Fiji Travel Diary Fiji Sunset (48956 bytes)

10 June 2002
Just before dawn Charlotte and I arrive at Nadi international airport, Republic of Fiji, after flying overnight from Los Angeles.   Fiji lies across the Pacific, about 600 mi east of Australia.  It's part of the British Commonwealth, so everyone drives on the wrong side of the road, and an exit is 'Way Out.'
    Soon we are on an island-hopping flight to the small island of Taveuni, where we'll spend a week at Garden Island Resort.  Most of the guests are American scuba divers, drawn to the rich coral reefs that surround the Fijian islands.  After settling in we make our first birding foray, noting Lesser Frigatebird, Black-naped Tern, and Brown Booby over the water.  Roadside birds near the resort include Fiji Woodswallow, Polynesian Triller, Orange-breasted Honeyeater, and a stunning parrot, the Collared Lory.  Day's end finds us back at the resort, a cold Fiji Bitter in hand, enjoying the sunset over Vanualevu island across the Savusavu strait.

11 June 2002
This morning Charlotte heads out to the reef with the other divers for the first of her daily dives.  In the meantime I focus on the birds in Garden Island Resort's well-kept gardens.   Among the commonest are Sacred Kingfishers, who have an easy life.  They spend most of the time loafing in the trees near the beach.  Twice a day the tide goes out, Sacred Kingfisher (49742 bytes)exposing a rich feast of crustaceans, easy pickings for this keen-eyed bird. 
      Vanikoro (53608 bytes)









From the second floor balcony I photograph garden birds, including a nice male Vanikoro Flycatcher.  Although it looks and behaves like a flycatcher, Vanikoro is totally unrelated to our familiar northern hemisphere tyrant flycatchers.  All native Fijian land birds, including Vanikoro, arrived here from some part of Australasia:  New Zealand, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.  Vanikoro is in the monarch family of Australasian flycatchers.   Wherever birds evolve, it seems, there's a niche for birds that sally forth from a perch to catch insects.  In the northern hemisphere that niche is mostly filled by tyrant flycatchers, here it is filled by monarchs such as Vanikoro.  Biologists call this convergent evolution - the tyrants and monarchs have evolved to look and behave alike.  

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