Birdlife outings

This is a quick tour through what Birdlife Australia Melbourne branch outings look like to me. I love that there are organised bird watching outings, just like I love my Wheel Women outings; because it’s just harder on your own. You don’t know what locations to go to, where to find the best birds when you get there, and you just don’t have the local knowledge of what birds are around and where they might be. But Birdlife just isn’t the family that Wheel Women is. I know a few people to say hello to and have a chat with as we walk around together for a few hours. But I don’t really have a relationship with any of them outside of our bird watching outings. Still, its a very friendly, helpful group of people who are just dead keen of improving other’s skills at finding birds, helping us to learn their behaviour and hopefully finding new and different birds every outing. This is my photo journal of everything but the birds  (almost) from an outing to Woodlands Historic Park on 27th May 2017.

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First off, the car park meet up – yep they’re all ours

 

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Getting the briefing for how the day is going to run, what to look out for, who is leading and who is tailing, and the famous sign up sheet

 

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Hold up on the bridge as someone spots something…what, what, what have you got?? we call from the rear

 

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It’s REALLY time that I got binoculars! The camera does pretty well, but I think binoculars would adjust quicker and let more light in

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A bit more scattered along the track as we wander back for lunch

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Bring on lunch!!! It’s almost a stampede once 12.30 hits the second hand!!

 

And here is a quick snapshot of some of the birds that we saw. It wasn’t a tremendous day out, although that last bird was a first for me, the Fan-tailed Cuckoo. We got to see some beautiful Flame (above) and Scarlet Robins but at a long distance so there’s not a lot to show for it. Better photos next time!

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.

Canberra Day Twenty Six

6th October, 2016

Well this is going to be short and sharp because its after midnight and I do REALLY need to get to bed. But I’ve been through today’s 700+ photos and reduced them to 200 odd which I’m pretty pleased about! Nothing left over to sort out. I’ve got good photos by now of several birds up here, so unless what I take is better then into the bin it goes. I’m battling storage space on my laptop and online and everywhere!! But I do so love taking photos, and the birds and scenery are just so enticing. I’m trying to become more satisfied with just looking, but recording for posterity is just so tempting, even if I never look at the photos again! So I’m spending some time with memories, going back through the archives and deleting whatever has turned out to be pointless or meaningless or unmemorable, or just a bad photo. And when I’m processing current photos I try to keep the same principles in mind.

Today was about hills and dales. I went back and finished the the woodlands walk this morning-afternoon: beautiful birds and the day was perfectly warm and sunny and lightly breezy; perfect! As I was walking around I noticed blue painted arrows on the fire trail path pointing in the opposite direction to what I was going. I ignored them because its a loop, so why would it matter? But I should have done the hilly section when I was fresh instead of at the end when I just wanted to sit down. Why aren’t there more seats sprinkled around walking tracks? The rest of the signage was lacking, as everywhere, until I got back to the main road where it’s not that necessary. As always, instead of following the map in my brochure or Google maps if it comes to that I just blundered on, and ended up doing an extra larger loop as well as the intended loop! How many times?? So I’ve now done a 7.2km walk on Tuesday, a 1.5km walk on Wednesday and a 5km walk today!! And I’m not even manic!! I’m just building my stamina. But I think that’s enough for now. Besides I’ve gotta get back on my bike; its been 10 days or more.

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Tomorrow is Rest Day. I planned on it being Inside Day cos I’ve really had more than enough sun over 3 days and I’m looking a bit red. But the weather is just so good; gotta make the most of it before it starts raining again! What I want is for this 3 month stint of free time to be over (not too soon!) and to be able to say that I’ve improved myself. That I’ve improved my cycling distances and hill climbing, that I’ve proven myself able to walk distances, times, durations, and profiles that I wouldn’t have previously thought possible. I can say that I have improved on all of these things so far, and that’s in almost a month. So let’s see what the next two months can bring. I’ve just got to plug away, like I did today. I don’t know if I’ll ever look at a hill and think, YAY I’m gonna run up that hill! But I know that if I go a little way, take a rest if needed, go a little way then I’ll get there. I learnt something very valuable recently when I was doing a hill climbing, cornering and descending class with my lovely Wheel Women: never look at the next hill from the top of the current hill; it will always look daunting. Wait until you get to the very bottom, and then look up. Try it; it really changes the rise from Mt Vesuvius to a little mole hill. The next most valuable thing I learnt: just take a small section of the hill and do that; don’t worry about doing the whole thing. Once you’ve done one section, worry about the next. Breaking it into chunks helps to achieve the climb, however you’re getting there. I think you can draw the relevant parallels in life. So that’s my plan! Slow and steady, winning the race.

Canberra Day Twenty Five

Another windy wild day but at least we got some sunshine in patches today; enough to get sunburnt apparently! It was another morning sleep in, then processing my gazillion photos from yesterday which turned out to be brilliantly worthwhile as my lifer bird count zoomed from three to five as hinted yesterday!! Yay!! I hadn’t recognised them “in the field” as birders (bird watchers, or twitchers) say but when I reviewed the photos I found some new and fascinating species. It was a time of reflection looking over the places I walked, the birds I’d seen, the scenery, the animals; all of it beautiful.

But now to get more active. How about Telstra Tower? I headed back up Black Mountain and got as far as admission, side tracking to a free exhibit on the flora and fauna of the nature reserve but when I saw I had to pay I decided to wait and go back with hubby. Besides it was blowing a gale at the bottom; what would it have been like at the top??

So next thing I want to go at Black Mountain is do the woodlands trail. I did the forest loop right at the beginning so this was unfinished business. The problem is you can’t access this walk from the Black Mountain road. You have to go down to the bottom, around the perimeter and somehow find an unspecified parking area and then find an underpass and get onto the trail!! I had tried to figure this all out last time and couldn’t! So try again. On my way I saw the botanic gardens sign (for another day), managed to accidentally make my way onto the Black Mountain peninsula that extends out into the lake (beautiful, and better views of the seagull colony), took the wrong exit south and had to circle back around the city, then saw a tiny car park out of the corner of my eye which turned out to be the one!! I figured even if it wasn’t I’d just walk as far as it took. Cos I can do that now. Even after yesterday. But it was a short walk, a tunnel, another gate (I’m seeing a lot of these lately) and success!! I found the woodlands trail!! Unfortunately it wasn’t my afternoon: phone calls, full memory card then flat battery before I got 1/4 around the path!! Tomorrow.

My brother-in-law green thumb is coming for the weekend which I’m excited about! You know what that means…another trip to Floriade!!

In the meantime, even as a bird lover, my photo of the day is the cat Peanut presenting me shortly after midnight last night with his cleverly caught sparrow, and accompanying branch of a tree!! He was so pleased! Not for the faint-hearted, but he then proceeded to play bat the ball with the bird for a good 10 minutes before it expired, then ate it in 3 bites! I don’t like cats and birds together, but he’s a clever boy for catching it, and I’ll allow it since its an introduced species. Is that vegan eating cheese??

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Canberra Day Twenty Two

Sunday 2nd October, 2016

What a day!

We started with a sleep in, and daylight savings. Tricky balance! As soon as the sun came through the curtains I was wide awake, rearing to go! There were birds to see and beaches and maybe whales. I was disorganised really and ended up driving around Narooma stopping here and there and everywhere. Meanwhile hubby was having a swim…probably I would have been better off with that, but it’s all experience. Then in typical fashion after I’d been up for an hour I started to flag! Hubby dragged me out onto our little verandah and that was nice! 22 degrees today, but not a hot sun, just perfectly pleasant temperature not too cold and not too hot. Sun, breeze, the rumble of 50 motorbikes leaving our motel for their daily drive!! I pushed through and did wake up a bit ready to face the day. There’s always some anxiety in me heading out to meet new people, to socialize, to be involved and participate. I guess there always will be. But it was at a low level today; thankfully. It just sedates me, stifles me. And I end up not going cos I feel sick to my stomach, like my heart will explode, like I’ll just collapse with the weight of it all. Which I did NOT want to have happen today! My husband is very good. Her reminds me that this is the same that always happens, that we were expecting this, that its not worse than last time, that its just how it is and I’ll get through it; I’ll be fine!

We came over to Narooma to visit a friend, and she was staying with a young family of 6; well 5 were there when we visited. We had such a great day together! Starting with our usual worship then steak and salad lunch with these 3 lively young kids and their awesome parents and our friend. Miss 4, the youngest girl, hasn’t quite figured out relationships and kept referring to my hubby as my daddy! That was a bit off-putting; I never quite got the hang of what she was asking me. Like at the picnic tea beside Wagonga Inlet: your daddy needs his thongs, where are they? Well I didn’t think her dad was wearing thongs, and besides that it was her daddy not mi…hang on, she means hubby!! Here are his thongs! Over lunch she was asking us if we had kids, to which I said no. Then she wanted to know if I had any grandsons!! I didn’t quite know how to answer that one! And so on. She has the confidence of a much older person and I just loved chatting with her! She doesn’t have all those inhibitions that I had as a kid and well into my teens; next thing you know she chatting for 20 minutes to some random girl and her dad at the swings in the park during our picnic!

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The view from the kitchen door at the family’s house where we had lunch – wow! It might not be the beach, but its pretty spectacular!!

Miss 10 was lots of fun, a real tom boy and had a couple of hard fought games of soccer with hubby, who reckons she has a real talent. She’s certainly passionate! When she got new soccer clothes and a ball for her birthday she slept in the clothes with the ball in her bed! How adorable! Her brother’s always telling her if she doesn’t do such and such he’s going to beat the pants off her or something similar (meant as a joke!) but actually I think he’d be hard pressed to win one over her! He’s fun too, I’m less sure how to bracket him cos he’ll happily play sport or sit and talk with the adults, and he seems quite techy. But hey, you don’t have to have it all figured when you’re young.

The parents were so lovely, just took us into the family and we felt so at home! Isn’t that awesome? We’re away from home, out of our state visiting a friend and make a whole family’s worth of new friends!! It was a really special day! So we had lunch with them, had an afternoon nap then went to the gorgeous old fashioned town of Central Tilba, just 20 minutes inland. I’ve been there loads of times as a kid and teenager so it was a real buzz to be back! It always looks the same, but I notice some of the shops have changed owners. We had a meeting in the town hall which is right in the main street, and wall to wall with other shops which was a bit of a new experience for a religious service. It was hot in there! Sweating hot! Then someone opened a window and there is nothing so delicious as a thin little breeze wisping around your neck and face after being hot like that! The day just kept getting better with the service, and with meeting up with old friends that I’ve always caught up with at Bega on our annual holiday to the Sapphire Coast. And a total surprise meeting with a lovely friend who was visiting family of hers that I know in Bega!! We’ve been trying to catch up in Wagga for ages, and of all things we came to Tilba and she came to Tilba and we met in the middle, sort of!! That was a real thrill!!

And to top off a brilliant day, we had a BBQ picnic with our friend and our new family of friends down on the edge of the inlet and it was so beautiful!! Have I conveyed my joy and enjoyment of this day? It truly was a beautiful day physically, but also emotionally!

Oh, and before our picnic we went up to the Bar Lookout and saw whales spouting!! Again!! How cool is it to be on the east coast at the moment??

Canberra Day Ten

There’s something about “having” to get going in the morning to take hubby to work that really keeps me going and it’s working well. Actually, until his new workplace provide him with an ID and access to the change rooms (I mean its only been 7 workdays!), he’s been given authority to charge a cab to and from work. But I asked if I could still take him in of a morning, because it’s really working for me. And why tamper with a willing system?

I took my bike AGAIN today, two days in a row, and did the same combination of central loop/eastern loop of the Lake Burley Griffin bike path. I love that lake every time I see it: it’s so scenic, and rich with birds, and history. Not to be caught out with my camera twice, I slung it over my shoulder and headed off. Not the best set up but it worked well enough. It was pretty chilly but I had my camera and my bike and I was excited! Anticipation is so powerful. I guess it’s like hope, in a way. And hope is probably the most powerful counter balance to mental illness.

I got my photos of the NINE ducklings. YAY! Hope fulfilled. Plus unexpectedly another family of ELEVEN ducklings!! And TWO Masked Lapwing (previously Plover) chicks!!! And a baby rabbit! And a baby Golden Whistler that was playfully flitting around the tree above my head. This paragraph hardly does justice to the joy, the bliss, and excitement, and happiness that all of this brings to me! It was a beautiful morning. Not only that but I recorded MORE species of birds this morning; FORTY FOUR up from THIRTY EIGHT yesterday, including a Double Barred Finch which was a LIFER for me; a bird that I’ve never come across before. That’s because it doesn’t occur naturally in Victoria – truly a bird for above the border.

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I had another fun jaunt at Floriade checking out the shopping stalls, trying one some clothes, tasting the honey donuts which were a terrific recommendation from a friend, and checking out the flowers. I can already see some tulips starting to fall apart, and others popping up and starting to unfold. I can see how a week can make for a total change in the gardens. I still haven’t tried the ferris wheel, but I will.

You must check out my website for Spring Babies!

And for some photos of the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin check out Bike Ride and Baby Shower and Morning Lake Burley Griffin Drive.

Canberra Day Nine

Today was THE BEST DAY of BIRDING EVER!!! EVER!!! So far at least, I’ll try to improve…not that seeing a greater number of species of birds is something that you really have a lot of control over, but still.

Two hours, THIRTY EIGHT different species of birds, no idea about the number of actual birds, and every single one WITHOUT MY CAMERA!! Screams and wails of horror! As a comparison, when I spent 3.5 hours in the bush at Black Mountain last Monday I got 19 species! I got ready for a bike ride this morning, kicking my week off to a good start. I headed off around the central loop of Lake Burley Griffin planning to go around the eastern loop as well, and the birds just kept appearing one after the other after the other! I finished my ride but never again am I going without my camera! Canberra is certainly living up to it’s birding potential! 38 different types of birds and quite a few that I’ve seen only a couple of times if that: Golden Whistler, Black Faced Cuckoo-Shrike, Tree Martin…I wish I could show you, but I can’t.

So I’ll settle for this adorable family of Wood Ducks! 11 ducklings with their parents and another pair of ducks; could they be any cuter? And to all of my Wheel Women friends: no one was hurt in the photographing of these ducks! No crashes, no injuries, all parties went their separate ways happy and unharmed!

P.s. I went to Floriade today, photos to follow, and an even cuter event happened! So I’m changing my photo 🙂

[Note: but you’ll notice that I’ve snuck in the original photo as the header…]

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Tiny little baby Purple Swamphens (AKA Maori hens) which must be pretty recently hatched! But despite their fluffiness and having 3 toes instead of webbed feet, they are great swimmers!