At day break today …

I woke at first light, at 4:40 am and headed to Woody Lake this morning in Esperance.  It was my goodbye visit, at least, for this year.  The smaller birds were out and about.  A lone pelican claimed the lake.  I claimed the rest of the reserve shared with birds.  DSCN9882.jpgThe tiny silvereye was young and bold, sitting exposed and facing the sun.DSCN9904.jpgThe Willy Wagtail chick was shiny as a new penny …DSCN9905.jpglooking intently into the distance with wisdom in beady eyes.DSCN9909.jpgThe young crested pigeon was gorgeous with ruffled feathers.DSCN9945.jpgWhat delighted me the most was the juvenile grey fantail.DSCN9950.jpgThis little one had the sweetest call, an overture that filled the canopy it sat underneath.DSCN9951.jpgThen a moment of quiet, except for my heartbeat.DSCN9957.jpgThe young wattle bird found a perch here and there on banksia cones.  The distinctive metallic call silenced, or perhaps not yet developed.DSCN9964.jpgThis is the first time I’ve seen a Western spinebill and try as I may, I could not get a better pic but I know I’ll be back next year for it.

I was busy this trip being my last for a couple of months.  Plenty of things that needed tidying up.  I returned to my hotel each evening, too tired to go out, even for a massage.  I saved my energy for this morning.  The sights and sounds were a revelation.  I saw new life everywhere.  It was exactly what I needed.  This is the lure of bush walking.  The message is always a simple one for me.  Be prepared to connect.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

Birds do it …

DSCN9409.jpg

Before leaving Kununurra, I wandered around Celebrity Tree Park one last time, not knowing when I’ll visit again.  I climbed into the 4WD, this time the climb seemed summit.  It was hot.  I had walked around for several hours reluctant to leave.  My body weary from the wonderment I was taking home, I tilted my head back into the seat, and found myself travelling back to childhood and to a time of innocence.

I was a child of books.  I still am.  Curious about the world, places, people.  I devoured everything I read and was fortunate to be raised in a home that encouraged it.  And, what I am most grateful for is having a father whose philosophy was quite simple.  He believed and instilled this in me, what you know, exponentially increases what you don’t know.  It’s a humbling thought.  So the learning continues …

While in reverie a movement in the frangipani tree caught my eye and I found a magpie lark busy.  This is a common bird found everywhere but I have never seen one build a nest before.  Fascinated I watched the bird for a good half an hour, the 4WD my perfect discreet hide.  She/he gathered enough mud from the banks of the Lily Creek Lagoon and flew up to the nest, neatly smoothing and moulding.  It never faltered in the heat.  Focused, the intent obvious, this was for family.

As my father would say, be open to learning.  Watching this industrious bird, I would have to agree with him.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

 

When one helps another ….

DSCN9526.jpgOne of my favourite proverbs is “When one helps another, both are stronger”.  I believe it is a German proverb.  The picture above illustrates this.  I’m told these birds bead together, wing to wing, to appear larger to raptors.  If birds help each other, have humans lost the art and science of helping?  I don’t believe so.  The following story gives me hope.

I work in what is broadly called ‘the helping profession’ but there are strict parameters to what I do and how.  Increasingly, I’ve come to the realisation, anyone who is in the business of providing a service to another, is in the helping profession.  One does not need years of study and a degree to do this.  Working in rural and at times remote places, I no longer am anxious about getting ill.  I have had three episodes of illness in all the years I’ve travelled and in each instance, people have shown nothing but kindness.  Today let me share something with you …

A few months ago I disembarked from a horrendous flight.  It was winter, the winds were strong and the plane small.  I could not choose my seat and was near the engine.  I sat curled up, recoiling from the noise and the storm for two hours.  As I came down the stairs, I felt a breathtaking pain in my arm.  I dismissed it and when the luggage arrived in the shed (yes, it was that kind of airport!), I bent down to pick up my case and found I had no strength in my arm.  The pain, too, was still there.  I knew it was not a heart attack.  I knew it was not a stroke either.  I stayed calm and went looking for a pharmacy for good ole Deep Heat and paracetamol.

Too unwell to eat, I went to bed early and woke around 1 am.  Deep Heat had not taken the edge off the pain.  The pain, now making me ill.  I called the emergency health line, the nurse triaged me and then directed my call to a doctor.  We talked at length and he was satisfied, I didn’t need an ambulance but he suggested I see a doctor the next day.  To see a GP these days in the city, one has to predict illness about four days in advance.  I also know an appointment in rural areas where services are limited, can be weeks.  I didn’t like my chances.

Morning came, I found a doctor not two minutes from my hotel.  I rang their number at 7:30 am just checking to see if they were operational.  To my surprise they open the clinic early morning.  The clinic reception staff listened to distress and advised me she would fit me in immediately.  The next challenge was getting dressed.  Impossible!  To my utter surprise I had a swelling over my shoulder and collar bone.  That explains it, I thought, I’ve broken my collar bone.  I threw a shawl over my top and headed for the doctor.  Easier said than done!

The doctor’s rooms were impossible to find.  Often in rural areas, people describe an address because replacing street signs seems redundant.  People know where everyone lives and everything is.  After half an hour of driving in extreme distress, I finally realised when the receptionist said “in front of the shops”, she meant adjacent.  This is only after she volunteered to stand outside and wave me down the main street.  I got out of my car, and walked towards her.  She saw my distress and gently put her arms around me and guided me in.  She ushered me into a room and away from a waiting room filled with patients.  As I tried to compose myself we chatted briefly and I disclosed I was visiting for work.  She sat holding my hand and said firmly, “You have no one in town.  I’m not leaving you alone”.  She and I knew, she didn’t have to do this, but she did.

The sequelae to this event was a non-event.  X-rays, hospital visit etc came up nil.  I later found out I had an extraordinarily severe muscle cramp, probably from being tense flying in a storm!

That event is nearly forgotten.  I have flown many times since then, and recently found myself back in the town again.  I bought some flowers and a box of chocolates and requested to see the lady who helped me.  She was seated in the back of the office.  I didn’t think she would recognise or remember me, but she did.  I gave her what I had brought with me and she protested, “no, no, I was just doing my job”.  I told her, “Maybe, but you did your job with kindness”.

As I head out yet again with just an overnight stay at home, I’m packing this story with me.  The woman’s words of kindness, a reminder, we are never alone.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

Purple Swamphens, in the West

Responding to Tracy’s invitation on Purple Swamphen … here’s my contribution.

It is a rare visit to Big Swamp, Bunbury when I don’t come across one or more purple swamphen.  DSCN8353Poised on the grassy bank.DSCN0334.jpgOr feedingDSCN0335.jpgThe blues shimmer into indigo and purple when they move.DSCN0336.jpgThey are usually shy but also protective.  Their warning call is a fearsome screech.DSCN9057.jpgThis was a rare sighting of a chick this spring.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

Look this way!

Much like cyberspace, early morning in Big Swamp is noisy.  It is filled with tweets and squawks.

During my recent trip I found the air was filled with the high pitched squeaks of honeyeaters, the melodic songs of the Willy Wagtails, and the pained cry of the swamp hens as I approached.  The musk duck was being chased by another, the paddle speed of webbed feet on water, fast and furious.

I slowed my pace as I approached the boardwalk.  It is the intention, that slowing down of body and mind, that brings me here each time.DSCN9061.jpgI know the Welcome Swallows love sitting on the rails, facing the sun.  Sometimes they get used to my presence and accommodate my curiosity.  I’ve learned to extend the lens only when they look away, as movement is always a signal for flight.DSCN9089.jpgTo my surprise I found some Swallows on the ground near my feet. DSCN9091.jpgFear set aside, they were busy with nest building, focused on task.DSCN9115.jpgA slight movement from the corner of my eye caught my attention, a fairy blue wren darting and hopping among the foliage.  No matter how many times I see them, the flash of blue always makes my heart skip a beat.  DSCN9126.jpgThe male wren stood still for a moment.  So perfect.  It looked like an enamelled ornament, with blues upon blues found in sky and sea.DSCN9128.jpgIn contrast, the female’s beauty, is subtle.  Perhaps this is nature’s intention.DSCN9131.jpg While the male distracts she tends to her family, almost invisible, among debris.

Distraction is a powerful tool.  These tiny little creatures know this instinctively.  They use it for survival.

People in power know this too.

As I read today’s news headlines, I wonder …

Do we?

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Feels like home

I’ve just returned from Bunbury.  If there is no traffic, the drive there is a steady two hours on a straight freeway that becomes a major highway to the South West.  Monotonous if one perceives that to be.  Not me.  I know what awaits me there. DSCN9030.jpgI got to Bunbury just moments before the sun slipped into the Indian Ocean.  A moment of pause for me and others too it would seem.DSCN9079.jpgThis morning I was up early and headed to Big Swamp where the bottlebrush is blooming.DSCN9057.jpgAmong the reedy grass I caught a glimpse of a swamp hen chick, not yet purple, blue and red.DSCN9097The Welcome Swallow chick was a delightful ball of fluffy feathers.  It is so new, it didn’t know fear of me.DSCN8978.jpgThere were chicks every where making a silent call for food.DSCN8996.jpgA young New Holland honeyeater obliged with a moment of stillness.DSCN9125.jpgThen came the Splendid Blue Fairy Wren, in his gorgeous feathers of blue.DSCN9127.jpgAfter a frantic game of chase, he rested with his mate.DSCN9136.jpgOn the other side of the boardwalk, the big cormorant ignored my presence.  I’ve not seen this type of cormorant here before.  It sat on the branch for the whole of two hours I was there.  Probably still there!

I spend a couple of hours here each time I visit Bunbury.  Even the regular walkers now know me by face and update me on what’s new in the wetlands.

As the late Duchess of Windsor purportedly said, home is where the heart is, so this morning, home was here.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

She comes to the door of the B&B, her smile is 100 watt dazzle.  Slumped over the walking frame, she looks a couple of generations older, but I’m sure she’s not.  Her home is period.  She tells me it was cut and transported piece by piece from Kalgoorlie where it was a boarding house.  It is endlessly large with high ceilings.  She has beautiful taste.  She bought the home for a pittance and renovated it faithful to the period.  Everything in the home was bought for next to nothing.  Huge jarrah posts discarded by a farmer for $8 a piece, she tells me, laughter making her eyes shine.  We both know the posts would cost hundreds of dollars in the city.  Stained glass windows discarded by someone else exchanged or bartered, one is always lucky to find them, we know this too.  She has polished, painted and brushed it all back to life from another century.  She has grand plans for so much more and not allowed pain or limited mobility to dampen her enthusiasm.

My bedroom is blue and white.  The bed, one of the most comfortable I’ve had in a long time.  I was too exhausted to eat, so I lay down in the white warmth and slept fitfully only to wake early evening to water running.  I follow the sound outdoors.DSCN8486.jpgHer garden is a delight.  I stop to take a picture here and there.DSCN8539.jpgThe ornamental almond tree was frosted white.DSCN8543.jpgThe ornamental peach tree bloomed elsewhere.DSCN8528.jpgThere were bulbs bejewelled with bees.DSCN8545.jpgI found this in one corner, my camera sees what she hasn’t in a long time.  “How on earth did that bloom there?”, she asks me, and we both laugh at her surprise. DSCN8496.jpgI loved the white flowers in another corner and asked her what they were.  She tells me, they are English May, a cutting from her grandmother’s garden.  It’s something she cherishes.  Not hard to see why.DSCN8510.jpgShe is seated on a plastic chair, crutches to the side, water hose in hand dousing dirt in front of her with about 15 silver eye keeping her company.  They dig into the damp soil for tasty morsels.  She giggles like a little girl at their antics.

I step away into the background, camera in hand and reflect.

If this is old age ….

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird