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