Accidental Ornithologist

Wikipedia tells me that Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds… it’s a word that I would never, in my wildest dreams, thought I would identify with.  If you had told me even this time last year that I would become interested in birds… I would have scoffed in disbelief… it’s just not something that would have ever crossed my mind.  But as I sit at the peddler (taking myself out for brunch and crossing no. 68 off the list) I can tell you that so far on my little brunch expedition I have only seen one type of bird, Common Mynas… I can also tell you that they are an introduced species but that they are different from the Australian, or Noisy Mynas… because now I can tell them apart.

I’m not really sure where this interest has come from, but if I was to hazard at a guess I would say it has been a combination of things:

  • Since having Isaac, I have been walking more and generally spending more time outside.
  • I have also been told ad nauseum that you should talk to your baby because it is good for everything… so we have been talking more…
  • and as much as I hate to admit it, I have an uncontrollable need to know facts… to be a bit of a know it all.  Plus I don’t like to make things up… I have this irrational fear that Isaac will be at school sharing a fun fact and someone will tell him he is wrong and he will look like a tiny fool because mum made something up.

So while walking with Isaac I started to run out of things to talk about… and so I started to point things out.  And it turns out, when you are out walking you can find a lot of things, the most obvious being trees and birds… and while I would love to be able to identify all the plants and trees we walk by, birds seemed like a simpler option.  So I found myself googling birds… and I think it is starting to get out of hand.

There is a beautiful lake about 1km from our place which we have been walking to and around a lot.  Before Isaac was born I think we perhaps walked up there a handful of times, but now we are up there multiple times a week.  It’s very pretty and a good distance… not too far, but a far enough for a good walk… plus I have found a little 5km circuit that I can do which is fun.  Anyway, the point is we have been walking there a lot and most of the time there are the same birds… so I learnt them all… Mynas, Magpies, Gallahs, Cockatoos, Swamp Hens (or as our partially NZ home likes to call them Pukekos), Woodland Ducks, Eurasian Coots and some Spotted Doves.  Not a huge number… but enough for me to remember and talk to Isaac about as we walk.  I have also just realised that this is probably already too much bird talk… sorry guys… I told you it’s out of control… bear with me I’m almost done.

So given my new found interest, I decided that to put on my list to learn about 3 new birds, birds that I couldn’t previously identify… a very nerdy addition to the list… but it’s my list and this is who I am… So what are my new birds, well I am glad you asked…

  1. Little Wattlebird – this is a little bird that used to live in the area that I grew up and I loved the sound of it’s song… whenever I hear it, it takes me back to my childhood home… but I didn’t know what it was until this year and it turns out they are also abundant down where our beach house is.
  2. Gang Gang Cockatoo – I spotted this guy while being a Parkrun tourist at Mullum Mullum… it is a very pretty bird… I think maybe even my new fav.
  3. Royal Spoonbill – This guy has a mullet and a spoon billed beak it’s pretty impressive and I had tentatively popped this on my list of new birds when we went to the Zoo in January… but I was hoping that I would find another neat (oh man… I am getting old) bird that I could find locally to add to this little list of three… because part of my felt like a zoo bird didn’t count. But… Enter summer… and walking at some different times of day and suddenly there have been more birds at the lake… Pelicans, Intermediate Egrets, Little Black Coromants, Masked Lapwings and… none other than the Royal Spoonbill.   I was so excited about seeing the Royal Spoonbill that I went back day after day… I also stopped an old man with binoculars walking into the park to tell him about it because I assumed that the binoculars meant he would be looking for wildlife… who actually knows… he seemed quite shocked by my enthusiasm.  I told you it’s getting out of control.

So three new birds for 2019 and a new hobby it would appear… It has also branched out further than just identifying them though… Isaac now has a plush Sulfur Crested Cockatoo and our house has some new Australian wild life coasters and mugs… mostly birds.   I don’t know how long it will last… but I do know that my walks are getting longer because I keep stopping to see the birds… but that I’m not mad about it… I either need to embrace it until the phase passes… or find a new running track for when timing matters.

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