another morning, which is how Andrew saw it.)
A 25 minute drive along the coast on good tarred road. Fairly easy terrain in the forest; very easy flat terrain on the coastline.

Andrew: Another early morning start to an area of forest behind the Koro Sun Resort. Despite a promising start after hearing the Golden Whistler and Scarlet Robin (I got a glimpse of the female), we saw very little after that.

We then moved on to a section of coastline nearby and saw many of the birds that inhabit the tidal zone in Fiji. Birds seen were two pairs of the very elusive (in Fiji) Pacific Black Duck, Pacific Golden Plover, Wandering Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone and another elusive bird a single Mangrove Heron.

Daku Resort Bird Watching

Day 4: Naqere.
This location is very close to Savusavu, about 15 minutes drive from Daku Resort.

Andrew: There were plenty of birds, the highlight being a pair of nesting Blue-crested Broadbills, our first and only sighting of this species. They were seen feeding a single chick in the nest. Further up the track we witnessed a multiple species foraging group of birds consisting of Slaty Monarch, Streaked Fantail, Polynesian Triller, Fiji White-eye, Golden Whistler and Lesser Shrikebill.

This little patch of rainforest located close to Savusavu should definitely be included in any future bird watching programs. It mostly contains plant species indigenous to Fiji rather than being dominated by a canopy of exotics such as Rain Trees and Mahogany as we have seen in other forests. Hopefully Maleli will continue to protect this patch of rainforest and he will be encouraged to do so with financial support from visiting birdwatchers in the future.

Total cost: Dependent on numbers and which days you wish to include. Please contact us for a quote. Cost is for birdwatching excursions only; accommodation and food is separate.

This course can be booked directly through Daku Resort via reservations@dakuresort.com