Point Cook

Friday 16th March, 2018

This one is for a patient from ED tonight who I had a great chat with about photography. No I wasn’t neglecting my work, there weren’t that many other patients to see at that point, and it’s my hobby…always happy to chat about it!

I learnt a lot! About camera clubs at a local, state, national and international level including one that I might go along to locally, we talked about his 3 dark rooms, I heard about UV and infrared photography, and we talked camera models, good lenses for bird photography…and we could have gone on!! But eventually work has to come to the fore.

Anyway, since I shared my blog but haven’t put up a lot of my photos later, I guess I better. These are some shots that I liked from an outing with Birdlife Australia, Melbourne branch to Point Cook on Wednesday. A great walk, perfect bushwalking weather, nice company and a few stunning and semi-co-operative birds! It all makes for a great day out. The day was a bit misty/smoggy so as I cropped all the photos they became a bit murky; apologies!

Brown Falcon

Brown Falcon, better not shooting into the light! 

I got a whole series of shots of this gorgeous creature because you never know how close you’ll be able to get, but this was a youngish bird so we got very close in the end, slowly step by step. So the blurry shot isn’t really excusable, but unfortunately these days I have a degree of hand shaking that is bugging me – I really need to learn to wind up my shutter speed beyond what I’ve done in the past. I have cropped this shot.

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Brown Falcon, same bird but shot into the glary sky

The conditions of the day make a huge difference as far as the photos you can achieve.

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The glare of the sky adds so much light into the camera that it can be hard to make out detail of the subject when you shoot into the light and it is backlit; this is where being able to use your settings well really comes into play…or you just accept that you are operating in impossible conditions…but what fun would that be??

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A Crested Tern on the wing

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Love Terns, they are so acrobatic in the air and a delight to photograph!

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Now THIS is a series I’m super proud of!! Just saying…a little stoush

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Now THAT’S the type of shot I want to be taking!

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Whistling Kite, not a great shot but the best I got

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Perfect! Do you know how close I had to get to this Superb Fairywren for this shot? Actually I had to wait for it to get this close to me. Time and patience pays off! About 2 metres away

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This scrappy looking guy is a male Superb Fairywren in eclipse, halfway moulting between immature and full male adult plumage in the non breeding season – this means he’s less than 5 years old

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I was sitting at lunch and all the birds took off in a big Kuffluffle behind me! It’s a tell tale sign of a bird of prey flying over; there’s a consensus amongst all the birds that this is a bad thing. 4 magpies suddenly went into attack mode and I discovered exactly where the bird of prey was! Not in focus but a nice action shot, I didn’t have much time to get off a shot

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Again, poor focus but I’m proud of this shot because I was the only one in a group of 20 that got a shot, and so I contributed a Brown Goshawk to the day’s count – I’m happy with that!!

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Spot the Little Wattlebird!

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Not perfect but a Black Kite right above my head?? Wow!

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And 2 Black Kites up there?? Perfection!

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This was my other moment of contribution – an immature Australasian Gannet, in the bay, out of the colony, away from Geelong, all on its own! I picked it out, someone else labelled it, lots of excitement all around! Love the spotty plumage – the adult is very monochrome

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Silver gulls (usually called Seagulls), Crested Terns, Chestnut Teal ducks, Little Pied Cormorant – these are all roosting in shallow water in the bay

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Little Pied Cormorants and Pied Cormorants – you can see the size difference clearly

Well, there’s some recent photos. I was overall a bit disappointed with the quality which was partly due to the weather with the glare and the smog, partly due to the settings being poorly managed and somewhat to do with this shake. Maybe I need to make a tripod part of my regular outfit for camera stability, maybe I need to go back to photography school to refresh the basics of which settings to use when, and let’s see what the doctor says about my tremor!

Enjoy!!

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Karkarook

2nd December, 2015

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On this day I drove over to Heatherton in some pretty solid morning traffic and joined a group of lovely people from BirdLife Melbourne​ at Karkarook Park at 10am. Birdlife Melbourne are an amazing group based in Carlton that run monthly birding activities at various sites across Melbourne and sometimes further afield, as well as being heavily involved in conservation work and public education. I’m a member, one of the many hobbies I signed up to in my long convalescence, and one of the few that have stuck.

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I’d never been over that side of town to go birding, and I’m happy to say the day was a huge success for me!! We had a decent turnout with nearly 30 people. As with any event run at 10am on a Wednesday, the large part of the group were older, maybe retired, and quite a number of them were experienced birders able to guide newbies like me. One or two are known among the group for their dogged opinions on identification questions, even though their vision and hearing are failing them! But we smile and let them go.

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I love birding! It’s so convenient, you can do it from your window, front door step or verandah, or it can take you just about anywhere! We inadvertently got into birding on our South America trip. What with the multitude of unique birds of the Galapagos, the Amazon rainforest filled with macaws, toucans and so many others, and generally nice areas of forest/bush with brightly coloured birds it was an eye opener to the birds of the world. We were very lucky with enthusiastic guides, and Naun in particular in the Amazon jungle who provided, at his own cost, a spotting scope on a tripod and binoculars plus an amazing trick of taking phone photos down the scope for amazing close ups!! We spent hours more than any other group with hubby, myself and Naun with him pointing out birds up the 46 metre tower (!!) above the canopy. Amazing and terrifying views, and excellent shots of all manner of birds that you wouldn’t see from the ground.

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Everywhere we go on holidays now I look up potential bird spots. I’m a bit of a Nervous Nelly about going on my own, so I do appreciate going with the group. But as I’m getting more well, I’m getting less frightened about going by myself. Most of what I’m afraid of is probably only realistic in scary movies, which I cannot watch, so I try to be brave and go.

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We didn’t get a huge number of species on the day. There’s are a couple of  lakes, one which is a filled in quarry and a couple of others in a natural wetland, but all the grass areas have died off to brown, and the bush areas are fairly dry as well. Nothing to see from the bird hide, birds buzzing around the eucalypts at a rate of knots, and no new species.

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But in one of the fenced off areas, I got some amazing shots! These are the best ever shots that I’ve ever gotten of a male Superb Fairy Wren!! And I have done a lot of trying up to now! So it’s saying something that they are the best. The fact that they are so far the best as to make the rest seem pointless, is thrilling! They came close, out in front of the bushes, and sat still, and didn’t move far when they took off, and the sun came out at just the right moments, and everything came together to mean some fabulous shots that I’m very proud to show you!

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Feathery Friday #5

This is a continuation of a series about our road trip.

11th July 2015

Last chance before heading home, so it was wetlands today, always the best option. Jerrabomberra Wetlands, and I highly recommend them!

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View from the bird hide

Had a remarkable experience with a fox! It came out of the bushes while I was standing still and we both just looked at each other and it wasn’t bothered so it ambled away! I got a few shots in, and wow, what a happening!

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In terms of water birds, there were a lot of grebes that I haven’t classified yet, several types of ducks (Pacific Black, Australasian Shoveller, Pink eared, Chestnut Teal) plus swans, coots, swamphens, and moorhens.

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Likely Hoary headed Grebes

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Australasian Shovellers

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Pink eared duck, Chestnut Teal

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Eurasian Coot

I had great views of forest birds: Red Browed Finches, loads of Superb Fairy Wrens, some White Plumed Honeyeaters, a White browed Scrubwren, a Brown Thornbill and Blackbird, plus yet more Yellow Rumped Thornbill…a couple of days ago I’d never seen these birds and now they’re everywhere!!!

Red-browed Finches - don't they look like someone had an accident with the red lipstick?

Flying female Superb Fairy Wren, an oops photo but still looks cool

Brown Thornbill, too dark but perfectly still; a miracle!

White plumed Honeyeater

Then an amazing raptor encounter with a hovering Black Shouldered Kite, then in the car and on the way home.

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There were plenty more raptors on the freeway hovering, cruising, diving but it’s almost never worth stopping, because they are hyper sensitive and fly off before you can stop the car!

Mammals and birds of the East

Good morning peeps.

I think it is a good morning; the view out the window looks promising. Haven’t actually put a foot out to check but that can wait. I’m having a recovery day, catching up on some down time and some sleep.

So what better to do while lying around in bed than go through some photos? Yay!

You know how I recently went on holidays, and didn’t post any bird pictures whatsoever? No not that WA holiday, also not the Phuket holiday. The other holiday, the Victoria one. Hmm, I do seem to have had a lot of holidays lately!

You didn’t really think you’d get away without my birds that easily did you?

Good, cos here they come! Also this special post comes with animals as well, so you can skim over the birds if you like.

And I promise you that you do want to have a look at these photos. We’ve got babies following mums around, mums and dads sitting on nests and maybe one of my best bird of prey photos yet! I know that last statement doesn’t say much, but still…I think it’s worth a glimmer.

These photos were all taken in East Victoria either at the holiday house at Wattle Point, at Paynesville, on Raymond Island, on the Silt Jetties and in the Blond Bay game reserve. I highly recommend any of these spots for great wildlife encounters. Sadly I don’t have photographic evidence of the 3 echidnas I glimpsed from the coach on the way; only my memories.

So here we go!

I love the Eastern Spinebills. So far I’ve only ever seen males, and only ever in the pink flowering gum! Must be one of their favourite playgrounds. Notice the first photo and the second; despite most of the photos showing them at a reasonable size they are actually very tiny!

Stunning male Eastern Spinebill in the pink flowering gum

Stunning male Eastern Spinebill in the pink flowering gum

Tiny little Eastern Spinebill flitting around the gum tree

Tiny little Eastern Spinebill flitting around the gum tree

So agile and skilled at balancing in all kinds of poses so that he can reach the nectar, eastern spinebill, pink flowering gum

So agile and skilled at balancing in all kinds of poses so that he can reach the nectar – sadly the focus is just off

Dangling upside down with breast side up getting right into the pink gum blossom, eastern spinebill

Dangling upside down with breast side up getting right into the pink gum blossom

Another favourite of mine are the swallows. I’ve been trying to photograph them in flight for a few months, and up until recently I had never seen them sit still. Now I know that they do roost at night so dusk or early morning can be a good time to find them sitting still if you catch them before they head out to feed or after they’re back; if you find their nest you’ll see them sitting on the nest or busy building a nest; and when they dip for water they slow right down, and sometimes stop on the edge of the water. So it turns out there are a few opportunities to catch them.

The first Welcome Swallow I found sitting still, checking out the world from the property gate

The first Welcome Swallow I found sitting still, checking out the world from the property gate at Wattle Point

Beautiful Welcome Swallow taking time out of flitting around to preen up in the eves next to the main road

Beautiful Welcome Swallow taking time out of flitting around to preen up in the eves next to the main road in Paynesville

A Welcome Swallow standing on a half built nest up in the eves over a cafe

A Welcome Swallow standing on a half built nest up in the eves over a cafe in Paynesville

Welcome Swallow sitting still at dusk, facing into the bracing wind!, green grass, wooden fence

Welcome Swallow sitting still at dusk, facing into the bracing wind!

My absolute favourite photo from a whole series of Welcome Swallows sitting on the fence at dusk, green grass

My absolute favourite photo from a whole series of Welcome Swallows sitting on the fence at dusk!

And then there are Black Swans, beautiful, elegant, graceful. And then there are their delightful cute cygnets!

Fascinating viewing: two Black Swans fishing together along the shallow shore

Fascinating viewing: two Black Swans fishing together along the shallow shore

These are about the most adorable thing I've ever seen! And I used to rear ducklings that are also cute and cuddly, black swan, cygnets

These are about the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen! And I used to rear ducklings that are also cute and cuddly

Adorable grey fluffy Black Swan cygnets bobbing in the lake, green water

Adorable grey fluffy Black Swan cygnets bobbing in the lake

And another mum and bub group! This time the Black Swan cygnets are tinier and cuter

And another mum and bub group! This time the Black Swan cygnets are tinier and cuter

The cutest little only child learning to gather sea grass with its vigilant parents

The cutest little only child learning to gather sea grass with its vigilant parents

I love Laughing Kookaburras. They can look fluffy and cute, lean and mean and sound lovely or act vicious. You just never know how you’ll find them.

Evil mean look Laughing Kookabura, ironically found next to the house named 'Kookaburra Corner', electric wire

Evil mean look Laughing Kookabura, ironically found next to the house named ‘Kookaburra Corner’

Here’s a “lifer”, twitchers/birdwatchers term for a bird that you’ve never seen, or in my case photographed before; in this case a bird that I’ve never appreciated before. And never heard before. They can produce an amazing volume of sound that travels for blocks and blocks!

The female Common Bronzewing pigeon sadly in the shade so you can't see the luminescent bars on her wings

The female Common Bronzewing pigeon sadly in the shade so you can’t see the luminescent bars on her wings

A few days later,  huge "oom oom" sound caught our attention. We finally tracked it down to the male Common Bronzewing pigeon sitting on the nest

A few days later, a huge “oom oom” sound caught our attention. We finally tracked it down to the male Common Bronzewing pigeon sitting on the nest on Raymond Island

If it doesn't turn you cross eyed, this was meant to be a great photo of the bronze wing which gives the bird its name, but i must have moved!

If it doesn’t turn you cross eyed, this was meant to be a great photo of the bronze wing which gives the bird its name, but i must have moved!

Cormorants are just so fascinating with their clever diving and swimming under water skills and then their wing drying habits.

A mixed bunch of Little Pied and Little Black cormorants hanging out in the sun

A mixed bunch of Little Pied and Little Black cormorants hanging out in the sun

I do love all kinds of seas birds. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen these terns before, and I’m almost certain I’ve never photographed them.

lake, pier, Pair of fabulous Crested Terns hanging with a silver gull

Pair of fabulous Crested Terns hanging with a silver gull

Another graceful gentle bird:

Ever graceful, even when stalking prey, beautiful White-Faced Heron, cape weed

Ever graceful, even when stalking prey, beautiful White-Faced Heron

And now to the nest!!

A pair of Willy Wagtails taking turns sitting on the nest

A pair of Willy Wagtails taking turns sitting on the nest – fascinating watching them switch over with dance rituals and much noise-making!

The partner looking on in displeasure as I get too close to the nest

The Willy Wagtail partner looking on in displeasure as I get too close to the nest

Beautiful cheeky Willy Wagtail dancing around for his mate before they changed turn on the nest

Beautiful cheeky Willy Wagtail dancing around for his mate before they changed turn on the nest

Forest birds are pretty great. I loved finding these because they weren’t screeching; I tracked them down by the sound of them destroying an innocent gum tree!

Somehow I haven't gotten to photograph many cockatoos so far, but I love the glossy white and bright yellow crest, gum tree

Somehow I haven’t gotten to photograph many cockatoos so far, but I love the glossy white and bright yellow crest

Sulfur-crested Cockatoo: such a beautiful, if racous and destructive, bird, gum tree

Sulfur-crested Cockatoo: such a beautiful, if racous and destructive, bird

I apologise in advance for this one because I’m meant to be posting new stuff only, but you know I can’t resist fairy wrens! Especially on the beach, it just seems so unusual, even though I’ve seen it a few times now.

Female Superb Fairy Wren dancing into the sun and just the right moment, beach, sand

Female Superb Fairy Wren dancing into the sun and just the right moment

Another oldie, but these are the best shots I’ve taken, I think.

This photo is still a bit dark despite my adjustment, but it shows the white eyebrows of this White Browed Scrub Wren very nicely

This photo is still a bit dark despite my adjustment, but it shows the white eyebrows of this White Browed Scrub Wren very nicely

Fun shot out in the sun, eyebrows aren't as clear but you can see the bars on the wing more clearly

Fun shot out in the sun, eyebrows aren’t as clear but you can see the bars on the wing more clearly

Another favourite that I can’t resist:

Acrobatic Rainbow Lorikeets are always a delight to photograph

Acrobatic Rainbow Lorikeets are always a delight to photograph

I love to watch birds of prey circling and catching prey, but I’ve hardly ever gotten a shot that means anything! I took this a while ago so I can’t remember the face so much, but fortunately this particular bird can be identified from underneath.

You'll have to take my word for is because I don't have a top or front shot, but this is a fabulous White-bellied Sea-Eagle over Blond Bay, blue sky

You’ll have to take my word for is because I don’t have a top or front shot, but this is a fabulous White-bellied Sea-Eagle over Blond Bay

A more distant shot but this shows off its wings a body a bit more - White-bellied Sea-Eagle

A more distant shot but this shows off its wings a body a bit more – White-bellied Sea-Eagle

I’ve posted photos of Eastern Rosellas a million times but I am always fascinated by juvenile forms:

Lovely juvenile Eastern Rosella with more muted colours, following mum around gathering food

Lovely juvenile Eastern Rosella with more muted colours, following mum around gathering food

And an underneath picture gives a whole different perspective:

gum leaves, The fabulous under belly of the Eastern Rosella - just as pretty as the top side

The fabulous under belly of the Eastern Rosella – just as pretty as the top side

A big moment, finding the Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos in exactly the same spot Mum and Dad had found them the day before!

I just love these darlings! I've been lucky enough to see them a few times, but it's always just as exciting! Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo

I just love these darlings! I’ve been lucky enough to see them a few times, but it’s always just as exciting! Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo

And now for the cute animals!

The cutest little bunny Rabbit caught in a 'who me'? moment deep in the capeweed on the side lawn green grass

The cutest little bunny Rabbit caught in a ‘who me’? moment deep in the capeweed on the side lawn

Another caught-in-the-headlights moment with a Wallaby, no idea what type sorry

Another caught-in-the-headlights moment with a Wallaby, no idea what type sorry

The most exciting amazing awesome moment of the day/week/month/year! So we’re driving along beside the river and suddenly three dolphins breach the surface!! In my haste to get out I very nearly didn’t stop the car, put on the foot brake, take off my seat belt, put the gear into neutral or any of the other necessary tasks when driving! I got some awesome video, but only one photo. Still, that’s better than nothing.

A gorgeous Dolphin surprisingly found up river...I guess the water is still salty there. I'm assuming it's a Bottlenose, only because I don't know any better

A gorgeous Dolphin surprisingly found up river…I guess the water is still salty there. I’m assuming it’s a Bottlenose, only because I don’t know any better

Serendipity

I had been looking forward to this past Saturday all week!

It was going to be my very first bird watching outing with BirdLife Australia, a group that I have recently joined as they seem to perfectly fit my need for like-minded people who are just as excited by finding birds as I am! They are a bird watching, photographing and conserving group and there are a bunch of great benefits to being a member! Exciting times!

So far all of my bird watching has been fairly ad hoc, on the run and just as I happen upon it. I’ve been fortunate to have wandered into many excellent birding locations by chance and happenstance, and a few excellent recommendations from friends have definitely given me a helping hand in the right direction. We are very blessed in Australia with birdlife, and Victoria is no exception. Luckily many varieties of birds still happily inhabit our backyards and local parks so that often we don’t need to make an effort at all to see many birds of all colours and sizes and sounds.

I joined this group a little while back and mostly for their regular birding outings as I still have a fair amount of caution about diving into thickly wooded areas alone! I’ve been testing out my nerves lately about going out alone into nature, and I’ve found out about myself that I’m okay walking around grassy open parks, okay with going into thicker wooded areas if it’s just a short section of the park, happy in any parks near a busy road and occasionally with full mobile reception and fully charged battery I’ll brave further off road. And so far I’ve been perfectly fine, so I’m gradually getting less jumpy and wide-eyed 🙂

My generalised anxiety has mostly abated with the treatment that I’m on for bipolar and depression but being a female alone in a area where no-one can see me, probably no-one can hear me scream and where I could potentially although quite unlikely but still scarily be attacked is one residual fear that I can’t quite shake off. I’m getting a lot better but I guess it probably is a safe and self-preserving habit to have. Especially since I’m taking most of my excursions during the middle of the day, which isn’t a peak time for other people to be walking through parks and gardens. Anywho, point being, I’d rather go with a bunch of strangers that I’ve never met than by myself 🙂 Especially when every one of the strangers is as interested or more in birding as me, and probably not so much in the other people around them.

Having said that, if I can coerce my husband or one of my friends to go with me, and they’re available during the same non-working hours as me, I’d definitely take that over the stranger business!

Moving on. My other motivation for joining a bird watching group was their expertise in identifying and locating birds and their intimate knowledge of birds and where to go and what to find when.

The particular sub group who had organised this bird watching trip are especially interested in photography which is perfect for me!

I’ve taken the opportunity while I am off work and free during the day to take an eight week course in photography. I saw a flyer for the course when I was out on a bird watching walk at Blackburn Lakes and it looked like exactly what I’d been needing.

The poster asked if I had a digital SLR camera but was still using it on auto? Why yes I was. It asked if I was frustrated with my photos and wanted to learn how to master my camera? Absolutely! So I signed up and started the classes. And I have learned a LOT! Still more to go but I’ve done five classes and I have already been able to apply a lot of what I’ve learned to my photography but I need to practice, practice, practice. I’m also learning the imperfections of my camera as I go along, and my list of what I need is growing…I can see that an upgrade will be in the cards some day but in the meantime I’m just enjoying being able to take better photos than what I could before 🙂

So, bird watching group found and joined; photography course turned up at the right time with the needed skill set; and now I’m all set for a day out enjoying the best of both! Yay for me!

So Saturday morning, Serendip Sanctuary, somewhere short of the You Yangs. I woke up to a good going fog and it was consistent all the way along highway and kept up to some degree most of the day. It was interesting to see how the fog showed up in photos taken at long zoom.

The Serendip Sanctuary wetlands, gum tree, green grass, water

The Serendip Sanctuary wetlands

A good drive with no traffic later, I pull into the car park. High excitement! Followed by a few moments of oh my goodness I am way out of my league! when I saw all the tripods, enormous camera lenses, binoculars, camouflage, neutral toned clothing and vibe of general expertise! Oh no I’m the amateur surrounded by experts! But everyone was very reassuring and helpful and in fact very keen to teach and show me the ropes.

Our group of bird watching and photography enthusiasts, all much more well equipped than me! lens, camera, camouflage, tripod

Our group of bird watching and photography enthusiasts, all much more well equipped than me!

Before I even got into the park I had seen several emus grazing in the paddock next to the sanctuary! Awesome! I’ve hardly ever seen emus in the wild; how exhilarating!

Emus in the wild! Not a great photo at full zoom and the fog really shows up at that distance!, grassland, bushland

Emus in the wild! Not a great photo at full zoom and the fog really shows up at that distance!

It turned out to be the most amazing day out! I think one day back a few months ago around Kialla Lakes I counted 25 species of birds in one day. Someone else is the group was counting on Saturday and I heard that they got over 50! Of course some we can’t take much credit for; some sections of the park were enclosures of captive birds, so that was easy game but that didn’t take any of the enjoyment out of seeing birds that I haven’t seen before.

Fun fun fun! I highly recommend this beautiful sanctuary; I find it absolutely astonishing that so many beautiful birds and animals can be accessed for nothing at all! Zero charge; amazing! There are enclosures, open park land, paddocks, waterways and wetlands, hides walking tracks; everything you need for bird watching.

One of the hides looking out over the wetlands, gum trees, swamp

One of the hides looking out over the wetlands

So of course I have to add some photos, but I promise only to post birds I have seen/posted ever before. I’m a bit disappointed with my photos, a lot had annoying camera shake which has me warming to the idea of a tripod but still not sure how it’ll work for me. I’ll have to keep thinking about it…

Ok not new but I am very proud of how this photo of a pair of Chestnut Teal ducks turned out!, wooden post, trees

Ok not new but I am very proud of how this photo of a pair of Chestnut Teal ducks turned out!

Overall I think my shutter speed was too slow for a lot of photos so I ended up with a lot of blurry shaky photos; but at least I know how to improve my shots next time.

Another shot that I am very happy with, I think the bird is a White-Browed Scrubwren but happt to take other opinions, gum tree, branch

Another shot that I am very happy with, I think the bird is a White-Browed Scrubwren but happy to take other opinions

Male Red-Rumped Parrot showing all of his fabulous colours; of course it is easier to get great shots in a small enclosure, bird wire, bird feeder

Male Red-Rumped Parrot showing all of his fabulous colours; of course it is easier to get great shots in a small enclosure

Female Red-Rumped Parrot, very difficult to find through the viewfinder!, green grass, dew

Female Red-Rumped Parrot, very difficult to find through the viewfinder!

Definitely not new, but I love this picture of a Willy Wagtail at rest for a brief second, wooden post

Definitely not new, but I love this picture of a Willy Wagtail at rest for a brief second

Okay I officially take back my statement that I will only post new birds; I just can’t stick to it!

Cute little bunny rabbits hopping around the enclosures, green grass, paddock

Cute little bunny rabbits hopping around the enclosures

I find male Superb Blue Wrens are always delightful to photograph no matter how many times I get the chance, green grass

I find male Superb Blue Wrens are always delightful to photograph no matter how many times I get the chance

I got such a great series of this New Holland Honeyeater but this is one of my favourites, gum tree, blossoms

I got such a great series of this New Holland Honeyeater but this is one of my favourites

Beautiful Cape Barren female goose with gosling in the nest

Beautiful Cape Barren female goose with gosling in the nest

Now this really is a first, an apparently an uncommon sight: the White-Winged Chough!, gum trees

Now this really is a first, an apparently an uncommon sight: the White-Winged Chough!

A Black-winged Stilt mirrored in the wetlands, not as good a photo as I would have liked; reeds, water

A Black-winged Stilt mirrored in the wetlands, not as good a photo as I would have liked

My favourite photo of a male Superb Blue Wren, unfortunately affected by reflection from the glass, swamp, window sill

My favourite photo of a male Superb Blue Wren, unfortunately affected by reflection from the glass

I have been trying for a while now to get a good picture of a Welcome Swallow flying and this is the best yet; still have a ways to go, swamp, wetland

I have been trying for a while now to get a good picture of a Welcome Swallow flying and this is the best yet; still have a ways to go

A beautiful example of the many Magpie Geese around the waterways, wetland, swamp

A beautiful example of the many Magpie Geese around the waterways

A very cute Wallaby checking out the surroundings, one of several lounging around, leaves, dirt

A very cute Wallaby checking out the surroundings, one of several lounging around

The easiest shot of Red-Browed Finch ever; of course they were safely in their enclosure from which they could come and go, but we could not!, drinking, dish of water

The easiest shot of Red-Browed Finch ever; of course they were safely in their enclosure from which they could come and go, but we could not!

Another new kind of duck! YAY! This one is the male Freckled Duck, it was quite shy so I was not able to get a good clear shot, grasses, red nose

A new kind of duck! YAY! This one is the male Freckled Duck, it was quite shy so I was not able to get a good clear shot

This Beach Stone-Curlew did NOT want to be photographed! He just kept walking away

This Beach Stone-Curlew did NOT want to be photographed! He just kept walking away

An unexpected delight! Spotted tiger quolls playing together, branches

An unexpected delight! Spotted tiger quolls playing together

What a beautiful multicoloured Buff Banded Rail! A lovely discovery, green grass

What a beautiful multicoloured Buff Banded Rail! A lovely discovery

For a duck afficionado, this Musk Duck is just amazing! What strange characteristics it has!, rocks, green grass

For a duck afficionado, this Musk Duck is just amazing! What strange characteristics it has!

Another delightfully colourful bird, the Blue-Faced Honeyeater - none of my shots were in clear focus but this shows the colours at least

Another delightfully colourful bird, the Blue-Faced Honeyeater – none of my shots were in clear focus but this shows the colours at least

An inscrutable Tawny Frogmouth sitting on a log on the ground, safe and sound in his enclosure, grey, brown

An inscrutable Tawny Frogmouth sitting on a log on the ground, safe and sound in his enclosure

Red-Cheeked Honeyeater, very common but still a fun shot, eucalypt

Red-Cheeked Wattlebird; very common but still a fun shot

I wish I could have got a clear shot but any shot is great for my very first time seeing Brolgas, especially when there is an adorable baby Brolga!, fences, gates, green grass

I wish I could have got a clear shot but any shot is great for my very first time seeing Brolgas, especially when there is an adorable baby Brolga!

Also the first close-ish photo that I have gotten! I was told that it is a Black Shouldered Kite; I have no idea, birds of prey are an area I have no experience in at all!, dead tree

Also the first close-ish photo that I have gotten! I was told that it is a Black Shouldered Kite; I have no idea, birds of prey are an area I have no experience in at all!

I have an amendment to make to a previous post from Lake Drysdale where I wrote that I saw and photographed Masked Lapwing plover chicks. I was mistaken; they are in fact their own species, the Red-Kneed Dotterels.

Entertaining little Red-Kneed Dotterels fishing along the shoreline, bushes, march

Entertaining little Red-Kneed Dotterels fishing along the shoreline

One slight conflict of birding with experienced birders is that I am ecstatic at every bird I see, and they are only really excited if it seems to be an unusual or interesting bird…ah well, I still made use of their expertise and knowledge so no complaining 🙂

I am told this was another Black Shouldered Kite; I will have to check it out for myself. One slight conflict of birding with experienced birders is that I am ecstatic at every bird I see, and they are only really excited if it seems to be an unusual or interesting bird...ah well, gum tree

I am told this was another Black Shouldered Kite; I will have to check it out for myself. 

A gorgeous little Black-Fronted Dotterel fishing along the shoreline, water, reflection,

A gorgeous little Black-Fronted Dotterel fishing along the shoreline

Wow! I do not know what to say about this odd looking male Australian Bustard! Quite unique!, bushes, green grass

Wow! I do not know what to say about this odd looking male Australian Bustard! Quite unique!

And finally, just for fun, a cheeky New Holland Honeyeater posing for us while dancing up and down on the window

And finally, just for fun, a cheeky New Holland Honeyeater posing for us while dancing up and down on the window

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

Swan Bay

Yesterday morning we took a walk around Swan Bay in Queenscliff. The morning had been pretty chilly and there was still a brisk wind off the water as we headed off around the waterside walking track.

The upside of a chilly morning is the clear sunny day that follows; perfect for bird watching and taking photos and just being out and about!

I didn’t see quite as many birds as I had hoped, however a lot of birds were far over on little islands of sea grass or tidal mud so although they were there, we didn’t get a good look.

I really need to look into getting a pair of more powerful binoculars. I already know mine are terrible, but just need to get out and look for my next pair; they would make a huge difference!

Pair of Crimson Rosellas walking the spouting of a nearby house

Pair of Crimson Rosellas walking the spouting of a nearby house

Beautiful duck in the wetlands: Pacific Black, Australian Shoveler or Australian Grey Teal??

Beautiful duck in the wetlands: Pacific Black, Australasian Shoveler or Australian Grey Teal??

Australian White Ibis poking around in the shallows

Australian White Ibis poking around in the shallows

White-faced Heron in the Swan Bay

White-faced Heron in the Swan Bay

Australian Pied Oystercatcher amongst the sea grass

Australian Pied Oystercatcher amongst the sea grass

Stunning Crimson Rosella in the bushes

Stunning Crimson Rosella in the bushes

Beautiful crimson and light blue colours of the Crimson Rosella

Beautiful crimson and light blue colours of the Crimson Rosella

Group of male and female Chestnut Teal ducks in the sea grass

Group of male and female Chestnut Teal ducks in the sea grass

Fabulous blue male Superb Fairy-wren on the path in front of us

Fabulous blue male Superb Fairy-wren on the path in front of us

Pretty female Superb Fairy-wren edging out of the bushes next to the path

Pretty female Superb Fairy-wren edging out of the bushes next to the path

New Holland Honeyeaters thronging through these yellow bushes

New Holland Honeyeaters thronging through these yellow bushes

New Holland Honeyeater dangling down into a flower

New Holland Honeyeater dangling down into a flower

Immature New Holland Honeyeater preening on a branch

Immature New Holland Honeyeater preening on a branch

Group of Little Pied Cormorants drying off on the shore

Group of Little Pied Cormorants drying off on the shore

Royal Spoonbills swishing their bills for dinner

Royal Spoonbills swishing their bills for dinner

Another yellow bush, another New Holland Honeyeater

Another yellow bush, another New Holland Honeyeater

Caught in mid twirl: New Holland Honeyeater dancing around

Caught in mid twirl: New Holland Honeyeater dancing around

Australian Magpie in the grass

Australian Magpie in the grass

Group of Australian Grey Teal ducks resting on Swan Bay

Group of Australian Grey Teal ducks resting on Swan Bay