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.

LEARN ABOUT USA NATIONAL PARKS

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.

LEARN MORE ABOUT NORTHERN ROSELLAS

Wikipedia

World Parrot Trust

Birdlife

Birds in Backyards

VIDEOS

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.

Varied Lorikeet (Psitteuteles versicolor)

The Varied Lorikeet (Psitteuteles versicolor) is a cute and colourful species of parrot in the family Psittacidae. It is endemic to northern Australia.  Unbelieveably, I stumbled across a small flock at Donkey Camp Weir near Katherine!

The Varied Lorikeet lives in tropical eucalypt forests, wetland and grassland areas in northern Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.  They are highly nomadic so it’s a matter of luck, but you can see where I got lucky at Donkey Camp Weir.

LEARN MORE ABOUT VARIED LORIKEETS

Wikipedia

World Parrot Trust

Birdlife

VIDEOS

Stunning close-up to show off their beauty.

Look for them in flowering gum trees like this one.

 

Birding Donkey Camp Weir, Katherine, Northern Territory

I never would have known about this place had it not been for the book “Top End Birdwatching” by Mike Reed.  The curiously named “Donkey Camp Weir” is not an obvious stop when driving between Katherine town and Nitmiluk NP so I was glad to have the map and recommendation that Northern Rosellas could be seen here.

It’s 9.8 kms from town and this is the sign you will see if headed towards Nitmiluk.  There are no signs in the opposite direction and we went past it before turning back and looking real hard.

Drive down this dirt road past a farm to the end of the road and park.

Then walk through this gate and follow the trail down to the river.  Don’t go to close to the water as there could be crocodiles.

It was dry and hot and we were there at a bad time, around 11am so not expecting to see anything but gave it a try anyways.

Suddenly I heard parrot squawks above.  Much to my delight and surprise, there was a small flock of Varied Lorikeets up in the trees.

They hung around a good half hour so we got to spend some quality time watching them.  Finally they flew off and we walked back to the car park.

I just had to take this shot as I couldn’t get over seeing any parrot species at this time of day…………..and so well!

Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii)

The Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii) is slightly smaller than the more familiar Laughing Kookaburra and has a different kind of call (see video section).

I got my best view at Nitmiluk NP but also saw some in Kakadu NP.  They have a huge range across Australia.

LEARN MORE ABOUT BLUE-WINGED KOOKABURRAS

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Birds in Backyards

VIDEOS

First let’s hear the bird’s call.

Now compare to the Laughing Kookaburra.  The former doesn’t have the same sense of humour!

Great HD clip!

And a female, not sure how you tell the females from males.

 

 

Birding Katherine Gorge

Katherine Gorge is only a half hour drive from town so it’s realistic to stay in town and get up early to drive to the Gorge.  Katherine Gorge is actually part of Nitmiluk National Park and a highlight of the Northern Territory.

We started at the visitor centre and brought our picnic breakfast with us.

First to greet us was a Red-collared Lorikeet.

The visitor’s centre is a great place to hang out.  They have a gift shop, snacks and a small museum.

You can relax and watch an orientation film about the park.

The cafe has a spectacular viewpoint over the gorge and is a great place to look for birds.

Curious Cockatoo

Wallabies

Bowerbird

Blue-faced Honey-eater

Heading back to the car park, we wandered around and found this lovely Blue-winged Kookaburra.

Meanwhile these wallabies were either dancing or fighting, hard to tell which!

Map of hiking trails

This is where you get boat trips through the gorge.  We didn’t do this as our budget was pretty stretched and we already had a boat ride booked at Yellow Waters.

Gotta love traditional rest rooms!

We got here around 7am and stayed until 10:30-ish when it started getting hot.  The ideal would be to spend more time and do a boat ride, but that’s just one more reason to come back!

Lodge Review: Knotts Crossing Resort, Katherine

When planning this trip, I was really torn between staying out at Katherine Gorge in one of the caravan parks or in town.  The deciding factor came down to price (town is much cheaper) and the fact that the Gorge is only a half hour drive from town.  Even better, Knotts Crossing Resort is out on the main road heading towards the Gorge, plus I stumbled on a special rate that included breakfast.

After checking in, they told me how to find the car park closest to our room.  The grounds are very nice, full of trees and birds of course!

Our room was in this block fairly close to reception and the swimming pool.

The rooms are neatly furnished with a double bed and 2 bunks which is standard for a caravan park.

I found that if I lie on the bed near the open door I can JUST barely connect to the wifi.

A nice little swimming pool, we didn’t have time to use it though.

We were happy with Knotts Crossing Resort as a budget option in Katherine and would stay there again if we went back.  Be on the look out with online booking sites for special deals like the one we got that includes breakfast.  They were happy to pack a breakfast for us to take to Katherine Gorge as a picnic, the 2nd morning we got up early and ate at the buffet which opens around 6am-ish.