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Sharing the journey and stories from the present and the past to educate, inform and entertain you.  With the love of nature, the eye for detail, Tony shares his real life ventures into the outback to seek out those rare and hard to find birds and bring them to life in the form of stunning art work.
'Birds in Art' via Ecuador

Travelling from one side of the planet to the other to spend a weekend in Wisconsin isn’t on everyone’s top 10 trips to make, but it was on ours; it was ‘Birds in Art’ time again. I have been fortunate enough to have been accepted 9 of the 10 times I have applied, but have only attended twice before. As Nicky was keen to see what all the fuss was about, and I really enjoy meeting my global circle of art friends, we decided to go. The previous times I have been to Wausau I have flown there directly from Melbourne, slept through most of the events and returned home with blurry recollections of what went on….24 hour flights through umpteen time zones tend to do that to me. So to make the whole trip a less zombie-inducing experience we decided to add on a few side trips.

Our travel agent Gemma deserves a medal. Through 2 days of feverish searching for connecting flights she managed to get us from Melbourne to Ecuador then up to Wausau then across to NY before returning home via an art show in Queensland, and it only took 12 one way flights to achieve! The strangest part of it was that getting to Ecuador was very simple, but getting to Wausau took serious travel-agent talent. It seems that no-one flies to Wisconsin!

For those of you who wish to get to BIA via Ecuador, these are our top 5 travel tips:

  1. Avoid Hurricane Dorian - its aircraft unfriendly
  2. Be fit enough to sprint 1km through Miami International Terminal when baggage handlers take 1.5hrs to unload bags and your connection window is 2 hours which includes going through customs checks
  3. Survive the lack of coffee at the Doubletree Hilton at Newark when zombie-ism is imminent
  4. Have sufficient endurance to go through 12 separate body scans, belt and shoe removal and stern questions about why you left a tissue in your pocket
  5. Be prepared to spend more on the taxi fare to the mall, than the new pants you had to buy ‘cos you forgot to pack them. (Hint: Turning up in only a shirt just doesn’t cut it at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum reception)

Our goal in going to Ecuador was to study hummingbirds – they are seriously lacking in Australia and hold a fascination for both Nicky and I. Stand by for some hummingbird pieces in the coming year. I have been back home for 2 days and I’m itching to start painting.

The side trip to Ecuador was as hummingbird-infested as we could have wished.We were fortunate enough to spend 7 days studying 30 different species, plus of course  'ancilliary' species such as Toucanets, assorted Tanagers, Quetzels and Mot Mots. We stayed at Tandayapa Bird Lodge, some 90 minutes out of Quito at an elevation of about 1600m. As it was the end of the birding season there we had the place to ourselves. The only downside was that Rosita the cook made it her personal mission to feed us to the point of bursting. And as I’m quite fond of food she was impossible to resist. I can highly recommend this Lodge to anyone who wants to spend time birding (or just enjoying) the cloud forest on the Pacific side of the Andes. And BIA was fabulous too, but more about that later!

  • 'Birds in Art' via Ecuador
  • 'Birds in Art' via Ecuador
  • 'Birds in Art' via Ecuador
  • 'Birds in Art' via Ecuador
  • 'Birds in Art' via Ecuador

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