[Thursday November 17th]
Today I’m heading back to Jerrabomberra Mountain bushland reserve on the outskirts of Queanbeyan to do some birdwatching. I went there back in October with a limited amount of time and loved the wildflowers and orchids, so time to go back. Sadly the purple orchids had finished and vanished without a trace, but the tiger pattern orchids were fun to practice close up photography on. Google Maps on my phone shows you can drive to the summit, but that’s a sad lie…actually you have to walk, and its rather a long way actually! But I can do this these days, just should have brought a drink bottle! It’s the first warm day today and I’m feeling it…also I’m burning, cos stupid thought it would stay overcast and only sunscreened her face and shoulders. Anyway, what can I say? I did it, even though the last bit up to the top I really wanted to turn back and was doing 50 metre stretches at a time before resting in the shade for another minute or 5, but I came to see the lookout and couldn’t go back without it. The grade of the walk up to the lookout was actually really easy, until the 200 metres of stairs at the top to the lookout – ouch! But it was beautiful and it was worth it and there was a bubbler tap at the top. I got 2 birds I’ve never seen before so that was awesome; also a Wedge tailed Eagle in the distance! And I saw a fox in the middle of the day. I was glad to finally get back in my car at the end and crank up the AC for the drive home. It took me 3 hours to get up the hill what with stopping for birds all the time, and spending a fair while photographing orchids, but 50 minutes to come down! I wasn’t exactly running, but I was pretty keen on lunch and a drink at this point. And some cool air. So onwards home for a sleep of course to recover from that fun.
And it was fun. I love the thrill of the chase with birds, recognising calls, tracking down the location of the bird from its call, trying for that awesome shot, using photography skills to compensate for light and awkward positions and distance and whatever other hurdles are in the way. Then sitting at home uploading my photos to my computer and checking out what I got! It’s a bit like a mystery lolly bag. Today while I was out I recorded 22 species of birds that I could recognise by their call or by sight. That’s a solid number. But by the time I’d been through all of the photos, I was up to 32! Some that I looked up in my bird guide, some that I posted on a Facebook group and someone helped me out, and some that I just couldn’t see well enough with my eyes at the time. A lot of birders use binoculars and identify birds on the spot. Because I like to take photos, I use my camera as binoculars which isn’t bad, but they aren’t as responsive and it’s harder to really see something at high zoom. So a lot of times I don’t know what I’m seeing at the time; I check once I’m home. It’s like a nice surprise waiting for me later, to prolong the enjoyable experience. This time there were loads of things I hadn’t been able to see but my camera had captured: birds high in trees above my head, birds in foliage, tiny birds zipping about that my camera was able to freeze for me to see later. And I got 2 lifers and a wedge tailed eagle!! That’s pretty cool. It’s a great hobby for me. Once you have a lifer, its yours and no one can take it away. I mention this often as a positive of things: that no one can take it away. The reason I think this is such a good attribute is that depression tries to take away everything from you. Tell you that you have nothing, strip away your abilities and tell you that you’re useless, convince you that you have nothing to offer. But it can’t take away the facts. The birds that I’ve seen, photographed, enjoyed? They are facts, especially the photographs, proof that I’ve gotten out, I’ve done things, I’ve pushed myself even when depression says I haven’t tried, that I’ve seen wonderful things, been to lovely places and I have the evidence that I can look at, see, that’s real and true and shows it’s a wonderful world despite what depression tries to tell me. That’s why I love bird watching, love photography, love getting outdoors to beautiful places. It makes me happy, and what’s more it reminds me of being happy when I’m not so happy. That’s a powerful thing!
So I got up from my nap and was thinking about tea when hubby came home and wanted to go for a ride. Well, I’ve got the time, it’s a lovely night, it’s daylight savings, what will I do? I’ve been wanting to ride around Lake Ginninderra for quite a while now, and so I decided, you know what? I’m going to do it now! Let’s do it! So I got dressed, put my bike and my stuff in the car and headed for Belconnen. I knew from researching it previously that it is 7km around. So I checked out a few off shoots as well and ended up doing nearly 14km somehow! And it was bliss. Can I describe how lovely it is to be riding around the lake at dusk with the beautiful light, the birds all squawking and feeding, the alternate warm and cool air and the breeze in your face, the world is your oyster, and knowing that this is your second exercise of the day, and you’re killing it? Oh it was so beautiful, other than the bugs, and once again I got about 20 species of birds before my phone died. I would definitely do it again, maybe a couple of laps or checking out other off shoots. I’d love to go back for a picnic too, there are little piers and seperate little beaches and playgrounds and lots of groups of people out enjoying the evening, which was truly beautiful. I felt so empowered riding around on my own, on my own adventure off my own bat, for the second time in the day, and just on top of the world! How great is that?! And so the dusk gently closed in until it was dark and I got back in the car and headed for home.