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Birdwatching Necessities for the Beginner

Birdwatching is one of America’s most popular outdoor activities. Those of us who love birds, have watched birds, in our back yards or at the local parks, raise and support their families. But every so often we have the urge to escape beyond these confinements and go out into the wild to watch birds in their native habitats.

If you haven’t been on a bird watching outing before, the following tips will give you a good basic foundation of necessities you will need in order to best enjoy your time in the outdoors.

Often you will hear a bird before you see it. Learning to bird by ear is an important part of becoming a good bird watcher. The more time you spend in the field watching birds, the better you will become at learning to recognize the different mating calls and vocalizations made by your favorite birds. To hone up on your skills you can actually purchase CD recordings of the bird calls of literally thousands of birds. Use these to practice identifying different species by their songs and sounds.

Knowing the types of shelter and trees that your bird species prefer is the second key to finding their nests and setting up your stakeout. Some prefer to build their nests close to the ground, while others will find the topmost branches of a tree to build their home.

To have the best chance of spotting your bird species, it’s important to know what times of the day it tends to feed. Most species prefer to start their foraging just before sunrise and will continue up to noon. Some, however, prefer later in the day and you’ll find them just becoming active before sunset.

The most necessary piece of equipment you’ll need is a spotting scope with a tripod. A regular telescope won’t do. You need one with the proper level of magnification. As birding as become more and more popular, it’s become easier to find many brands of birding binoculars made specifically for bird watchers.

Other Birding Necessities

To be prepared to spend the day outdoors with your bird friends, you’ll need the following minimum supplies:

– A sunscreen of at least 15 SPF. This will provide moderate protection from the sun. For extended periods of time, go for an SPF of 30+.

– Water. You lose lots of water while hiking which can lead to dehydration. Take a canteen or bottled water. Drink lots of water before you start your hike and take periodic sips along the way.

– Insect repellant. For the best possible protection against mosquitoes and other insects, you should apply the insect repellant to both your skin and your clothing, according to the label instructions.

– Footwear. You’ll be doing lots of walking and hiking and you’ll want the most comfortable boots possible. In addition, if there’s the possibility that you will be trekking through marsh or extremely damp conditions, you should take along a pair of knee-high rubber boots.

– Rain gear. Weather conditions can change quickly so you want to be prepared for possible rainfalls. A lightweight, waterproof, breathable piece of rainwear could be indispensable.

– Snacks. These are for you, not the birds. Take along some high energy store bought or home made granola bars, fruits, and nuts and you’ll be good to go.

If you survive and enjoy your first outing and feel that you’ll definitely be doing this again, then the manufactures of birding supplies will love you as you will undoubtedly be back in their stores to buy cameras, recorders, and other hight priced items in preparation for your next trip.

By Ken Lawless

Ken Lawless writes articles on bird house kits, camping, and the outdoors. Visit his site at for more information on bird houses.

Travel Majorca On Your Holidays In Spain – Discover The Unknown Parts Of The Balearic Island

By Markus Mross

Mallorca (derived from Latin “insula maior” (larger island)), the largest of the Balearic islands, has become a popular holiday destination for tourists from all over the world in recent years. The name of the island has become a synonym for cheap mass tourism since the 1960s.

La Callobra, Mallorca, Spain - photo by Aneta Blaszczyk

But besides the well-known tourist centres around Palma de Mallorca and at the southern and eastern coast Mallorca also offers many diverse landscapes, excellent sites and perfect conditions for various leisure time sports, an untouched Mediterranean fauna and flora, an unspoilt Mediterranean wildlife and numerous historical sights. Charming little mountain villages, secluded and quiet sandy beaches and bays, peaceful and cozy fishing villages and the bizarre shaped, wild romantic rocky coastline await discovery. These spots can be best explored when you rent a bike or car and go out on your own for the experience of the unknown Mallorca on its coastal roads or wooded, mountainous hiking trails. Due to its geographical richness and its wide range of vacation possibilities Mallorca is an ideal holiday destination for individual vacation, group vacation, couple vacation and family vacation.

The Palma de Mallorca region with its long-established tourist infrastracture and the coastline of the adjacent Migjorn and Llevant regions are the main tourist area of Mallorca. The long sandy beaches such as Playa del Palma offer a large variety of leisure time activities such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, waterskiing, jetskiing, boogieboarding, sea kayaking, scuba diving, surfing and swimming. The beaches may be crowded during high season. Palma de Mallorca, the island´s capital, offers some interesting historical sights, numerous bars, cafes and restaurants, various shopping possibilities and a vibrant nightlife programme. The 16th century Palma Cathedral (“La Seu de Palma” or “La Catedrál de Palma de Mallorca”), a Roman Catholic Cathedral, was built on the former site of an Arab Mosque and impresses the visitor with its French Gothic style. The Almudaina Palace (“Palau de l´Almudaina” or “Palacio de la Almudaina”), a former Muslim fortress built in the 11th century under the Almoravid dynasty, is a spectacular piece of medieval Moorish architecture. It was restored in the 14th century on the order the Catholic Spanish king Jaime II of Aragón as a palace.

The northern and western coast of the island is occupied by a long mountain range, the Tramuntana range (“Serra de Tramuntana” or “Sierra de Tramuntana”), which reaches from Andratx to Cap Formentor. The Tramuntana range with its wild romantic and rough mountain scenery, bizarre shaped rocks, pine woods and steep coastline can be best explored on mountainous hiking trails. Its calmness and isolation contrast with the noisy and crowded tourist areas at the southern and eastern coast of Mallorca. It is ideal for lovers of ecotourism and a perfect holiday destination for travellers seeking privacy and calmness. Some charming, picturesque old villages such as Lluc, Pollenca, Alcúdia, Sóller, Alaro, Arta and Deià lie hidden in the Tramuntana mountains, all of which are worth a day trip.

Located at the northeastern coast of Mallorca, the city of Alcúdia offers shopping possibilities and other tourist attractions. Its nearby mile-long and sandy beach invites to sunbathing and offers a large variety of water sports activities such as surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, sailing, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, kitesurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding and bathing. Take a stroll through the charming picturesque old town of Alcúdia and visit its weekly markets. The nearby Roman amphitheatre is a worthwile historical monument.

The close-by Hidropark (“Parque Acuático”) with its swimming and boating pools, mini-golf courses and giant water slides is a worthwhile day trip destination for families. The nearby S’Albufera National Park (“Parc Natural de S’Albufera” or “Parque Natural de S’Albufera de Mallorca”) with its dunes, salt water marshes, lagoons and lakes fascinates the visitor with its untouched Mediterranean flora and fauna and unspoilt wildlife. It is known among nature lovers for its birdwatching sites.

Set high in the mountains near the northern coast of Mallorca between Sóller and Pollenca, the village of Lluc, an medieval place of pilgrimage, awaits discovery. The Monastery of Lluc/ Monastery of Our Lady of Lluc (“Monestir de Nostra Senyora de Lluc”) was founded in 1121 and dedicated to Saint James of Santiago de Compostela (“San Jaime de Compostela”), the patron saint of Spain.

Since the Middle Ages millions of Roman-Catholic christians have followed the ancient pilgrim´s trail from Caimari to the Monastery of Lluc to adore the Black Madonna of Lluc (“Virgen de Lluc” or “Nuestra Señora de Lluc”, also called “La Moraneta” by the locals), the patron saint of Mallorca. The monastery was renovated by Antoni Gaudí.

Situated at the northern coast of Mallorca, the charming picturesque 13th century town of Pollenca with its historical sights is also a worthwhile day trip destination. You might walk the Way of the Cross (“Via Crucis”) up to Cavalry Mountain (“El Cavalri” or “El Calvario”) and see the Mother of God at the Foot of the Cross (“Mare de Déu del Peu de la Creu” or “Madre de Dios del Pie de la Cruz”), a much-revered virgin statue housed in a chapel on top of the hill. The Plaça Major, the main square of Pollenca, has some good cafes, bars and restaurants and invites the traveller to having a coffee and relaxing after a day´s strolling through the twisted alleys of the medieval town centre.

Pollenca also offers a wide range of shopping possibilities and the lively and busy Sunday market at the Plaça Major is also worth visiting. Dominating the Plaça Major, the Church of Our Lady of the Angels (“Esglèsia de Nostra Senyora dels Àngels” or “Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles) built by the Knights Templar in the 13th century impresses the visitor with its austere Baroque façade.

Located at the northwestern coast of Mallorca, the charming, quiet town of Sóller surprises the
visitor with some interesting sights. The Botanical Gardens of Sóller (“Jardí Botànic de Sóller” or “Jardín Botánico de Sóller”) and the Balearic Museum of Natural Sciences (“Museu Balear de Ciènces Naturals” or “Museo Balear de Ciencias Naturales”) invite to exploring the huge bio-diversity of Mallorca and are worthwhile day trip destinations.

The Bank of Sóller (“Banc de Sóller”,”Banco Central Hispano” or “antiguo Banco de Sóller”) and the Parish Church of Sant Bartomeu (“Església de Sant Bartomeu” or “Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu”) located at Plaça Constitució, the main square of Sóller, are further spectacular monuments. Founded in 1248 and originally built in Gothic style, the church was renovated in 1904 by Joan Rubió I Bellver, a pupil of Antoni Gaudí, in Art Noveau style. The bank was built in 1889 and designed in Modernist style by Rubió in 1912.

The Museum of the Casal de Cultura (“Museu del Casal de Cultura” or “Museo del Casal de Cultura”) is also worth a visit. You might as well make a trip with the Sóller Train (“Ferrocarril de Sóller”) running between Palma de Mallorca and Sóller since 1912 and enjoy the diversity of Mallorcas many different landscapes. A trip with this ancient train is really an unforgettable event and a main tourist attraction.

Further historical sites of interest in the Tramuntana mountains are Alaró Castle, Valdemossa Monastery, the Monastery of San Salvador (“Santuari de Sant Salvador” or “Monasterio de San Salvador”) in Felanitx and The King´s Castle (“El Castell del Rey” or “El Castell del Rei”) in Pollenca. Mallorca is also a paradise for golf players and offers a wide range of first-class golf courses in Andratx, Santa Ponsa, Son Gual and Canyamel, just to mention a few. Nature lovers and lovers of ecotourism might also visit Sa Dragonera Nature Park, Cala Mondragó Nature Park and Cabrera National Park and enjoy Mediterranean nature in its purest form on numerous hiking trails and in
total calmness.

About the Author

Written by: Markus Mross. For more information about apartments Mallorca, please visit also

Your Motor Home Camping in America’s National Parks

By Andrew Stratton

Those of us who live in the States are lucky. We have one of the best National Park systems in the world. We also have fast, efficient Interstates that will take you close enough to most of them that you don’t have to worry about off-roading in your RV!

But what makes those parks so great is really the breathtaking natural beauty that is preserved there. Every place in the world has its unique sights to see, but you just can’t beat standing on the south rim of the Grand Canyon watching the sun go down.

Here is a brief introduction to 3 of America’s oldest and still best national parks, Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Yellowstone National Park – Southern Montana and Northern Wyoming

Yellowstone is the first, and many consider the greatest National Park in the United States. It’s a wonderland of spouting geysers, unique rock formations and other leftover evidence of a massive volcanic explosion over 600,000 years ago.

Don’t worry, it’s all cooled off now. At Yellowstone, you can see the world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful. Early settlers thought it was a noxious spew from hell itself, but nowadays we know it’s just a geothermal process, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting.

Yellowstone has a reputation for being crowded, and it’s true that it’s a popular destination. If you really want to see the park, park your motor home and hike off the beaten path. Yellowstone has lots of great hiking trails, more than enough for everybody to enjoy without crowding each other. There are plenty of day hikes with spectacular views.

Yellowstone has at least 12 different campgrounds, and they’re all first come, first served. Before you go, you’ll want to call ahead and see about fire restrictions. If you’re with the family and you want to stick to some luxurious digs, there are KOA’s and other commercial campgrounds just outside the park with more modern conveniences where you can park your motor home or RV.

Yosemite National Park- Eastern California

Yosemite is another one of the oldest national parks in the United States. The wilderness of Yosemite represents all kinds of terrain, including meadows, valleys, mountains and great forests, and it’s not too far from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Probably the most amazing thing about Yosemite is the waterfalls. It has more waterfalls than any other single place on earth. Steep cliffs of granite abound, and from certain points in the valley you can see seven or eight big ones at once. It may be tempting, but don’t try swimming in the pools, because the force of the water can knock you senseless.

Yosemite also boasts one of the biggest forests of sequoias in the world. These ancient trees stand tall, their tips pushing way up into the sky, like the California Redwoods.

There are 13 campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, and some of them accept camping cars, trailers, motor homes and RV’s. If you plan on heading to Yosemite, it’s best to call ahead and make a reservation. In the summer months, the campgrounds fill up quick.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – The North Carolina and Tennessee Border

If you like the outdoors, Great Smoky has it all. There are more hiking trails than probably any other area in the US, as well as great fishing and camping. Compared to the parks out west, you’ll see lots more wildlife and plants. Also unlike the west, the weather is mild and there’s plenty of humidity to keep you from dehydrating.

Another reason to head for the Smokies is to experience real, authentic Appalachian mountain culture. There’s mountain music, storytellers, and all kinds of family fun.

Great Smoky is also a great place for RV drivers, because there are lots of auto tours. The park boasts roads where you can see great views, old historic buildings and vast forests as far as the eye can see.

Of course, this is just a basic introduction. You have to see these parks to believe them. These are definitely three places you want to hit at least sometime in your life.

See the States coast to coast in your home on wheels. Your family motor home lets you travel in style. Visit Bankston Motor Homes,, to search for your next motor home or come by and visit with us at any of our five locations.

Queensland, Beautiful One Day, Perfect The Next – 2

By John Morrad

… cont’d from part 1:

In Tropical North Queensland, which is the spa capital of Australia, you’ll find some of the finest spas in the world.

You can take your spa in the rainforest or overlooking the beach, your choice, but whichever you choose it’s sure to please.

The drive north from the vibrant tropical city of Cairns, gateway to two World Heritage areas, (the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics rainforest, and the Queensland Outback,) to Port Douglas is one of Australia’s most scenic, with graceful views across the Coral Sea toward the Great Barrier Reef.

The World Heritage rainforests are also accessible by car, with the Daintree very popular.

The drive south takes you to the romantic beach-side hamlets and mountain ranges of Mission Beach, while west will take you through the Atherton Tablelands where cosy B & Bs and private retreats await.

The Savannah Way is a must do trip if you want to follow in the footsteps of the earliest pioneers from Cairns west to the Gulf of Carpentaria and possibly the ultimate self-drive experience, the trek to the tip of Australia, Cape York, is pure adventure.

A word of warning is probably required here, if you do decide that you want to make the drive from Cairns to Cape York, don’t go on your own, always take at least two vehicles, plenty of supplies and fuel and make sure you let the local police know where you plan to go.

It is beautiful but it can also be very dangerous for the unprepared.

In Tropical North Queensland you can go hot air ballooning over the Tablelands, ride four wheel ATVs through eucalypt forests, go horse riding on the Cape Tribulation beach or parachuting, bungy jumping, sea kayaking, and you can even indulge yourself in some of Australia’s best white water rafting.

You’ll also find some of Australia’s best Aboriginal experiences, including the award-winning Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park – the first complete Aboriginal experience in Australia, and the exciting Pamagirri Dance Troupe at Rainforestation.

Various tours reveal the prehistoric and modern artworks, body painting, authentic artefacts, indigenous knowledge of bush foods and medicines, customs and festivals of the Aboriginal, Thursday Islander and Torres Strait Islander people.

Outback Queensland is Australia’s final frontier.

Follow in the footsteps of those intrepid European pioneers who first explored this region, gaze in awe at the stark beauty of the desert dunes or sit in the shade of Coolabah tree beside a gently flowing stream.

The Queensland outback has it all. You’ll find world heritage listed areas filled with dinosaur bones, beautiful fishing holes just waiting for you to wet a line and genuine down to earth people all combining to make this a place like no other.

These days the area is quite easily accessible by air or rail or, if you prefer to drive, by car or coach, on mostly sealed roads.

Stretching from Mitchell in the east, to Birdsville in the west, this region is a fusion of stunning red sand hills, abundant wildlife and magnificent flora.

You can immerse yourself some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet and see colours you’ve never seen except in someone else’s photos.

Perhaps you’d prefer to experience the simple pleasure of wandering through the most outstanding national parks and state forests; they will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.

It’s all up to you…

Outback Queensland has all the options for accommodation that you could possibly want, from five star luxury to backpackers, and everything in between.

You can stay in the local pub and eat some of the best tucker you’ll find anywhere, or maybe a night or two on a farm is more your style.

You can take a tent or caravan or you can opt for some excellent bed and breakfast hospitality, you can bunk down at a backpackers hostel or, if roughing it really isn’t your style, you can go the whole hog and stay at one of the exceptional five star facilities.

Performing arts, events and shows, sporting contests, no matter what your particular idea of a holiday is you’ll find it in Queensland.

Yes it’s all about choice, and the choice is always yours!

About the Author

for more information visit:

Eco Tourism

It is also called ecological tourism, is a type of tourism which appeals to those who are ecologically and socially conscious. Speaking on a broad base, ecotourism focuses on local culture, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the planet; typically involving travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Ecotourism is all about an intense connection of conservation, communities, and sustainable travel.

“Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves our environment and improves the well-being of local people.”

This means that those who implement and participate in responsible tourism activities should follow the following ecotourism rules:
• minimize impact
• build environmental, cultural awareness and respect
• provide constructive experiences for both visitors and hosts
• provide direct fiscal benefits for efforts of conservation
• provide financial benefits and social empowerment for the host
• raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate

What is responsible travel?

Responsible travel is travel with a purpose. When you choose Volunteering India as a part of your ecotour, we assure you that we work to protect the environment and benefit local cultures and communities.

Who travels responsibly?

Anyone who is socially conscious can be a responsible traveler! You plan that trip to nature, or bathe in luxury… hike into the rainforest, or explore the city… stay close to home, or travel to the most exotic location of your dreams. Responsible travel provides a plethora of options and is often very affordable. With us you can explore India along with helping in our efforts to conserve the nature.

Planning your Trip with a little planning, you can improve the quality of your trip, while making a real difference to the people and places you visit.

1. Get In touch: Call us, email us or visit us for the firsthand knowledge of the place you are considering visiting. Check the websites of all the details and check with us again.

2. Ask questions: Let us know that you are a responsible consumer. Before you book, ask about our social and environmental policies. For instance: What is your environmental policy? What percentage of your employees are local citizens? Do we support any projects to benefit the local community or that which conserves our environment? Answer: Yes to all.

3. Choose wisely: Is our organization certified and has it taken up any projects that help directly the community? Yes.

If you have any further questions on Ecotourism or what we do with regards to ecotourism, please feel free to ask us.

By Priyanka Amarnath

About the Author

Priyanka Amarnath a free lance writer helps a Non Profit organization called Volunteering India ( Her email is