Canberra Day 69

[Saturday November 19th] A hot dry day with cool to warm morning for riding

I’ve had two early mornings in a row after late nights, like 5am wide awake after midnight bedtimes, so it’s time to be alert but not alarmed as needing less sleep can be the first sign of a “high” or manic episode coming on. It’s nice to have a little more energy though, get a bit more done, drag my feet less, enjoy life that bit more; hopefully it’s just a PMS thing, cos that can happen, or just an oddity. So at 8am, after going back to sleep for a bit, I decided hubby’s suggestion of a morning bike ride was actually a good one. Usually I’m not with it enough to get up until hubby is nearly or actually back home from his ride, so I don’t really get to thinking about what to do while he’s out. But seize the day! Let’s change that up. So off I go exploring, finding my way down to Lake Burley Griffin via some lovely back streets, then around the middle and wetlands loop and a bit of the hilly loop to get there. You never know what you might find in the backstreets; check out the awesome bird street art. I have to say I felt a bit disorientated riding around the lake! It was 8.30am, but what with the second sleep earlier and people’s activities I felt like it was at least lunchtime. I mean who picnics on the edge of the lake at 8.30am in the morning? Who races dragon boats and attends a full boating carnival at 8.30am in the morning? What’s with people, do they hate sleeping in on the weekend? I can understand the people bird watching maybe, because I dropped off at the Jerrabomberra wetlands for a quick peek at the bird hide where a group of elderly were yapping at the top of their voices!! Hello, its a bird hide! Silence is required at all times otherwise what bird in its right mind is going to come close so that we get great views? I asked them to be quiet, one lady paid attention. I asked again and one oldie told me I could come back later! I told him it wasn’t for my convenience, it was the rule of bird hides; they left not long after. It stuck in my craw though!! I also stopped off at the site where they built trenches for soldiers to train in; that was pretty fascinating. Anyway, it was just incredible to see the masses of walkers, joggers, dogs, cyclists all out and about so early. Then home to hang out with hubby. We were planning on going out together but I was fading after all that exercise and emotion, so off for a nap and hubby put his feet up on the couch to chill out for a while.

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If I could design my own wall, I don’t think I could have chosen better!

Our plan was to go to Sparrow hill in Kowen Park which is out off the Bungendore Road past Queanbeyan. It’s a dead end road that I think is a leftover from when they built the current road, and its beautiful with gorgeous green English trees mixed in with the eucalypts and otherwise sandy, rocky, dry bush. They’ve built 40 kilometres of mountain bike paths with linking trails and man alive, are they well used on the weekend compared to when I dropped by the other week! There was a single other car there that day and today I can easily count 20 without hesitating! As the afternoon wore on more and more cars with picnics and bikes and rugs and crates of stuff arrived…turns out there was a juniors 3 hour mountain bike enduro race so all the families were piling in for a nice night in the bush from 4 to 7pm. Meanwhile I wasn’t enjoying the 30 degree heat (yep I know its not that hot but I was dripping!) so I wasn’t budging far at all, and sticking to the shade (which gum trees aren’t really great for), and basically doing as little as possible while trying to watch for birds as much as possible. I didn’t get a great long list, but I was well entertained by a family of Rufous Whistlers that were chasing each other all around me, and challenging me to grab whatever photos I could as they fleetingly touched down then flitted off again to harass each other. Half at least of the satisfaction of bird photography is grabbing a decent photo despite the best efforts of the birds being flighty, the situation (directly over head into the blazing sun!), the weather (overcast, raining), and whatever else comes up (low battery, full memory card, dust on the lens, la di la di la)! Getting home and seeing that the photo turned out as well as I hoped is always a huge thrill! Anyway, an hour mountain bike (MTN) bike ride for hubby, an hour bird watching for me; everyone’s happy! Then a nice fresh dinner of Vietnamese, some groceries and home to chillax as the evening breeze comes drifting in the bedroom door and lounge room floor and makes for a gorgeous evening inside, as much as outside. Delish!

And to top it all off, I problem solved the reason my photo software wasn’t uploading almost by myself, not much hubby input. This is impressive because ever since I started dating hubby and he was studying software, I’ve pretty much left anything technology to him. I have learnt a few things too, but more or less anything out of my immediate knowledge goes to hubby. And he gives me the phrase made famous by the IT crowd: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”. I’m trying to put my brain to learning a bit more, before the medications kill my memory retention altogether. Let’s see how I go. In typical style, I got my afternoon/evening burst of energy and got stuck into getting my blog up to date and managed to get 2 blogs written. I know I should be writing much less, but my memory being what it is, I’m trying to keep the details in so I can remember it later. I haven’t really been able to convey the sense of the day always, the mood, the weather, but hopefully remembering the things will bring back the feeling of the day. We’ll see.

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Karkarook

2nd December, 2015

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On this day I drove over to Heatherton in some pretty solid morning traffic and joined a group of lovely people from BirdLife Melbourne‚Äč at Karkarook Park at 10am. Birdlife Melbourne are an amazing group based in Carlton that run monthly birding activities at various sites across Melbourne and sometimes further afield, as well as being heavily involved in conservation work and public education. I’m a member, one of the many hobbies I signed up to in my long convalescence, and one of the few that have stuck.

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I’d never been over that side of town to go birding, and I’m happy to say the day was a huge success for me!! We had a decent turnout with nearly 30 people. As with any event run at 10am on a Wednesday, the large part of the group were older, maybe retired, and quite a number of them were experienced birders able to guide newbies like me. One or two are known among the group for their dogged opinions on identification questions, even though their vision and hearing are failing them! But we smile and let them go.

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I love birding! It’s so convenient, you can do it from your window, front door step or verandah, or it can take you just about anywhere! We inadvertently got into birding on our South America trip. What with the multitude of unique birds of the Galapagos, the Amazon rainforest filled with macaws, toucans and so many others, and generally nice areas of forest/bush with brightly coloured birds it was an eye opener to the birds of the world. We were very lucky with enthusiastic guides, and Naun in particular in the Amazon jungle who provided, at his own cost, a spotting scope on a tripod and binoculars plus an amazing trick of taking phone photos down the scope for amazing close ups!! We spent hours more than any other group with hubby, myself and Naun with him pointing out birds up the 46 metre tower (!!) above the canopy. Amazing and terrifying views, and excellent shots of all manner of birds that you wouldn’t see from the ground.

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Everywhere we go on holidays now I look up potential bird spots. I’m a bit of a Nervous Nelly about going on my own, so I do appreciate going with the group. But as I’m getting more well, I’m getting less frightened about going by myself. Most of what I’m afraid of is probably only realistic in scary movies, which I cannot watch, so I try to be brave and go.

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We didn’t get a huge number of species on the day. There’s are a couple of ¬†lakes, one which is a filled in quarry and a couple of others in a natural wetland, but all the grass areas have died off to brown, and the bush areas are fairly dry as well. Nothing to see from the bird hide, birds buzzing around the eucalypts at a rate of knots, and no new species.

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But in one of the fenced off areas, I got some amazing shots! These are the best ever shots that I’ve ever gotten of a male Superb Fairy Wren!! And I have done a lot of trying up to now! So it’s saying something that they are the best. The fact that they are so far the best as to make the rest seem pointless, is thrilling! They came close, out in front of the bushes, and sat still, and didn’t move far when they took off, and the sun came out at just the right moments, and everything came together to mean some fabulous shots that I’m very proud to show you!

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