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

Canberra Days 57 to 63

[Day 46 OR Day 57 – Monday November 7th to Day 52 OR 63 – Sunday November 13th]

…okay I’m calling it, Day 57 to 63…our time here won’t be shorter here minus the NZ trip…you can’t take back days, so there we have it

To kept this moving, and because my week was pretty uneventful anyway, I’m going to give you another ‘one week snapshot’ and then we’ll be approaching up to date. Not my original plan, but rolling with the punches, and here we go!

Monday November 7th – first day home from holidays, a day spent processing holiday photos and cross checking them with my new bird book, doing a couple of loads of washing and not much else, feeling a bit dull and flat and tired. Then to get me going hubby suggested an after work bike ride around the city: ANU, Commonwealth Park, the lake, the Carillon, defense department, Lonsdale street. I believe this had the secondary purpose of making me change my front bike tube already from before we went on holidays! I just lost confidence that I could still do it so I put off doing it, missing out on some ride opportunities because of this, but as soon as I started there it was! Back again! I’m really down on myself lately; I’ve got to stop! Then tea at the food truck park from ’10 inch custom pizzeria’. Watching the skilled girl flipping dough into bases was lots of fun! Haloumi and potato wood fired pizza; winning! And rolling home again feeling excellent.

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Tuesday November 8th – a new friend kindly invited me out to morning tea at her friend’s house out at Bungendore. I arrived to a table set up down the back garden under fruit trees with chocolate cake and fizzy drink; so lovely! Got a cuddle with another friend’s little bubba who is growing fast and just adorable, and a lovely few hours chatting and getting to know the other friends. Then a drive around town taking in all the historic buildings, an awesome hot dog and the drive home. I discovered Sparrow Hill and Kowen Park for future birding, photographed the awesome Dickson street art and then home for a well deserved, and very satisfying nap. A load of washing and that’s a pretty good day.

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Wednesday November 9th – not much of anything today. A load of washing, lots of sitting on the couch, lots of rain and this fleeting rainbow as seen from my couch. Bit of a blergh day. I did get my scripts dispensed and my awful tax debt sorted with my accountant…no wonder I’m flat! So it was good that hubby called at lunchtime for me to ride down to Dickson and meet him for lunch at Alara’s turkish place. At least that got me kickstarted.

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Thursday November 10th – I took a while to get going today again. I had my plan of what to do but just couldn’t really get started. Instead of riding out to Mount Majura as planned I drove, and actually I was pretty glad cos I wouldn’t have done half as much walking if I’d been thinking about the ride home. So a late afternoon walk around Mount Majura from the Federal Highway entry birding which was interesting mostly for one fact. A Brown Falcon was hovering overhead which was brilliant in itself because it was pretty low down and I got some fabulous photos! But this always upsets all the other birds. All the little birds had completely vanished, and the big birds were all making an absolute fuss and racket! What was particularly fascinating was the behaviour of the ravens. There were between 15 and 20 ravens in the air also hovering, spaced evenly over the whole area that the falcon would be interested in and it was like they were creating a blanket of protection to prevent the falcon from getting down and attacking other birds. This was so interesting, I’ve never seen such teamwork from ravens before. Anytime the falcon got too near one of the hovering ravens there would be a scuffle and the falcon would move on. I didn’t watch the falcon the whole time, but I don’t think in two hours that it got down to the ground. Once I got further up the hill away from the falcon’s area there was a sudden explosion of little birds which was excellent. I’m really pleased that I got myself out to do this walk. Apart from all this the bush flowers and butterflies and dragonflies were also excellent.

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One Brown Falcon soaring above Mount Majura and every other bird goes crazy!

Friday November 11th – Remembrance Day at the National War Memorial. What can I say? I am so glad that I attended! I rode down on my bike. I’m getting quite used to just jumping on my bike in whatever I happen to be wearing and going. Before I would procrastinate about having to change my clothes, and maybe take a nicer change with me, and change again…and of course I never got started. But a different mindset about just going regardless makes it much easier to get out the bike and down a flight of stairs! Oy the stairs! Anyway, at least its only one flight. You have to book to attend Remembrance Day. You don’t have to pay, just book, and I can see why; it’s one classy event! From the Army, Navy and Air Force representatives marching onto the parade ground, to the Royal Military College (RMC) Duntroon band playing absolutely beautifully, to the Australian Rugby Choir of veterans singing so wonderfullly, to that chilling minute of silence of a few hundred people, to the traditions of formal arrival of the Prime Minister and Govenor General and partner in town cars, to the outstanding speech given by Beyond Blue ambassador Jeff Kennett on veterans mental health and our responsibility to care for them once they are home, to the laying of wreaths by all the embassies…wow, what an hour and a half!! Just fabulous. The hymns played by the band…there were 5 that I recognised and weren’t they played to perfection?! I’m going to hear the band again in December, and I’m very excited! On another note, did you know that I do a weekly weigh in? And somehow despite all that we ate and drank in New Zealand…I lost a tiny bit of weight. It’s nothing conclusive, but still. Every little win is something. Another win was going laptop shopping and buying a laptop after only an hour of so of looking! MAJOR win, I hate looking at specs! Despite shopping at JB, we had an excellent saleman who was super helpful. I ended up getting a super dooper deal buying the last computer in my model, and YAY! I finally have a laptop that can connect to the internet, can process photos without dying, has a CD drive and once we get the extra storage, doesn’t flash ‘no more storage’ every time I try to upload photos! I’m really happy. I got my handbag repaired at the same time, had yummy tacos for dinner. And had a catch after NZ chat with grandma. What a day!

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The Navy, Army and Air Force backed up by the Royal Military College Duntroon band and the Australian Rugby Choir

Saturday November 12th – A big sleep in and slow day for both of us, hubby a bit under the weather and me the usual. Not a very eventful day, we canned our plans cos we just didn’t feel up for anything, not even bike riding or birding! Feeling that the day had been too sluggish hubby got a burst of energy to do the vacuuming, clean up the kitchen, do some washing and get some groceries in the late afternoon. We had Japanese for dinner at Bon Kura in Dickson with rainbow rolls which was excellent!

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Sunday November 13th – hubby under the weather again so had to cancel our lunch plans which was a big shame! As always a beautiful drive down south for fellowship. So Macca’s for lunch as a poor substitute. Afternoon naps all round, and not much more to it than that!

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Actually, that was pretty eventful! I’ve gotta stop telling myself that I am less, I do less, I’m worth less because I don’t work, I don’t volunteer, and I do different stuff to what other people are doing. Do I sometimes go back to bed at 11am? Yes. Do I sometimes lie in all morning? Yes. But do I always try to make my day something new and special? Yes. Do I nap every day? Yep, you betcha! But I’m doing my best to live the best life that I can right now and I am making gains in physical stamina and mental strength. You probably know all this without me having to explain it. But it seems that I need to explain it to myself rather often, so it may as well be written down for posterity!

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 Four

Tuesday 4th October, 2016

Aaahh! Another satisfying day. A bit of a different day today. I wanted to do the early bird walk around Floriade with the Heart Foundation. It’s a free thing where you get early entry into Floriade at 8am for a group brisk walk around the gardens while they’re free of all the other tourists. Photos optional, to be taken after the walk; it’s meant to be a heart healthy exercise not just gawping. The weather was meant to be windy but dry so it seemed like a good plan. I’m trying to get back into my routine of early morning starts so this was going to be good. I just forgot to plan for it! No alarm, no wakey wakey! Luckily hubby got back from his 5am bike ride in time to wake me up, but obviously you need to get there early because when I turned up at 8.02am there was no sign of them!

Hubby had said go for a walk anyway, good plan, but it was feeling very early to me so instead I headed home and went back to bed for a couple of hours. Felt brilliant when I woke up! So off I went to the other walk that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a week or so: Mulligan’s Flat. A very deceptive name; it’s not very flat and no one seems to know exactly who Mulligan is! But anyway, they have a fabulous nature reserve, some of it contained in kangaroo fencing and so I’d planned to have a look around. I wanted to do a walk for myself and to please hubby, and I wanted to see some exciting birds, but I was feeling sluggish. But after 500m or so I perked up when I entered the gate and picked up my bird walk map from the mailbox and off I went. I did realise it was 6km from the map, and didn’t really think I’d do it all, but I did! It turned out that it was a loop so after a certain point you kind of have to keep on going! I was dressed for it which helped, and the birds were fantastic! And the echidnas, and the kangaroos, and the landscapes, and the numbered points along the track describing different birds and habitats and interesting facts! All of that kept me going but still it was 4.5hours later when I stumbled back to the car!! Far out, that has to be a record!! I don’t think I’ll be able to move tomorrow! But it’s all very exciting because the last time hubby and I inadvertently did 7km it was very difficult. Of course at different points I wanted to sit down, stop for a bit etc but I got through it well, the incessant wind, the rain showers becoming plain rain at the end, the huge big male red kangaroo standing guard, and the flooded pathways requiring shoes and socks to come off and bare feet to tackle the inundated mud, grass, gravel paths under an ankle to mid calf height of water. I did it all! I really am going well, and its so satisfying!!!

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Today I got 3 lifers [5th October: correction 4 maybe 5 lifers!!!] (birds that I’ve never seen before in my life)!!! Rufous Whistler, Superb Parrot, Speckled Warbler!!! Amazing! This is what I hoped for when we came to Canberra; new species of birds in new types of habitat. And I’m getting it, fantastic! I realise that this may not be half as interesting to you as it is for me, but try to supplement whatever excites you in place of my birds.

Then I went and got a large Coke and slurped the whole thing, went back to my current house and after trying to remain awake, gave up and went and had another nap before dinner. A delicious dinner of chicken parmas with mash and vegies, looking through my 700 photos of the day and finally this! After midnight. How’s tomorrow’s early bird walk looking?

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!!