Magical Monday

New bird alert! New bird alert! Excitement, excitement!

And what a relief it is on a day like this, a week like this, to feel excitement!

I haven’t been having a very fun time of it, to be honest. Everything is a bit or a lot hard, tedious, effortful, difficult, troublesome, not worth it. Getting up is a drag, showering is a hideous ordeal, eating is just tiring, deciding to do anything is impossible! I’ve been sleeping a lot, avoiding thinking about my to-do list a lot, and just skimming through the days til bedtime.

It’s not fun!

But here is an effort, however tiny and minuscule, yet enormous and huge, to get out. Just for a little bit. Just to have done something other than be at home; unproductively, unsuccessfully, un-impressively at home.

It’s all in my new direction from the psychiatrist – getting outside, enjoying the sunshine. I’m trying to do my bit since he has turned my life around. I owe him that much.

I realise I also owe that much, or more, to my husband as well so here it comes Beautiful: I promise to try your caring suggestions and get a bit motivated and interested if I can!

Ah, IF. The stories you could tell…

So in the late afternoon on Monday I gathered myself up, stuffed myself into some clothes (hopefully matching!), got the car out and took myself down to my old favourite birding spot; Blackburn Lake Sanctuary.

I can’t believe how long it has been since I was down here last! I’m definitely going to make more of an effort to get here more often because let’s face it, in suburbia anywhere it’s a great privilege to have some green spaces nearby for an escape/retreat/sanctuary/reset.

And every time it rewards me so greatly. This time I didn’t even get past the car park for the first hour!

I heard some lorikeets, assumed they were Rainbows but then caught a glimpse and they had shorter tails and red on their head! New bird!!!!

They were truly beautiful, and fun, and acrobatic, and shrieky, and a challenge to get still enough for a decent focused photo!

Honestly I felt as much satisfaction from changing the settings to get a better picture as I did in finding a never-before-seen-or-photographed-bird!

I changed to shutter mode to still their actions after using the programmable mode gave me a too-slow shutter speed and was too slow to focus, and was too dark and too grainy! Then I had to keep adjusting the ISO and exposure as I followed the birds around depending on whether I was shooting up at the outside of the tree in full sun, shooting under the canopy up into the dark shadow or straight across at a neighbouring tree…etc.

I was pretty proud of some of the photos I got. I always recognise that chance and luck have quite a bit to do with the photos, but having purposely set the variables, I do take pride in the fact that the photo was taken by chance and the settings were perfect for that chance!

So here’s a few of my favourites! Hope you can enjoy looking at them as much as I did taking them!

We start in some gorgeous wattle trees where there’s some pretty fierce competition from cranky Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners, plus some quiet guests in the lovely Galahs.

New bird! The gorgeous Musk Lorikeet - vibrant red forehead, cheek and tip of beak, wattle

New bird! The gorgeous Musk Lorikeet – vibrant red forehead, cheek and tip of beak

Musk Lorikeets are apparently notoriously hard to find because like other lorikeets the only time they’re quiet is when they’re eating! Add to this their preference for eating on top of the canopy where they not only blend in with their green underbelly but are hidden by layers of branches and leaves! So I feel pretty lucky that they choose these low growing trees to feed from.

Pretty pretty pretty! I love the yellow patches just above the wing and the blue head!

Pretty pretty pretty! I love the yellow patches just above the wing and the blue head!

I always appreciate it when my birds kindly move to the dead trees and branches – it’s very convenient to me! Thanks for the photo op!

The perfect camoflage - despite the colourful patches, when the lorikeet turns its back it becomes invisible!

The perfect camouflage – despite the colourful patches, when the lorikeet turns its back it becomes invisible!

This is a photo that makes me really proud of what I have achieved! To shoot past all of the sticks and leaves to get a clear focus on the bird is a very tricky thing, and something I wouldn’t have been able to do before my photography course – kudos to Master Your Camera’s Wendy!

This is a photo that makes me really proud of what I have achieved! To shoot past all of the sticks and leaves to get a clear focus on the bird is a very tricky thing, and something I wouldn't have been able to do before my photography course

The dangling upside down antics of these Musk Lorikeets are so delightful! In this shot you can make out the brownish yellow patch on its back

This photo is typical of my excitement when I find a new bird. At first I just snap away furiously to get a shot, any shot. Then I realise they’re not going anywhere and slow down and start adjusting the settings. Then I can take a breath, stop and actually look at composing a shot for the best photos of the day – this is just about it!

This photo is typical of my excitement when I find a new bird. At first I just snap away furiously to get a shot, any shot. Then I realise they're not going anywhere and slow down and start adjusting the settings. Then I can take a breath, stop and actually look at composing a shot for the best photos of the day

Always dangling for the best bite to eat! Love all of the different colours.

One downside of shooting through the exterior is that you can get foggy patches in your photos!

I love this photo for the underbelly of the bird, something that isn't always photographed but I find it fascinating!

I love this photo for the underbelly of the bird, something that isn’t always photographed but I find it fascinating!

Then the Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners got too overpowering and my new friends all flew off squawking and squarking! Luckily they didn’t go too far and settled in a nearby eucalyptus and a different wattle tree. This was perfect as they were in the clear path of the afternoon sun which always makes everything look beautiful and good as new!

And towards the end I get this shot! Love it, this shows so much character of this bird!, gum tree, eucalypt

And towards the end I get this shot! Love it, this shows so much character of this bird!

Birds of the West

Hello Lovelies!

We’re just back from a family wedding in Swan Valley, WA which gave us a good excuse to spend a few days catching up with our various family members who live in Perth and southern WA.

Of course my aims for the holiday included seeing new birds specific to WA and I had some good luck with that!

So here’s the new ones for you to enjoy as well.

One of the most exciting new birds I saw was the WA black cockatoo! Sadly I didn’t get any pictures! I’m pretty sure what we saw was the Carnaby’s, but I’m willing to consider it was the Baudin’s.

The other was a brief glimpse of the Western Rosella, as opposed to our Eastern Rosella; just as stunning in different colours.

A textbook example of a juvenile Silver or Sea Gull near Canning River, green grass

A textbook example of a juvenile Silver or Sea Gull near Canning River, Perth

The '28', one of 4 types of Australian Ringneck Parrot - gorgeous! gum leaves

The ’28’, one of 4 types of Australian Ringneck Parrot – gorgeous! King’s Park, Perth

I thought this was a New Holland Honeyeater but its actually a new one, the White-cheeked Honeyeater! Yay!

I thought this was a New Holland Honeyeater but its actually a new one, the White-cheeked Honeyeater, western form! Yay! King’s Park, Perth

A Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike singing high up in a tree down the paddock

A Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, humid form singing high up in a tree down the paddock in Boyup Brook

A pretty Singing Honeyeater flitting around above the treeline on Canning River

A pretty Singing Honeyeater flitting around above the treeline on Canning River, Perth

As we drove up to the wedding I saw that bird perched way up high, pretty sure its a Sacred Kingfisher

As we drove up to the wedding I saw that bird perched way up high, pretty sure its a Sacred Kingfisher, Swan Valley

I have never seen so many “crows” on a daily basis! Every day they were all around the house we were staying at in Perth. Did you know that in Victoria we do not have a single crow? We only have Ravens.

This is the Australian Raven. Every time I get a shot like this where I can shoot past or through the foreground to focus on the subject, it gives me great satisfaction!

This is the Australian Raven. Every time I get a shot like this where I can shoot past or through the foreground to focus on the subject, it gives me great satisfaction! Perth

Ad this one is just for kicks…a Red Wattlebird that took off just as I clicked the shutter!

Flying Red Wattlebird! King's Park, Perth WA

Flying Red Wattlebird! King’s Park, Perth WA

And this one for some springtime cuteness!

Soooo cute! A mother Pacific Black duck with at least 7 ducklings which she hurried away from us

Soooo cute! A mother Pacific Black duck with at least 7 ducklings which she hurried away from us to Canning River, Perth

Maybe just one more cuteness photo…

Impending cuteness: mummy Magpie-Lark on the nest, with daddy close by keeping an eye on things

Impending cuteness: mummy Magpie-Lark on the nest, with daddy close by keeping an eye on things

And this is because you don’t see flowering grass trees everyday, and especially not birds feeding off them!

A gorgeous-as-always Rainbow Lorikeet on the grass tree (Black Boy) flower

A gorgeous-as-always Rainbow Lorikeet on the grass tree (Black Boy) flower

And this is for plain fun!

This immature Australian Magpie looks like the cat got his tail!! Doesn't seem to be bothering him too much though

This immature Australian Magpie looks like the cat got his tail!! Doesn’t seem to be bothering him too much though

Saturday and Monday

I have been having some great days lately.

At my last visit with the psychiatrist he assured me that despite having poor energy and motivation, he felt I was 75-80% of the way to recovery.

He increased my lithium dose minutely and organised to have a blood level taken after 5 days at the new dose. That was Saturday morning. I see him this Thursday and I’m feeling so excited because for the first time in a long time I feel like I’m making real, sustainable, predictable, reliable progress.

I feel like I’m getting my life back!!

This is a big statement but it’s really, truly real.

I’m not all the way there but I’m so much better than I have been for a long time.

So Saturday I had the blood test. My long disused pharmacy knowledge is begging to be used so excuse the following jibber jabber.

Lithium is a tricky medication. For a lot of medication, you start at a certain dose, then increase by certain increments and the effect of the medication increases at the same rate as the dose to a set maximum dose.

For lithium and a few other medications, you start at a certain dose, then increase at ever smaller and smaller amounts because the removal of the drug from the body is limited and once the removal process is used up, more dose increases quickly lead to toxicity. For these medications there may not be a set maximum dose for all people as it depends on an individual person’s removal processes, or metabolism.

So a blood concentration or level is used to ensure that the medication is between under dose and overdose limits. These levels are determined during development of the medication for use or during clinical trials.

The blood test has to be taken at the right time so that the result is meaningful. In the case of lithium, the range we use to determine whether the drug is working but not toxic is established as a “trough” level. This means you take the blood test just before the next dose is due when most of the medication should have been removed by the body’s metabolism. If the body’s metabolism has been used up or “saturated” then the trough level will be higher than it should be and the patient is at risk of toxic side effects like blurred vision, unsteadiness, possible vomiting, diarrhoea etc. In fact the patient may already be experiencing these so the doctor will talk to the patient about side effects that they are experiencing plus look at the blood level result to get a clearer idea of what is going on.

The other part of taking a blood test is that it has to be timed correctly to when the dose was last increased. If the dose is increased today and we take a blood test today, the effect of that increase won’t be shown. If we look at the level and increase the dose based on that, we will have acted prematurely and risk the patient getting toxic side effects. So with each medication, there is a length of time between a dose change and when the level should be taken called the steady state. Consider it to be the time it takes for the higher dose to come to equilibrium or to spread out through the body so that it is present everywhere in the body to an equal degree.

For lithium, steady state is 5 days so the blood test must be taken at least 5 days after the last dose change.

Well that’s got that out of my system!

So to have the blood test at trough state, I have to be at the blood collection centre by 8.15am on Saturday. The reason for this is that I took my medications the night before at 8.15pm. Meaning I had to wake up at 7.30am! Good plan, very hard to follow through!! But I had the additional incentive that my hubby was going mountain bike riding and had promised to take me along so that I could go bird watching. I’d wanted to head out to King Lake for bird watching for a while so I was excited for that.

So I forced myself out of bed, through the shower and into the car without breakfast. I also had to have a fasting blood test. I packed my tablets and some food in with my fleece-lined coat and camera and off we went.

I won’t show a lot of my photos from Saturday at Smith’s Gully, just the new birds. But I wanted to say that we left home at 8am and returned at 4pm and I did okay!! This is so exciting for me! I didn’t tire out, I didn’t sit in the car and wait for the boys to get back, I didn’t feel exhausted, I didn’t feel like I couldn’t do what I wanted to do!

I did have a nap when we got home, then went out again for tea with my hubby. But I had walked and walked, I took photos for hours, it was pretty freezing cold, I didn’t have any lollies or chocolates or my other usual treats, I didn’t get grumpy or tired or feel worn out.

What a great day!!

The beautiful Queenstown Cemetery housing old-time gold rush prospecters

The beautiful Queenstown Cemetery housing old-time gold rush prospecters

Gorgeous yellow bulbs growing wild and free in the bush

Gorgeous yellow bulbs growing wild and free in the bush

I loved the beautiful gum bark, looks so much like a watercolour painting, and serendipitously shot an Eastern Rosella!

I loved the beautiful gum bark, looks so much like a watercolour painting, and serendipitously shot an Eastern Rosella! See top left corner

Mother and baby Eastern Grey Kangaroo across the paddock, as soon as I pointed my camera they all looked! So observant, gum trees, grass

Mother and baby Eastern Grey Kangaroo across the paddock, as soon as I pointed my camera they all looked! So observant

Large male Eastern Grey Kangaroo bounding across the paddock, grass, trees

Large male Eastern Grey Kangaroo bounding across the paddock

Beautiful country scene in Smith's Gully, lily pond under the gum trees, grass, reeds

Beautiful country scene in Smith’s Gully, lily pond under the gum trees

One of the many beautiful scenes of the winter sun showing through the gum trees

One of the many beautiful scenes of the winter sun showing through the gum trees

Group of Eastern Grey Kangaroos bounding across the green grass, gum tree

Group of Eastern Grey Kangaroos bounding across the green grass

A tiny litting bird that I've been trying to identify with a good photo for a while! I believe it is a Striated Thornbill; alternate opinions welcomed :)

A tiny flitting bird that I’ve been trying to identify with a good photo for a while! I believe it is a Striated Thornbill; alternate opinions welcomed 🙂

Striated Thornbill with a grub, the longest one sat still all day!!, tree branch

Striated Thornbill with a grub, the longest one sat still all day!!

Male Superb Fairy Wren in the bush, not new but always stunning!, grass, trees, bushes

Male Superb Fairy Wren in the bush, not new but always stunning!

A gorgeous Treecreeper that I have never seen before, I think its the White-Throated Treecreeper, tree branch, leaves

A gorgeous Treecreeper that I have never seen before, I think its the White-Throated Treecreeper

An accidentally amazing shot of a Grey Fantail in full flight!, tree, branch

An accidentally amazing shot of a Grey Fantail in full flight!

A day of rain, cloud, and the odd gorgeous blue sky :), dam, green grass, gum trees, clouds,

A day of rain, cloud, and the odd gorgeous blue sky 🙂

Mother and Joey Eastern Grey Kangaroo, so beautiful! green grass, eucalyptus

Mother and Joey Eastern Grey Kangaroo, so beautiful!

Beautifully delicate wattle sprig - looks like Spring!

Beautifully delicate wattle sprig – looks like Spring!

Sunshine, blue sky and everything is green, green, green, gum trees, shadows, green grass

Sunshine, blue sky and everything is green, green, green

Then Monday, after a slower Sunday. I’d organised to go for a walk with my Grandma at Blackburn Lakes. A couple of new birds, and so many kookaburras!!

A Noisy Miner is a very common sight but I just love this cute shot!, pink flowering gum tree

A Noisy Miner is a very common sight but I just love this cute shot!

I find these sky shots really fetching, I have taken a few lately but this one really draws me in, gum tree

I find these sky shots really fetching, I have taken a few lately but this one really draws me in

Australian Magpie, common but still awesome

Australian Magpie, common but still awesome

Juvenile Australian Magpie singing away, gum trees

Juvenile Australian Magpie singing away

A nesting mother Dove or Pidgeon sitting on its nest

A nesting mother Dove or Pidgeon sitting on its nest

Pair of Kookaburras sitting in a tree, gum tree, euclypt

Pair of Kookaburras sitting in a tree

Common Noisy Miner again, but how pretty are those wings? Sadly mis-timed! dead tree

Common Noisy Miner again, but how pretty are those wings? Sadly mis-timed!

Gorgeous pink native flower, not sure what but its so cute

Gorgeous pink native flower, not sure what but its so cute

Beautiful serene Blackburn Lake

Beautiful serene Blackburn Lake

Pretty Blue Iris flower probably sown by birds

Pretty Blue Iris flower probably sown by birds

Some kind of fungal growth on a tree

Some kind of fungal growth on a tree

Is this our state floral anthem? Its a type of native bell flower

Is this our state floral anthem? Its a type of native bell flower

A new bird to me, the Golden Whistler, a stunning bright yellow!, gum tree

A new bird to me, the Golden Whistler, a stunning bright yellow!

Pretty little Flame Robin showing off its bright colours

Pretty little Flame Robin showing off its bright colours

Westerfolds Park

In spite of a grey day threatening rain and a brisk winter chill wind we headed out to Westerfolds Park last Saturday morning. We’d been out once in the autumn and really enjoyed this beautiful retreat but wanted to come back and see the other side of the park.

With our coats zipped tight and camera at the ready we headed off around a loop looking for birds.

The main sight for the morning was rainbow lorikeets. They were everywhere, barreling in between the trees using their wings as rudders, calling raucously from the trees, dangling from branches, and always amazing me with how their bright primary colours can camouflage so perfectly with the creams and khaki greens and greys of the gum trees.

rainbow lorikeets, Westerfolds Park, gum tree

Trio of Rainbow Lorikeets in a gum tree at Westerfolds Park

acrobatic rainbow lorikeets, westerfolds park

Rainbow Lorikeets doing acrobatics to find lunch

Rainbow lorikeet camouflaged amongst the gum trees

Rainbow lorikeet camouflaged amongst the gum trees

We also saw a new bird that I haven’t seen before, which turns out to be a Grey Butcherbird. On first glimpse it looks like something between a Kookaburra and a Magpie.

grey butcherbird, westerfolds park

Grey Butcherbird found in Westerfolds Park

And I think that this is an immature Grey Butcherbird but not completely sure...

And I think that this is an immature Grey Butcherbird but not completely sure…

Then a delightful kookaburra settled comfortably on a branch above the creek

laughing kookaburra, soft and fluffy

Soft and fluffy Laughing Kookaburra sitting on a branch

We found some beautiful Crimson Rosellas disguised in the green grass

eastern rosellas, green grass

Eastern Rosellas blending into the green grass

And another one up in the trees

eastern rosella, gum trees

Gorgeous Eastern Rosella high up in the tree

Always fun to see some common birds and get some good shots

australian magpie, lunch, hunting, green grass

Australian Magpie on the lookout for lunch

noisy miner, branches

Cute little noisy miner scraping its beak on a branch

We attempted to get a photo of one of the many swallows flitting and diving all around us – kudos to my hubby for getting some pretty good shots!!

welcome swallow, flitting and diving

Flitting and diving Welcome Swallow

welcome swallow, fast, agile

Another fast and agile Welcome Swallow

Again, have to share the photography credits with my husband who is a better photographer than me and was firing on all cylinders with his bird spotting too!!

All in all a fun morning out 🙂

Bucket list #34

So a little while ago I was writing about this awesome hobby I have stumbled into, of bird watching. Bird listening, bird photographing, bird appreciation.

I mentioned a bucket list of birds. One of them is the bell bird. I’d looked them up to know what to look for and found them to be very generic; brown, small, plain. In other words, hard to find!!

Whenever I’ve been out and about since and heard their typical call, I’ve tried to find the bird by focussing in on where the call is coming from.

Have you ever heard a bell bird? That distinctive “ting ting” noise? It’s hard to locate!! It has some ventriloquist properties and seems to come from multiple locations at the same time! And usually from a while away, not just nearby.

So today I went to the zoo. To look at animals and have a day out of the house and away from my walls and floors. I have a zoo membership this year which means I can come and go as many times as I want!! This is pretty exciting but since getting the membership I haven’t been again until today. This shows the power of depression – the power of lack of motivation, loss of energy and interest and inability to enjoy life. If I can’t enjoy the zoo, there is little left that I can enjoy!!

Anyway today I got up and going, it was panning out to be a good day with a reasonable amount of energy so I went to the zoo, camera in hand ready to see some cool animals. I carried my map from last time. I’d ticked off all the animals I saw on that day, so I planned to start where I left off and keep going around. First stop was the seal talk at 11.30am but I was just a few minutes too late. There was still one seal up on a rock putting on a bit of a show which was fun. Then I had a look at the penguins, very cute! Great new enclosure for them as well and always fun to watch. Especially cool watching them swim around and shake off after.

As I was heading out of the penguin enclosure I heard bell birds! Really close! Closer than I’ve ever heard them!! With my camera in hand I slowed down and started looking around hoping to catch a glimpse. And next thing I was in the middle of a bell bird fiesta!! A beautiful big old ghost gum tree right next to the path, and bell birds flitting here there and everywhere!! Exhilaration!! I saw a bell bird! I saw several bell birds! I got photographs of bell birds!! So exciting! Ah the enjoyment of being able to enjoy things again – so amazing!

bellbird, zoo, yellow

Cool close up photo of another bell minor!

So here I am standing in the middle of the path taking shot after shot chasing these flitting dancing birds around the branches of the tree, this angle that angle, too dark there, in the light here, great shot here, missed that shot, re-focus, re-aim, awesome fun!! And some guy says to me, ‘it is a beautiful old tree isn’t it?’ Well, true it is gorgeous, but more importantly, bellbirds!! Life goal being achieved here buddy, never mind the old tree!!

bellbird, yellow, gum tree

First shot of the bell bird!!

And then, a bell bird flew down and landed a metre from my foot!! And started eating out of a blossom. Then another one, then another. Clear shots right at hand, hardly any zoom needed!! Well count my day as made! I’ve been at the zoo thirty minutes and I can go home satisfied with birds that are not even in an enclosure!! How about that??

bellbird, zoo, garden, yellow

Exciting close up of a bell bird

So here are a few photos, can’t believe that I have them here to share!! I’ve looked the bird up in The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds that I’ve borrowed from the library this week, and it is actually a type of minor, the bell minor. There’s another type, the crested bellbird but that’s for another day!

zoo, bellbird, yellow, bushes

Exciting first sighting of a bell minor!! EEK!

So a good day turned into a great event by the delights of nature! Satisfying, fun, exciting, and altogether fabulicious!!