Lodge Review: Gagudju Lodge, Cooinda

Staying at the Gagudjdu Lodge Cooinda in September wasn’t cheap!  For some reason, this month was higher than August or October and I did plan the trip outside of school holidays.  I was able to bring the cost down somewhat by using Le Club Accor certificates.  40 Euros was equal to about $60 each and between my husband and I we had a few of them.  If you are birding in Kakadu, you really do need to stay at least one night here because this is where the Yellow Water Cruises depart from and they are a MUST!

This was our room in a building that had 4 rooms (I think), 2 on each side.

Very neat and tidy room.  Since it was my birthday, they gave me a bottle of white wine!

Nice assortment of toiletries!

One thing is that they don’t have that many tables in the restaurant.  We ended up on a couch with a coffee table in front of us.

I had a lamb shank which was really good.  They  didn’t have birthday cakes so I ordered this pineapple flavoured dessert.

The next morning, a breakfast buffet was included as part of the Yellow Waters package I bought.  It had a good selection, but again we had to take the same couch as the tables were all full.

We weren’t in a hurry to leave so had a quick swim after breakfast.

A few birds were hanging around the pool, including a Blue-faced Honey-eater, a Great Bowerbird and a pair of Torresian Imperial Pigeons.

There is a small gift & food shop and info centre near reception.

I really liked this lodge for the location and the nice rooms.  The people were very nice and helpful.  There is no wifi but you are way out in the bush!  I was sorry we could only afford one night here, 2 would have been better.

Planning A Birding Trip To Kakadu

Kakadu National Park is one of Australia’s top attractions so unlike the other places I have been so far on this Northern Territory birding trip, I ran into LOTS of other tourists!  Most of them are there for crocodiles but a few are also interested in birds.  I also found accommodation here to be proportionately more expensive than the other places in the Territory as well.

TOP TIPS FOR BIRDERS IN KAKADU

  • Come in the cooler dry season – April to October.
  • Be aware that many of the roads are accessible only by 4×4 such as Jim Jim, Gubara an Gunlom.
  • Buy your Kakadu Pass in advance online.
  • Visitors Centres have restrooms, maps, information, shops and food available.
  • Download the Kakadu Birds app if you have an iPhone or Android.  I found it extremely useful.  It even has bird calls!

With only a 2WD car, we were still able to do this itinerary that took in most of the park.  We entered from the Pine Creek side and stayed the first night at Cooinda.  Then we stopped for a visit to Nourlangie Rock before going to our 2nd night’s accommodation at Jabiru.  The 3rd day, we made a couple other birding stops before leaving the park and staying at Mary River.

All of this will be covered in detail in future posts!

 

How Do Birds Fly?

This blog deals with two kinds of flight.  We use airplanes (preferably with miles) to get to our destinations where we can watch birds.  Then you have the actual birds who fly!

This is a really cool video which breaks down how birds use their wings to fly.  Nice clay lick footage in slo-mo too!

Long-tailed Finch (Poephila acuticauda)

The Long-tailed Finch (Poephila acuticauda) is a common species of estrildid finch found in Australia; also known as the Blackheart Finch, Shaft-tail Finch, Heck’s Grassfinch, Heck’s Grass Finch, and Heck’s Finch.

They have a large range across northern Australia.  I saw them very well at the finch spot on Edith Falls Road in the Northern Territory.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LONG-TAILED FINCHES

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Australian Finches

VIDEOS

Foraging in the grass.

 

Drinking water

Small flock in Mataranka

 

 

 

Electronic Device Restriction On Flights To USA & UK

It’s all over the news so most people will have heard of the restrictions on electronic devices which includes laptops, tablets and even cameras on flights departing 10 airports headed for the USA and a variety of airports headed to the UK.

Flights departing for the USA: Cairo, Egypt; Dubai and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Istanbul, Turkey; Doha, Qatar; Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; and Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The U.K. list is shorter. It covers all inbound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia but omits airports such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

Although most of the publicity has been about laptops, birders will be more worried about being forced to check expensive and delicate camera gear.  It is well known that baggage handlers are not gentle and many items do get stolen out of checked bags.  This is why many people, including myself will do anything to avoid checking a bag.

To me, this whole thing is ridiculous and I really hope the insanity doesn’t spread any further.  If it’s a true threat, why just these specific countries?  Do they think terrorists can’t book connecting flights via Europe to avoid the direct flights?  Do they think that laptops in cargo holds are safer, an alleged bomb can’t be set on a timer?  Why would terrorists even be bothering with bringing laptop sized bombs on a plane when they can fix them to a drone, easily purchased by anyone.

The most logical explanation is that the US administration is trying to stick it to the ME3 (Emirates, Etihad & Qatar) which are competing with their own airlines in certain markets.  The UK ban doesn’t affect the ME3 so this supports the theory.

ECO-TOURISTS MOST LIKELY TO BE AFFECTED

Since this blog targets people using miles and points to facilitate eco-tourism:

  • People using Star Alliance awards on Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air between the USA or UK and Africa, Asia or Australia.
  • People using One World Alliance awards on Qatar Airways (USA only) or Royal Jordanian between the USA or UK and Africa, Asia or Australia.
  • People using Emirates on any of the afore mentioned routes.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF

  • If you are forced to check your laptop or camera, make sure they are very securely wrapped to protect against baggage handlers.  Use layers of whatever you have-clothes, bubble-wrap, crumpled newspapers to cushion cameras.
  • Carry on the lenses separately if allowed.
  • Back up your photos and personal documents to a usb drive and carry on board, also bring the camera’s SD cards with you.
  • Put them inside a box securely wrapped and taped up, then put the box inside a suitcase with a TSA approved lock (if you have one) or another box.  Double boxes.

Can anyone think of anything else?  I haven’t been in this position and I hope I won’t be (if Australia doesn’t join the insanity)!

 

6000 Velocity Points With Midas Car Service

The Midas promo is back and almost as good as before.  I got 10,000 points 2 years ago and my car is so sparingly used, it doesn’t really need another one or I would go for this.  6000 points is still pretty good for something most car owners do at least once a year.  This is a good one to combine with the free 1000 points new member bonus if you aren’t already a member.

DETAILS

*From 14 March 2017 to 21 April 2017, Velocity members can earn a bonus 6,000 Points on all vehicle services at Midas*! From 22nd April 2017, Velocity members will revert to the base earn 2 Points per $1 spent on all vehicle maintenance, maintenance services and Manufacturers Logbook Services. Service definitions are found at midas.com.au/car-service and midas.com.au/logbook-service.

The following additional maintenance service items are eligible for Velocity Points earn if deemed to be required and are additional to the service package: Brake fluid flush, Coolant system flush, Power steering flush, Transmission flush.

The following repair items are not eligible for Velocity Points earn: Brake parts, Exhaust parts, Drivetrain parts, Engine parts, Body parts, Suspension parts, Electrical parts, Climate control parts, Steering parts, Tyres and Non-related service labour.

Velocity members can book an eligible service by calling 13 MIDAS (64 32), booking online at midas.com.au or in any Midas Service Centre. Velocity Points will be loaded within 7 days of the completed service.

To earn and redeem Velocity Points, you must be a Velocity member. Velocity membership and Points earn are subject to the Member Terms and Conditions available at velocityfrequentflyer.com as amended from time to time.

Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae)

The Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae), also known as the Lady Gouldian Finch, Gould’s Finch or the Rainbow Finch, is a colourful passerine bird endemic to Australia.

I took these close ups a few years ago at the Rainbow Jungle in Kalbarri, WA, at least they’re my shots and not a Wikipedia shot!

And here’s a flock of juvenile Gouldians at the Edith Falls Road spot.

They are endemic to northern Australia with small populations in the Northern Territory and north-western Queensland.  The best place to see them is the hotspot near Edith Falls Road.  There is a detailed hand-drawn map in this book that I can’t print here for copyright reasons.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GOULDIAN FINCHES

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Birds in Backyards

Australian Finches

VIDEOS

I wish a flock like this would come in my back yard!  Watch for the red-heads.

Joining other finches at a watering hole.

Mini-doco on Gouldian Finches.

 

 

Return To Edith Falls Road

We first visited Edith Falls a few days before but didn’t really know where the best birding spots were.  Now that I had the “Top End Birdwatching” book, it was easy to find the place where Gouldian Finches are best seen.  It’s not down near the caravan park where we were before.  It’s a few kms off the main road.

A small flock of young Gouldian Finches, a couple of them were starting to get the adult colouring.
Long-tailed Finches were also plentiful here.

And Double-barred Finches.

Should I bathe here?

Mike Reed, the author of “Top End Birdwatching” was there, we were lucky to meet him here!

Handy Photography Glossary

Canon sent me this link to a very handy photography glossary.  Here is a sample entry for a term of great interest to bird photographers:

The Basics:

AI Servo AF is a selectable AF mode, for when shooting through the viewfinder in an EOS DSLR. Short for Artificial Intelligence Servo Automatic Focusing, AI Servo is Canon’s dedicated focusing mode for moving subjects.  It has the ability to track and analyse movement, and focus the image based on where it predicts the subject will be at a given point in time. AI Servo AF is the preferred focusing method for Sports photographers, and any kind of photography where the subject is constantly moving.