Let me give you a short introduction of my self before I tell you
what my little experiences are while we visit Tasmania. I am a bird
breeder from Holland, a small country in Europe between England,
Belgium and Germany. I am specialized in breeding outstanding
lovebirds, in particular the Roseicollis (peach face); I enter large
exhibition shows in Holland and Belgium.
Late August 2007 I got the opportunity to visit Melbourne to work for my company. Since I have never travelled that far, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit also Tasmania. I agreed with my management that I would take an extra week to visit Tasmania where I also have relatives. I bought an extra ticket for my wife, and then started planning the trip and both our parents took over parenthood for our 4 kids while we were at down under. Although a weeks holiday is far too short to learn and love the nature of Tasmania, me and my wife were much exited to visit this Island. My cousin, (Leon and Karen de Smit) living at Margate offered us a room to stay and he offered even his own car, so travelling was a good option for us.
When I have to travel for my company I always take the opportunity to learn something about bird keeping in other countries. I try to get in contact with some breeders, and in return of their hospitality I offer to write articles for Dutch and European bird magazines. That is the reason why I visited the internet, looking for bird keepers in Tasmania. My wife and me had agreed to only one day to visit bird aviaries. The First contact I got was from Mr. Peter Wills, then secretary, via the website of the Avicultural Society of Southern Tasmania. Peter arranged for us several visits with interesting stories and experiences.
The first visit of the very cold day (31st august) we went to President John Burr. Peter and John explained me a lot about the club, with a lot of members, organizing all social things during the year and explaining that every type of bird is welcome to the club. Johns wife showed me the jacket with the club logo on it, and immediately I found my souvenir for the trip, I managed to purchase one before we left Tasmania. After visiting Johns birds in his aviaries and looking to his beautiful photos of birds of Tasmania and Australia (thanks for the copies) we went to Brett and Diane Cook
Brett and Diane live in a beautiful surrounding up on a small hill where you have an excellent view of the nearby countryside. The aviaries Brett has built are very clever build, without hardly any maintenance they will last for several decades. He specialized himself in breeding many Swifts and Conures. What surprised me the most at Tasmanian breeders is the use of incubators and many birds being hand fed. This was also the case in Victoria, near Melbourne. You hardly see this in Holland were we try to breed as many natural breeding by the parents. When Brett explanted me his methods I fully understand the way of handling, and maybe it is an option too for the European breeders. This feeding is a not a time consuming action, because he shares responsibility with Diane and even his daughter. If necessary he even takes small ones to his work to feed during coffee breaks.
In Holland, we still believe that natural bred birds are better for later generations. Brett showed us how he treats the young birds until they are old enough to go in the aviaries between the older birds. And I must admit that these youngsters were not as tame as I had expected. So if further generation perfectly breed new young birds then it is time to change my mind about incubators and hand feeding.
The feeding of all his beautiful birds is done in a very good way, I saw a lot of fruit and vegetables which are given to the birds regularly, even strawberries and home grown peaches are supplied. The normal seeds are bought separately and mixed by Brett, so he can mix himself per specie. The millets are only given to the Swifts and never to the Conures which are having more sunflower seeds.
The day was still not over we had some more time to visit the wildlife fun park, ZooDoo at Richmond. Peter was still our guide to find the way by car and when we arrived there it was freezing cold, just 5 degrees with a strong cold wind. At ZooDoo, you find many native species, like wallabies, wombats, devils, emus and many others. It was a beautiful opportunity to take many pictures of birds we never had seen in the wild before. In Europe we have lost many species in the last 400 years, because we have too many people in a small area, so please be careful for your nature at Tasmania. I got the feeling and understanding that the owner Trevor Cuttriss has his heart dedicated to keep the wildlife at Tasmania as it is today. He told the three of us in a very enthusiastic way his devotion to run his park for a big audience to understand the importance of the wild nature of Tasmania. He also gave me some beautiful Cockatoos to make some pictures; I had already made some outside with a sundown in the horizon.
Trevor arranged us a tour with an open bus with one of his, also enthusiastic young guy that runs the bus and explained all the different species in the park. The animals themselves are fully aware that the bus will visit them and they can have some small feeding from the visitors. The larger emus and camels are coming into the open bus with there heads, so you feel yourself in the middle of nature.
The time flies when you see that many animals, which you have seen only on TV, and when you meet people who share the same hobby with a lot of devotion and enthusiasm. By the time we left the ZooDoo it was dark and already evening, so time to go back and bring Peter home.
We really had the time of our lives, and the hospitality we felt by all of you was outstanding. Special thanks from us are for Peter who showed us nice people with a very beautiful hobby, namely keeping birds!
Let me finish by thanking you all, for this experience we had, Warm regards, Harry and Rieneke Wattel.