Why I Go Birding

It’s often hard to explain to people why I am so obsessed with birds and traveling all over the world to see them.  Watch this video and if you find yourself smiling and nodding throughout then you have the birding bug as badly as I do!

How To Turn A Chance Encounter With Parrots In A Hotel Into An Educational Experience

Tis the season for family travel with school out and many businesses shut down over the Christmas & New Year’s holidays.  Hawaii is one of the most popular destinations with the island of Maui a top favourite.  We were here in Sept 2013 using Ultimate Reward points transferred to Hyatt to stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui.  This hotel, like many others in tropical locations has several captive parrots in cages and on stands, a few penguins and some flamingoes.  While this is no bona-fide eco-tourism experience, what you can do is use the opportunity to educate your children about the native habitat of the birds and get them interested in future travel where they can see the birds in the wild.

As you wander through the lobby to the swimming pool, you will see these birds.  If you don’t have pet parrots, this may be the first time for your children to see live parrots and penguins up close.  The Hyatt Regency has provided signs that give more information about the birds and where they come from.  This is a good chance to show your children how far away the bird’s native land is and show them what the bird’s habitat really looks like.  Here on MTTW, I have bird profiles for many parrot species (adding new ones all the time) and many other birds in which I give links to other websites with scientific information and videos of the bird in the wild such as the African Grey profile.

Even better if they do a school science project about wild birds, they could get their whole class interested in eco-tourism!

Depending on the age of your children, a trip to Africa or South America may be a few years away but you can get them excited about the possibility and maybe get them to start saving up for such a trip!

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Could Eco-tourism Save Congo’s Parrots?

I’ve seen eco-tourism in action, successfully acting as a deterrent to poaching wild birds in places like Rasa Island in the Philippines and West Papua, IndonesiaBonobo in Congo’s blog reports heart-breaking statistics on the poaching of wild African Grey Parrots in Lomami Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire).

While the park is remote, it’s not impossible to get there.  You can get to Kinshasa with Star Alliance programs on Ethiopian and South African Airways or Skyteam programs on Air France and Kenya Airways.  Then you need a domestic flight on CAA to Kindu.

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Kindu area

It won’t be easy as DRC doesn’t have the greatest infrastructure – yet.  But it could be improved.  I did find one birder’s report though he didn’t go to Lomami, he did find other places in Congo – 12 years ago!  If tourists felt safe traveling there, there would be more legitimate jobs and poachers could be trained as guides, lodge staff, craft-makers, etc.

So much potential!

How To See 25 Australian Parrot Species In Whirlwind 8 Days From Brisbane

If you have been following this blog for the last couple months you’ve seen how I saw all kinds of parrot species in South-East Queensland. So now let’s string it together and tally up the possible parrots.  Remember, this itinerary only gets you into the habitat where the birds are commonly seen.  There is never a guarantee with wild birds but if you plan well and do your homework on eBird’s Species Maps, you have a very good chance to get them all!

This is sort of the Amazing Race of Birding and designed for people with limited time.  If you can, add one day to each location and a final day in Brisbane before your flight out.  It’s easy to get to Australia with airline miles, then just rent a car and take off!  This trip must be done while Bowra Station is open between the months of March to September.

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SEQ Birding

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LAKE COOLMUNDA/DURIKAI – 2 DAYS

Start in Brisbane.  Pick up your rental car at the airport and drive to Lake Coolmunda.  Stop at the Durikai Watering Hole on the way.  Possible Parrots:

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BOWRA STATION – 3 DAYS

This will be about 7 hours drive so start as early as possible.  Here you can find Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Red-winged Parrots, Blue Bonnet Parrots, Red-rumps, Cockatiels & Little Corellas (already mentioned).  Then add new species:

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STANTHORPE/GIRRAWEEN – 2 DAYS

Make an early start for about 7 hours drive to Stanthorpe.  Here you have a 2nd chance at Turquoise Parrots, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, Scaly-breasted Lorikeets.  There are several good reserves in this area so I would check eBird first to see where the birds have been seen most recently.

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BRISBANE & RAINBOW BEACH – 1 DAY

If you haven’t seen King Parrots yet, have lunch at the small cafe near Jolly’s Lookout as King Parrots, Rainbow Lorkeets & Sulphur-crested Cockatoos hang out there.  Then make the 3 hour drive north to Rainbow Beach or Tin Can Bay.  Up here you have another chance at Yellow-tail Black Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, Galahs & Sulphur-crested Cockatooos.  But the main reason to come here is:

So there you have it – 25 parrot species all in South-east Queensland.  We do occasionally get Swift Parrots up this far as well but that’s a longshot.  They made it to Brisbane in 2014 but not this year.  I do recommend doing 3 days in Coolmunda, 4 in Bowra, 3 in Girraween, 1 or 2 in Tin Can Bay/Rainbow Beach and one final day in Brisbane so try to allow 2 weeks if you can for a more leisurely birding experience!

How Eco-tourism Benefits Indigenous People In Peru

Just a little reminder of why eco-tourism is so important to the indigenous people really anywhere we travel.   This article originally published by Peru For Less shows how the Ese Eja people in the Tambopata area of Peru have been exploited and cheated by large companies but how they are benefit by eco-lodges such as Refugio Amazonas.  I was lucky enough to visit there in 2007 and hope to go back someday.

Angela Tambopata--MacawsandAmazon

Birdlife Australia Offers Kimberley Trek – Sept 2016

This looks like an amazing trip and I really wish I could go but I already booked our travel for 2016.  Maybe next time!

By day, trek across the red plains of The Kimberley and spot Gouldian finches, White-quilled Rock-pigeons, honeyeaters, Northern Fantail and Leaden Flycatchers. By night, fall asleep to the sounds of wildlife, knowing that your support is helping BirdLife Australia create a brighter future for Australia’s birds.

TRIP DETAILS HERE

You can get to Kununurra with airline miles!  If you are coming to Australia from overseas using a OneWorld partner’s miles program, the closest you can get is Broome or Darwin, then you need a short Air North flight to Kununurra.  Starting in Australia, your best bet is Virgin Australia who offers connections to Kununurra via Perth from all over Australia.  Here is an example from Brisbane, you are better off using the points plus cash for the tax option.  Please note that Kununurra is not served daily so you can either fly in early or spend a couple days in Perth.

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Echo Offers Parrot Conservation Tours On Bonaire

Bonaire is not one of the more common ports offered on Caribbean cruises but it’s well worth the effort.  Echo Bonaire has several tour options.  If you are in Bonaire on a land based visit, try their weekly tour.

Tours take place at Echo’s Conservation Centre, Kunuku Dos Pos, a 30-minute drive from Kralendijk town centre, every Wednesday afternoon at 4.30 p.m. No booking is necessary. Groups meet at the windmill on Dos Pos. Led by a guide, the tours are friendly, interactive, and fun and last from one hour to an hour and a half, depending on how many questions there are.

If you are on a cruise ship, then you need a private tour arranged well in advance as their internet availability is sporadic.

Private tours are also available! We recommend early in the morning at 7.30 a.m., when the birds are most active and likely to be seen, or in the afternoon at 4.30 p.m. if you’re looking for a great way to wind down your day.

Private tours are $25 per person for a minimum of two people.

See the highly endangered Yellow-shouldered Parrot and help a worthy cause at the same time!

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