Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

December 27, 2010

Birding Sites in Chile

Filed under: South America — Tags: — admin @ 11:49 pm

Birding Sites in Chile

Brazil, Chile, Venezuela and Uruguay are the most expensive countries in South America while Bolivia Ecuador Colombia and Argentina are the cheapest.
Homestays in Chile ~7000 pesos ~= $15. Chile may be a good place to buy a car or motorcycle. You could aim for a budget of about $25 per day.

Reserva Nacional Rio Clarillo – via Pirque.
Arica – beaches.
Putre
PN Lauca – Lago Chungara wetlands.
Salar de Surire
Atacama Desert
Iquique

La Campana NP – entrance at Ocoa and El Cojon.
Coastal Wetlands at Laguna El Peral and Lake Penuelas.
Pelagic trip from Valparaiso or Concon.
Central Chile – Cordillera – El Yeso.

In the Lakes District, go to Concepcion, Los Angeles to Parque Nacional del Laja – stay at Albanico – Hotel Malalcura.
Temuco – Cerro Nielol
PN Conguillio – Laguna Captren.
Concepcion – Nevados de Chillan.
RN Radal-Siete Tazas – east of Curico.
Vilches – RN Altos de Lircay.
Nahuelbuta NP
Rio Cruces Nature Sanctuary
Santa Maria
Puyehue NP
Chiloe Island
Puerto Montt.

Ski – Valle Nevada, Farellones-Colorado, Parva.
Hostel Forrestal in Santiago.

Chile Resources

Chile Backpacking Hostels
Trip Report

Nigel Wheatley, “Where to Find Birds in South America”.
Mark Pearman, “The Essential Guide to Birding in Chile”.

Bolivia Backpacker Birding

Filed under: South America — Tags: — admin @ 11:43 pm

Bolivia Backpacker Birding

Electricity is 220V, 50Hz. Two-pin round plugs. Try the Yungas Region. Get a boat ride down Rio Mamore from Puerto Villaroel to Guayamerin or Rio Beni.
Cochabamba – stay at Hostal Mexico or Residencial Familiar.
Rurrenabaque – Stay at La Perla Andina or El Curichal Hostal.
Mecapaca
Coroica Road – La Cumbre
Choquetanga Valley near Pongo.
Cotapata Trail.
Apa Apa Reserve, Chulumani.
Takesi Trek
Lake Titicaca

Bolivia Wildlife Reserves

P.N. Amboro. The village Buena Vista is 2 hours north-west of Santa Cruz. Get permit in town.
Beni Biological Station Reserve – Savannah birds
PN Pilon-Lajas
Reserva Nacional de Fauna Ulla Ulla Biosphere Reserve
Noel Kempff Mercado National Park There are 2 entrances with tourism facilities: Flor de Oro on the North side and Los Fierros on the South side.

Madidi National Park
Entry B$95. The Chalalan Lodge is run by indigenous people. You can go on boat trips on the River Tuichi – www.chalalan.com – 4 days is around $300.

Carrasco National Park
Hire a guide from Kawsay Wasi from local communities of Bateon, San Mateo Alto, El Palmar, etc. ( www.kawsaywasi.com )
15 minutes from the town of Villa Tunari.

La Paz – Residencial Belzur, Residencial Imperial, Hostal Austria.
Coroica – Hostal de la Torre.
Chulumani – Hostal Dion, Country House.
Sorata – Residencial Sorata, Hotel Santa Lucia.
Copacabana – Hostal Emperador.
Uyuni – Andina Eduardo Avaroa reserve – stay at Hotel Avenida, Hostal Marith.
Santa Cruz – Backpackers Santa Cruz Hostel, Alojiemento Santa Barbara.

Birding Bolivia Resources
Bird Bolivia Site
Birders Guide to Bolivia

Birding Sites in Bolivia

To get used to the altitude, only ascend ~1000 feet per day. Watch alcohol consumption, eat healthily. Budget ~= $15-25, $1 ~= 6-8 BOB.
Get a Yellow Fever Vaccination. Ecologies include the altiplano, Chaco, Amazon Basin

National Parks of Bolivia
Amboro – near Santa Cruz, stay at Residencial Nadia.
Apolobamba
Cotapata – in the Yungas, between La Paz and Coroica.
Madidi – has 1100 bird species!
Noel Kempff Mercado – in Santa Cruz dept.
Pilon Lajas Biosphere Reserve
Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa
Sajama
Torotoro
Tunari – near Cochabamba.

La Paz – SECRET GARDEN Backpackers Oasis, Loki La Paz

Parque Nacional Madidi

Bolivia Budget Accommodation

Santa Cruz – Hostal Cactus, Hostal Maya, Hostal Ambar Backpackers
Coroica – Residencial Coroica, Hostal Kory.
Chulumani – Alojamiento Daniel, Country Guesthouse.
Sorata – Residencial Sorata, Hostal Las Piedras.

The Southwest
————-
Tarija – Alojomiento El Hogar, Residencia el Rosario.
Villazon – Residencia Martinez, Residencia el Cortijo. Border town to Argentina.
Sucre – Casa de Huespedes San Marcos, Alojamiento el Turisto.

SouthEast
——–
Santa Cruz
El Fuerte – Residencial Chelo, Residencial Kim.

Amazon Basin
————-
Rurrenabaque – access to PN Madidi, must take guide.
Trinidad – Hotel Paulista, Hostal Sirari.

Birding Sites in Central America

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 11:31 pm

Here are my research notes for birding sites in Central America. I did not get there last trip but hopefully I will get there some day. Enjoy!

Birding in El Salvador

Playa Los Blancos
Walter Deininger and Rio Jiboa

Birding Spots in Guatemala

Bicycles can be rented by the day, week or month. Motorcycles may be rented as well.

Stay in Guatemala City at Hotel Fenix, Hotel Hernani, hotel san martin in Zonas 1. In Zonas 13 near the airport try Patricia’s Guest House.
In Antigua stay at Yellow House, or Posado Don Tono.
In Izabal, Puerto Barrios stay at Hotel Xelaju or Hotel Lee. Get boat to Livingston.

Guatemala National Parks

Punta de Manabique – Caribbean
Biotopo Cerro Cahui – 2km from El Remate – La Casa de don David
Biotopo del Quetzal
Biotopo San Miguel La Palotado
Parque Nacional Laguna Lachua
PN Mirador – Rio Azul
PN Rio Dulce- boat trip up Rio Dulce gorge starting at Livingston- Exotic Travel has a good tour.
Tikal National Park, Peten District – eastern Guatemala
Refugio Boca del Polochic
Refugio de Vida Silvestre Petexbatun
Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii
Reserva de Biosfera Maya
Reserva de Biosfera Sierra de las Minas.

Suggested Birding Spots
Esquipulas
Amatitian
Cerro Alux, Tecpán, Chichicastenago and Panajechel
Los Tarrales Reserve
Volcán Atitlán – boat ride across the lake start at Panajachel. At Santiago there have been many robberies. You need a guide and police escort.
Pacific slope – Finca Los Tarrales, Cerro Tecpán(east of Lake Atitlán)
Las Guacamayas
Laguna Petexbatun.
Punta de Manabique and Monterrico.

Birding Spots in Belize

Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize District – Stay at Rhaburn’s Rooms near visitors centre.

Guanacaste National Park – near Belmopan.

Five Blues Lake – near St Margaret village.

Mountain Pine Reserve, Mountain Pine Ridge, Cayo District
1,000 Foot Falls – via the Chiquibul Road, off the Western Highway at Georgeville.
Rio Frio Cave
Douglas da Silva – on the way to Caracol.
Las Cuevas – in Chiquibul forest Research Centre.
Caracol rainforest

Hopkins –
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (CBWS), Stann Creek District,
Sittee River.
Blue Hole National Park.

Placencia, Stann Creek District

Mayflower-Bocawina National Park, Stann Creek District

Orange Walk – Akihito Hotel.
New River and Lamanai
San Ignacio – Cayo District – the road to Sibun River in the Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Dangriga – Carribean coast.

Bermudian Landing – Monkey sanctuary – Village Homestays, Howler MOnkey Resort.

Belize is more expensive than some other Central American countries.

Birding Belize Resources

Birds of Belize (H. Lee Jones)

Birds of Mexico and Central America (Ber van Perlo)

Birding Sites in Costa Rica

Santa Rosa National Park
San Jose
Belén
El Copal
Carara National Park
Braulio Carrillo National Park
La Selva Biological Station and Cinchona
Poas Volcano and Virgen del Socorro
Cerro de la Muerte
Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge
Savegre Valley
San Geraldo de Dota
Chomes and Monteverde
Santa Elena

Costa Rica can be a bit more expensive than some other Central American countries.

Birding Sites in Nicaragua

Estelí
Grenada
La Calera Reserve
Volcán Mombacho
El Chocoyero
Montelimar Beach
Managua and Estelí

Rio Orosi Valley – Montana Linda, Monte Sky, Parque Nacional Tapanti(has guest house).

Limon stay at Hotel King or Hotel Palace.

Birding Spots in Mexico

Tampico, Tamaulipas
Poza Rica, Veracruz
El Tajín, Veracruz
Veracruz, Veracruz
Villahermosa, Tabasco
Palenque, Chiapas
Chetumal, Quintana Roo
Tapachula
Puerto Arista
Tehuantepec
Isthmus of Tehuantepec to Catemaco
UNAM and Catemaco
Ej. Miguel Hidalgo and Catemaco
Costa Esmeralda
Tampico

San Blas
Reserva de la Biosfera El Triunfo
Laguna Miramar
Reserve de la Biosfera Calakmul
Rio Lagartos
Celestun

In Mexico City stay at Hostel Catedral or Hotel Isabel.

On the Yucatan Peninsular

Meridar stay at Santa Lucia Hostal or Nomadas Hostal.
Campeche – Monkey Hostel.
San Miguel de Cozumel – Hostelito, Hotel Marruang.
Tulum – Hostel Tulum, Hotel el Crucero.

Chiapas

Palenque town stay at Posada Nacha’n or Hostal San Miguel – El Panchan stay at Rakshita’s, Chato’s Cabanas.
San Cristobal de las Casas – Backpackers Hostel, Posada Casa Real.

Mexico is relatively more expensive than other Central American countries.

Birding Sites in Honduras

Copán Ruinas
San Pedro Sula
Lago de Yojoa
Cerro Azul Meambar and Lago de Yojoa
Tegucigulpa and Ojo de Agua
La Tigra National Park
Choluteca

La Moskitia

The Reserva del Guisayote is 16km north of Nueva Ocotopeque. Stay at Hotel Turista or Hotel Maya Chorti.

In Puerto Cortes stay at Hotel el Centro or Hotel Internacional Mr Ggeerr.

December 22, 2010

Planning a Ski Holiday Overseas

Filed under: Skiing — Tags: — admin @ 3:32 am

Ski Travel Logistics

Pre-Travel Necessities.

Travel Insurance – WorldNomads.com or 1cover.com? WorldNomads costs around $266 and 1cover costs about $400. 1cover ski policy contains lots of stuff that I do not want and does not cover skiing outside of resort boundaries. It is the same as the world nomads policy so I may as well go with that one. If you are going for a couple of months, suspend your local health insurance and then start it up again when you get home.

Luggage – I am going to get a duffel bag type luggage with wheels. I had one before and they work all right. The wheels wore out, so that is the main issue. You need good wheels on the bag. I have yet to buy one. I have just bought a ski bag to fit a 180 ski. I like the really light ones without wheels. Salomon make a good light one.

Money – Get money before you get to the airport as airports are always the worst exchange rates. ATM’s are pretty easy to use with your cards. You can also get pre-paid travel cards with the local currency loaded in at the exchange rate when you bought the card. Print out a bank statement with the amount of money you have in it in case some immigration official wants to see you can support yourself whilst in their country.

Transportation – as well as booking your airline tickets, make sure you have transport to and from the airport arranged or sussed out. Also find out if you have to go from domestic to international terminals. Sometimes they are kilometers apart. Book hotels or hostels near airports well in advance.

Mobile Phone – unlock your phone so you can get a chip in the country where you are going. International roaming costs a fortune.

Ski Travel Packing CheckList

Skis
Ski Bag
poles
jacket
ski pants
thermal top and bottom
gloves
helmet
sun-glasses
goggles
ski boots
beanie
ski socks
neck warmer

Non-ski Stuff

Raincoat
Long pants
Undies
shoes
flip flops
warm socks
t-shirts
flannelette shirt
board shorts
towel
Soap
razor
shaving cream
toothbrush and paste
sunscreen
Ear plugs/Blue Tack
fleecy jacket
documents
Exercise book
pen
Camera
Camera Battery
Camera charger
Camera memory cards + spare
laptop
External hard drive
USB sticks
mp3 player and headphones
Sewing Kit
Wallet
credit cards
Passport
backpack
Mobile Phone
hat
Universal Power plug converter

December 16, 2010

Melbourne Trams

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 12:10 pm

Around Melbourne on the Trams

Today I decided to go around Melbourne on the trams. I was just going to get on any old tram and see where it took me, but I was told if I walk down to Brunswick street, I could catch a tram all the way to St Kilda. So off I walked down to Brunswick Street and caught the number 96 tram through the city and past Albert Park to St Kilda, where I got off and went for a walk along the St Kilda Pier.

St Kilda Pier
St Kilda Pier, on the shores of Port Phillip Bay

People were actually on the beach there. Some were even sun-baking. I will have to add it to the “lame places that people think are a beach” list. It reminded me of the beaches along the Parana River in Rosario. After the pier, I walked up the street in St Kilda and bought a Learn Japanese CD and book for just ten bucks. Up the road somewhere I caught the number 16 bus into the city centre and got off at Flinders Street Station. Here is a shot of a tram going through the cross-roads there.

Flinders Street
Flinders Street Station

Over the road from Flinders Street Station is a big cathedral which looked kinda gothic or something. I have no idea what it is called. I bet everyone else does.

cathedral
Some cathedral across the road from Flinders Street Station

After that excitement I went around the city looking at backpacks and camping gear, as well as searching for an mp3 player without much luck. I did manage to find a really old tram which is still in service.

Melbourne tram
Really old tram

December 10, 2010

Melbourne Nature

Filed under: Wildlife — Tags: — admin @ 3:54 am

Merri Creek Trail

I took out the old Canon S5IS point and shoot camera today to try it out. I wanted to see if it could take some reasonable photos of birds and animals. Here is a photo of a Magpie-lark that was hanging out near the creek. I cropped this one about 20 percent or so. It came out reasonably well. Mainly I think because the bird was close enough for a decent shot.

Magpie-lark
Magpie-lark

Merri Creek was flooding somewhat and I did not see any ducks floating about in the water. The recent rain has really swollen the creeks and rivers in eastern Australia.

Merri Creek
Merri Creek

There were 3 Blue-tongue Lizards that I saw on my walk. They were on the path trying to get some sun to warm up after all the overcast and rainy weather. They were not moving too fast.

Blue-tongue Lizard
Blue-tongue Lizard

Quite a few butterflies were out and about as well. But I am pretty sure that this one might be some kind of moth. He looks all furry to me. And he looks somewhat like a Monarch Butterfly, almost. Edit: It is a Yellow Banded Dart. Thanks to Dennis for the identification. 🙂

Butterfly or Moth?
Yellow Banded Dart (Ocybadistes walkeri )

There were also lots of these white butterflies flittering around. They did not stop still very long and it was hard to get a shot of them before they flew off again.

White Butterfly
White Butterfly

Heaps of these shield bugs were on the paths and most of them were stuck together. I guess it is mating time. They might need a bucket of water thrown over them!

Shield Bugs
shield bugs ?

I saw quite a lot of Indian Mynahs, Blackbirds, Magpie-larks and Rainbow Lorikeets.

December 5, 2010

South America Overview

Filed under: South America — Tags: , , — admin @ 4:20 pm

South America

I flew into Buenos Aries from Sydney after a horrendous 14 hour flight. It took me a few days to readjust my body clock. Meanwhile I was really enjoying going to the Costanera Sur reserve on the shores of the River Plate. It took me a few days to get to Esquel after stopping off at Bahia Blanca and Neuquen.

Grey-necked Wood-rail
Buenos Aries, Costanera Sur, Grey-necked Wood-rail (Aramides cajanea)

Argentina

Talon
Talon skiing at La Hoya

I met up with a few Canadians at La Hoya. That is Talon above. I stayed up the mountain for a couple of weeks and then moved down into Esquel and stayed at a hostel for a couple of months.

c4g-0152
La Hoya fly park, Jean

This is Jean, a ski instructor at La Hoya, getting some air in the Fly Park. They had some great jumps set up and everyone was getting into it.

Me Skiing
Me skiing la hoya

I got this photo taken by local photographer. I was skiing at the Sol piste. After leaving Esquel in late September, I had a marathon 48 hour bus ride to Salta in Northern Argentina. Then up to the border with Bolivia at La Quiaca, where I was strucken down with altitude sickness for about 3 days.

Bolivia

Into Bolivia with a train from Villazon to Oruro, bypassing the Uyuni salt flats. After a couple of days at Oruro, I hopped on a bus to Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Puna Teal
Puna Teal (Anas puna)

Copacabana was a really nice place if you avoided the tourist ripoff joints. I did manage to get sucked into a boat ride to the Isla del Sol which was a great disappointment.

Peru

I got a bus across the border to Puno, where we changed buses to get to Arequipa. From Arequipa, I hopped on the Lima bus and got off at the Paracas National Park. Paracas was fantastic. I got lots of photos of new birds along the shores, went on a tour into the desert on the edge of the ocean and had my first taste of cerbiche.

Inca Tern
Inca Tern or Zarcillo (Larosterna inca). Islas Ballestas, paracas , peru.

The boat ride to the Islas Ballestas was fantastic. We saw heaps of cormorants, boobies, sea lions and my favourite, the Inca Tern. After that, it was off to Lima where I stayed next to the beach at Barranco. There were lots of Black Vultures circling about the city, which gave an eerie feel to the place. I rented a surfboard up the coast at Huanchaco, then it was off to Chicama.

chicama
Chicama

Chicama is the longest left-hander in the world. It goes for more than a kilometre. You have to jump off the wave down the beach and walk back out. The water is very cold so you have to wear a long john wetsuit and the current is very strong.

Oasis hummingbird
Oasis Hummingbird, Lobitos

Mancora is in the far north of Peru and is very hot. The water here is warm, so you can surf without a wetsuit which is a welcome change. Further south is the break of Lobitos which has some great surf. The locals really charged it and I got some great photos.

c4h-0726
Lobitos

From Lobitos, it was down to Lima for a few days, flew to Puno, then back into Bolivia to La Paz, Cochabamba, Villa Tunari, Buena Vista, and the capital Santa Cruz. Back into Argentina to Salta, Rosario, Parana, Gualeguaychu and Buenos Aires, where I caught the plane back home.

December 4, 2010

Macro in the Backyard

Filed under: macro — Tags: — admin @ 7:44 pm

Backyard Macro

Well I am back home in Australia after four and a half months of travelling in South America. I dragged out the old Canon 350D, which is mostly known as the “Rebel” in most countries, to see if it was still working. It is very clunky after the 40D, but it seemed to go pretty good.

xmas tree decoration
Xmas Tree Decoration

The above photo is a close detail of a shiny mirror ball. I used the Sigma 105 Macro lens. I just used the onboard flash because I was just testing it out. Aperture was set at f/11, which gives a decent amount of Depth of Field, and the shutter speed was about 1/200.

shade cloth
Shade Cloth

This is a shot of some shade cloth. I like the geometric patterns of this. Usually we do not pay attention to small details, and that is why I like Macro. It gives you a perspective you usually do not look for.

passionfruit tendril
Passionfruit Tendril

I love the shapes of tendrils. Peas and Passionfruits have the nicest ones.

water drop on flower
Water Drop on Flower

The standard water drop shot. I actually decreased the saturation of this photo heaps and it still comes out really red. Texture is another thing i like.

wire mesh
Wire mesh

This is the mesh on the speaker of a little portable music player. Again, shapes and texture. I particularly like the bits of fluff around the holes.

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