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…

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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:

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The charming Eastern Yellow Robin

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They are so skilled at gravity-defying grip onto trees

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A clearer shot finally: the rain really messes with clarity

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

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Nearly got its head off, now to…

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“Bang”!

 

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“Is it dead yet?”

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Another flick through the air and whack! against the root

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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

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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

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

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“Get away from my snake!!”

 

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

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Standing on it should keep it safe

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“Are you done yet?”

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Oops, spotted me!

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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.

 

 

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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:

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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:

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“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:

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“Come on kids!”

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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!!!

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

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Nearly there, quickly quickly!

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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

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Male Australasian Figbird – striking, isn’t he?

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Yellow Honeyeater

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Varied Honeyeater

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Australasian Gull-billed Tern

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Scaly-breasted munia, or Nutmeg Mannikin

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Yellow-spotted honeyeater blending in so well under the mangroves

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Okay not a bird but so stunning!

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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

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Dusky Honeyeater

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Forest Kingfisher

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

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

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

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Australian Brush-turkey

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Bar-shouldered Dove

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Comb-crested Jacana

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Green Pygmy-Goose

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

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A blurry Orange-Footed Scrubfowl

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

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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

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Collared/Torresian Kingfisher – just stunning!

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A typical mangroves shot: a blurry Shining Flycatcher

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

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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

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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.

MYOB

[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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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

Canberra Day Seventeen

Tuesday, 27th September, 2016

A bit of a nothing day really. Woke late, didn’t stay up long before going back to bed for a midday nap. Lunch was drive through, afternoon snack was drive through, liquid of the day was lemonade; not a high moment. Did not a lot of anything until I finally got myself out of the house to do some exploring/bird watching in the beautiful sunshine. Had to do something or it’d feel like a total waste of the day! I’ve always got a list of what to do next, and this one was very local which helped. A nice walk through the Goorooyarroo reserve turned a bit annoying when I was harassed by magpies for the first time in a long time! So harassed that I changed my entire route home to avoid them; they just wouldn’t give up! I can’t help that they built their nest right next to the walking track when they have a nature reserve that goes for literally miles! Took a gazillion photos and got two birds that I’ve never seen before!! YAY! And countless kangaroos, and a swamp wallaby, and a few rabbits. Nature reserve indeed. I ended up taking the route less travelled tracking down a bird call, and ended up making life hard for myself by having to haul myself up an enormous hill. I feel like this is some kind of metaphor, me taking 10 times longer than it should take to get anywhere because of having to drag myself uphill! So it’s my photo of the day.img_6469

The day actually got better and better from then on. Hubby came home and we had one of the best nights together that we’ve had in ages! Just good fun and easy company doing the groceries then having dinner out to fill his laksa craving, then a good honest chat about a few things that have been getting fudged about or glazed over or beaten around in the bush about. It’s given me inspiration to be more upfront in my relationship about the things that I’m struggling with, instead of hiding them away. I always think I’m a stigma fighter, but here I am encouraging stigma by hiding what is plainly obvious. I have issues with food these days. I mean, you don’t get to be my size on Vegemite sandwiches! But I try to squirrel away the fact of what I’m actually eating, as though there is any point to that. But it takes a hero to help you come out of yourself enough to be able to admit what you most dislike about yourself. I’m a lucky lucky woman to have just such a hero!!

Canberra Day Five

15th September 2016

Some enthusiasm has gone out of me with a string of late nights trying to catch up with slow days; never a sensible plan. But I’m pushing on. I must remind myself that no day is a fail even if I don’t get as much done as I hoped. After all, it’s day 5. That’s FIVE days so far. Not even a week! It’s nothing in the scheme of things. I’ve been so many places, seen so much of Canberra’s urban and bush areas, and birds, and lake and although there’s so much more to see, it’s just one day after the other.

My morning routine continues, and today I plan to check out Mount Ainslie. There was actual peak traffic on leaving hubby’s work! A surprise! It was raining (maybe the reason for the traffic) and as I drove towards the mountain it looked like the top was in cloud but trying to be the optimist, I went up anyway. Yep, nothing to be seen but white fluff. Oh well, I tried. I’ll be back some sunny day. So I head for home, but what’s this? A sign for Mount Pleasant lookout! I’ve never heard of it, but let’s go check it out. So I make a right turn and happen to find myself in a fascinating little world that is Duntroon, the Army military college. Gorgeous old style cream and maroon houses and buildings, parade grounds, the odd couple of soldiers left and righting it along the footpath, military police, its own ambulance station; it’s so interesting! If it weren’t raining…but it is so I’ll write it down for another day.

The signs to Mount Pleasant prove a bit difficult, but whether its me or the signs is difficult to say! A few false turns and finally I start up Mount Pleasant. It’s not far, and a gradual climb – I might just come back on my bike and practice my climbing skills! Another misty, rainy view; it’s becoming a thing but it’s another location full of possibility for future walks, bird watching and bike riding. I’ll add it to the plus list. I’m still proud and pleased that I made it here to get the view; it would have been easy to turn and head for home today.

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Not a great deal more to the day except for getting a few jobs done down the street, familiarising myself with my local shops and getting a new pharmacy, a new Coles, a new post office and getting a nice Cold Rock icecream with fruit tingles and Nerds to round out the afternoon. Oh, and my daily 2 hour nap! No day would be complete…

For dinner we had a spontaneous night out for Japanese banquet at Kokoro in Gunghalin…I’m gradually getting used to the foreign sounds of the Canberra suburbs; I think I’m more used to Japanese! 6 courses of Japanese delishousness…not something I’ve ever done before but I think I’m sold! The raw fish section was a challenge but I got through at least one piece of each and some wasabi mayonnaise and soy sauce helped the rest to go down. I now LOVE lotus root chips, I’m ambivalent about edamame beans, and I renewed my appreciation for Japanese style sushi with just rice and fish. The sticky cooked salmon was wonderful but being the last course, it was hard to really appreciate! As for the black sesame and green tea flavoured ice cream…no thanks! But give me amaranth tea with floating flowers anytime, it was divine. Heavy tummy, off to sleep!

Check out the rest of today’s photos on my website: Duntroon and Mount Pleasant

Some of today’s blossoms are included in my Spring Blossoms portfolio: red and pink japonica, yellow daffodils and the deeper pink tree blossoms