Archive for the 'Bird Watching' Category

Stay green when visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by lodging at the Volcano Guest House

Monday, March 20th, 2017

The Hawaiian Islands are one of those places that tend to generate visions of something along the lines of a tropical paradise. Typical day dreams of Hawaii include beautiful beaches lined with coconut palms where surfers ride massive, tubular waves on a blue ocean under a hot sun, waterfalls that rush through luxuriant jungle vegetation, and soothing Hawaiian music with the whispering sea as a backdrop.

Hawaii does showcase such appealing images but eco-travelers planning a visit to the islands should also be aware of the incredibly fragile and endangered nature of Hawaiian ecosystems. As is common with island flora and fauna that are left to evolve into strange and amazing forms all on their own, the plants and animals of Hawaii are easily outcompeted by introduced species. To help native Hawaiian species as much as possible, it’s especially important to go green when visiting Hawaii.

One of the greener choices for accommodation near the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is at the Volcano Guest House. A cozy little hotel where the owners live on the premise, this bed and breakfast-like place was partly constructed with recycled wood and has a number of green features.

Guests will be happy to know that the sun is heating their hot water showers and was used to dry their bedding, rain water is captured by the hotel buildings and then made drinkable through filtration and treatment with UV rays, and recycling is a basic component of the business.

The owners enjoy educating guests and visitors about the sustainable practices at their hotel for the present as well as the future. One of these projects involves gardens with native plants to investigate restoration of surrounding rain forests.

Its location is also perfect for experiencing the unique habitats of Hawaii in being found just outside of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The high elevation forests of this park can be visited to see a number of endangered bird and plant species, some of which can also be found in the six acres of native habitat that grows on the grounds of the hotel. There are many economical Hawaii flights available and carbon offsets can be purchased.

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Flamingos and bird-filled marshes in southern France

Friday, March 17th, 2017

This title might sound like some eco-fantasy since the French are historically known for making delicacies out of various wild bird species but it’s as true as baguettes in a Parisian bakery. The bird-rich marshes of the Camargue in the southern part of the country amply demonstrate that conservation of wildlife has come a long way in France. The “Camargue” is the name given to the large and unique delta of the Rhone River. Wetlands, stony plains, and open, Mediterranean scrub provide a rich mix of habitats for several animal and plant species that don’t occur anywhere else in France.

Flamingos are common and easy to watch as they quickly stomp their feet in shallow, brackish waters of this national preserve. Hundreds and hundreds of gulls, terns, plovers, ducks, egrets, herons, and Marsh Harriers also thrive in the extensive reedbeds and shallow pools. Colorful Bee-eaters, Eurasian Rollers (a strange, open country bird dressed in different shades of blue), and Hoopoes (an even more strange pink and black bird with a thin, downcurved bill) are frequently seen in the area of the reserve, and semi-wild, black Bulls plow their way through the marshy landscape.

Other aquatic birds such as White Storks and stilts also hang out at the visitor center located just outside of the small, seaside village of Saint Marie de la Mer. This is also an excellent stop for learning more about the history and importance of this reserve. Other benefits of visiting France on an eco-vacation can also be enjoyed in the village in the form of fantastic Provencal cuisine but don’t expect to find wild birds on any of the menus; that practice was outlawed some years ago.

Further afield, the old Roman town and Van Gogh hangout of Arles appeals to the artistically oriented eco-traveler, whereas scrubby, fragrant hills around the old fortress town of Les Baux are a great place to go hiking and birdwatching.

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