Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Australia, Fiji and New Caledonia - 24th November (Day 14)

We were up at 04:00 ready to transfer to the airport when Martin informed us that we had received tickets for flights from Fiji to Auckland (New Zealand) at 09:45 and then Auckland to New Caledonia (14:15) arriving in New Caledonia at 15:10. We had a leisurely breakfast and headed to the airport, seeing a cracking Fiji Parrotfinch on the hotel lawn as we left, and all went smoothly, the plane departed on time and we were off albeit a day late.

The stop in New Zealand was novel as I had not been to the islands before and we flew over Cape Reinga and south to Auckland. While taxiing and in the airport we recorded Northern Red-breasted DotteralStarlingHouse SparrowSky LarkBlack-shouldered Lapwing and Black-winged Stilt – the first species on my New Zealand list. Our flight departed on time and we flew in over the spectacular reefs spotted with islands and parched land of New Caledonia arriving on schedule at 15:10.

We collected our cars from Hertz and after a quick stop for drinks birded a gravelled road lined with scrub extending east from the main highway along a river valley to the south of Toro. We recorded our first species for New Caledonia including Streaked FantailRufous WhistlerGreen-backed White-eyeWhite-breasted WoodswallowFan-tailed Gerygone and Grey-eared Honeyeater. At around 17:00 we headed south to our hotel in the capital Noumea and after AD deftly navigated the streets of the city we arrived at our hotel on the seafront, the Nouvata Park Hotel a massive tourist complex and quite alien in comparison to our previous accommodation. We popped out to a local grill, being provided with raw fish to cook on a hot slate and enjoyed cold beers while planning our now reduced time in New Caledonia. We had arranged a pelagic trip from Noumea and a charter flight to Lifou and Ouvea, islands to the east of the main island Grand Terre, these islands support a small number of endemics that we were keen to see. However, due to the lost day we had to drop one of these days and put to the vote the island trip was axed.

Fiji Parrotbill - Nouvata Hotel, Nadi, Viti Levu

Fiji Parrotbill - Nouvata Hotel, Nadi, Viti Levu

Cape Reinga, the northern tip of North Island, New Zealand

The west coast of New Caledonia

River valley south of Toro, New Caledonia

Rufous Whistler (male) of race xanthetraea - New Caledonia

Rufous Whistler (female) of race xanthetraea - New Caledonia

Green-backed White-eye - New Caledonia

Grey Fantail of race bulgeri - New Caledonia

Dinner in  Noumea, New Caledonia

Links to other days of the trip