My Birding Blogs

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tahiti Trip 2007 - Day 2 - Fri 03 Aug 2007 Papeete

Breakfast appointment at Radisson with my wife's colleagues in Tahiti.
Some says everyone in Tahiti is friendly, including animals and the creepy crawlies. Here there are a Domestic Hen (Gallus gallus) and two of her chicks wondering around in the resort restaurant. A few moments later I saw my first Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) swooping over the guest sofas from the trees beside the swimming pool. Other birds that can be seen easily within the resort compound are Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) and Red-browed Firetail Finch(Neochmia temporalis).

Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) , an introduced bird from India. Found commonly in hotel resorts.

There were white birds flying over the beach which I suspect to be White Tern due to its pure white plumage. Too bad I did not have binoculars with me but I later ticked this bird 3 days later in Tuamotu.

We missed the free shuttle bus to the town centre at 8am but the bus stop was just outside the resort and the service was frequent in daytime, about every 15 minutes. All buses (some have not been upgraded and is still ‘Le Truck’ among them) go to the town centre and the fare is XPF200 (~USD2) - very reasonable by French Polynesia's standard.

Cathedrale de l'Immaculee Conception, Papetee, Tahiti
The rest of the noon is mainly shopping for souvenir or simply window shopping. I also took this opportunity to enquire for the car rental which I planned to drive a week later. We went along Rue des Remparts which is mentioned by Lonely Planet that is good place to enquire for car rental besides the car rental counters at the air port. It seemed that Avis has better branding here and can be seen from the price. Avis also imposed daily surcharge for peak season. Europcar, on the other hand, offered a 20% discount (valid for Tahiti Island only) for international traveller travelling by Air Tahiti Nui.

Other places worthwhile to recognise are the Tourist Information Centre at the water front of the town centre and the auto money changer teller machine just across the street. We also visited the Post Office which is at west side along the water front main road, Boulevarde Pomare. My main purpose of visiting the post office is the buy 2 stamps - at our time of visit, French Polynesia Post Office had issued a set of 2 fabulous stamps featuring Polynesian Ground-dove and Tuamotu Sandpiper - what a timely souvenir for a visiting birdwatcher cum bird stamps collector!

Today is the first Friday of the month, which coincidently is the monthly meeting day for MANU members. As the bus system was efficient (during daytime only and not during rush hour), we had decided to hop onto one to the east of the town to pay a visit at MANU's office. Blessed by tourist luck that we found the white building where MANU was located without much trouble. Our intention of visit was not really to attend the meeting, but rather to ask for more guidance on looking for those targeted birds within our short time frame in French Polynesia. As the expected turn up of members was few due to major school holidays, Philip had kindly invited us to join in for a small informal social meeting attended by 3 other members at the bar of Sheraton Hotel. It was nice to make acquaintance with the local ornithology club members and know how they work to promote and conserve the birds of French Polynesia. For example, it was interesting to get the first hand information in conversation of Rimatara Lorikeet, Fatuhiva Monarch and Marquesas Imperial Pigeon. It would be great for me to visit one day the islands where are found. Generally the conservation and survey works are very challenging in this part of the world. For example, due to remoteness of some islands from modern civilisation, transportations to some islands are very costly and difficult to organise.

After the meeting had finished before sunset, Philippe dropped us at the water front of the town centre where we had our very nice dinner at the famous open air wagon food outlets. This is where one can find many affordable choices of barbecue fish, Chinese dishes, pizza, and last but not least the crepes which is a must try. Took an expensive taxi ride back to hotel at XPF3000 (If we had left before 8pm it would have been XPF2000)/ Back at Radisson Resort where we managed to catch up with the Tahiti Dance show before it finished. I have also confirmed with Jean on my next day quest for the Tahiti Monarch.

Tahitian Dance at Radisson Resort, Tahiti


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