Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bats, Birds and Barking Pigeons

We left the anchorage at the Cousteau Resort (under reconstruction after Cyclone Winston – so that provided entertainment as they were putting in a new seawall and dock) – for a second time. This time the winds and seas were much more favorable, with very light winds and barely a swell. Unfortunately, that meant a motor sail. We were headed to one of three places...and ended up in Dakuniba. We had been here before in 2013. We came in through the barrier reef through a narrow cut but it was well marked by two sticks. We made our way back into the bay avoiding a few other reef patches and anchored in about 45 feet of water near "Bat Creek."

We have the entire bay to ourselves. There are a few homes on the opposite side of the bay and a hillside that looks quite devastated by Cyclone Winston. But otherwise, it is quite lush with healthy mangroves, lots of trees and plenty of birdsong.

The best part of this bay is why the creek is called "Bat Creek." There are hundreds of flying foxes (very large fruit eating bats) in the trees that line Bat Creek. You can barely see them hanging in the trees during daylight hours. The show really begins as the sun sets and the bats start to wake up and get ready for their night of fruit hunting. They are quite noisy with loud chirps. Then they start to leave the trees. A few at first and then more and more and more. Then it starts to get spooky to see all these large bats in the air flying over the boat against the darkening sky and moonlight. In the morning as they return to their roost – they are again quite loud...and then they go to sleep and all is quiet (at least from them.)

The other treat here is the bird song. It is very varied and beautiful. That is with one exception (well two if you count the roosters). Fiji has a bird called the "barking pigeon" and it sounds just like a dog barking. Quite loud with two "woofs." We forgot about that until we got here and remembered a local telling us about the bird last time we were here. Haven't seen one – but you sure can hear them.

It was a very peaceful night with barely a ripple on the water and no construction sounds, generators or traffic. It is nice to again be in an anchorage. We are glad we aren't in the nearby Vianni Bay that sounds quite packed with boats and lots of radio chatter. We had to turn the radio off so we could enjoy our natural sounds.

Today is Sunday – so things are quiet for the locals – most attend Sunday church services and have a shared meal. We watched as four people from the houses on the bay here loaded in a kayak and paddled across the bay. They most likely have a path to the nearby village for church and social time. It was fun to see the four in the kayak (no larger than a two person kayak) make their way comfortably across the bay This afternoon, after church and Sunday dinner, we will head to the nearby village of Nasasobo to do our first "sevusevu" of the season. This is the giving of a bundle of kava to the village chief and get permission to be here at anchor, to snorkel and to explore the area. Once those formalities are completed we will either head for a snorkel or head up Bat Creek.

It is really lovely here.

Latitude: 16 45.09s
Longitude 179 51.08e
At 7/9/2016 6:47 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°45.09'S 179°51.06'E

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