Sunday, 19 December 2010

Destinations: Nahuel Huapi National Park - Argentina

This National Park is located in Neuquen Province, Patagonia, Argentina, in the foothills of the Andes. It covers over 7000 km2 of scenic forests, rivers and lakes and is very good walking and hiking country. Much of the park is covered in stands of southern beech (Lenga) which are typically draped in moss. Andean Condors can be seen overhead and a host of birds, including Magellanic Woodpeckers, in the forests. The city of San Carlos de Bariloche is the gateway to the park.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Destinations: Iguazu National Park - Argentina

This National Park is located in the very north-east of Argentina in the province of Misiones which lies right on the border with Brazil. The centre-piece is the series of spectacular waterfalls. These must be seen though in peak times the approaches and board-walk can be crowded with visitors. To see the rich diversity of wildlife, especially birds and butterflies, one should head off to other parts of the park. Parts of the sub-tropical Parana rainforest, often with bamboo, bromelias and ferns, are fairly easy to work via well-marked trails. Mammals include giant river otter, tapir, ant-eaters, aguti, white-faced capuchin monkeys and, though rare and hard to find, jaguar.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Accommodations: Bialowieza NP Hotel - Poland

The Bialowieza National Park in eastern Poland has a convenient (with adjacent museum and park headquarters) and comfortable (all rooms en-suite) hote;  The advantage of staying here is that one is right at the heart of the NP, amidst fine parkland and with the protected ancient forest just a short walk away. On spring mornings birdsong can be heard from every room. The restaurant is fine and prices also reasonable.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Accommodations: Karanambu Ranch - Guyana

The remote settlement of Karanambu is located in central Guyana by the River Rupununi where the savannah grasslands meet the rain forest. The ranch is a basic eco-lodge, excellent for those who want to be at the heart of things, but not for those who like luxury. Guests stay in en-suite "cabanas" which are tradtional huts with verandahs. The welcome is warm and the food and drink plentiful and authentic. The river is the home of Giant River Otters, Black Caimans and the world's biggest fresh water fish the Arapaima. The grasslands are home to Giant Anteaters. The surrounding forests are bird-filled and local guides can be hired to help you find them. The ranch is operated by the Karanambu Trust (which promotes sustainable use of the area) and profits from guest-ovenights go to this worthwhile cause.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Destinations: Bontebok National Park - South Africa

Several of South Africa's endemic birds, such as Cape Rockjumper and Cape Sugarbird, are found among the more than 200 species in the Bontebok NP. Mammals include, of course, Bontebok, an antelope which once numbered just 17 in total (today there are around 3000) and Cape Zebra. It is the smallest NP in size in the country but nevertheless it has a rich diversity of fauna and flora. Bontebok lies in the SW of the country just 6km south of Swellendam at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Wildlife: Magellanic Woodpecker

This great photo of a stunning male Magellanic Woodpecker Campephilus magellanicus was taken in the Tierra del Fuego National Park, Patagonia, Argentina, by Doug Kirwin. This species only occurs in Chile and Argentina. 

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Destinations: Extremadura - Spain

Extremadura is a region in the west of Spain which stretches to the Portuguese border. Geographically and habitat-wise, it is a blend of mountains and grasslands and steppes. It is very rural and an ideal destination for travellers in search of wildlife, especially birds. There are White and Black Storks, Common Cranes, Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied and Pintailed Sandgrouse and a rich range of raptors including Montagu's Harrier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Bonelli's EagleGriffon and Black Vultures, Lesser Kestrel and Black-shouldered Kite. Indeed, this is without doubt one of the best places in Europe to watch birds of prey. It can be visited, and birds seen, at any time of year, though overall spring is probably best.
Monfragüe National Park, Sierra de San Pedro, Cáceres plains, 

Friday, 22 October 2010

Guide Books: Argentina

Though this 408-page Bradt guide to Argentina is not specifically focused on wildlife, it does include a wealth of information that visitors interested in wild things and wild places will find very useful. Indeed, there are background sections on Ecology, Flora, Fauna and Marine Ecosystems, and each chapter (which follow the country's regions) includes pages on National Parks and reserves. There is also a detailed appendix on Patagonian Wildlife. Many of the fine colour photos that embellish the book are also of animals (Elephant seal, Magellanic penguin, Southern right whale, Capybara, Magellanic woodpecker, Giant anteater and more) and habitats. All this is perhaps not surprising when we learn that the main author, Erin McCloskey, has a degree in conservation biology. All in all, this is essential reading for those visiting this remarkably rich and bio-diverse destination. ISBN 1 84162 138 2. 

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Destinations: Corkscrew Swamp - Florida, USA.

The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Florida, USA, is a reserve managed by the National Audubon Society. It is located northeast of Naples in Florida, in Collier County. Brown informational signs along Immokalee Road point to the sanctuary. A 2.25-mile raised boardwalk takes visitors through four environments: pine upland, wet prairie, cypress forest and a swamp. Interpretive signs along the boardwalk and a field guide and Children's Activity Book are available at the admissions desk in the Blair Center at the entrance, so visitors can do a self-guided tour. Benches and rain shelters are along the trail. Wildlife sightings vary, of course, upon the time of year, the weather, and even the time of day. Birds, reptiles, mammals, insects, and a variety of native plants including wild orchids may be seen from the boardwalk. The sanctuary is an important breeding area for the endangered Wood Stork with the largest colony in North America.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Destinations: Cape Kaliakra - Bulgaria

Cape Kaliakra (Nos Kaliakra) lies on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast about 75km north of Varna. It is a 2km long headland with scrub, steppe and rugged cliffs. Breeding birds include a range of shrikes, larks and wheatears, Alpine Swifts on the cliffs and European Shags on the rocks below. From August to October (with early September usually best) good passage of pelicans, storks, raptors and songbirds occurs here, too.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Guidebooks: Birds of Southern Africa

The Sasol Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton, is described on its cover as "the region's most comprehensively illustrated guide" and it is hard to disagree with that. It is a well-bound book, protected from the damp and wet by having a laminated cover and is the ideal field guide for Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and South Africa. It has been through several editions and is published by Struik, Cape Town, SA.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Wildlife: European Tree Frog

The European Tree Frog Hyla arborea (aka Common Tree Frog) is fairly widespread and locally common on mainland Europe. It has however declined in the northern parts of its range. It is a smooth-skinned, long-legged, photogenic amphibian with disc-shaped toe-pads that it uses to cling to vertical surfaces. Females are larger than males, reaching a maximum of 6cm in length. They are found in trees, but despite the name, often live in reed-beds, too. In the spring they visit ponds and marshes to breed. Most are lime-green in colour, but this can change according to the environment they are in.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Wildlife: Andean Condor

If you want to see a real, wild Andean Condor Vultur gryphus then you will need to travel to South America, in particular to the high Andes in Peru, Chile and Argentina. They mainly eat carrion such as that of medium-sized mammals, and will soar for hours over great distances in search of it. These huge birds are the largest flying bird in South America with a wingspan of 10-12 feet.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Destinations: Krakow - Poland

The beautiful Polish city of Krakow is a favourite destination of tourists in search of culture and history, but it also has something to offer lovers of wildlife. The Las Wolski forest lies on the edge of the city and is a fine old forest and parkland with many typical central and eastern European birds, for example, 8 resident woodpeckers, 4 flycatchers, Hawfinch, Firecrest. It is easily reached by bus, taxi or car from the city centre. The woods are crossed by well-marked trails, too. The River Vistula which flows to the south of the forest and through the city can also be worth checking for birds.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Books: The Biggest Twitch

This great book tells the story of how two Brits (Alan Davies and Ruth Miller) traveled the globe in order to see as many birds as possible in one year. In doing so they smashed the existing world record after clocking up over 4000 species! Full of adventures and told with a great deal of wit and humour! An essential read for all birders and indeed for all who travel in search of wildlife. Go get it! Published by Helm (A&C Black), London.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Guidebooks: Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe

Quite simply, this the THE guidebook to identifying the Damselflies and Dragonflies of the European continent. It has a comprehensive and excellent text, useful keys, good range maps and superb illustrations. It was published by British Wildlife Publishing (BWP) in 2006. Highly recommended!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Wildlife: Grizzly Bear Tracks

Alaska is one of the very best places to see Grizzly Bears. This photo of the paw prints in damp mud of one of those huge mammals was taken by Mike Crutch in May 2010.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Guidebooks: Australian Wildlife

This guide to the wildlife of Australia by Stella Martin is the latest in the colourful Bradt series. The Introduction and the first chapter The Backdrop, are fascinating and valuable reading to a continent which has had 35 million years of evolutionary isolation. All the main animal groups are covered in chapters which include Habitats, Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Freshwater Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine Environment, Where To Go and Top Tips. Its 192 pages are packed with colour photos and there are many maps. All in all, this is a beautiful book and one packed with facts and insider info for the visitor wishing to see the incredible wildlife of this remarkable place.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Rockjumper Birding Tours

South African offers, quite simply, some of the very best wildlife and birding experiences on the continent. Indeed, South Africa boasts the highest total of endemic bird species of any African country. Key birds are Southern Bald Ibis, Black Harrier, Short-clawed, Red, Sclater’s & Barlow’s Lark, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Cape & Gurney’s Sugarbirds, Black-headed Canary, African Penguin, Taita Falcon, Blue Crane, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Ground Woodpecker. In addition, a rich seabird assemblage and large numbers of more widespread, yet no less spectacular, African birds and large mammals occur. Add to this the rich botanical heritage and scenic splendor of Africa’s most varied country, fine food and wines, comfortable accommodations, first-world infrastructure and superb value for money. South Africa is the "backyard" of Rockjumper Birding Tours, a company with a team of guides which includes some of the country’s most experienced birders. They have specially designed tours to maximize various aspects of their magnificent country. If going to SA, then drop them a line.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Destinations: Kruger National Park - South Africa

The Kruger National Park is one of the main destinations in South Africa for wildlife tourists. Each year there are more than half a million visitors. The park is in the NE and stretches from the Crocodile River in the south up to the Limpopo River in the north, which is an international border. Altogether it is 350 km long, 65 km wide and comprises an area of about 20,000 sq km. A network of roads of 1863 kms crosses the National Park, 697 km of them being tarred. For the visitor there are numerous differently equipped rest camps, most of them scenically positioned. Within the park boundaries, travel is only allowed between sunrise and sunset. After dark one has to stay in one of the fenced camps. The best time for observing the large mammals - Lion, Leopard, various Antelopes, Zebra, Elephant, Buffalo, White & Black Rhino, etc - is the dry winter season as the grass is low and bushes and trees don't have leaves. Because it virtually doesn't rain in winter, the animals come to the waterholes to drink in the mornings and evenings and can easily be watched from vehicles. Krugar is also a great places for birders.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Wildlife: Swallowtail butterfly

The Swallowtail Papilio machaon is one of Europe's most beautiful butterflies. It is fairly common in the south, particularly around the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Wildlife: Wallcreeper

The Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria is a stunning bird of high mountains across Europe and Asia. This great photo taken by Earl Harrison in Bulgaria.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Destinations: Bialowieza Forest - Poland

The Bialowieza National Park, is one of Europe's greatest forests. It lies in the very east on the Belarussian border, indeed it continues on over the border. It is 3-4 hours from Warsaw by road. A major draw here for wildlife watchers is the European Bison Bison bonasus (aka the Wisent). This is huge herbivore lives in the mature deciduous forests and clearing. Big bulls can stand almost 2 metres at the shoulder. Park rangers often know where the bison are. Bialowieza is a prime destination for birders, too. Forest species are excellent here: Hazel Grouse, woodpeckers, owls, flycatchers, as well as a host of warblers.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Wildlife: Grizzly Bear

The famous Grizzly is not a species but in fact the north American race of Brown Bear. Photo taken by Mike Crutch in Alaska in May 2010.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Guidebooks: European Reptile and Amphibian Guide

European Reptile and Amphibian Guide by Axel Kwet is published by New Holland (in 2009). It contains all you need to know about identifying (and much more) the Salamanders, Newts, Frogs, Toads, Turtles, Geckos, Lizards, Skinks and Snakes of Europe. There are some superb photographs (over 300), range maps and many insights into these often neglected animals.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Wildlife: Golden Jackal

Golden Jackal Canis aureus is fairly hard to see, being mostly nocturnal, shy and wary of man. But it is actually not uncommon in the Middle East, North Africa and even in SE Europe, in the Balkan countries, from where it is spreading northwards and eastwards into Italy and Central Europe. It is smaller and more slender than its relative the Wolf and tends to live in less forested, dry areas. This great photo by Mladen Vasilev was taken in Bulgaria.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Wildlife: European Suslik

The European Suslik Citellus citellus (also spelled Souslik) is an endearing little rodent found on steppes and short-grazed land in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. It lives in colonies, in separate burrows, from which it emerges in March and April. This photo taken in Bulgaria by Mladen Vasilev.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Destinations: Slovenskj Raj - Slovakia

Slovensky Raj (known in English as the Slovak Paradise) is a scenic mountain National Park in Slovakia. It is a paradise on the eye, with high peaks and rushing streams and waterfalls. There are extensive mixed forests of beech and conifer with most of the forest and sub-Alpine birds that one would expect in Central Europe. For example, Three-toed and Black Woodpeckers, Pygmy and Ural Owls, Hazel Grouse, Wallcreeper, Dipper, Crested and Willow Tits and Nutcracker etc. There are also Wolves, Lynx and Brown Bears here. This is not an easy place to watch wildlife, more of a place to go trekking and see what you see and some effort will be needed to get the rewards. The park has an extensive, marked system of hiking trails though some are tough, with ladders to climb and walkways to cross, so check contours on the good local maps before you set off. The gateway to the area is the town of Spisska Nova Ves.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Guide Books: East African Wildlife

This colourful guide to East African Wildife by Philip Briggs covers much that one needs to know about the key animal species in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. There are chapters and sections on Habitats, Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians, Invertebrates and a very useful "On Safari". This 382-page colourful book in the Bradt series is a general wildlife guidebook which is well-worth getting hold of in advance of any trip to the region. There are some superb photographs and many insights into the wildlife and insider's tips on travel in the region.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Accommodations: Altmoisa Guesthouse - Estonia

The Altmoisa Guesthouse lies near the hamlet of Tuuru, 19km south of Haapsalu in Laanemaa country, western Estonia. It is a great base from which to explore the Baltic Coast and in particular the bird-rich Matsalu Bay. The best time to visit is from spring to autumn. Trumpeting cranes and gaggling geese can often be heard from your room and if you are lucky Elk can be spotted in the marshes and woods nearby. Though in a remote setting the guesthouse is modern with spacious rooms and internet access. The cuisine, a blend of local produce with an international twist, is also excellent.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Wildlife: Black Woodpecker

Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius is one the the biggest woodpeckers in the world. An impressive woodland dweller with a huge bill with which it hacks into tree trunks, logs and stumps to search for ants and beetles. It is an Old World species found in deciduous, conifer and mixed forests from Europe through Asia to Japan. It does not occur in the British Isles but is locally common in central and eastern Europe. This photo taken in the Danube Delta, Romania by Dan Petrescu.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Guidebooks: Mammals of Southern, Central and East Africa

This useful pocket guide is packed with good photos of all the mammals you will want to see in the region as well as a few that you will probably not have heard of. Besides a photo, each species included (152 in total) has a map of its range and an informative text which includes names of some of the reserves where it occurs. It is a compact, easy to use book with a simple key to each family. It is also good value for money. Published by Struik in South Africa.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Wildlife: Wolverine

The Wolverine Gulo gulo is a mustelid, a large relative of polecats and badgers. It is a much maligned animal, a powerful carnivore but mostly a scavenger and of little danger to humans. It is endangered across much of its Arctic range. Unknown but probably reasonable numbers survive in Canada and Russia but in Europe it has declined badly with today small numbers in Finland, Sweden and Norway. It is a mysterious animal that is only usually seen by those who join a tour specifically arranged to search it out. Photo by Kari Kemppainen.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Destinations: Poda - Bulgaria

Poda is a protected coastal wetland that lies by Lake Mandra on the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria. It is just south of the city of Borgas. It is a bird reserve run by an NGO, the BSPB (Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds) and has a visitor centre with friendly staff and a roof that serves as a great platform from which to scope the open water and reedbeds. Poda is worth a visit at anytime though spring and autumn are arguably best. Spring birds (some breeding here) include Pygmy Cormorants, many herons and egrets, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, terns, gulls, various waders, Penduline and Bearded Tits and "reedy" warblers. Though they do not breed there are usually White and Dalmatian Pelicans around, too. As it lies on the Black Sea migration fly-way White Storks and Lesser Spotted Eagles go over in large numbers in autumn (September best). It is cold here in winter but the pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants, White-tailed Eagle and goose flocks, including sometimes a few Red-breasted Geese, are usually around.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Wildlife: Great Bustard

The Great Bustard Otis tarda is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world. Indeed, it may well be the heaviest of all as some males can be 25 kilos. It is an Old World species that typically lives on lowland, dry grasslands (as well as on suitable farmland) ranging from the Iberian Peninsula eastwards to China. Once found over most of lowland Europe it's range decreased steadily for many years and today it is absent from most countries with the strongholds being Spain and Hungary. Good numbers are still found in Russia and the Ukraine, too.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Wildlife: Brown Bear

In Europe Brown Bears Ursus arctos are found mainly in the east, in parts of Scandinavia, eastern Finland, the Baltic States, Poland, Slovakia, and uplands in the Balkan countries. Further east still Russia has good numbers and indeed its range spreads east as far as Kamchatka. Small numbers also reside in mountains in Spain and Italy. But they are wary animals and never easy to find without local knowledge. Indeed, most tourists in Europe see bears by joining organised tours and visiting bear-watching hides. Brown Bear is the largest and most powerful carnivore in Europe and should never be taken for granted if encountered. In North America, where it is known as Grizzly Bear, it is not uncommon in wilderness areas.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Guide Books: Nova Scotia

This new guide to Nova Scotia by David Orkin covers everything one needs to know about Canada's second smallest province. For those of us interested in wildlife, there is a 7-page section on Natural History which includes Flora, Fauna, Reptiles and Amphibians, Birds (with Notable Birding Sites), Marine Wildlife (with a paragraph on "Seal Bashing"), National Parks and Conservation. Elsewhere in the book whale-watching, wilderness areas and hiking are covered. Wildlife photos are dotted through the book and include Bald Eagle, White-tailed Deer, Grey Seal, Moose and Lynx. Though this 392-page colourful book, in the Bradt Travel Guide series, is a general guidebook, it covers enough wildlife subjects to make it well-worth getting hold of in advance of any trip to Nova Scotia.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Destinations: Mollem National Park - India

Mollem National Park lies in the Western Ghats hills in the east of Goa State, India. It is the core of the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and covers some 107 sq km and is covered by both dry and wet forests. Highway 4a cuts through the park and provides easy access. Goa Airport is just 80km away to the west. The area can be explored on a series of marked trails. Mammals include Leopard, Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Civet, various deer, Porcupine, Bonnet Macaque, Black-faced Langur, Malabar Giant Squirrel and Pangolin. Snakes include King Cobra, though you will be lucky to see one. Birds abound with some of the more spectacular being Malabar Pied Hornbill, Great Indian Hornbill, Paradise Flycatcher and various drongos, barbets, woodpecker and kingfishers. The best time to visit is from October to April, outside the monsoon season.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Accomodations: Backwoods Camp, Goa - India

This birding lodge is situated in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats hills in Goa State. Backwoods is comfortable but not for those who like full-on comfort. It is rather a place for those who want to sleep in the heart of the forest and for who nature, particularly birds, are the focus. There are six tents, six cabins and two rooms in a main building. The food, often curries, is really authentic and cooked by locals using local produce. With resident frogmouths, sunbirds, nightjars, owls, kingfishers and woodpeckers, as well as often confiding Black-faced Langurs and Bonnet Maquets, the photographic opportunities are very good, too. Stays at Backwoods are fully guided and the resident guides know where the birds are. All in all, the camp is run by birders for birders. Visit outside the wet season, from November to March.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Wildlife: Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock

Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock is another truly stunning bird. One of those species that even non-birders will look at! It inhabits secluded spots, always by rocky areas, in rain-forests in northern South America. There are two species of Cock-of-the-Rock: the Andean and the Guianan. The Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock (shown here) is found in the Guianas and adjacent parts of Venezuela, Brazil and Columbia. Almost all guided bird tours to these countries include visits to places with this fantastic bird. Indeed, it is often a highlight of such tours. Take your camera!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Destinations: Vis - Croatia

The island of Vis lies in the Adriatic about 36 km off the Croatian mainland. Ferries to the island run from the city of Split and the island of Hvar to the port of Vis. In summer tourist boats usually land on Vis at the small harbour of Komiza. Vis is just 90km2 and can thus be easily worked by bike or on foot, via its few, but quite good roads and more rugged tracks. In summer there are several good birds here such as Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Tawny Pipit. Woodchat Shrike, Pallid and Common Swifts and various scrub warblers. The main attraction, however, is probably the colonies of Eleonora's Falcons that breed on the sea-cliffs. These elegant falcons are fairly easy to find from July to September. The sea around Vis should be scanned for Bottle-nosed Dolphins and sometimes other species.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Wildlife: Blesbok

The Blesbok Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi is a fine looking antelope that lives on open grasslands in parts of southern Africa. Good places to see it include the Mountain Zebra, Willem Pretorius, Karoo and Golden Gate Reserves in South Africa. Males (rams) in particular are fine beasts with a deep brown-chestnut coloured coat and a smart white facial blaze.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Destinations: Sumava National Park - Czech Republic

The Sumava NP lies in South Bohemia up against the German and Austrian borders. Prague is about 130km to the north-east by road. Sumava is an upland region of forests and peatbogs and is where the River Vltava rises (the same river that flows through Prague). Sumava is a good place to take a walking holiday with wildlife in mind and can be explored using the many marked trails which are shown on good local maps. Birds include Black and Hazel Grouse, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Nutcracker and a range of owls and woodpeckers. There are Red and Roe Deer and Lynx is the main predator, though this cat is very difficult to find.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Wildlife: European Roller

The European Roller Coracia garrulus is a beautiful bird that breeds in Europe and winters in sub-Sahara Africa. The bulk of the European population resides in the south (Iberia) and south-east (Balkans), mainly in lowlands where it inhabits tree-dotted grasslands. It nests in tree holes but is unable to excavate them itself so relies upon natural cavities or woodpecker holes. It also readily takes to nest-boxes.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Guide Books: Wildlife of the North Atlantic

The full title of this guide book in the Bradt Wildlife series is Wildlife of the North Atlantic - A Cruising Guide. It covers the British Isles, Faroes, Norway, Iceland, Southern Greenland and Newfoundland. Written by Tony Soper it is, unusally for a Bradt guide, illustrated by artwork (by Dan Powell) rather than photographs. The book covers the Invertebrates, Fish, Turtles, Birds, Seals and Whales that might be seen on cruises in the region. It is a fascinating book that is both practical, informative and beautiful. ISBN-13 978 1 84162 258 3.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Wildlife: Rainbow Lorikeet

The Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus is a truly stunning bird. It inhabits rainforests and coastal woodlands in parts of Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and some other south Pacific islands. They are fairly small parrots, around 25–30 cm in size with a wingspan of about 17 cm. Once one is in the right place, they are quite easy birds to observe and even photograph as they will frequent campsites and gardens. In Australia good places to see them include the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland, where thousands often gather to feed and roost. Unlike many parrots, over most of its range the Rainbow Lorikeet is not endangered.