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Birding For Beginners – My Top Tips and Advice



Everyone casually notices birds when they go outside and tend to their day-to-day. But only certain people pay special attention to the varied species and are intent on getting a close look to inspect a particular individual bird’s characteristics. The people that do are known mostly as birders.

Birders are hobbyists who watch these winged phenomenon enthusiastically, not only in their local area, but will travel to specific locations to find a species known for that region. A “birdwatcher” is more casual, often tagging along with a birder. They generally aren’t at the same level as a birder and don’t become as involved in the sport.

The activity is one that has grown extensively in popularity, particularly in Northern America. It’s one that people enjoy due to the relaxing nature. It helps with reducing episodes of anxiety and stresses. Being in nature alone brings a sense of peace and calm. The additional entertainment of finding rare and beautiful birds is a most wonderful bonus. But those new are unsure how to start the process.

Birding For Beginners – My Tips

If you have the desire to become a birding enthusiast whether it be on a casual weekender basis or more exuberantly as a traveling birder who follows rare species around the globe, you’ll need to employ research for which you’ll need an informative birdwatching guide to learn about birds, their habitats, their characteristics, how to locate them and interact among them.

It’s also wise to join birding groups where you can meet people with common interests who you could go on excursions with as a way to learn or simply to have a good time. There are rules to keep in mind as a means of respecting your winged friends while observing them in their habitats. Some of these include:

  • Stay Quiet: Birds can be easily startled by loud sounds and will instantly fly away to find cover from what they presume to be a predator. You should not attempt to sneak up on a bird, it’s virtually impossible to do, and you will frighten it. These amazing creatures can hear much clearer than a human. With minimal sound, you’ll get as close as what will be possible.

The excitement of finding a rare or unusual species often leads to a need to make a loud declaration of victory, but most enthusiasts know these exclamations need to be made in a whispered tone so the bird remains perched for everyone to enjoy. Click to see some of the most beautiful birds in the world.

  • No Sudden Motions: When you go out to observe, it’s important to silently, gradually, slowly, “stalk” with deliberate movements to avoid bringing fear into the environment.

You can create a nervous atmosphere merely by swiftly bringing your binoculars up to your eyes. The closer you’re able to get to your subject, the less movement you want to make and the more silent you want to be. The slightest bit of awareness and there will be an instant escape.

  • Look For A Crowd: In most of North America, the winter months is the “non-breeding season.” A lot of the smaller species will join mixed flocks in an effort to be protected and for help in finding food. For the most part, the flocks remain silent, but in some cases there will be a couple of members sending out a call.

During these seasons, if you follow one of these calls, you might be led to a substantially sized feeding flock of a mixed fare that is bound to surprise a novice birdwatcher potentially with a rare subject hiding in the group. These are the reasons birders enjoy the sport, the unknowing of what you’re going to come across.  You can find more notions for why you should join the fun at .

  • Research Habitats: Each type of bird has adapted specifically to a special habitat meant for their needs. You will need to research the winged friends you’re most interested in as far as where they spend their time so you know precisely where to look.

 For instance, woodpeckers, obviously, require trees, and a meadowlark can be found in a wide open field.

As a “birder,” rarest species will be found throughout the globe in some of the most unusual circumstances that you might find yourself in.

But finding birds and, hopefully, getting that picture is worth every effort.

  • Patience Is Key: Often you might sit for what seems like forever before the subject you’re watching comes into the open where you can actually get a nice, clear view.

The hobby requires a great deal of patience and is time-intensive, waiting for the one that you want to see to show up. It’s meant to be relaxing, so it’s about enjoying your surroundings until that happens.

An important rule of thumb passed on from seasoned enthusiasts is to ensure that the sun is always behind you. This makes it easier to recognize what’s in front of you. If the sun is facing you, it can make birds appear merely as a shadow with no color distinctions.

  • Bright Colored Garments Should Be Avoided: Most of the winged creatures’ color vision is poor, but when it comes to brilliant color schemes like white, these contrast so greatly with the background and emphasize even the slightest motions.

It’s wise to wear earth tones that blend into the atmosphere. That doesn’t mean that camouflage is a requirement. The suggestion is that darker tones or earthy shades are just as effective, even neutral shades.

  • Don’t Focus On One Spot: Even though you might go to a location with the intention of finding one particular subject, you should never limit yourself to merely that one specific species. You don’t know what you might be missing in the surrounding areas. If you focus on the thickets, or the wide open fields, you’re missing so many examples resting on branches and lounging in holed-out trees, one of which might be that rare find a birder longs for.

If you’re new to the hobby, you’re going to be excited, anxious, and, if you find what you’ve been searching for, elated. Remember, though, you’re in the birds’ home. Pay your respects in the most silent way, with little movement in the proper attire so you don’t bring fear into their environment. Please look, but don’t touch their habitat, their babies, and their things. Look with your eyes and leave as you came.

The post Birding For Beginners – My Top Tips and Advice appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: Birding For Beginners – My Top Tips and Advice
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Published Date: Wed, 07 Oct 2020 14:41:37 +0000

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Limited time Amex points transfer bonuses ending soon!




During normal times, points transfer bonuses by Amex or any other issuer gain a lot of traction. However, we live in unusual times. Travel is nowhere close to normal and only a small minority is actively looking to book travel. Amex Membership Rewards points, along with Chase Ultimate Rewards points are two of my favorite transferable points currencies. Amex, in particular, has the edge over Chase when it comes to international airline partners. At the moment, Amex is running two lucrative points transfer bonuses with their Membership Rewards points. However, if you’re looking to travel any time soon then now is a good time to transfer time as these limited time bonuses end on October 31.

Amex Points Transfer Points Bonuses

Amex is currently running points transfer bonuses for Hilton and Marriott. These limited time offers expire on October 31, 2020.

Hilton Honors

The standard points transfer ratio for Hilton Honors is 1:2. With this bonus, you’ll get a ratio of 1:2.8. For example, if you transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points, you’ll get 2,800 Hilton Honors points.

Marriott Bonvoy

The standard points transfer ratio for Marriott Bonvoy is 1:1. With this, bonus you’ll get a ratio of 1:1.4. For example, if you transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points, you’ll get 1,400 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Crunching the Numbers

During normal times, many frequent travelers tend to jump on these limited time transfer bonuses. However, how lucrative are these bonuses during the current situation?

For example, let’s say you want to book a top tier Hilton hotel. One night will cost you at least 95,000 points for a standard room. With this bonus, you’ll need 39,000 Membership Rewards points instead of 48,000.

Similarly, let’s say you want to book a top tier Marriott hotel. One night will cost you at least 85,000 points for a standard room. With this bonus, you’ll need 61,000 Membership Rewards points instead of 85,000.

In short, the higher the category of the hotel, the more lucrative these transfer bonuses become for you.

Credit Card Bonuses

If you’re falling short on Marriott or Hilton points, another option is to sign up for co-branded credit cards from Marriott and Hilton. Currently, many of these cards are running limited time offers. Please note that Amex and Chase restrictions may apply to these credit cards.

Card Name Sign-up Bonus Application Link
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless 30k points
Apply Now
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold 5 free nights (up to 50k points each)
Apply Now
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card 125k points + Platinum Status for 2021
Apply Now
Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business Card 100k points + $150 in credits
Apply Now
Hilton Honors Business Card 130k points
Apply Now
Amex Hilton Honors Card 95k points
Apply Now
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card 140k points
Apply Now
Hliton Honors American Express Aspire Card 150k points + 1 free night
Apply Now

The Pundit’s Mantra

In most cases, I don’t recommend transferring points speculatively. However, if you do have a trip on the horizon, then it makes sense to use these Amex points transfer bonuses to your advantage.

In the past, I’ve used transfer bonuses to book some really cool trips. For example, I used a transfer bonus to British Airways in order to book a last minute trip to Colombia. However, given the current scenario, not many of us are planning such trips on the go.

Do you plan to make use of either of these points transfer bonuses before the end of the month? Tell us in the comments section.


The Chase Sapphire Preferred is currently offering a limited time welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points. You’ll earn a welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. You’ll also earn 2x points all on all travel and dining spend and 5 x on Lyft rides.

Apply Now


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Disclosure: The Points Pundit receives NO compensation from credit card affiliate partnerships. Support the blog by applying for a card through my personal referral links. This article is meant for information purposes only and doesn’t constitute personal finance, health or investment advice. Please consult a licensed professional for advice pertaining to your situation.

By: The Points Pundit
Title: Limited time Amex points transfer bonuses ending soon!
Sourced From:
Published Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:10:32 +0000

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Cruise Ship Rescues 24 People From Sinking Boat Off Florida Coast




The Carnival Sensation was sailing in international waters off the Florida coast on Saturday when crew members spotted a crowded 36-foot boat that appeared to be in distress.

The ship maneuvered alongside the boat and crew members handed over blankets, life jackets, food and water to the 24 people onboard the smaller vessel, including two children, according to the Carnival Cruise Line.

As it floated 37 miles off the coast of Palm Beach, the boat began to take on water. The passengers were quickly ushered aboard the cruise ship through a side hatch that is typically used in port to load supplies via a gangway. The boat sank after the rescue, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

The rescued passengers were the first guests to board the cruise ship in months, Carnival said. They were evaluated by the cruise ship’s medical staff and quarantined away from crew members, the cruise line said. They were picked up by the Coast Guard after about six hours, the spokeswoman said.

The rescued boat was coming from Freeport, Bahamas, said Nicole J. Groll, the Coast Guard spokeswoman. It was not clear where the boat was headed, she said, nor was it clear what had happened to the boat that caused it to sink.

“The disabled vessel sank and actions are currently being taken to coordinate the transfer of the individuals ashore,” Ms. Groll said in a statement Monday.

The $45 billion global cruise industry serves 20 million passengers in a typical year. But since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, ships have been roaming the seas for months without guests, staffed by skeleton crews. Operations have been suspended until Oct. 31, and some lines have canceled cruises into next year.

Carnival operates 23 ships. While they are idle, they maintain a “minimum nonoperational manning status,” according to a spokesman. That means they are staffed by 75 to 100 crew members, including marine engineers, technicians and officers, as well as housekeeping, culinary and other staff members.

Occasionally, they perform rescues, the spokesman said. In July, the Carnival Legend responded to a call for help from a boat that had run out of fuel off the coast of the Bahamas. The Legend gave the boaters 25 gallons of gas to help them make their way back to Jacksonville, Fla.

Ships are obligated under maritime law to respond to vessels in distress, said Jim Walker, a Miami-based maritime lawyer.

The duty to rescue a derelict vessel falls to a ship’s captain, who “has both a moral and a legal obligation to help,” he said.

There are typically three or four such rescues every year, some of which involve migrants, Mr. Walker said.

“Often there is no true ‘rescue’ of foreign immigrants at sea because the cruise ship will call the U.S.C.G. who will pick them up and then return them to their home countries,” Mr. Walker said in an email, referring to the Coast Guard. “It is not so much a ‘rescue’ but an ‘interception’ at sea.”

In some cases, he said, a ship’s captain or the captain’s employer could face criminal charges for ignoring a cry for help.

In 2012, Princess Cruises was sued after one of its cruise ships, the Star Princess, failed to help a disabled fishing boat that had been adrift for days when it was spotted by crew members and passengers. Two of the people on the fishing boat died.

The cruise industry has come under fire during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly early in the outbreak as passengers and crew members were trapped aboard ships where the virus spread rapidly.

In February, more than 700 passengers were infected on the Diamond Princess as the ship idled off the coast of Japan. Nine of the infected passengers died.

In August, the cruise industry voluntarily suspended operations until Oct. 31, following the extension of a no-sail order for cruise ships through Sept. 30 issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency noted that from March to July there had been nearly 3,000 suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases and 34 deaths on cruise ships in U.S. waters.

The Carnival Corporation, which operates Carnival, Princess and other brands and serves roughly 50 percent of the global cruise market, has dealt with outbreaks on several of its ships, including Holland America’s Zaandam, which tried to unload sick passengers in Florida in April. Last week, Carnival Cruise Line canceled several cruises that were scheduled for November and January.

By: Marie Fazio
Title: Cruise Ship Rescues 24 People From Sinking Boat Off Florida Coast
Sourced From:
Published Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 22:51:45 +0000

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2,000-Year-Old Cat Etching Found at Nazca Lines Site in Peru




The image, stretching for 40 yards on a hillside in Peru, shows a creature with pointy ears, orb-like eyes and a long striped tail. It appears to be a cat lounging, as cats often do.

Archaeologists stumbled across the faded etching while remodeling a section of a UNESCO heritage site known as the Nazca Lines, Peru’s Ministry of Culture announced last week.

The catlike geoglyph — which experts say dates to 200 B.C. to 100 B.C. — is the latest discovery among the carvings of larger-than-life animals and plants previously found between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, in a desert plain about 250 miles southeast of the capital, Lima.

“The discovery shows, once again, the rich and varied cultural legacy of this site,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Nazca Lines were first discovered by a Peruvian aerial surveyor in 1927. Images of a hummingbird, a monkey and an orca were unearthed at the site. UNESCO has designated the Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa a World Heritage Site since 1994.

The cat etching is believed to be older than any of the prehistoric geoglyphs previously unearthed at Nazca.

“It’s quite striking that we’re still finding new figures, but we also know that there are more to be found,” Johny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the Nazca lines, told Efe, a Spanish news agency.

The designs were believed to have been created when ancient Peruvians scraped off a dark and rocky layer of earth, which contrasts with lighter-colored sand underneath. Researchers believe that the figures once served as travel markers.

Drone photography has led to several discoveries in recent years, Mr. Isla said. In 2019, researchers from Japan, aided by satellite photography and three-dimensional imaging, unearthed more than 140 new geoglyphs at the site.

Research and conservation work had continued at the site even during the coronavirus pandemic, when most tourist sites have been closed. Archaeologists and employees were working on the Mirador Natural, a lookout point in the protected site, when they began unearthing something intriguing. When they cleaned the mound, clear lines showing the sinuous body of a cat emerged.

“The figure was barely visible and was about to disappear because it is situated on quite a steep slope that’s prone to the effects of natural erosion,” the culture ministry said in a statement.

The authorities said that even a stray footprint could mar the fragile grounds, and have imposed strict rules against trespassing at the site. Before the pandemic shut down tours, visitors were permitted to view the lines and figures only from planes and lookout points.

But disturbances at the Nazca lines have occurred, drawing widespread condemnation.

In 2014, Greenpeace activists left shoe marks near a large hummingbird design when they placed a sign that promoted renewable energy, Peruvian officials said.

“You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” Luis Jaime Castillo, a Peruvian official and archaeologist, told The Guardian at the time. “And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all.”

In 2018, a truck driver was arrested after intentionally driving his tractor-trailer across three lines of geoglyphs.

Even as Peru works to preserve its ancient sites, officials reopened Machu Picchu this month for one lucky tourist after he became stranded during the pandemic and waited seven months to see the 16th-century Inca citadel.

By: Tiffany May
Title: 2,000-Year-Old Cat Etching Found at Nazca Lines Site in Peru
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Published Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 08:48:43 +0000

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