Earthflight: The Complete Series

This spectacular series was the sensation of the bird lovers community on Facebook for weeks!  You just can’t beat the way they filmed it so you felt like you were flying alongside the birds!  Each DVD features a different geographic region, the only complaint I had was that I think it should have been split up further with more footage!

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A New Way To Sleep In Economy Class

I’ve been spoiled in being able to use miles to do most of our long-haul flights in business class.  This seems likely to change as airlines are starting to release fewer business class to partners for redemptions.  This father-son team came up with a clever solution and did a Kickstarter fundraiser which raised enough funds to get the project off the ground.

I’m not quite convinced, I think if your head is forced back like that your jaw will fall open and you will end up looking like a dork snoozing with your mouth open!

Have a look for yourself!

Beautiful Firetail (Stagonopleura bella)

Don’t call them vain, they didn’t ask to be called Beautiful Firetails……………..even though they are!

IMG_7245aThe beautiful firetail (Stagonopleura bella) is a common species of estrildid finch found in Australia. It has an estimated global extent of occurrence of 1,000,000 km2. The species inhabits temperate shrubland habitats in Australia.  The ones in the photos were seen in Melaleuca sharing the Orange-bellied Parrots’ food. IMG_7234 IMG_7248 IMG_7272aThe beautiful firetail is endemic in Southeastern Australia. Its distribution range extends from Newcastle to Kangaroo Island, however, the bird is most prolific in Tasmania and off-shore islands. It lives in coastal heathland, forests and shrubbery, never far from water. Its preference for near water habitats was shown in a study of its occurrence in intact forest areas of the Victorian Central Highlands, where it was almost exclusively found in riparian habitat.  Doing the Melaleuca trip with Par Avion is a great way to see them.

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LEARN MORE ABOUT BEAUTIFUL FIRETAILS

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Birds in Backyards

Australian Finches

Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife

VIDEO

Mike Grant has some stunning up close footage of Beautiful Firetails on YouTube.

A Magical Encounter With Orange-bellied Parrots

Melaleuca is by far the easiest place to see these critically endangered little parrots.  Orange-bellied Parrots (OBPs) are still fewer than 50 in the wild.  Last year, some captive bred OBPs were released at Melaleuca in hopes that they would breed and they did!  We are now eagerly awaiting more news when the OBPs start returning to Melaueca in the spring.  For more updates, follow Save the Orange-bellied Parrot on Facebook.

When you take the Par Avion trip, most people will take off on a nature hike with their pilot/guide.  We wanted to spend as much time as possible with the OBPs so our guide showed us to the path leading to the bird hide.

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It’s a pretty small hide so we had to take turns going inside. IMG_7388

I gasped in delight as some OBPs were already there feeding alongside some Beautiful Firetails.  The two species seemed to get along just fine either feeding side by side or taking turns.IMG_7234 IMG_7248

While we were waiting our turn to go in the hide, we stood on a small hill behind the hide and watched the OBPs and some other birds waiting their turn for the food.IMG_7262a IMG_7277 IMG_7281

One of this year’s young.  This little guy and his siblings will make a long flight in a few weeks to Victoria even though they are only a few months old!  They just seemed so fragile to me, I can’t believe they actually survive such a long flight over water!IMG_7282a IMG_7288 IMG_7285a

Was he waving at the Beautiful Firetail?IMG_7245a IMG_7273a

All the birds are banded, you can see the orange leg ring on this one.  The rings allow researchers to keep track of them here and on the mainland.IMG_7292a IMG_7298a

Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster)

Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster)

Orange-bellied Parrots eating

Orange-bellied Parrots eating

You can tell the adults as their orange belly is much brighter.  The youngsters won’t have the colours until their first moult.

IMG_7315a IMG_7318a IMG_7321 IMG_7326a IMG_7373 IMG_7376a IMG_7382a IMG_7384a IMG_7390 IMG_7392We made two visits to the OBP hide, before and after lunch.  We did have to be polite and let everyone in the hide but fortunately only about 7 or 8 people were really spending a lot of time with these birds so we had plenty of time.  When we left, we felt so privileged to have met these delicate but brave little birds.  In a couple months, they will start returning to Melaleuca, I hope they all have a safe journey and the 2014 breeding season is even more successful!

 

Our Melaleuca Adventure With Par Avion

A day trip to Melaleuca with Par Avion is bound to be the highlight of any birder’s trip to Tasmania!  They depart from Cambridge Airport just near the main Hobart Airport HBA early in the morning so you should fly in the day before, preferably on miles.  Unfortunately Par Avion does not have a frequent flyer program!

IMG_7189While you wait, check the trees outside the car park for Musk Lorikeets.

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Par Avion has several small aircraft and you will be assigned a pilot (who doubles as a giude) and a plane.  Expect several planes to make the trip depending on bookings.IMG_7205

On the way out, our pilot Sam pointed out the landmarks below.IMG_7207 IMG_7211 Fish farms IMG_7217

One by one all the planes landed at Melaleuca and we were gathered in a small hut for orientation.  IMG_7229a IMG_7333 IMG_7334 IMG_7335 IMG_7337 IMG_7400

Ina & I with our planeIMG_7406

Preparing for the flight backIMG_7409 IMG_7416 IMG_7418 IMG_7419

I am going to do more detailed blogs about the visit to the Orange-bellied Parrots and other sights in Melalueca and just post photos pertaining to the planes and flights here.IMG_7426

Hotel Review: Travelodge Hotel Hobart Airport

If you have a Melalueca day trip booked to see the Orange-bellied Parrots, the Travelodge Hotel Hobart Airport is the closest hotel to the airfield.  If you arrive before 6pm, you can use the free shuttle from Hobart Airport to the hotel, otherwise you would have to get a taxi or independent shuttle for the short drive.  The hotel shuttle will also drop you at the Cambridge Airport in the morning for your Par Avion trip.

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The rooms are fine, nothing anyone would get excited about but clean and comfortable.  You only get 30 minutes free internet included with the room. IMG_7124 IMG_7125

For people on a budget, there is a petrol station with a Subway inside with all the usual sandwich options just opposite the hotel.IMG_7180

In the large grassy area between the caravan park and the hotel you can enjoy the antics of Galahs, Eastern Rosellas, Cockatoos and several other birds!IMG_7103a IMG_7151 IMG_7148a IMG_7182 IMG_7186 IMG_7184 IMG_7129a IMG_7132a IMG_7135 IMG_7138a IMG_7146 IMG_7146a IMG_7160a IMG_7165a IMG_7171a IMG_7174a IMG_7140a IMG_7143a IMG_7166a

Planning A Birding Trip To Tasmania

With Tasmania’s wealth of natural beauty and wise variety of bird species you really have to spend some time doing research to make sure you visit places you are likely to see your target birds.  Since my main interest was parrots, I worked out the best places to see them.  Tasmania has 10 parrot species:

This is my final route.

Birding Tasmania

Hobart has many parrot species – Eastern Rosellas, Swift parrots, Musk Lorikeets, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Blue-winged Parrots, Galahs.

Melaleuca is accessable by flight from Hobart to see Orange-bellied Parrots & Eastern Ground Parrots if you are lucky.

Bruny Island is known for Swift Parrots, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos & Green Rosellas.

Strahan is supposed to be the easiest place to see Eastern Ground Parrots.

Cradle Mountain has Blue-winged Parrots.

Freycinet has Green Rosellas, Blue-winged Parrots, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and Musk Lorikeets.

Complete list of birds found in Tasmania

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a journey as I discover many beautiful Tasmanian birds.