17 June 1875 Ovalau
15 June 1875 Ovalau
Paralectotype (Fisher & Longmore 1995)
Paralectotype (Fisher & Longmore 1995)
1 Aug 1875
2 Aug 1875
Food: flowers. Beak: orange, legs: orange, iris: buff
22 July 1875 N'Gila, Taveuni
Food: flowers. Beak: coral, legs: coral, iris: pale scarlet
22 July 1875 Taveuni
2 Aug 1875
18 Aug 1875 N'Gila, Taveuni
1 Aug 1875
24 Jan 1912
(Juvenile)."Lived in confinement for 4 months"
No details, on loan to J. Forshaw
Obtained from Australian Museum
mid Dec 1875 Taveuni
Obtained from Museum Godeffroy (No. 12809) in 1877
Native name: Thula Wai
5 May 1925
Iris/legs/bill: yellow. Sex organs: swelling
5 May 1925
6 May 1925
7 May 1925
Iris/legs/bill: yellow. Sex organs: small
8 May 1925
8 May 1925
13 May 1925 Viti Levu
Given to Dr. Streseman in Berlin, 1927
1 May 1925
6 May 1925
Iris, bill & feet: yellow, sexual organs small
17 Sep 1977 Nadarivatu, Viti
Mounted. No details, on loan to J. Forshaw
Date registered with the museum.
Also on museum’s records as donated by Abbott: one specimen exchanged to Walter Chamberlain (see note
) and two missing from the collection.
probably the same specimen as detailed in note 2.
4 Kleinschmidt collected for the Godeffroy Museum, Hamburg, between 1850 and 1880 (Watling 1982). Wood
& Wetmore (1926) state ‘five skins in the Tring Museum were collected by T. Kleinschmidt in the interior of
Viti Levu about 1872’ (but not currently at Tring).
5 Date not recorded but assumed same as specimen before and after.
6 Acquired from AMNH, [ ] = AMNH old collection number.
Biodiversity Conservation Lessons Learned Technical Series
COMPILED By DICK WATLInG
Two observations at Lomalagi and one near
Navai. No more than three birds
contents of pellets. Not confirmed by fossil
bone material from the eyrie.
78 hours observation at 150m–610m. Seen
Nov 1970 –
25 hours observation. Seen infrequently, rare.
Aug / Sept
Two birds by P. Crombie. Not on Taveuni.
twice and heard repeatedly
Widespread in the rainforest, seen or heard
on 5 days. Two feeding in canopy of a tall
tree at 700m, with collared lory and wattled
Small flock (4 or 5) seen feeding in a white
flowered tree on path from Nadrau to
Monasavu dam site along Nanuku Creek.
1975 – 1978
Photographs and video footage.
group of 3 and lone individual feeding in
vuga, alongside kula. Said to be seen when
vuga flowers, in small groups with kula in
filamentous flower. Also present, collared
lory, wattled honeyeater, orange-breasted
13 May 1985
22 Oct 1986
visiting a vuga tree.
honeyeaters, for c. 15 minutes coming and
going around the tree. At one point chased off
a wattled honeyeater.
Two in flight in secondary forest
(unconfirmed)4. After Cyclone Kina.
In litt. to DW
In litt. to DW
12 Aug 1993
for c. 10 minutes, feeding on flowers with
A single and a group of four or five.
Observation was in dry conditions in the
middle of an El Nino.
Single adult perched high in the canopy
Two or three, visiting a red-flowered tree.
16º50'20" S, 179º58'12" W. Possibly this
Single bird seen feeding on Vuga.
two intensive days of searching Vuga in
Nadarivatu-Monasavu area – c.300 trees
1 Altitudes recorded in feet have been converted to metres.
2 Visited site 3-4 times a year for about two days.
3 Observations are treated as unconfirmed if made without supporting photographs by: an
individual; an individual with no or little experience of Fijian birds; in an area in which they have not
previously been recorded.
4 Kretzschmar is an experienced ornithologist with considerable Fijian experience (but see note 3).
A reference in the Appendix in Lees (1990) to a sighting in Taveuni has no supporting field data and
is not included here.
Red-throated Lorikeet ‘Kulawai’
Monasavu-Tomanivi, viti Levu
January–March 2011 survey report
DR KERRYN HERMAN
The Red-throated Lorikeet, or ‘Kulawai’ (Charmosyna amabilis) is one of 14 members of
the Charmosyna genus and is the only representative found across the Fijian islands.
It is the eastern most distributed of the genus and is endemic to the Fiji islands. The
genus is generally considered to inhabit mountainous areas of high rainfall (Juniper
and Parr 1998) and are notoriously difficult to study (Beehler et. al 1986, cited in
Swinnerton and Maljkovic 2002) . In Fiji all historical records across Viti Levu have been
in the highlands, however records in Taveuni and Ovalau have been at lower elevations.
Since 1993, no confirmed sightings of the species have been made though a number
of unconfirmed records do exist. Previous reports have summerised the historic records
of this species (see Swinnerton and Maljkovic 2002) and so this won’t be replicated in
this document. However, in addition to these records, two unconfirmed sightings have
since been recorded, one on the footslopes of Tomanivi and the other near Nadrau
village (Watling pers com).
The Kulawai is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ under IUCN redbook (IUCN 2011) listings
and has been the focus of a number of surveys in recent years; as yet with no success in
locating and subsequently confirming that the species is still extant. Much of this work
has been carried out across the Tomanivi-Monasavu area in the Viti Levu Highlands, as
this is believed to be the stronghold of the species. Some work has been undertaken
further afield by local ornithologist Vilikesa Masibalavu, and Taveuni was surveyed in
2002 (Swinnerton & Maljkovic 2002).
The aim of the current survey was to try and locate Kulawai in the Tomanivi-Monasavu
area and confirm that the species persists.
made of the species and is in general anecdotal.
The species is believed to be highly nectarivorous, and reliant on mature old growth forests
(Swinnerton & Maljkovic 2002; BLI 2011 Fact sheet). Observations have placed it in the mid to
upper canopy where is forages in the blossoms of local trees. The species is believed to be highly
dependent on the Vuga (Metrosideros collina, Myrtaceae) blossom (NFMV fact sheet 2010), which
was focused on during Swinnerton & Maljkovic (2002) survey. Most recent records of the species
have placed it foraging in this tree (Watling pers com, Joerge Kretzschmar 2008).
Nothing is known on the species reproductive timing, habitat requirements or reproductive
behaviour. Nothing is known on the species seasonal movements, however morphology would
suggest that the species is highly mobile and capable of roaming over large areas in search of
appropriate resources (D. Watling pers com).
LAnD USE AnD SITE LOCATIOnS
Over a six week period in February and March of 2011 surveys were undertaken in the Monasavu
area of the Fijian highlands (Figure 1a).
The lands surveyed fall within the Nadala Village boundaries and land use is varied. Areas have,
historically, been used for forestry with experimental plots of Eucalyptus deglupta and Pinus
caribaea , interspersed with extensive areas of mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) plantation. These
areas make up a mosaic with remnant native forest and modified agriculture land, some of which
has been left fallow and is reverting to native cover.
Three broad native vegetation types can be distinguished across the survey area; Lowland
Rainforest (to 700m asl), Upland Rainforest (700 – 850m asl) and Cloud Forest (+850m asl) (BLI
2006). Within the upland forest, three more specific vegetation types have been identified, based
on the environmental and physiognomic characteristics of the area (ECF 2006). These are:
Slope Forest: floristically diverse and encountered on the mountain slopes. Understorey is dense.
Ridge Forest: unique vegetation composition along undisturbed ridges, generally dominated by
Riparian Vegetation: found along the many creeks and rivers, with common endemic species
including Acalypha rivularis, Syzygium seemannianum and Ficus bambusifolia.
Cloud forest occurs on the higher peaks and is characterised by stunted growth forms (<6m), high
precipitation and dense covers of bryophytes (ECF 2006).
The topography of the area is very rugged and steep, limiting access to much of the region.
into much of the remnant forest. These tend to run along ridge lines. There are a number of peaks
over 1000m asl, including Mt Tomanivi, which at 1,324m asl is Viti Levu’s (and subsequently Fiji’s)
Two areas designated as Important Bird Areas (IBA) have been identified in the vicinity of the survey
area. These are the Greater Tomanivi IBA (FJ07) and the Rairaimatuku Highlands IBA (FJ08) (Bird Life
International 2006). Both these areas were peripherally included in this survey. However access into
the heart of these IBA areas was prohibitive with the time available and weather conditions.
Climate within the survey area is classed as a cool, wet montane (ECF 2006), which is quite a
contrast to the hot and humid tropica climate generally associated with Fiji. Rainfall is seasonal,
with highest falls recorded from Dec-March (wet season). Daily experience found mornings tended
to be dry, whist afternoons would invariably end up wet, with torrential rain beginning from around
2pm and continuing until well after dark. This substantially impacted on the time available to
Figure 1b provides a map of the survey area, replicated transect location as well as other areas
walked in search of kulawai.
Figure 1b: Survey area. Pink lines show the location of established transects,
green lines show other tracks walked, and blue shows roadways driven.
Three standard survey methods were applied during the current survey; measured transects, timed
4.1 Transect surveys
A total of 7 transects were established throughout the survey period. Initially it was hoped to
establish all transects at 1km in length. However, due to the topography and access to forested
areas transect lengths were adapted to fit within the working environment. Sections of road, old
forestry tracks and walking tracks were used as these gave an opening into the canopy where birds
could be observed, as well as 10-20m penetration into the vegetation and canopy (depending
on the transect). Transect information is provided in appendix 1. Transects were preferentially
placed in areas where other nectarivorous bird species were prevalent, indicating an abundant
food resource. The four indicator species were the Collared lorikeet (Kula Phigys solitarius), Wattled
honeyeater (Kikau Foulehaio carunculata), Giant forest honeyeater (Ikou Gymnomyza viridis) and
Orange-breasted myzomela (Delakula Myzomela jugularis). The start and end time of each transect
was waypointed to allow for accurate replication, and the actual route GPS to enable calculation of
approximately 1km/hr, though this varied depending on condition of track, or identification time.
Surveys were undertaken from sunrise and completed within 4 hours post sunrise to correspond
with maximum periods of bird activity (Swinnerton and Maljkovic 2002).
Records of birds seen or heard within 20m either side of the transect centre were taken. In
particular focus was on the four indicator species and the Fiji parrot-finch (Kulakula Erythrura pealii).
However, all other species were recorded as incidentals.
Records were only taken of individuals seen or heard ahead of the observer. Any birds flying along
the transect from behind were not recorded, unless they were a new species for that survey period.
This was to reduce the chance of re-counting individuals. Local guides were also present, with
their main task of looking for red-throated lorikeets. Training of guides in bird identification was
undertaken along transect lines.
4.2 Point counts
Times point counts were undertaken at each end of the transects as well as the approximate
midpoint of the transects lines. Appendix 2 provides the co-ordinates for each of the point count
locations. Counts were undertaken over a 30min period, with all individuals heard or observed
within approximately 100m radius recorded by the author. Two local guides were also undertaking
observations, however their focus was on looking for signs of kulawai as well as developing their
observation and identification skills.
4.3 Targeted observations
Surveys were undertaken in a number of the eucalypt plantations around the survey area. These
were one of the few location where any flowering was observed and as such supported large
numbers of nectarivorous avifauna. The plantation eucalypts Eucalyptus deglupta are members of
the Myrtaceae family, as is the Vuga. The structure of the flowers are similar within the family, and
as there were limited nectar resources observed throughout the survey area, it was thought that
perhaps the lorikeets may be able to exploit alternate food sources to the Vuga. The prevalence of
other nectarivores indicated that the nectar availability within the plantations was abundant and
the eucalypts may indeed provide a seasonal resource for nectarivores in the Monasavu area.
Towards the end of the survey period Vuga was found to be in flower on the western slopes above
Monasavu Dam. Prior to this, the only observed flowering of the Vuga had been on the summit of
Mount Tomanivi, which due to safety concerns and logistics was unable to surveyed.
Observations were undertaken at flowering trees (both individual trees or small stands) for the
duration of the flowering period. Observations were also undertaken at other species found to be
flowering during the survey period.
4.4 Miscellaneous observations
number of additional point counts were undertaken off transects.
A total of 558 hours were spent in the field searching for Kulawai. Of this total time about 500hrs
optimum. Weather condition heavily influenced the amount of time available for effective surveying.
Most mornings were found to be dry for the first 3-4 hours after sunrise, with rain generally setting
in around the middle of the day and continuing throughout the afternoon. Unfortunately, whilst
mornings tended to be dry, the cloud cover was dense and prohibitive for bird surveying.
No sightings of the Kulawai were recorded. Four unidentified green birds were recorded early on
in the survey by one of the field guides. However, observations were of the back of the birds so the
characteristic red-throat was unable to be confirmed. The distance over which the observations were
made as well as the described size of the birds make it unlikely that the birds seen were Kulawai.
5.1.1 Foraging resources
For much of the survey period there were few, if any, noticeable flowering events across the greater
study region. Small concentrated events were noticed within eucalypt plantations and individual
eucalypt trees. Observations undertaken at these locations found high densities of nectarivorous
species, with wattled honeyeaters and collared lorikeets the most abundant. Both myzomela
and giant forest honeyeaters were also present. The detection of myzomela in the upper canopy
was used as a positive indication that should they be present, red-throated lorikeets would be
detectable from the forest floor. A Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae) was also noted to be in flower during
the survey period (pic). This was not flowering in high densities.
Prior to starting the surveys, substantial amounts of vure (Geissois superba) were noted to be
transmitter towers above Nadarivatu, and the road between Monasavu Dam and Navai. Once
surveying started, these flowering events had finished. However, in early April, at the cessation of
the surveys, vure was beginning to flower again.
Small areas of Turrillia ferruginea (Proteacea) displayed flowering through the survey period.
Outside of the plantations this appeared to be the most widespread nectar resource, and
was frequently found to have nectarivores foraging when located. Densities of birds were not
comparable to plantations.
Turrillia ferruginea in flower in the survey region. This plant was the most abundant in flower throughout
The final weeks of the survey period found consistent flowering of vuga on the western slopes
above Monasavu dam. Individual plants were flowering along approximately 2km stretch of the
access road to the weirs associated with the dam and the power generation. It was noted that the
first trees found in flower were at higher altitudes and the progression of flowering was to lower
sites, suggesting a possible temperature effect on the flowering of this species. Trees were noted
to hold flowers for little more than a week once buds began to open, providing a finite window of
opportunity for both foraging species and observers.
Metrosideros collina blossom. Large image shows the patchiness of the flowering during the survey
5.2 Other Bird Species
along transects and at points were recorded. A complete list of bird species recorded during the
survey is presented in Appendix 3. All species expected to be recorded in the Monasavu area were
recorded except for three species – Friendly ground dove (Gallicolumba stairi), Slaty Monarch
(Mayrornis lesson) and Blue-crested Broadbill (Myiagra azureocapilla), and it is likely that the latter
two were heard, but not recognised due to inexperience in call identification by the author.
The recorded diversity of species is a positive indication that whilst much of the accessible areas
of the Monasavu area have been modified for forestry and some agricultural use, there has been
enough native forest retained to support a complete assemblage of native avian species. This
further highlights the importance of this region for bird species conservation and should be the
focus of ongoing management for avian conservation.
Of the systematic point count and transect surveys 7 species countered over 100 individuals when
data were analyses. These seven most abundant species are presented in table 1.