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The bird club

Published 25 Mar 2022 

Published 14 Jan 2022. Words by Danika Davis.

When the pandemic hit, and movement was limited across the country in various ways, Bush Heritage staff got together virtually to form an ‘Iso Bird Club’.

Finding peace and calm

Liz Hackett, Data Team Leader

Liz’s joy after sighting a Tufted Duck. Photo by Paul Hackett.
Liz’s joy after sighting a Tufted Duck. Photo by Paul Hackett.

“If everyone was into birding, the world would be a more peaceful place,” is what my darling husband Paul used to say. My mantra is, ‘If you don’t notice it, how can you care about it?’

A connection with nature is a deep human need and birding is an easy way to connect; especially for those in inner cities. I love birding because it connects me to my husband and nature. It calms me, makes me happy and I just love watching and listening to the natural world.

My advice on starting the wonderful journey of birding? Notice the common birds in your area, notice changes in them, notice what they do during the year. Grab a field guide (book or app), find a pair of binoculars (inexpensive ones are just fine!), find a kindred birding spirit and start a learning process that will give you so much pleasure for the rest of your life!

My favourite sighting? So hard to choose! Probably when my hubby and I saw five Orange-bellied Parrots (Neophema chrysogaster) on the one tree on our third date.

Exploring new places

Jenna Griffith, Direct Marketing Coordinator

Red-backed Fairywren. Photo by Barry Baker.
Red-backed Fairywren. Photo by Barry Baker.

I’ve always loved animals – great and small. Living in Meanjin (Brisbane), my experience with birds has mainly been lorikeets, friendly magpies and dive bombing Noisy Miners.

My turning point in catching the birdwatching bug was when a friend and I were walking through the Boondall Wetlands earlier this year. We heard, and then spotted, a pair of Red-backed Fairywrens (Malurus melanocephalus). My heart skipped a beat and I audibly gasped. I couldn’t wait to tell our birdwatching group at Bush Heritage.

When I bird watch alone, it’s like a form of silent meditation. I don’t listen to anything other than the sounds of nature and I look up and around, rather than down. Some days I don’t spot a new bird, but I always come home happy from being in nature.

It’s encouraged me to explore conservation areas, parks and reserves in my local area. Stepping into these places, I’m reminded of the importance of having spaces that are protected to help our feathered friends flourish. This includes Bush Heritage’s reserves, which our wonderful supporters help to protect.

A dose of motivation

Helene Aubault and Kyle Barton, Ethabuka Reserve Managers

Helene, Gwenaelle and Kyle. Photo by Krystle Wright.
Helene, Gwenaelle and Kyle. Photo by Krystle Wright.

Living on Ethabuka, we can be isolated by distance and water, so birdwatching is a great way to pass the weekends by going for a walk in the bush. You get to see the changes that the seasons and rainfall bring. (And who doesn’t like ticking things off lists?) Our two-year-old daughter Gwenaelle loves it too.

We joined the bird club this year to socialise and to learn what people all over the country are seeing. It’s added a good dose of motivation to keep up with our annual list – and has been great for planning future holidays!

If you are a beginner, our tip is to go out and start. Initially the common birds will be easiest to identify, but as time goes on and your skills increase, so will the number of birds you see.

Our best sighting is the Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) - we have seen a couple! We were also pretty chuffed to see an Eastern Bristlebird (Dasyornis brachypterus) a few years ago. Gwenaelle will have parrots or turkeys as her favourites, but we reckon her best sighting is a Grey Falcon (Falco hypoleucos)!

The comical and curious

Beth Hales, daughter of Yourka Reserve Managers Paul and Leanne Hales

Blue-faced Parrotfinch. Photo by Beth Hales.
Blue-faced Parrotfinch. Photo by Beth Hales.

I have loved watching birds for as long as I can remember. Dad is a keen birdwatcher and has always pointed them out to us, providing lots of opportunities to see unique and interesting species. I guess that interest rubbed off on me. I especially love sitting still in silence, watching comical and curious bird behaviour like the Great Bowerbird (Chlamydera nuchalis) tending his treasures, or the brazen, Grey-crowned Babblers (Pomatostomus temporalis) stripping the spline from the kitchen flyscreens at Yourka.

It was actually Mum who encouraged me to join the bird club. She thought it could be fun to keep a tally of all the birds that I observe in one year. It’s also been a great opportunity to hone my identification skills because now I need to detect the subtle differences between the ‘little-brown-bird’ species so that I can add them to my list.

There’s so much to love about birds. Their vibrant colours, patterns and physical beauty. Their exquisite and intricate calls and distinctive personalities. From sassy parrots to feisty wagtails to timid Orange-footed Scrubfowls, birdwatching is a really rewarding hobby and I encourage everyone to give it a try.