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.


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.


  • 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.


*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.




Birds in Backyards

Australian Finches


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.

1000 Free Velocity Points For New Members

Are you a member of Virgin Australia’s Velocity?  If not, now is your chance to join and start off with a FREE 1000 bonus points!  Use my referral link and I will also get 1000 points for referring you (thank you very much)!


You need to earn at least 40 points as per T&C’s which is very easy to do.  Here are some ideas.

  1.  Transfer points from Flybuys
  2.   Buy petrol at BP
  3.  Shop online
  4.  Get credit cards
  5.  Join E-Rewards and do a survey.
  6.  Transfer from Amex Membership Rewards
  7.  Keep an eye out for new promos, they have them all the time.  I just got 200 points from doing this survey!

Once you have qualified, then go out and refer your own friends to boost your balance and soon you will be on your way to a dream trip!


Visit National Parks In The USA Free On These Dates – 2017

National Parks are a great resource and can be found in most countries around the world.  If you are lucky enough to live near one, you can get to know your local birds and practice your photography skills before embarking on a longer trip.


Visit for free on these days in 2017:
January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 20: Presidents’ Day
April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
August 25: National Park Service Birthday
September 30: National Public Lands Day
November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

Northern Rosella (Platycercus venustus)

The Northern Rosella (Platycercus venustus), also known as Brown’s Parakeet or Smutty Rosella (Huh?), is found in Australia’s Top End. It is found in open savannah country throughout the Gulf of Carpentaria and Arnhem Land to the Kimberley.

It was first described by German naturalist Heinrich Kuhl.  The specific epithet is derived from the Latin venustus “charming, lovely or graceful”.  (That’s more like it!)

This lovely, graceful bird was seen near the Katherine Hot Springs innocently having dinner and not acting smutty in the least!

They have a large range from the Kimberley in WA across the Northern Territory’s Top End to far north-west Queensland.  I saw one quite well in Katherine and some others streaking past at Copperfield Dam near Pine Creek.  They are also seen regularly in some parts of Kakadu.



World Parrot Trust


Birds in Backyards


Surprisingly, there isn’t much on wild birds but I did find this short clip of a pair foraging in the grass.


The Katherine Hot Springs

Katherine’s Hot Springs are a “Must See”, mostly for their natural beauty.  They are definitely not hot, they seemed more like a swimming pool temperature.  They attract both tourists and locals and best of all are totally free to visit!

Just follow the signs!

Turn right at the cockatoo (just kidding).

We didn’t walk the trails (too hot) but they are there.

Keep an eye on the trees near the car park, it was a good place for birds-especially cockatoos, lorikeets and a lifer for us – the beautiful Northern Rosella!

There’s a crocodile warning, not sure why as there were lots of people swimming there.  Head down the long stairway.

There’s some seats and a smaller set of stairs down to the hot springs.  They are slipery so be careful.

After swimming, I was thrilled to spot this little guy.  He was flying from tree to tree and thankfully landed so I could get a good look. 

He was just there to have dinner.