The Bird Report

This morning’s bird watching was very successful which I could attribute to the warmer weather but I think it is mostly to the credit of the attendants, practicing and advancing their skills.

I am very pleased that those attending may not necessarily know the name of the bird, but are developing their identification skills. I am overjoyed when they notice a bird is not like the others and question these differences to find it is a new bird. If they were equipped with a bird guide I may soon find myself defunct….

These new skills led to the sighting of two spiny cheeked honeyeaters as well as being able to differentiate multiple parrot and cormorant species. Remebering the difference between a pied and little pied cormorant is no task for the faint hearted!

Little pied cormorant sitting in dead tree. Little pied cormorant has short yellow bill and long tail to body length. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding a nature Guide of South East Queensland. Photo taken during a bird watching workshop by Emma Walton Guiding.

Take look at our eBird checklist below!

Next week we will be headed to a new section of the Condamine River. We will be meeting at the skatebowl car park of Queens Park.

The Bird Report

Those that have been joining me bird watching have been on a very steep learning curve. I have very much enjoyed watching them progress even in these early days. I especially love the pure joy they have for being in nature.

Bird watching this week was where the Condamine River crosses under Lyndhurst Lane. We took advantage of the low water levels and set our chairs on the spillway.

Quote of the morning

“…I’ve been looking forward to this all week…”

Highlight

The azure kingfisher fishing just a few meters ahead of us.

The Learning Curve

Those that have been joining me bird watching have been on a very steep learning curve. I have very much enjoyed watching them progress even in these early days. I especially love the pure joy they have for being in nature.

Emma with the new bird watchers at the Condamine River spillway where it runs under Lyndhurst Lane, Warwick.

Unexpected Visitors

Bird watching was temporarily interupted by two foxes scuffling on the riverbank. As the defeated ran away from the victor, it did not take the time to take in its surroundings. This meant it was only a few meters away when the mistake was realised and it made a very abrupt about-turn and its bushy tail disappeared into the rushes.

Species

Australian Wood Duck – Chenonetta jubata
Pacific Black Duck – Anas superciliosa
Hardhead – Aythya australis
Rock Dove – Columba livia
Crested Pigeon – Ocyphaps lophotes
Peaceful Dove – Geopelia placida
Dusky Moorhen – Gallinula tenebrosa
Little Pied Cormorant – Microcarbo melanoleucos
Little Black Cormorant – Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
White-faced Heron – Egretta novaehollandiae
Whistling Kite – Haliastur sphenurus
Azure Kingfisher – Ceyx azureus
Laughing Kookaburra – Dacelo novaeguineae
Galah – Eolophus roseicapilla
Little Corella – Cacatua sanguinea
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – Cacatua galerita
Australian King-Parrot – Alisterus scapularis
Eastern Rosella – Platycercus eximius
Red-rumped Parrot – Psephotus haematonotus
Musk Lorikeet – Glossopsitta concinna
Rainbow Lorikeet – Trichoglossus haematodus
Noisy Miner – Manorina melanocephala
Grey Butcherbird – Cracticus torquatus
Australian Magpie – Gymnorhina tibicen
Torresian Crow – Corvus orru
Common Myna – Acridotheres tristis

The Bird Report

I stepped out of my car and my ears immediately pricked. The whistling kites were whistling nearby. I instinctively smiled. A good start to the day.

Yesterday morning I was back bird watching along the Condamine River at Henry Joppich Park. Usually I bird watch for 2 hours but I have to admit to only 80minutes due to needing to attend a workshop.

Auditory Familarity

I stepped out of my car and my ears immediately pricked. The whistling kites were whistling nearby. I instinctively smiled. A good start to the day. I grabbed my binoculars and camera and made the descent to the river. I could see ahead a mound on the path. A wallaby, a dog? Resting in a morning sunbeam perhaps? Unfortuantely not.

Every Moment has the Potential to Surprise

What I had found was a dorper cross lamb quite gone from the world. I feel it safe to presume the lamb had wandered from its mother the night before becoming irrevocably lost. Far from its mother’s warmth and it had died of hypothermia.

I moved around the lamb and continued on. I found a patch of sun beside the river and waited.

The Condamine River at Henry Joppich Park. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland.

Persona non Grata

Whistling kites circled overhead as willie-wagtails, cockatiels and galahs sought to push them onwards. The kites landed in a decaying tree and were joined by two crows. It was not unlike watching a society’s outcasts finding common ground over the fact that they are outcasts. They seemed at ease with eachother occassionally fluffing feathers but always watching their surrounds for prey. An oblivious pigeon flies to close, heads turn but before the kties can give chase, the pigeon is gone. A lucky escape.

Learning to Roll with It

I made the unwise choice of attempting to photograph the scene. My hands were removed from my ski gloves. Numbed from the icey air, my fingers fumbled with the tripod and camera. I moved slowly in fear of one inadvisable move might send the tripod into the river below. I had to concentrate to manipulate my cold-deadened fingers. Dials usually spin about ewith ease but not today. The camera was finally ready, I pressed the shutter to focus the lens… The kites took flight. I sighed, and took the photo of the one remaining crow.

Solitary crow sitting on dead branch.  Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland.
I may be projecting but I felt mocked by this solitary crow

I decided to move further down the river and away from this contemptuous corvid.

Down stream were four pelicans. There is something about the pelican that warms my heart. The four circled eachother as they searched for fish or whatever may take their fancy. Dusky moorhens, pacific black ducks and Australian black ducks followed in their wake.

After receiving my fill of pelican antics my eyes turn to a dead tree across the river. I know a little pied cormorant frequents this tree and hoped to see it again. In its place there was an Australasian darter waving its characterstic elognated neck as its wings dried in the morning sun. Suddently, two black cormorants flew past followed by the little pied cormorant. Rather chuffed I sat and watched waiting for further guest appearances.

Here I ended my morning. Shorter than usual perhaps but fruitful nonetheless.

The Condamine River at Henry Joppich Park. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland.

Species List

I have now made available my bird watching data on eBird.

Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)
Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)
Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placida)
Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)
Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae)
Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos)
Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris)
Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)
Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea)
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus)
Australian King-Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)
Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius)
Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus)
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)
Purple-backed/Variegated Fairywren (Malurus assimilis/lamberti)
Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus)
Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta)
Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)
Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca)
Torresian Crow (Corvus orru)
Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena)
Fairy Martin (Petrochelidon ariel)
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)

Birding

Why I love to bird watch goes beyond what can be expressed in written form. It is many things intertwined that form my passion. It is staring at a tree for minutes on end and the sign of contentment as your eyes and brain finally click and you can see the tiny bird flitting through the leaves.

Why I love to bird watch goes beyond what can be expressed in written form. It is many things intertwined that form my passion. It is staring at a tree for minutes on end and the sigh of contentment as your eyes and brain finally click and you can see the tiny bird flitting through the leaves. It is hearing the slightest of rustles and knowing you are being watched by a little ball of feathers. It is understanding the behaviours of the birds to such a degree you can distinguish them from a peripheral glance at their flight pattern.

Pair of galahs flying into the sunset at Bladensburg National Park. Backlit mulga trees. Sunset very yellow, tint of pale blue sky still visible. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature Guide of South East Queensland
Galahs (Eolophus roseicapilla) flying into the sunset at Bladensburg National Park

The overarching reason I love to bird watch is the knowledge it brings with it. This is not necessarily the more imperical knowledge essential to birding such as, ‘if the middle toe is one third more elongated it equals that bird rather than that bird’. It is the knowledge of a world hidden in plain sight.

Australian bustard somewhere in South West Queensland. Bustard walking over grass tussocks. Eucalyptus in the background. Very dry ground.  Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland
For such a large bird, the Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) is remarkably able to go unseen

To simply sit, breathe and open your senses to the world to feel, not actively think, your surroundings. Subsconsciously reading the signs that you are nearing a bird and positioning yourself for it to flit across your path. Such a simple joy but it is pure.

Male Mulga parrot perched near its tree hollow nest at Bowra Sanctuary, QLD. Mulga parrot has aqua head and chest, red belly and yellow under tail. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland
Male Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius) at Bowra Sanctuary

Bird watching in this manner does not require a list of rarities to be ticked. Although if a rarity does cross the path excitement is hardly containable. I am content and often rather excited, to meet familiar faces. Peaceful doves, white-winged choughs and brown honeyeaters may be regualrs but they are fascinating nonetheless.

Diamond dove perched on dead branch. Diamond dove identified by the flecks of white on the wings and red circle around eye. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding a nature guide of South East Queensland.
Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata) perched on a dead branch somewhere in outback Queensland

There are worlds within worlds in front of our very eyes. The birds, frogs, bees, bats and all other manner of animal live their own lives usually distinct from that of a human. Occassionally our paths will cross and we can but hypothesise what it would be to live in their world.

Juvenile square tailed kite flying overhead at Wildash. It is backed by blue sky with wisps of white fluffy cloud in lower left corner. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guiding service of South East Queensland
Juvenile square tailed kite (Lophoictinia isura) flying overhead at Wildash

If you would like to learn how to bird watch, refine your skills or join a group of like minded people, I bird watch every Friday from 7am in the Warwick area. Tomorrow (31/05/2019) I will be back at my usual spot on the Condamine River for the final time. One last chance to photograph those Azure Kingfishers! Bird Watching is currently free!

A Simple Step

Each step we take leaves an impression on the world. This is both true in a metaphorical and a literal sense. The soil is a vast ecosystem whose complexities we have barely begun to scratch the surface of understanding.

Each step we take leaves an impression on the world. This is both true in a metaphorical and a literal sense. The soil is a vast ecosystem whose complexities we have barely begun to scratch the surface of understanding. What we do know is that the greater the trauma to the soil, the less productive it is. This is one of the philosophies behind ‘no plough’ farming.

National Parks have paths to not only direct you to the more picturesque areas but to limit the human impact on the park. This provides the area relief from the high traffic of National Parks and allows orchids to flourish, seedlings to emerge and invasive weeds never have the chance to establish.

It is important to recognise that each step you take will change the area that your foot touches. It is easier to empathise with the soil if you see it as an organism that will react each time you tred upon it. When walking off path I choose to follow already established animal tracks to limit my own impact. When no tracks are available I take each step with great care and consideration.

My own understanding (limited as it is) and appreciation of the soil is what leaves me angered and frustrated at the arrogance of others.

Emma standing in the wheel rut created by someone four-wheel driving over a small hump. Emma is 169cm tall and the rut reaches to her hip. Eucalypts are seen in the background.
At its deepest point the rut was approximately 90cm deep

In this photo I stand in the wheel tracks left behind by a 4WDriver. I myself love to explore and have done so via vehicle, even at times 4WDriving. so perhaps I am a little hypocritical but never would I cause such severe devastation as this, particularly in a reserve.

During and after floods it is relatively common for farmers to become bogged as they transport vital supplies across their properties. Such an instance might leave evidence akin to this behind. This is hardly a desirable outcome but traversing muddy areas is done as a last resort because of not only the devastation it leaves behind and the harm it causes to the machinery. I would argue that these ruts were created because someone wanted to see if they could get over the muddy hump. The only need was satisfying their ego.

How many years will it be before this scar is gone? For how long will no grass be able to grow let alone our cherished wildflowers? When the rain next falls (fingers crossed for sooner rather than later) it will rush down these divets causing further erosion. The water will gather speed and collect soil particles, vital minerals and organic matter as it courses through these funnels. These are the same essential components needed to heal this broken section of land. If you want to 4WD like this go to a designated property.

While it is important to limit our use of plastics and/or non-recycable items, including straws and coffee cups, I would prefer everyone to think a little more on their overal impact. Do not just stop using these things because someone told you to, understand and appreciate why it is necessary. There are endless items we need to cut down on but until we change our mindset the natural world is all but lost.

I know I have a long way to go before I reach a ‘sustainable’ lifestyle. Many of us are trying in our own little ways and that is fantastic. I doubt any one of us can claim we are perfect. I just wonder if the person driving this vehicle think they are environmentally conscious because they use a keep cup and are out enjoying nature.

Jumpers and Jazz in July

Our town had created a festival where we would dress the trees up in jumpers and yarn bomb everything from handrails to bicycles to ponies.

When I was around 13 I was walking down the main street with my sister when we noticed the trees were wrapped in wool, crochet and knitting. We had no idea why and it would take several days until we solved the puzzle and then a few years more to understand.

Random assortment of dolls, scarves and music notes hanging from a tree for Jumpers and Jazz in July. Jumpers and Jazz in July is a winter festival held in Warwick. Photo by Peter Hackney,
Photo: Peter Hackney

Our town had created a festival where we would dress the trees up in jumpers and yarn bomb everything from handrails to bicycles to ponies. Oh and TJ Byrnes’ statue opposite the post office would have a beanie and scarf added.

TJ Byrnes Monument in his seasonal scarf and beanie. Photo: Warwick Art Gallery. TJ Byrnes has scarf and beanie added for Jumpers and Jazz festival.
TJ Byrnes Monument in his seasonal scarf and beanie. Photo: Warwick Art Gallery

Jumpers and Jazz in July has evolved from a somewhat strange concept to a fully thriving festival that brings muscians, artists and artisans to our country town. What I love even more is watching our local businesses pull out all the stops as the spotlight is shone upon them. There will be jazz playing down the main street, the cafes will be filled with artists drinking coffee and the trees will be wearing their own unique woollen creations.

The town will be flooded with tourists coming to investigate the eccentric but lively festival. The program is yet to be released for this year’s festival but there will be a laneway party, suitcase rummage, dancing and lots and lots of food and local wine.

Winter Holidays at Jumpers and Jazz in July winter festival. Volkswagon van and caravan covered in crocheted squares.  Owners posing in front of van.
‘Winter Holidays’ at Jumpers and Jazz in July
Jumpers and Jazz in July display at the Warwick Art Gallery. Display is of a yarn bombed, crocheted caravan/cart and a brown tree on top of crocheted grass. Cmapfire and seats and a classic lawnmower against a crocheted backdrop.
Jumpers and Jazz in July display at the Warwick Art Gallery

In the spirit of the festival I will be hosting bird watching workshops and leading nature walks and hikes for attendees. Dates to be announced!

The Bird Report

Every Friday at 7am I am off bird watching somewhere in the Warwick area. Today I was at the Condamine River a little North-west of Henry Joppich Park.

Every Friday at 7am I am off bird watching somewhere in the Warwick area. Today I was at the Condamine River a little North-west of Henry Joppich Park.

Condamine River near Henry Joppich Park, Warwick South East Queensland. Eucalypts, weeping willows in the morning light at Condamine River, Warwick. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland.

The highlight of the morning was three Azure Kingfishers and a juvenile white-bellied sea eagle. The clouds of fairy martins were also wonderful to see.

Peaceful dove (Geopelia placida) sitting in a eucalypt on the edge of the Condamine River, Warwick. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding a nature guide of South East Queensland.

The Regulars

  • Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca)
  • Pied currawong (Strepera graculina)
  • Torresian crow (Corvus orru)
  • Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides)
  • Black Faced cuckoo shrike (Coracina novaehollandiae)
  • Crested pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)
  • Black kite (Milvus migrans)
  • Whistling kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
  • Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius elecica)
  • Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea)
  • Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
  • Welcome swallow (Hirundo neoxena)
  • Willie wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)
  • Fairy martin (Petrochelidon ariel)
  • Australian Wood duck (Chenonetta jubata)
  • Pacific black duck (Anas superiliosa)
  • Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius)
Condamine River near Henry Joppich Park, Warwick South East Queensland. Eucalypts, weeping willows in the morning light at Condamine River, Warwick. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland.

My Favourites

  • Variegated Fairy Wren (Malurus lamberti)
  • Superb Fairy Wren (Malurus cyaneus)
  • Grey fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa)
  • White bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
  • Peaceful dove (Geopelia placida)
  • Brown honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta)
  • Caspian tern (Sterna caspia)
  • White faced heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)

Even More Special

  • Azure Kingfisher
  • Black throated finch

The ‘Please Go Aways’

Common myna (Acridotheres tristis)

Condamine River near Henry Joppich Park, Warwick South East Queensland. Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature Guide of South East Queensland is walking down river. Eucalypts, weeping willows in the morning light at Condamine River, Warwick. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland.

If you’re keen to join send me a message or click the button below

#TATP2019

The Adventure Therapy Project is off! I was fortunate enough to be one of the service providers of the project and led the Interpretative Walk. It was a lot of fun and I hope the attendants had fun as well.

The Adventure Therapy Project is off! I was fortunate enough to be one of the service providers of the project and led the Interpretative Walk. It was a lot of fun and I hope the attendants had fun as well.

Those Questions…

Unfortuantely there are many women who are uncomfortable in the outdoors because of their biology. I would be willing to bet that many of these women would be more comfortable if they were able enough to ask for advice from other women.

“umm…Emma…?”

Several anonynmous girls and women

This quote is the start of a question that the asker is embarrassed to ask. Questions frequently include:

“umm… Emma… how do you pee in the bush?”

Anonymous woman

“umm… Emma… what would you do if you have your period?”

Woman after finding out we would not see a toilet tomorrow

“umm…Emma… Will a snake bite me while I’m… umm… yeah… If it did, how do you bandage that…?”

Woman who had learnt the toilet was a hole she would dig in the ground

Women do have extra challenges to overcome when working in the field or adventuring in the outdoors. Not to say men do not have challenges it’s just women are designed a certain way and have certain biological functions that men do not usually need to worry about.

Unfortuantely there are many women who are uncomfortable in the outdoors because of their biology. I would be willing to bet that many of these women would be more comfortable if they were able enough to ask for advice from other women.

I personally love when I am asked one of ‘those questions’. Quite frankly I am flattered that I have this person’s trust and they judge I might have a solution to their problem. Most of all, I just love being in the position to help women be comfortable in their own bodies and get them one step closer to achieving their potential.

These are all questions I can discuss with you at Hike Your Mountain.

Do you have a question you want an answer to but don’t want to ask it publicly? Submit your question via this anonymous google form