Bright and happy

On Wednesday my psychologist asked me to close my eyes and think of a time where I had felt fulfilled or satisfed. Turned out the strongest memory that came to me was of going out searching for birds, finding one and getting a good photograph. So I’ve been doing some reminiscing.

Bright in autumn. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, years in fact. I have memories of the fabulous oranges, browns, reds and yellows of the deciduous trees shining in the yellow sun and the fresh, crisp mountain air.

red japanese maple leaves, sunshine, autumn

Gorgeous autumn Japanese maple leaves in the afternoon sunshine

autumn leaves

Autumn leaves that look like they are on fire!

We went up to Bright for a long weekend in mid May just as the autumn colours were looking so glorious in the city. Being higher up in altitude, the trees in Bright were further along in their seasonal shedding but still beautiful. There were the thick carpets of leaves that I remembered, enough to kick up as you walk along. I wished I was still a kid so I could build giant piles of leave and jump into them!

yellow, orange, brown, autumn leaves

Stunning yellows and oranges of the autumn leaves at Bright

A beautiful weekend with friends and great opportunities for bush walking and bird watching.

superb blue wren, Yea wetlands, green grass, blue wren

A flitting male superb blue wren in the Yea Wetlands

red-browed finch, yea wetlands

Hard to chase down and capture! Red-browed finch in the Yea wetlands

After riding Saturday morning, my awesome hubby took me for a walk along the bike path to where they’d seen some cool birds. A beautiful walk along the river and lots of beautiful birds.

female superb blue wren, blackberries, brown and fluffy

Female superb blue wren flitting through the blackberry bushes

male scarlet robin, bright red, black and white

Fabulous male Scarlet Robin, hard to capture!

And it turns out that I got one of my bucket list photos without realising it!! Immature gang gang cockatoo – I was looking for the pink but this young one is just grey all over.

gang gang cockatoo, black, high in the sky

Immature gang gang cockatoo that we spotted above the path

The next afternoon we went for a walk together and there were so many parrots!! Everywhere!

immature eastern rosella, green, camoflaged

Beautiful immature Eastern Rosella in a tree next to the holiday house

crimson rosella, tree, cheeky

Gorgeous Crimson rosella taking a peek through the branches

crimson rosellas, chimney

Crimson rosellas hanging out on an old chimney in town

pink galah

Grooming pink galah

king parrot, autumn leaves, red, yellow, green

Striking male King parrot amongst the autumn leaves

female king parrot, tree

Lovely green-headed female King parrot

And other birds too!

laughing kookaburra, tree, branch

Laughing kookaburra taking in the river views

magpie, grass

Strutting black and white magpie

I’ve gotta remember the joy and satisfaction that this hobby gives me, so that on those days when I feel exhausted and unable to bother with much I can go out and get me some fulfillment and joy! Or at least look back at my previous bird walks and remember that satisfaction.

Turns out I had no idea of how important the fulfillment of my job was to me. Being able to help people, giving answers to other health professionals, taking a history that changed the course of a patient’s medical treatment, being a pivotal part of patient care. When I lost that, it actually did affect how I saw myself.

Suddenly I was at home all day, and any woman will tell you that completing the washing, ironing, cleaning, cooking etc may give some small satisfaction, but it isn’t that fulfilling; anyone can do it! There’s no special skill, unless you’re a real domestic goddess and can whip up amazing meals. Washing, ironing and cleaning are all pretty standard.

So having a skill at finding, identifying and photographing birds has given me a sense of satisfaction, fulfillment at using a skill and happiness at the beautiful birds and surroundings that I’ve found along the way.

It’s a small thing but turns out it’s important to me 🙂

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Feathered friends

I have a bucket list.

On that list are birds, and some animals, that I want to find in the wild and take photos of.

It all started in September last year (2013) when my husband and I took our first overseas trip to South America.

That trip occurred smack bang in a period of huge change for us with both of us having quit our jobs before we left and taken new jobs in the city, having decided to rent out our old house and rent a new one in the city but without having anything signed and sealed, and with me being one month into a new medication for anxiety that was working pretty well. But I still had twinges and the organising of the trip had been a trigger for a whole stack of ‘what if’ anxiety for me.

We had been to New Zealand a couple of times before but it was so easy that it didn’t feel like overseas. We didn’t change any money, just used our card; we drove a car around on the same side of the road; we ate the same food that we’d eat at home etc.

So this was the big first trip. We choose South America because my aunty lives in Brazil. Our trip planning started with a wish to go and visit her, and ended up an epic 30 day adventure through 5 countries, 6 currencies, 23 flights and many many people!

We started in the Galapagos. I’d heard about the birds and animals there and wanted to see it for myself. This was my holiday pick, my husband’s was Macchu Picchu and we both wanted to see the Amazon.

Armed with a new digital SLR camera and keen interest we arrived in the Galapagos by plane and were immediately entranced with everything we saw; plants, animals, birds, reptiles, both exotic and common.

And so started a new awareness in me of the joys of spotting fauna in their own habitat, and the equally exciting thrill of getting the perfect snap to take the memory away with me.

I started to realise that I had a real passion for this hobby.

I realised that it brought me happiness and a genuine peace. I realised that when I was looking for and finding different species, everything else faded into the background, my stress response was wound down and I thought of nothing but the joy at hand.

What an amazing revelation!

I’ve always loved animals.

Ever since I was a little kid and got into the dog’s kennel to cuddle the pups, to “help” the mother dog feed the babies and take them for walks.

All my favourite kids books involved animals. I was an animal person.

I wanted to be a vet, until I realised it was mostly cats and dogs and not lions and giraffes. I wanted to work at the zoo, and still do inside!! I wanted to be a marine biologist so that I could swim with dolphins all day long; then I realised there was a LOT of counting pippies on the beach instead.

Then I realised I didn’t want to be around sick or dying animals, so I decided to keep animals as a fun hobby rather than a job.

As a kid we had a couple of horses in the vacant block next door that didn’t belong to anyone in particular, and we would go over and feed them.

I raised ducklings into ducks and supervised their swimming in the channel, sitting on eggs and hatching of more ducklings. I mourned the ducklings death to our evil Jack Russell, sobbed over squashed ducklings with a negligent mother and thrilled to see the half grown ducklings taking their first swim in the irrigation channel.

I sort of thought of the family dog as mine, and cried over it like a family member when an idiot neighbour ran it over.

So I guess it should be no suprise to me that this is a passion for me.

But in the midst of moving to the city as a student, getting married and moving to the country, buying a house and moving again, then moving back to the city and all the challenges in between, I had forgotten how reviving I find it to get out into nature, to see birds and animals and plants, and to just take time out of life to enjoy creation.

But I now feel how much difference it makes to me to get out, to open my eyes to really see the world and to look for wonders. It always completely absorbs me, gives me a break from my head and the whirling swirling thoughts that seem to never end, and gives me something beautiful to carry along the way with me!

So, to my bucket list. One of the birds was a kookaburra. And I got it!! YAY!! My husband rides a lot and is always telling me about kookaburras that he sees. On a road trip last week we saw a few on the telephone wires, but I didn’t have a chance to snap one. Then, while walking across a bridge spanning a creek, I happened to look down and see one, sitting on a branch just a few metres away!! Bliss!

And later in the day I saw this one! Another one, sitting on a post just near the pathway. Awesome!!

SO now my list is: a lyrebird (incredibly shy and hard to find!), a bellbird (that delightlful ting ting sound in the bush, but brown and drab and hard to find), a black cockatoo, a gang gang cockatoo, swallows and a koala.

I’ve seen koalas before on Raymond Island in Gippsland, but it’s kind of like taking pictures in the zoo, they’re so common. So I want to find a koala somewhere they are hard to find.

Another bird crossed off my list this weekend: superb blue wren. Gorgeous!!

I have some new areas in my sights for bird watching, and photographing, and can’t wait for the next day out enjoying the benefits of this great hobby 🙂