Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Birds of Tasmania by Ian and Tica

Superb Ferry Wren, Tasmania (Photo by Ben)

Here is a list of Tasmania birdlife. We were in Tasmania for a short time in January, where we rented a campervan and drove almost all the way around the island in ten days. -- Ian & Tica

Hooded plover, Freycinet NP (Photo by Ben)

Common Name


Hooded Plover

rare, spotted at Friendly Beaches, Freycinet NP


Very common, very distinctive call

Pink Robin

Rare, seen at Platypus Bay, Lake St. Claire NP

Shy Albatross

Seen dead on Hazards beach, Freycinet NP

Superb Fairy Wren

Most common bird we saw there

Tasmanian Native Hen

Seen at Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula

Welcome Swallow

very common

White-bellied Sea Eagle

Seen over the water

Laughing Kookabura, Narawantapu NP, Tasmania (Photo by Ben)

Birds of Fiji by Tica and Ian

Here is a list of the birds we saw or heard in Fiji. Again, the original list contains scientific names and other information about these birds. - Ian & Tica

Fiji Goshawk, Siga Siga, Fiji (photo by Ben)

Common Name


Barn Owl

heard but not seen

Collared Kingfisher

many spotted at the beach and perched on phone wires by the side of the road

Collared Lory

Fiji's national bird, often seen in flocks

Eastern Reef Egret

seen on the reef all the time, white and grey forms

Fiji Goshawk


Fiji Parrotfinch

seen twice near Waivunia village and at Nadi Airport

Great Frigate bird

seen flying over the water all the time


VERY common, very loud

Orange Dove


Pacific Swallow


White Rumped Swift

seen over the water all the time catching bugs

Birds of New Zealand by Tica and Ian

Weka, Golden Bay, South Island, NZ (Photo by Ian)

Here is a list of the birds we saw or heard in New Zealand. The original spreadsheet also includes the scientific names as well as whether the birds are endemic, native or introduced.
There was not enough room to include these items however. -- Tica and Ian

Common Name


Australasian Gannett

yellow head and black at the tip of wings, big breeding colony at Muriwai Bay, we went but they had already flown north toward better weather, saw one in Abel Tasman National Park (South Island) and Otamure Beach on the North Island

Australasian Harrier

very common, often seen dining on road kill on the side of the road or surveying fields near the road

Australian Magpie

many spotted in fields on the side of the road

Australian Pied Cormorant

not very common


call similar to a Tui but without the grunts and clicks

Black billed gull

very common

Black Fronted Tern


Black-backed Gull

very common


New Zealand's most common bird

Brown Kiwi

New Zealand's national bird, looks as though it has as a very long bill, but it has the shortest in the world because scientists measure from a bird's beach from the nostrils; kiwi nostrils are located at the end of the beak so they can rifle through leaves for grubs and things

California Quail

seen at many different camps on the North Island

Caspian Tern

less common


very common

Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow)

very common

Eastern Rosella

seen on the North Island in Shakespear Regional Park and in the central North Island, usually seen in pairs

European Goldfinch

The most colorful bird in New Zealand; frequently seen in flocks


flits around like a butterfly; very friendl;. sometimes lands on people


seen on Tiritiri Mitangi island


we only saw three

Grey Teal

endangered, looks like a female mallard

Grey Warbler

House Sparrow

very common in cities and campgrounds


cheeky mountain parrot


mostly on the side of the road near bodies of water and at the beach, don't make noise as much as kingfishers at home


very rare only seen on the North Island

Little Blue Penguin

world's smallest penguin

Little Pied Shag

aka cormorant, very common


owl species that is often heard but seldom seen


only seen on the North Island as they find the South Island to be too cold

New Zealand Dotterel

uncommon shore bird, we saw some at Matapuri Bay, North Island

New Zealand Falcon


New Zealand Pigeon

wood pigeon, much bigger than city pigeons, lives in forests, fast whirring wing beats like a city pigeon

New Zealand Pipit

we only saw one

New Zealand Robin

very small and black with long legs

Paradise Shellduck

very common, most often seen in pairs, female has white head while drake has black head

Pied Stilt

very common


common in fields along the side of roads, especially damp ones, talk with their tails

Red Billed gull

very common

Red crowned parakeet

extinct on the main islands of New Zealand, found in bird sanctuaries like Tiritiri Matangi


Seen at Arthur's Pass National Park

Ringed-Necked Pheasant

rather commonly seen in fields

Rock Pigeon (City Pigeon)

found mostly in citys


only found on the North Island and only in places on the South Island, look a lot like a crow only bigger

Royal Albatross

very large with impressive wingspan, seen on the tip of the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin and at Nugget Point on the east coast, South Island




very common


very common

Song Thrush

seen at almost all camps on the North Island

Southern Crested Grebe

Very rare, only 45 left in the world, seen in just outside of Arthur's Pass NP, South Island

Spur-Winged Plover

seen most often on the side of the road, feeding in fields


second most common bird in New Zealand (behind the blackbird)




sometimes mistaken for a stichbird


song includes grunts and clicks and high piched peeps

Variable Oystercatcher

very common


Odd looking bird, sort of like a cross between a kiwi and a duck, seen around campgrounds on the South Island

Welcome Swallow

Flies very fast to catch sand flies

White Head

not common

White-faced Heron

common around bodies of water

White-Fronted Tern

less common

Yellow-Eyed Penguin

One world's rarest penguin


in mountains

Monday, June 28, 2010

Birds of New Zealand - Pix and Flix

(We are having trouble figuring out how to format the bird list. In the meantime, we thought you'd enjoy some pictures and a short movie showing some of the NZ birds we saw. Enjoy and stay tuned....)

Here are some more pictures and sounds of the bush (forest) and beach in New Zealand....

Bell Bird and Stitch Bird Chorus, Tiritiri Matangi Island, NZ

Bell Bird (photo by Ian) and Stitch Bird (photo by Ben), honey-eaters which tend to hang out together in the bush.

The Tahake, once thought to be extinct. Only 230 remain on earth, 10 of which are found on Tiritiri Matangi, a pest-free island near Auckland. (Photo by Ian)

The cheeky kea, an alpine parrot known for its intelligence (like a seven year old child) and its penchant for raiding camping supplies and eating windshield wipers. (Photo by Ian, Arthur's Pass NP, South Island, NZ)

The Bird List Project -- by Tica and Ian

Collared Lories, Fiji

I got into birding and animal watching on this trip. I did not expect it but my sister Tica helped me to become a birder. Everywhere we went this year, be it Fiji, Tasmania, Singapore or New Zealand, we have seen amazing birds, like penguins, fantails, kookaburras, and others. I did not think I would ever see such things in my lifetime. If you look hard enough, you can find unique and very ornate species anywhere you go, like the Superb Fairy Wren of Tasmania or the Collared Lory of Fiji.

The blogposts that follow are ones that Tica and I worked on together and will detail birds that we saw on our trip by destination. We did not see many birds in Thailand and Singapore so that post will be much shorter than, say, the New Zealand post. Together, these posts will make a great start for our life lists. Tica and I look forward to adding to it when we get home to the States. -- Ian

Yellow Eyed Penguins, South Island (photo by Ian)

Note: All of the birds on the bird lists were seen or heard in the wild with the exception of the Brown Kiwi, which we saw at Willowbank Nature Preserve in Christchurch and the Auckland Zoo. Here are some birds that we saw in The Auckland Zoo and the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore. Here are a few birds that we saw in captivity:

Australian Crested Pigeon

Australian King Parrot

Bald Eagle

Birds of Paradise (various species)

Black Cockatoo

Blue Duck

Doves (various species)



Golden Eagle

Guinea fowl (various species)

Hornbills (various species)


Lovebirds (various species)


Rainbow Lorikeets

Sulfur-Crested Cockatoo

Toucan (various species)


Zebra Finch

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Views on Homeschool by Ian

Homeschool in a Global Classroom: PE & Science, Gulf of Thailand

My mom asked if I would write down my thoughts about this year’s education scheme. I found homeschool to be good in ways and bad in others, but it opened up the window of going into other parts of the world.

Our life was very dissimilar in all the different places we visited this year, but from September until now, homeschool was always a regular part of our week. When we were in Fiji, we were in one place for a long time so we had a much more regular school schedule. We spent a good part of each weekday studying. In Tasmania, we drove around a lot and explored. We barely did any school aside from exploring the countryside and visiting Port Arthur museum. In Bangkok, we sort of got back to a regular school routine, but we had the Hresko-Hurd Family to visit with and many temples to see. We worked from early in the morning until mid-day so we could go out and do things. In New Zealand, our focus has been to finish up school and the trip on a good note. We have done quite a bit of traveling by campervan but managed to do some school while learning a lot about the geography, history and government of New Zealand.

Campervan Math, Matauri Bay, New Zealand

The bad things about home school were that we only had our family. Some people might think that it would be a breeze to have their family with them 24\7 but it is not. We had our moments but over all it has been okay. Another thing is that you have less school time at homeschool but some of it is not fun. For instance, our math program this year was very boring, and the writing was boring, but we survived. The third thing that I did not like was that when I was doing writing with my mom was that we always got the bad room that did not have a table and only a bed or two when Tica and Dad got the nice room with the table. The final bad thing was that in Tasmania and New Zealand, we were moving around the whole or most of the time. It was hard to move everyday and do school so we kind of got out of the habit sometimes.

Glaciology Studies in Mt. Cook NP, New Zealand

One of the good things about homeschool was being able to snorkel every day for four months and see sharks and rays and all sorts of marine critters. I learned how to Scuba dive in Thailand, and I swam and went birding. I saw more birds than I ever imagined. We got to meet new people, make new friends and learn about different countries and cultures. Another thing was that we had a lot more flexibility to do things when and how we wanted to. Being able to go at our own pace was great. At home, we always have a schedule and only so much time to do what we want, but on the trip we haven’t had those regular activities or so many hours in school, leaving more time in the day to explore. I will miss that.

This might be my last blog post so thank you for reading the blog and giving your support this is what I thought of home school. If I had the chance to do it again, I would because I learned a lot of things in a very short period of time. When I home though, I want to go back to regular school on Bainbridge Island. I miss my friends and am tired of just having my sister for a classmate.