These last two weeks have been unusually stressful and busy for us both as we come into the New Year, and this week I have not had the privilege of Birding. You might ask, when looking at the above photo, what makes a person want to rise early on a winters morning and travel for 2 hours and walk around the sewerage ponds of a country town in -2°C (28.4°F) frosty cold fog in search of a particular bird? My wife and I have, and she took this photo of me months ago.
So the question is often asked what is the difference between Birdwatcher, Birder , Twitcher, and Ornothologist? Simply, a Birdwatcher is someone who recreationaly has outings looking for birds without necessarily seeking any particular type of bird, but just enjoying what they see, and being thankful for what they find. A Birder is more committed to seeking particular bird species, in particular ‘lifers’ (viewing new birds they have not yet seen in the wild). They are more full on into birdwatching, but they have it under control.
You probably recognize these three comedians who starred in the 2011 American comedy ‘The Big Year’ , which every birder should see to remind them of what really is important in life. A Twitcher is really an obsessed or addicted Birder, who is not so much interested any longer in the recreational enjoyment of the birds themselves but in the competitive compulsive drive to notch up the largest number of new birds to their list. Twitchers have placed their bird observation above everything else in their life, which as the movie shows, the true winners were the losers. The twitchers, in the movie, who came to their senses and pulled out of the Big Year syndrome, saved their marriages and family life, which is so much more important.
viewing birds from afar
Lastly, the Ornothologist is a scientist who has made the study of birds their vocation in life. They study carefully all they can about birds, their breeding and feeding habits and become very involved in the ongoing conservation of bird species. The above photo depicts a tour from the Broome Bird Observatory which is hosted by Birdlife Australia, a body committed to the ornithological preservation of Australia bird species:
As a Birder I suggest new bird species I would like to discover. Last year you remember for me the Blue Billed Duck was my goal. You saw in several of my posts how my wife and I tried many times to pursue this elusive and extremely shy duck, but finally mid year a young birder blog follower revealed where I would find them. However, on each occasion we were blessed with many other beautiful birds for which we were truly thankful for.
While in Broome we did hope to see Brolga, but they were not there because it was too dry, but we did see the elusive Yellow Chat, which other birders have told me were not there when they visited. As the sun set we realised that we had to be content with the treasures we had seen on the day’s outing.
This year I was tempted to put up a list of target birds, but I declined to do so, I am a Recreational Birder, and I am content to stay there. You notice I do not post many of the Latin bird names, and my explanations are very down to earth. My main interest is to share the appreciation and learning as a delight more than a study. From my counseling studies we learn important life truths about our pursuits in our life journey. If you want to stay happy do not have any expectations in life, just experience joyful unexpected discoveries. Unfulfilled expectations is the source of most our anger and frustration in life. We wish we were God but we are not, and situations occur that are not to our liking. How do we deal with this… How we deal with these occurrences will reflect in our lives…
Expectation -> Disappointment -> Sadness & Anger -> Depression
The solution is to have an Attitude of Gratitude and receive every occasion in life as a beautiful gift and an opportunity for surprise, discovery and achievement of personal growth .
The good thing about our Birding adventures is that we include them in whatever we do, so that they become part of a holiday or outing. The enjoyment is not just birds but the people we meet and the lovely vistas we engage. I read in a birding alert website this week that Brolgas were seen near Grafton on the north coast. This is my first Brolga photo when in Broome in 2009.
I thought that would be so cool to see a flock of 50 plus Brolgas, maybe they would dance. Back in ‘reality-ville’ that would be foolish thinking at this time, but if I was a Twitcher, I would be there by now, by hook or by crook, but at what cost to myself and relationships. So I plan to visit that area as part of a holiday in a few months time. The Brolgas may not be there, but that is alright, as every opportunity brings a blessing, even if it is not the one we seek at the time. We saw this one by surprise at Tidbinbilla in Canberra a few years ago. Click on photo to enlarge it.
I know God will grant me the opportunity probably on an unexpected occasion making it all the more enjoyable. A good example of this was in my very early birding experience when I pursued the Magpie Goose all the way to the Top End of Australia in the famous Yellow Waters in Kakadu National Park where they nest. I did not see any, which was disappointing, and just before the tour was leaving, and people were waiting for me, I prayed “Lord, please let me see one!” and in seconds, I tell you no lie! the following movie was captured, and that was all I saw of them so I thought.
However on a recent review of my movie from that year, and having more birding knowledge, I realised that I had captured them in flight earlier on the same tour, but again, only distant and in flight.
Three years ago on a visit to the Hunter Wetlands Centre in Newcastle NSW (of all places!) we saw a large flock of this unusual bird on an island viewable from the cafe. To our extreme delight they were Magpie Geese being bred there for re habitation in our south eastern Australia where they use to be in large number. They probably became food for the early European settlers. God had given us our heart’s desire as a surprise gift when we were not looking for it. He loves to surprise and delight his children.
Australia has two native geese, the Magpie and the Cape Barren, both I have posted on my travels throughout Australia.
Another aspect to bird photography and the delight of birding is the artistic, which we all try to capture. Like most birders we catch scenes, wildlife and wildflowers along with our birds, as it is all part of the beautiful habitat the birds as well as ourselves enjoy. One area of birding I delight in and shared with my blogging friend Birders Journey whom I follow, in a recent post Reflection in the Mangroves is that of Bird Reflections. You get twice as much beauty from your photo, and if the water is still a mirror image where it is difficult to tell the true photo from the reflection. This requires catching the tide so to speak, it also depends on the wind factor and of course the availability of the bird itself to remain. These are but a few you may have seen in previous posts.
As you can see I love the Black-stilt reflections, waders are in the right place for reflection photos. The Red-necked Avocet, a friend of the Stilt also is a stunner.
This brings me to the end of this post. I apologise for not having new material, but I do hope the insights to birding I have shared encourage a healthy aspect to your birding experience, and a greater appreciation for the One Who Makes It All Possible placing each beautifully and intelligently designed bird in its own particular habitat, from whence they thrive, find their food and breed successfully.
“For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!” – Psalm 92:4-5
I have a new page on my website called MyBirdSightings which lists the locations and bird species sighted by my wife and I during 2017. It may be helpful to other Aussie birders and touring birders from other countries which I encounter from time to time.
Have a great week, sorry for the late post. My book is now available in five major National Parks shops in our state! If you have not seen it, check our my birdbook page for more info or purchase it online.