1. January-February 2014,Australia and New Zealand - logistics:

As time goes by (sounds like a cue for a well known song) I seem to get no nearer to writing up a full set of blogs on various birding aspects of my trip to Australia and New Zealand earlier on this year, with only one on the parrots so far. I have, therefore, decided to them in a photographic format, with little text, giving only the names in English and Latin and place of photograph. At the moment there will be, I think about eight or nine offerings in order that none be too long, and will start off with the waders in Australia and then follow on with waders in New Zealand. After that there may well be a digression into the land birds (with more text very probably) and again split into Australia and New Zealand blogs, then one on skulking little beasts such as rails, herons and allies, together with some passerines (all probably rather varied) and then the seabirds of which there will certainly two and very possibly three blogs, the last being the albatrosses. I want to get all these done before the end of June as I shall be totally out of action in July.
This is the first and covers logistics and what I planned. I can't tell you what it cost because I have never fully worked it out but I shall certainly not die the richest person in the cemetery!
I planned to be away about 6 weeks, in fact it came in at a little under, and first visit Brisbane to see old friends from college days who are also birders and take up their invite to stay with them on the way out and back from New Zealand (henceforth NZ and Australia will be Oz).

Flights: Booked with a local agency here in Torremolinos, I flew with Emirates to Australia both ways, Madrid-Dubai (about 6h 30m), 2 hour layover, then Dubai-Singapore (7h) plus 2 hour layover then another 7 hours to Brisbane. Return was 13h 50m Brisbane-Dubai, very long and boring, then 3hour layover for Madrid. Madrid-Torremolinos was done in the Ave as I didn't want to see another aircraft for a while! Brisbane-Auckland and return Christchurch-Brisbane was with Hobbit Airlines (Air NewZealand - see their ads on youtube). The flights worked out at just under 1.900 euros and booked by a local travel agency.
In Brisbane, after landing at 01.00 on the Tuesday morning (left Madrid at 14.30 local on the Sunday I stayedwith my friends and David, Florence and I were out birding by just gone 08h the same morning. All birding was done within about a 60km radius of Brisbane, both the 5 days on the way out and the 4 on the return leg.
I had originally planned to do New Zealand on my own then, fortuitously, came across an ad. by Wrybill Tours www.wrybill-tours.com. for a 21 day birding trip. The itinerary looked great, David in Brisbane said it was great as they have birded New Zealand and that Wrybill would know where the birds were so, taking the advice of my daughter, which basically implied that I wasn't as young as I used to be, I booked with them and didn't regret it one bit. The leader, Brent Richardson, co-author of the recently published Birds of New Zealand : a photographic guide, was fantastic, the seabirding was everything I hoped for and then some and after the trip finished I went back up to Kaikoura (South island) for more five more pelagics in three days.
We were also very fortunate in having the additional help of Matt Jones, who actually lives on Stewart Island, for several days www.mattjoneswildlifeimages.com and who guides there. Also from Stewart Island is Ty Jenkinson of Aurora Charters from whose boat we had the most fabulous views of albatrosses www.auroracharters.co.nz (wait until you see the last two photos of all in the final blog). Find out where Stewart Island is by looking at Google Earth!
In Okarito, Ian Cooper gave us great views of kiwis www.okaritokiwitours.co.nz
In Kaikoura, we all stayed at the Alpine View Motel www.alpineviewkaikoura.co.nz and I stayed there for the extra nights after the big tour finished and was very comfortable. Of course, Kaikoura is for both whale watching, swimming with dolphins and especially the seabirds and for these one should contact www.albatrossencounter.co.nz and my thanks to the skipper, Gary Melville, for the extra days out with him.
Car hire is essential.
So, all that said, I shall now start on putting all together and hopefully by Friday the first bits of the blogs will be online, but bear with me as these are also being done for simultaneous publication in Spanish.
Statistics :  Nearly forgot this, in Australia I saw a total of 168 species in the 9 days of which 148 were new, and in New Zealand  a total of 153 species of which 99 were new (some had already been seen in Australia) with a trip total of 247 new species! Can't complain.

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