Bird’s eye view

[Written 15th October, 2015]

Apologies for my two week break. I’m calling it my school holidays! It’s just been busy busy lately and I’m struggling a little (read: more than a little!) to keep afloat. I tried to write for both Monday deadlines but I ended up with rambling, vague, long and somewhat pointless essays that I’d lost touch with and couldn’t relate to anymore. But now I’m back 🙂

Today a fellow birder from one of the several bird photography groups that I’m a member of on Facebook posted something that I could connect with. It’s a quote from a very famous author.

“I never saw a wild thing feel sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself” – D H Lawrence

I wanted to call this post perspective, again, but I’ve done that at least twice, so time for a new title. I looked up synonyms and one that was listed under prospect was bird’s eye view. It’s a unique outlook that humans mostly never get to enter into. We often imagine what a bird’s view is, and project onto birds our human emotions and thoughts.

There’s a whole animal welfare section of society that campaigns for different animals in different situations. As far as I can see, which might not be well or far, we can assess an animals pain based on what would cause us pain, or by the animals behaviour and reaction to the pain. Then we can treat the pain.

The rest of the industry I don’t know about, and I’m not sure if we always do it right. These are just my questioning thoughts; I’m not basing this on any evidence or proof.

We campaign for cage chickens and want them free to roam the open green grass paddocks. But as long as the animals aren’t being injured by too close proximity to each other or the cages, does the chicken feel sorry for itself? Or was it bred for this and in this environment, and doesn’t know the difference and is actually quite content? Are we thinking of ourselves and how we like open, green spaces, and don’t like being too close to each other in physical distance and housing? Are we projecting onto a creature that doesn’t even have the kind of human thinking that gets us worried about other life forms? I don’t know. I just wonder. How about overseas where high density living and family groups are crowded into one house? Do they think about free range chickens? Doubtful, because it’s exactly how they are living. Hmmm. Feel free to comment.

The picture posted on the bird photography group that prompted this quote was of a Silver Gull, commonly called a seagull. If you glanced at the photo, if you looked at it, you wouldn’t think anything of it. It’s a photo of a seagull standing on a stone border. Nothing particularly notable.

Until you read the comment that the person posting the photo had written:

“Silver gull with no feet. While it is sad, the bird seemed to be doing okay. And it shows just how adaptable the species can be” – Jade Craven, Bird Photography Australia.

That makes you look again. And this time you notice that instead of standing on two  three-toed, webbed feet, the bird is standing on stumps. Remarkable!

But looking at it you would have to agree with the description. This is a healthy Silver Gull.

Clean, healthy, perfect-looking plumage; healthy coloured legs, eye and beak; looking well fed.

Our instincts would be to protect this somewhat disabled bird, but actually, it’s doing okay.

We’d want to take it in, feed it, keep it safely enclosed from predators, care for it.

In doing so, we’d give it our idea of appropriate food at our idea of frequency, we’d make it dependent on us for food and water so that it would be lost or dead without us, we’d keep it in an environment where it couldn’t fly like normal and it might lose the ability to do so making it prone to attack. Being in a safe environment could make it unaware to danger and threat, so that it becomes an easy target.

I’m not saying this in any criticism of animal rescue professionals who are trained in animal welfare. They know what they are doing, and they take animals only if they cannot be left in the wild by any means possible, and give them the best care that is known by humans to give.

But I’m trying to look from a bird’s eye view and see how they see. Of course it’s impossible; they don’t talk so they can’t tell us. But I’ve seen a LOT of humans lately, in the groups that I follow, rush to take birds, especially babies into their care when in some circumstances, nature was taking its course as the fledglings left the nest and made their way to the ground. Taking them in is the worst thing for them, now that they are separated from their family. In my opinion.

I was always taught to leave well alone. Just because you’ve stumbled across a situation at a certain time and it looks a certain way, don’t jump the gun. Nature is incredibly smart! Birds and all the other creatures are incredibly well regulated and well designed and they know what they’re doing and are more resourceful than we are, I reckon. Of course this is all opinion but I’ve been interested to think about this.

People have tried to enter into a bird’s perspective. I’ve seen Go Pros strapped to the back to eagles before they are released to fly and soar so that we the humans can look down on the world like they do. Something that astounded me was that I couldn’t see the ground! Not in any detail at all anyway, of course I could see it but I couldn’t make out anything. And eagles can not only see the ground in detail but they see tiny animals in amazing detail and they dive on a pinpoint spot to capture and get away with their prey. They’re way ahead of us!

So I was just thinking about birds not feeling sorry for themselves, but just getting on with life in whatever way they can. Most times they don’t need us, and we can certainly make things worse for them, and maybe sometimes a little better.

But I can keeping thinking this: birds don’t seem to feel sorry for themselves. They just go, just do, just be without considering whether they are hard done by, or its unfair, or someone else should do something for me. So can I, if I am prepared to make the effort to change my thinking, and I hope I am!

Twitchers Thursday

What a gorgeous day in lovely Melbourne!

reflection, blue sky, Glorious glorious day! A lake on Monbulk Creek in Birdsland Reserve

Glorious glorious day! A lake on Monbulk Creek in Birdsland Reserve

From this end of the day it was a delightful day of friendship, flowers, birds, lunching, sunshine, shopping, driving, discovery and fulfilment.

I love this magenta and red flower, which is yes, surprisingly, a native!

I love this magenta and red flower, which is yes, surprisingly, a native!

Amazing how different it looks when compared to the other end which was a disappointed ‘oh it’s grey outside, it was meant to be sunny’, an exhausted-after-eight-hours-of-sleep ‘I’m so tired, maybe I’ll just keep sleeping a bit longer’, slow-and-fat ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep up with the physical demands of the day’ and just-to-give-me-a-boost ‘ooh chocolate, good I wasn’t sure what to have for breakfast’!

Perspective. It never ceases to amaze me! It really is everything!

Still a favourite but thought I was onto a new one! Never heard it call like that

Still a favourite but thought I was onto a new one! Never heard it call like that. From this side you miss all the pretty yellow that makes him striking.

Convincing myself to get out of bed for myself in the morning? Very easy to pike and say, well there’s no shortage of days – I’ll get up tomorrow, or the day after!

Knowing that someone else is waiting? ‘You better get up right now and get yourself sorted this instance Miss’!

In a good way, not a bad way. In a spirit of wanting to be with your friends and getting some motivation out of that, not in a spirit of ‘I have to because they said so’.

Fabulous red and orange kangaroo paw - gorgeous isn't it?

Fabulous red and orange kangaroo paw – gorgeous isn’t it?

The same goes for the level of exertion I can put out by myself versus with someone else, or for something else. Yesterday I slow walked 1.5km in 2 hours…not exactly race speed! Today we covered 2.5km in the same or less time, with multiple stops and pauses for birds and beautiful scenery gazing. Still not race speed but a good deal quicker than it would have been if I’d set the pace myself. Again, this is a good thing – it helps me get going to have someone by my side. It might wear me out, but that’s good too 🙂

Tadpoles! Millions of them! Haven't seen them for years, very alert little tiny things, lake, reeds

Tadpoles! Millions of them! Haven’t seen them for years, very alert little tiny things

Something to keep in mind for myself.

As they say, it’s all in the mind! Great saying that, encompasses everything and is both positive and negative at the same time!

Fluffy headed Laughing Kookaburra preening high in the sky over Kuranga Nursery

Fluffy headed Laughing Kookaburra preening high in the sky over Kuranga Nursery

So today we checked out the fabulous native Kuranga Nursery in Mount Evelyn which was a pure delight! Masses of flowering wildflowers and a real education for me in what exactly is meant by the term native plant…so much more than I had thought! So many types of eucalypt, huge numbers of banksias and every colour of Kangaroo Paw. Fascinating! Plus ferns and other plants which I had always assumed were English or European.

Every possible colour of Kangaroo Paw - forgive me for thinking there were two!

Every possible colour of Kangaroo Paw – forgive me for thinking there were two!

They have an AMAZING cafe onsite and we had a fabulous outdoor table in the shade overlooking the nursery and ate a delicious lunch with delectable dessert! They use native ingredients in their cooking and we thoroughly enjoyed every bite!

Our fabulous view from lunch on the most perfect Summer day, colourful

Our fabulous view from lunch on the most perfect Summer day

Pretty flowers attract pretty butterflies and moths - not sure which this is, green leaves

Pretty flowers attract pretty butterflies and moths – not sure which this is

Our next stop had been debated and was decided mostly based on my ability/inability to actually make the most of the originally planned destination: Cranbourne Botanic, or Australian Native Garden. We decided to skip it, we were running shortish on time anyway, and instead we checked out a brand new area for both of us: Birdsland Reserve, Belgrave.

Playing Peekaboo with a Sulfur Crested Cockatoo!

Playing Peekaboo with a Sulfur Crested Cockatoo!

Early into the piece we discovered that this reserve was named Birdsland after a family named Bird who used to live there – its literally named Bird’s Land after them. I thought that maybe this diminished the chance of us seeing birds…but I was wrong! It is also aptly named for the birds there.

I was with an insect enthusiast today...and I think it's starting to show in my photos!, dead log

A long shot to a Dragon Fly, or Damsel Fly – not sure which

Here’s a handy hint if you’re planning to check it out (which you absolutely must if you’re a walker/runner/cyclist/nature enthusiast/bird watcher!). You’ll get to the sign for this reserve and find a car park. Don’t park there – turn up the gravel road and drive in for a few kilometres first; this will take you to the start of the good track (in my opinion, having visited once!).

This is a Damsel Fly - I can't really tell them apart from Dragon Flies so I'm going on trust, green grass

This is a Damsel Fly – I can’t really tell them apart from Dragon Flies so I’m going on trust what I’m told

It was such a beautiful day, weather-wise! Blue sky after lunch, warm sun, cool breeze, dry conditions. Could hardly have ordered a better day for being out and about. Much better for hot, sweaty me than the expected 30 degrees of tomorrow! I do need to look into getting a visor, though; may have gotten a touch too much of the sun.

Nothing nicer than sitting in companionable silence on a shady seat watching the perfect day roll by!

And then back to the bird searching. We managed to find two birds we’d never seen or photographed and it was a great day before that! We heard the Reed-warbler early and my friend caught a few glimpses but so far I’d seen nothing! We really didn’t want to leave without a photo but he made use work for it! The other bird was an incidental ‘oh there’s an easy shot of a bird!” moment, but I’m pretty happy with it!

So here’s my two lifers! Not bad for one day! Thanks to my friend with the sharpest eyes!

A White-eared Honeyeater flitting around in the dead trees on a perfect day at Birdsland Reserve

A White-eared Honeyeater flitting around in the dead trees on a perfect day at Birdsland Reserve

An Australian Reed-Warbler that lives up to it's name to a high degree, confounding us often by disappearing into the thick reeds and singing his heart out

An Australian Reed-Warbler that lives up to it’s name to a high degree, confounding us often by disappearing into the thick reeds and singing his heart out

I also have to give a shout out for my friend for sharing her insect knowledge with me. I loved shooting them, but I think my head is too full of birds and flowers to add insects just now! But it added some fun to the day.

So, a happy day. How ’bout that? Didn’t think I’d have a great day like that this week so it’s pretty awesome! Cheers!