Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

South Pacific Cruise Part 2: Lifou Island & Port Vila

Metallic Pigeon
We had two landings during our recent South Pacific Cruise – Lifou in the Loyalty Islands and Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu.

Easo, Lifou Island

Pacific Dawn, Lifou Island 
On Lifou, part of New Caledonia, we were ferried to shore in the village of Easo in tender boats from the ship, Pacific Dawn. Here I waved down a driver who took me 6km north to the village of Mukaweng, where I walked further north birding along the road to Joking for about 2km. I had gleaned from trip reports and Google Earth that this might be a good area for the two endemic white-eyes.

Small Lifou White-eye
Lifou Island: Mukaweng-Joking Road
Small Lifou White-eye was common and easy to find, as was the distinctive Lifou Island race of Silvereye.

Large Lifou White-eye
Large Lifou White-eye was harder to track down and is often missed by observers, but after 1.5 hours I finally heard its call and found two birds. Of particular interest also was a single Phylloscopus warbler seen in two places on the island; as far as I am aware no leaf-warblers are known from the Loyalty Islands. I also saw a New Caledonian Friarbird, which is not supposed to be on the Loyalty Islands.

Dark-brown Honeyeater
Other birds included Dark-brown Honeyeater. Brown Goshawk, South Melanesian Cuckoo-shrike and Cardinal Myzomela. A single Melanesian Whistler was seen. I arranged to meet the driver who dropped me off late in the morning (I was on the road for a total of 2.5 hours) to return to Easo and the ship; I paid the driver $A20 for his troubles. Ebird list for Lifou Island.

Port Vila Harbour

Port Vila - at the Summit Gardens
At Port Vila we hired a taxi for 3 hours for $80 and drove to the Summit Gardens outside the city. From here there is a spectacular view over the scenic harbour, and some nice forest where I was able to find my only two possible lifers in this part of the world – Yellow-fronted (Vanuatu) White-eye and Tanna Fruit-Dove.

Pacific Imperial-Pigeon

Yellow-fronted White-eye
Other birds included Pacific Imperial-Pigeon, Melanesian Whistler (supposedly the same species on the Loyalty Islands) and Red-bellied Fruit-Dove.

Markets at Port Vila
Later in the afternoon I walked through a forest patch along a road behind where the ship is berthed. This was very birdy indeed with the above-mentioned species recorded along with others including Metallic Pigeon and Melanesian Flycatcher. Birders alighting from a cruise in Port Vila need look no further than the scrub behind the port. Elist for the Port Vila port site is here. Seabirds seen on the cruise are covered in a separate post.

Melanesian Flycatcher female

Melanesian Flycatcher male

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