Canberra Day Thirty Four

[Friday 14th October 2016]

Today was a great day! Not every moment, but wouldn’t that be asking a bit much in ordinary situations? But the not-so-great moments got turned around to become something good so all in all I’m stoked. I really enjoyed myself today! It started with a plan of what to do for the day. The last couple of days have been less than productive, which I don’t enjoy, and after all its day 34; time is cracking along! More than a month already, can you believe it? On days where I wake up and don’t have a plan for the day, they tend to be the days that I roll over and go back to sleep, because why not, and drift aimlessly through to early afternoon before making up my mind about what to do then having to rush about to do it, or missing the chance. So I decided Thursday night that before I went to bed I was making a plan, and when morning came I was sticking to it. The plan that Chester and I came up with was to wake up, get dressed in my cycling gear and ride my bike down to one of the streets in our new suburb that has a lot of eateries. I would go to Eighty Twenty café that hubby recommended and have breakfast, then check out the bike path that runs along Sullivan’s Creek, somewhere that I’d seen and wanted to check out, and that hubby has ridden part of, I think. And I did! Add in the bonus of remembering to call at the bike shop and get a bracket so I can attach my mobile phone to my handlebars for GPS on the go. Minus not actually navigating my way successfully to Sullivan’s Creek after my phone went flat and rendered my new bracket moot!! I haven’t really got my directions at this new place, and all the through roads around here have bends in them! What a crazy situation! So you just think you’ve gotten your bearings and the road take a 45 degree bend! Now where are you? But in the process I was in sensory heaven soaking up the lush green budding and leafy trees forming avenues over the roads, and the beautiful flowering gardens in all colours with some trees still blossoming, and well-kept front areas of houses in our neighbourhood, and probably the bordering suburbs as well; not really sure where I went! Eventually I hit Anzac Avenue which was somewhere well in the wrong direction from where I was meant to be, then my phone died, so I had a lovely meandering time trying to figure out how to get home! It was actually just so nice to dawdle around checking out the gardens and lawns, and taking detours wherever I wanted. Luckily I’d picked up some names of street nearby to ours already…remembering this is day 3 living in this new place!

I got home and felt like I could go for more so I did another street and luckily came around the block back again. All up about 9km but just a good amount to get going again. I haven’t ridden for a couple of weeks with rain, then wind, then pervasive disinterest! So it was good to feel like I can still do it, and still get that nice little spike of feel good from rolling around the suburbs on my bike. Plus the weather just turned any outdoor activity into sheer bliss! 20 degrees, chill breeze, blue skies making for great biking. That ride set me up for the rest of the day. Everything else good that happened after felt like it happened because of the ride.

I mentioned breakfast was at Eighty Twenty in Braddon on Lonsdale Street. Quite lovely, but I found the menu a bit challenging; not your standard egg and bacon! More your quinoa, nuts, almond milk, home baked granola type place, but in the end I did have their smashed avocado on toast with 2 eggs and 3 bits of asparagus on top and peas and feta around the plate. It was delicious actually, I’d have it again for sure. Just to show you can have eat-out breakfast without bacon! Sitting in the sun with my bike next to me did fill me with some feelings of accomplishment. Here I’d planned this thing that I’d been putting off really for the last week or two, and I was doing it! I can follow through. I’m not a wash out, a failure, useless. I can do it, and the proof is that I did do it! So nothing to stop me next time, hey? Except carrying my bike down the stairs from our level one apartment; that’s not an easy feat! I guess practice makes perfect.


SO what else to do on a sunshiny day but tackle something I’ve been wanting to do: check out the Mount Ainslie lookout. I went once before you might remember but it was in a cloud and you couldn’t see a single thing! Today you could see forever or to the beautiful blue hills that border Canberra. Blue skies, sunshine, and the view is spectacular! Always worth the short drive up. I went planning on getting view photos only, but thought I’d walk along a short track back from the lookout itself, heard a bird and it was an hour and a half later when I looked up! Only two rows of trees, one on either side of me, one tree deep, but I got some spectacular birds! Great photos and extended views of a bird I’ve only seen once and got one muffled shot of that first time, a lifer in a Little Eagle soaring above (that was exciting, never forget to look up!), and other interesting birds being very conducive to photos! And I didn’t even have to try, they were all just there, going about their business. The best way to watch birds!

Went home for a nap, but was too excited to look at the photos from the morning. That was a task well worth doing because I found there were 2 different species of bird that I’d photographed but hadn’t realized what they were! Two more for the morning’s list! I knew they were something different but they were too far away; luckily my camera brings them closer J

It was all too exciting, so after a couple of hours I headed back to find the actual trail. Not the Kokoda trail near the lookout; that’s for mountain goats! So I headed down the hill looking for a trail. Not the old tip trail, it’s too rough and large gravel and steep; I’d do an ankle! Not the next one down; its appears to go into the shooting range from the back! So it turns out that the trail I did way back last year when we were here for our hosts wedding was the best one, and the one I should be doing. They need to make a brochure like they have for Black Mountain; it would save a lot of precious birding time, wandering all around everywhere. The first half of the walk was in the wrong direction really, but because there weren’t many/any birds other than the pesky Noisy Miners (!) I kept up a bit of pace and did a pretty nice 2km walk before (re) finding the best spot. So I had my eyes open to other things: rabbits, kangaroos, a cute echidna! And everlasting daisies, tons of them! They are all just about to open the buds; I’ve made a date to go back next week and check it out.

Two successes of my later birding walk were walking alone in the bush (although I have been building a tolerance to this with lots of walks lately, this one was a bit more removed from carparks and passersby) and walking alone in the bush at dusk approaching dark. My recent anxiety flare up has brought these closer to the front of my mind again which is a pest! I’d squashed them down nicely for quite a while. I’ve always been terrified of the monsters in the dark. We had an outside toilet as kids and whatever age I was I’d still wake one of my parents to go with me. But it didn’t stop me having to bite the bullet of the adrenaline rush that was running from the back door to the toilet door in the direct and utterly exposed lie of fire of those who waited at 2am on the other side of the green mesh wall to gun me down for some unapparent reason!! I was always terrified of gun men, and kidnappers, and rapists. I still am to a degree, but I’m more rational in questioning the reason: a) why anyone would want to shoot me, b) why they would wait in the cold all night right there near the toilet in case I needed to go to the toilet, c) how they would know the layout of our house and toilet, d) why they would shoot a child with a shot gun (the only gun I knew, and so assumed they had) and so on. If you start thinking like this it does all start to crumble, but you have to make that conscious switch to think like that, which is indeed the challenge. Anyhow, you’ll be pleased to hear that no thugs or bandits were crouched behind tree stumps in an enormous area populated by a whole 2 walkers waiting to loot us and so on. I returned to my car, by this time practically in the dark, unharmed, and with only a little adrenaline coursing through my veins. And so concluded my happy day! Exercise, the beautiful outdoors, challenging myself to eat outside my comfort zone, finding my way around new suburbs unaided, beauty and birds to be photographed; how lucky am I? A low key dinner and sitting on the couch to end a wonderful day.

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 🙂