Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Seeking comment: is a “birds up close” experience a good idea?

This is on the personal blog rather than the Bunjaree Website, because I’m merely testing an idea.

I have tested this with my brother-in-law, a birder and bird photographer of 40 years’ experience, and I’d like feedback on it before I try it in earnest.

The idea is a birding weekend at Bunjaree Cottages – not for experienced birders, but for those that would like to see some of the most difficult-to-spot birds of the Australian bush close-up.

The weekend would be led by Dr Graham Cam, who has an intimate knowledge of Australia’s bird species and their ecology, and is also a noted bird photographer.

The activities would take place on the grounds of Bunjaree Cottages, and in other nearby Blue Mountains locations. We’re still working out some of the details, so feedback would be welcome.

1.     Netting

“Mist nets”, which catch birds harmlessly, have to be laid before the birds are active. Getting up before sunrise to help set the nets is optional, but certainly part of the experience!

2.     Checking the nets

This is where the fun and education happens. The party will tour the nets, getting close-ups of bird species that don't often sit still - and are murder to photograph. The birds then get sexed and banded – and if any of them have been previously banded, their bands will be recorded to be reported to the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme overseen by the Department of the Environment.

Graham will be on hand to talk about all the birds found in the nets. It will be, as far as possible (remembering that the birds’ well-being is paramount), a real “bird in the hand” experience.

3.     Breakfast

You’ll be getting hungry by now, so it’s back to your cottage for breakfast.

So far, so good. The next question is this: after breakfast, which is better:

A.   Organised bird-spotting / photography
B.    Leave guests to themselves for the rest of the day

Under option A, we would select a destination that doesn’t need a 4x4 to reach, arrange a meet-up time, and spend a few hours on a photography / bird-spotting bushwalk. Under option B, guests spend the rest of their Saturday taking in the other delights of the Blue Mountains.
Anyone interested in an idea like this – let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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