Point Cook

Friday 16th March, 2018

This one is for a patient from ED tonight who I had a great chat with about photography. No I wasn’t neglecting my work, there weren’t that many other patients to see at that point, and it’s my hobby…always happy to chat about it!

I learnt a lot! About camera clubs at a local, state, national and international level including one that I might go along to locally, we talked about his 3 dark rooms, I heard about UV and infrared photography, and we talked camera models, good lenses for bird photography…and we could have gone on!! But eventually work has to come to the fore.

Anyway, since I shared my blog but haven’t put up a lot of my photos later, I guess I better. These are some shots that I liked from an outing with Birdlife Australia, Melbourne branch to Point Cook on Wednesday. A great walk, perfect bushwalking weather, nice company and a few stunning and semi-co-operative birds! It all makes for a great day out. The day was a bit misty/smoggy so as I cropped all the photos they became a bit murky; apologies!

Brown Falcon

Brown Falcon, better not shooting into the light! 

I got a whole series of shots of this gorgeous creature because you never know how close you’ll be able to get, but this was a youngish bird so we got very close in the end, slowly step by step. So the blurry shot isn’t really excusable, but unfortunately these days I have a degree of hand shaking that is bugging me – I really need to learn to wind up my shutter speed beyond what I’ve done in the past. I have cropped this shot.


Brown Falcon, same bird but shot into the glary sky

The conditions of the day make a huge difference as far as the photos you can achieve.


The glare of the sky adds so much light into the camera that it can be hard to make out detail of the subject when you shoot into the light and it is backlit; this is where being able to use your settings well really comes into play…or you just accept that you are operating in impossible conditions…but what fun would that be??


A Crested Tern on the wing


Love Terns, they are so acrobatic in the air and a delight to photograph!


Now THIS is a series I’m super proud of!! Just saying…a little stoush



Now THAT’S the type of shot I want to be taking!


Whistling Kite, not a great shot but the best I got


Perfect! Do you know how close I had to get to this Superb Fairywren for this shot? Actually I had to wait for it to get this close to me. Time and patience pays off! About 2 metres away


This scrappy looking guy is a male Superb Fairywren in eclipse, halfway moulting between immature and full male adult plumage in the non breeding season – this means he’s less than 5 years old


I was sitting at lunch and all the birds took off in a big Kuffluffle behind me! It’s a tell tale sign of a bird of prey flying over; there’s a consensus amongst all the birds that this is a bad thing. 4 magpies suddenly went into attack mode and I discovered exactly where the bird of prey was! Not in focus but a nice action shot, I didn’t have much time to get off a shot


Again, poor focus but I’m proud of this shot because I was the only one in a group of 20 that got a shot, and so I contributed a Brown Goshawk to the day’s count – I’m happy with that!!


Spot the Little Wattlebird!


Not perfect but a Black Kite right above my head?? Wow!


And 2 Black Kites up there?? Perfection!


This was my other moment of contribution – an immature Australasian Gannet, in the bay, out of the colony, away from Geelong, all on its own! I picked it out, someone else labelled it, lots of excitement all around! Love the spotty plumage – the adult is very monochrome


Silver gulls (usually called Seagulls), Crested Terns, Chestnut Teal ducks, Little Pied Cormorant – these are all roosting in shallow water in the bay


Little Pied Cormorants and Pied Cormorants – you can see the size difference clearly

Well, there’s some recent photos. I was overall a bit disappointed with the quality which was partly due to the weather with the glare and the smog, partly due to the settings being poorly managed and somewhat to do with this shake. Maybe I need to make a tripod part of my regular outfit for camera stability, maybe I need to go back to photography school to refresh the basics of which settings to use when, and let’s see what the doctor says about my tremor!



4 years

6th March, 2018

Well I had other ideas for today’s blog, but Facebook reminded me that today 4 years ago I was recovering at home, supervised by my hubby working from home, after a VERY long afternoon/night in the emergency department having finally come to the crunch point of my nervous breakdown.

It was the first day of many days off work: 6th March 2014 to 22nd July 2015.

It felt long!

It felt like it would never to over, that life would just trickle by forever. Me at home, on my own, barely able to fill the hours of the day, just dragging along until the next…what? Hour, day, week, year?

After 18 years of full time school; 4 years of full time study plus part time work; an intern year of full time work and study; and 4 years working full time (apart from a period of 9 day fortnights during 2013 for health/stress reasons, and a brave if futile attempt to get back to work and save my job by dragging myself 2 days a week to work in the outpatient dispensary at the Alfred in the month before my contract expired late 2014) it was a shock!

I didn’t know what to do with myself physically, let alone mentally. So came a long list of attempted hobbies to try to fill up my time, more or less successfully. 4 years on, some have stuck, some haven’t, but it’s a different problem now: finding time for those hobbies! Time for bird watching, for photography, for blogging, and my re-discovered love of gardening. I’m back at work, currently 4 to 5 days a week! Who would have ever thought?! And it’s cramping my style! How’s that for ironic? For months, years in fact I’m dying to get back to work, really back to working full time or close to it, and 5 minutes later I’m missing my me time!!

It could be worse. If anyone can say that it’s me. I was worse, I’ve been worse; so I really know that it could be worse. I do. But it’s the perspective you have at the time that frames how you see things. And my perspective now is mental wellness and relatively good physical health, so the smaller things weigh more, like doing my hobbies! It’s not a bad place to be, hey? Four years on.

Rain, rain, not so bad…

[Monday 21st August]

It’s always a good day out with birds.

Even when the day is one of the worst this winter.

It’s raining lightly but steadily, the temperature is heading from a freezing 4 degrees to a frosty maximum of 6 degrees for a chilly winter’s day, it’s slippery and slushy underfoot, I missed my bird watching group meet time by a few minutes but saw them crossing the road as I parked, then they disappeared on me while I was getting my stuff together!!

But with some of my new resilience I decide to power on. It sucks that I missed them, but I can’t find any fault with them at all. It was a typical Danika move.

Looking at the forecast the night before I wondered if I was up for the task of wandering around for 5 hours in not only the cold, which you can dress against, but the wet. I’ve gotten wet and cold on one bird watching outing recently, feet and legs mostly, and it wasn’t fun. But I can dress warmer this time and be prepared. About that wet though, do I really want to be walking around in it through thick undergrowth for 3 of the 5 hours, according to the forecast? I couldn’t decide. Originally I definitely wanted to go because this birding outing was one that I haven’t seen come up before, a walk through the Sherbrooke Forest and…ding ding ding…lyrebirds! I’ve glimpsed a couple in the wild, and seen one at Healesville Sanctuary in their awesome recent lyrebird exhibit, but I’d love a better look!

But that wet…and so I dithered all night, didn’t make a decision, looked up what time I’d need to leave by, couldn’t decide when I woke up in the morning, called the leader to confirm it was on, slept a bit more, thought I wouldn’t go, thought I would go, left it too late and took too much time putting on my two pairs of socks, three tops, packing my 3 jackets and so I had no time for breakfast before I had to jump in the car post-haste.

This is a big flaw for me that I’m trying to work on: skipping breakfast. Actually not skipping breakfast as such, because I can’t make it to 10am if I don’t eat in the morning. I’ve always felt nauseous and faint if I don’t eat breakfast. And taking a handful of tablets on an empty stomach doesn’t go well. But I’ve also never been a morning person since I was a baby. So it’s a tussle between getting up in time for a proper breakfast and getting up, full stop! Lately this has taken the form of skipping a sustaining breakfast like my standard 2 pieces of toast with spreads for getting out the door on time, then making a 2 minute stop at the local Coles Express for something less sustaining but at least food and drink. I reserve the right to tell you what kind of food or drink I would usually pick up!

Google maps told me when I left that I was going to be 3 minutes late, as in arrival time 10.03am. This is okay, most times you can make up this difference along the way and arrive on time. Although not properly on time, which is 5 minutes early as my husband will say. In this case probably 10 or 15 minutes early would be ideal for putting on jackets, unfolding umbrellas, getting the camera ready etc. So really I’m  way behind, but I’m telling myself that 10am is okay. But still, no breakfast yet and I can’t walk around in the forest for hours without breakfast, let alone without lunch that I haven’t accounted for, and the Dandenongs aren’t really ideal for ready to go food. But luckily I did find a quick mart type general store at Tremont just before Sherbrooke forest and got some Twisties and drinks; not ideal but it’ll keep me going. Forgot to get lunch but at least this is a start. Except…


This doesn’t even show how deep the colour blue was on my tongue, fingers and lips!! What the heck?? Apparently although these Twisties look like Twisties, smell like Twisties, taste like Twisties, they are Blue Tongue Twisties! Well that’s new, and not necessarily great for me. Busted about eating Twisties though; hubby will be happy. Luckily after my afternoon nap the blue on my tongue had been digested by my mouth enzymes, but I had to scrub the life out of my lips to clear them up, and I’ve still got blue around my nails 2 days later!! Argh!

But I got myself going, and I got these:


The charming Eastern Yellow Robin


They are so skilled at gravity-defying grip onto trees


A clearer shot finally: the rain really messes with clarity


Murdering the “snake” by whipping it and mashing it and tearing it into bite sized pieces


Nearly got its head off, now to…





“Is it dead yet?”


Another flick through the air and whack! against the root


See how far around it can rotate its head? Somehow with such a large prey compared to its body it manages to get the right amount of acceleration then bang it against something hard


See how its eye looks weird? Its called a nicitating membrane. It like a second eyelid but its see-through. Birds use it to protect their eye when they still need to see but are at risk of, for instance, having half a worm flick them in the eye


Finally a bite sized piece! Yum yum, down the hatch


“Get away from my snake!!”



Uh oh. An invader. Territory wars over a juicy worm!


Standing on it should keep it safe


“Are you done yet?”


Oops, spotted me!


This is a fully zoomed out view of the little birdy. It was probably 3 metres away by my judgement, which isn’t the best. I love zoom!

A good day that came out of a shaky start; I love these days. Now home for a lovely nap.



What a goose

I always understood that saying, ‘what a goose’, to be an insult, as in to be a bit of a dill, or a duffer, or any of the other vague sayings that we’ve corrupted into terms of gentle abuse.

But after tracking and photographing Cape Barren Geese on Phillip Island on Monday (8th) I no longer think of geese, at least this species of goose, as stupid. They are so beautiful with amazing detail to their feathers, and form such great families.

Well, okay, with one exception:


That moment when one parent looks across the road to the other parent and thinks, ‘oh its not that far’…and yep, the edge of the road is just there

And maybe a second:


“I think we can make it” – this happened right on peak traffic time when every person that is going to the Penguin Parade is arriving at the Nobbies!

And the clinger, so maybe my point it lost at this moment:


“Come on kids!”


And just like that, I get turned into the crazy (well that’s nothing new) lady stopping traffic for ducks! Well geese, but the same applies!!!


Luckily the traffic is slow and expecting this kind of interruption, and they did cross pretty quickly


Nearly there, quickly quickly!


And safely across to meet up with the other parent!

But they’re still beautiful.

They just need to learn to live and eat somewhere more removed from cars.

Can you see the pleasure that can be derived from bird watching? I highly recommend it.

And the satisfaction of getting the photo isn’t bad either, although these were all marred a bit because it was raining at the time. Yes, I was standing in the rain (without an umbrella cos I didn’t really think it through!) holding up traffic while little tiny puff balls crossed the road! What has happened to me??

Birds you have to leave state for

I can’t believe I haven’t talked to you about this yet, but in the middle of June we flew up to Cairns for a little holiday and it was the best!!

Ever since I was born, and right up until a few years ago, our annual holiday was in the Easter school holidays at Merimbula, or nearby. It is fabulous, so so beautiful and we absolutely love going there; it’s our second home town.  It was our routine, we always knew when the break was coming, where we were going and had that anticipation.

It was varied to the summer holidays once cos my brother was due to be born in the Easter holidays. And another year we went to visit friends in Newcastle instead, but generally it was fixed in stone. The tradition continued well into my uni years after I left home, and quite a few years into married life, and it’s still lovely, but we want to see some other places. We try to go somewhere new for a week once a year at least, and get away for a weekend for our anniversary. In the 7.5 years that we’ve been married, we’ve slowly made our way around the country: Tasmania road trip, Woolongong, Narooma, Canberra on his work for 3 months, Perth, Airey’s Inlet, Gippsland Lakes, Darwin, Sydney, and we have also managed to get to New Zealand, most of South America and Bali. But Queensland we haven’t gotten to til now.

This year we wanted to try something new and go on holidays somewhere warm during winter. Up til now most of our holidays have been in the summer or Easter. We decided on Cairns and thought we’d go maybe around July-August. But then, out of nowhere, hubby’s work needed him to go to Cairns for a week of work!! Bingo! So he headed up at the start of the week, and I flew up Friday morning, and we got a weekend on his work’s tab at the same hotel! We had to pay for my flights, but as a getaway goes it was the cheapest we’ve ever done! And we really loved it! We had Friday til Monday afternoon but it felt like we had a week, and we got to indulge in seafood, cycling for hubby with a random new friend, and loads of birding for me; could anything be more perfect?? 28 degrees by day, 18 by night; bliss.

Over the 3.5 days I had up there I managed to photograph 70 different species of birds and out of those 36 were brand new species to me that I’d never come across before!! This is the advantage of vastly changing climates. Far North Queensland is so tropical and couldn’t be more different in climate from southern Australia, as well as being geographically at the opposite end of the country. So you find a lot of birds up there that you’ll either never see out of that state, or maybe in NSW but never ever in Victoria. Yet some Victorian species can live quite happily up there. It’s all very fascinating to me, but maybe not so much to you. So let’s get on with the photo gallery!

Brown Honeyeater at the airport, the first lifer

Brown Honeyeater – that little tear drop behind the eye tells you the ID


Male Australasian Figbird – striking, isn’t he?


Yellow Honeyeater


Varied Honeyeater


Australasian Gull-billed Tern


Scaly-breasted munia, or Nutmeg Mannikin


Yellow-spotted honeyeater blending in so well under the mangroves


Okay not a bird but so stunning!


My best attempt at a bird-in-flight pic of a Rainbow Bee-eater…they do occur in Victoria, but I’ve never seen one so I’m claiming ignorance


Dusky Honeyeater


Forest Kingfisher


Yellow-breasted Boatbill…poor photo but a fascinating little creature


Little Shrike-thrush…most photos aren’t an easy shot, many are difficult angles through sticks, leaves, shadow and more

IMG_9538-2 Yellow-Spotted Honeyeater.jpg

Graceful Honeyeater, different from the Yellow-Spotted because the spot is oblong here


Australian Brush-turkey


Bar-shouldered Dove

IMG_0069-2 (2).jpg

Comb-crested Jacana


Green Pygmy-Goose


Spangled Drongo – yep there’s actually such a thing as a Drongo!


A blurry Orange-Footed Scrubfowl


Brahiminy Kite, such a distinctive bird of prey shot from a moving car!


Spectacled Monarch, fast and hard to catch in the bad light of the mangroves. It’s ironic: gorgeous birds live in the mangroves but they’re hard to see


Collared/Torresian Kingfisher – just stunning!


A typical mangroves shot: a blurry Shining Flycatcher

IMG_8535-2 Black-naped tern, brown booby, brown-common noddy.jpg

Black-naped Tern, the flying white bird with the cool tail – shot 30km out to sea from our snorkelling boat

IMG_8524-2 Common Noddy

The dark birds with white heads are Noddies – couldn’t get a good photo between the movement of our boat, the movement of their platform and a low shutter speed! There were Black and Brown/Common Noddies


These Bush-stone Curlews are so odd! Apart from their creepy big eyes, they hang out at the cemetery and all night long they wail! It sounds like someone’s heart has just been broken and they are keening their soul out!! We could hear it INSIDE the hotel room all through the first night, somewhat disturbing!

I hope you enjoyed the fruit of my walking, driving and boating around Cairns.


[6th June, 2017]

Okay, wait. Just give me a minute, read on and it will all (hopefully) become clear.

“What other people think of you is none of your business” – various, or unknown

I had never heard of this philosophy until I needed psychology and psychiatry to fix my mind, or before I got into self improvement-type thoughts and ideas to do my part. Before the last 4 years, what other people thought of me was a major part of my daily life. Anxiety about who thought what about me, insecurity about how others saw me, fretting over any less than perfect social interaction, losing sleep over a joke at my expense, nightmares about potentially horrific social scenarios; I could go on. But I’ve tried hard to put these things in the past with helpful sentiments like the one above. It doesn’t always work, but it works a lot better than it did before I ever tried it! Now I try to mind my own business when it comes to my life, and just do my own thing.

It doesn’t always work out that you can afford to ignore other people’s thoughts about you. This last week I’ve been dealing with a not-so-hot probation review, a first  ever for me. It seems like it doubles as a first warning so its been pretty hard to process that one without losing sleep and getting pretty ruffled in my mind! More about that later. In the meantime its a challenge to work out what is my business to attend to, and what I can let pass through my brain and somehow spit out without it doing too much damage on the way through. And isn’t this the central dilemma of this philosophy? Applying it 100% would lead to big problems, but knowing what degree to apply it to a situation is not a science; its definitely an art!

So…any ideas? I’m still thinking.

For now, I’m going to go and do the things that I know I can do, and do well, which today is bird watching and photography. And isn’t this a clincher for bird of the day? It’s slightly out of focus here due to how WordPress handles cropping photos, sorry.


Superb Fairy Wren, male at least 4 to 5 years of age

Something to enjoy, to feel good about, to distract from unpleasantness in life: that’s birding to me. Never mind that for about half of the 3 hour walk it was showering rain. Doesn’t matter that my socks and shoes got thoroughly wet and I squelched all the way back to the car park. Don’t worry that my legs got chafed and my feet got sore. Can’t help it that the long distance photos were all blurry and foggy from the rain and mist.

It was a day out of the house, where I had to get dressed, and eat meals, and talk to other humans; lovely humans who wanted to talk about our common interests and nothing else. Where all I had to do was mind my own business and attend to my own interests and needs. Somewhat selfishly I suppose, but in a therapeutic way. I saw 41 different types of birds myself in 3 hours, which has to come close to being a personal record. I walked for hours in picturesque surroundings which were beautiful, even through rain. And captured photos like the one above, like this one here. Photos that soothe my mind, pictures to look back on maybe, to publish somewhere possibly. And it made the day a good day. Today was a good day. Better than any day since that review. This is a good thing. So for now, I’m good. The rest will come back in time, and I’ll deal with it then, but for now I’m minding my own business.


Red-browed finch

The other New Zealand trip days

As for New Zealand trip Day Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten and Eleven?

Day Six, November 1st: We woke to beautiful sunny ocean views from Crown Hotel in Napier again, breakfast at Milk and Honey like the first morning then check out and transfer to the airport for the next adventure. We’re off to Christchurch where we got in at 1pm. We had to be picked up in 2 cars: one for my suitcase, one for his bike! Lucky we’re staying with lovely friends whose accommodating parents let us borrow their cars. A lazy afternoon once we’d arrived sitting around in the lounge room chatting to our friends, their 2 cute daughters, their sister and parents until nap time. Then we went out to some friend’s of our friends house for dinner and had a brilliant time! They have 2 kids pretty much the same age as our friends so the four of them had a brilliant time, even more so cos their dad has rigged up a heavyweight hook in the lounge room to hang a plank swing or rings so of course that was a massive boon! And the parents are our age and so lovely to hang out with, what a wonderful evening, so glad we could do it.


Off on our next adventure!

Day Seven, November 2nd: A nice day hanging out with my girlfriend and her kids and parents today. We had a nice walk down to the shops for a few its and bits with Miss 3 on her balance bike and Miss 18 months in the pram and I got me a New Zealand bird guide! Yay! Now I can find out what birds I’ve been shooting. A lovely morning for a walk, it’s nice to wander around somewhere new. Meanwhile hubby and my girlfriend’s hubby had dashed off as early as they could wake up for a mountain bike ride in the Port hills that went for most of the day, and boy were they happy with themselves when they came home. Then we went to a friend of my girlfriend’s for lunch with her 2 kids and had such a fun lunch, a kid’s lunch she called it: mini franks and sauce, spinach feta triangles, tasty drinks; fun! A nice drive there and back checking out the countryside, a lovely nap, another nice family dinner sitting around the lounge room (the kitchen table is tiny!), our Bible study meeting and bed.


Enjoying the backyard where we’re staying…turns out cute Silver Eyes are in New Zealand as well

Day Eight, November 3rd: A girl’s day out with my girlfriend who was having a kid free day thanks to her wonderful mum! So we had a walk around Travis wetlands cos I’m always on the look out for more birds! We got hussled by a swan and hissed at by a Canadian goose; fair to say that the breeding season is still well in play. Then we had a drive along the beach and a look around the estuary in town for more birds, a relaxed chatty lunch at a restaurant on the beach at Sumner and a walk through the cave rock getting sand in our shoes; fabulous. Then some shopping at Ezibuy and Postie. What I loved most about Ezibuy is they have my size in nearly everything! I should go there more. Then home for a nap. Meanwhile hubby and my girlfriend’s hubby were off somewhere having a ball mountain biking, and the kids hardly missed us at all so a good day for everyone! Well grandma may have been a bit exhausted come to think of it, 2 kids all day is pretty full on. Lucky aunty was also there to run interference.


Oh wow, sun sand beach rocks birds, oh my!

Day Nine, November 4th: We started the day with a 2 hour scenic trip in the car to Hanmer  with hubby, my girlfriend and her hubby and sister as I snapped away at the scenery with my camera. And lucky I did snap the scenery, since we got home a 7.2 earthquake has devastated the area and the road! Today is THE day that we’ve been most looking forward to, but actually everything has been great. And what a day! Lunch, a bit of boutique shopping (which I struggled to be interested in apart from the lollies and the art gallery, feeling a bit flat today), snapping a few more birds and an awesome pedal cart for 6 people and most importantly, lazing in the hot springs and screaming down the waterslides like kids; the best fun! That was awesome! I definitely felt better after the water bowl and water slide. 3 hours soaking, a nice bite of Indian on the way home and what a feeling of well being after a wonderful day with friends.


The epic waterslide and water bowl at Hanmer Hot Springs

Day Ten, November 5th: A slow morning for me then a little shopping trip with my girlfriend’s sister and hubby to Kathmandu for a new (gorgeous purple!) rain coat for me and a nice hoodie for hubby, then a wander through the RESTART mall in the centre of Christchurch looking at the container shops and the progress that has been made since we were here 4 years ago. It was all interesting, but I’m just struggling today, most of my energy has been used up and I’m just dragging myself through the motions. I wish I wasn’t, I want to be fully into it because this is the last day of holidays, but I just can’t try any harder. Meanwhile hubby and pal managed to pull off another bike ride and hubby is in mountain biking heaven! A couple of loads of washing insisted on by the lovely lady of the house this morning means washed clean clothes ready to go, packing up and an early night for an ungodly early start in the morning!


Fascination about bikes all round as hubby cleans his up for entry back into Australia

Day Eleven, November 6th: A travelling day and a half, but we eventually got home to Canberra in the afternoon. Up at 4 in the morning, first breakfast at sometime after 5am, second breakfast in a different city at 7.30pm, something weird with time going backwards, and still it took til after 3pm to hit home! Epic! With the humidity in Brisbane, then the humidity in Sydney…but at last some warm weather in Australia! Welcome home!


Another airport, another lounge, this one not so shabby!! Time for second breakfast