It is National Bird Week and I have already completed one bird count for the Aussie Bird Count. I am aiming for at least one a day! Counting birds is the most wonderful mindfulness practice. When I record the birds I see and hear for twenty minutes my mind is calm and focused, enjoying a much needed brain break as I focus on birds flying overhead or bustling about in the shrubs. And we all need a bit of mental health support these days! Doing the count with a friend or relative is fun – I like counting with my mum each year.
Artist, illustrator and author Bridget Farmer has a wonderful pin celebrating the ‘Bird Noticer’. Bridget writes:
“I’ve been calling myself a bird noticer for quite some time now. At markets people would see my work and ask if I was a bird watcher and I felt I couldn’t quite claim that title because, due to young kids, I never had the time to be able to ‘watch’ birds. Instead I would always NOTICE them wherever I went. I’d drift off mid sentence while in conversation with someone because there was movement in the tree behind, or the dog would get very impatient with his stop/start walks. I’m sure these kinds of stories resonate with many of you, so I have created this pin for all my fellow bird noticers.”
The Aussie Bird Count is absolutely perfect for anyone who wants to bring up their bird noticing a notch – looking at them closely enough to identify their features and getting to know the names of the birds, and counting the number of birds you see.
The count can be done on a computer, but it really is easiest done on the Aussie Bird Count app (available for IOS or Android). To complete the Aussie Bird Count, you simply spend 20 minutes standing or sitting in one spot and noting down the birds that you see. You will need to count the number of each species you spot within the 20 minute period. For example, you might see 4 Australian Magpies, 2 Rainbow Lorikeets and a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. And the app is PERFECT for beginner birdwatchers, with a fantastically helpful bird finder function that narrows down the birds it could be according to your location and the description of the bird.
I have been a bird noticer and birdwatcher for ooh 40 years now! And one of my favourite things is to share my love of birds with others, especially those just starting out on this wonderful activity.
In May this year I led a bird walk for BirdLife Castlemaine and District at the wonderful Cobaws – a special little mini-mountain range jutting out of the lush agricultural land of Newham and Hesket – kind of north-west of Hanging Rock. It was a fabulous walk – we didn’t see an enormous number of species but we enjoyed the birds we did see, and the forest, and each others’ company.
Earlier that week I had been to check out the area (with my little dog Valli for company) and was absolutely blown away to get very good views of the elusive Bassian Thrush!
I was so close to the bird that I was able to take video footage on my phone – which I posted online saying excitedly:
‘Yes this is a OMFG Bassian Thrush just chillin’ on some granite while I video him or her with my phone!
Had an amazing look through my binoculars- their eyes are huge and they have so many face whiskers (or bristles as they are called)
And then while walking down the road I heard it calling! Sounds like a husky jazz version of the European Blackbird. Who is a distant relative!’
I was relaying this encounter to the group with much enthusiasm…Paula Peeters calls the moment a ‘nature thrill’. Perfect! We didn’t see or hear any Bassian Thrush that day but…
Months later!! Oh wow! Bridget Farmer gets in touch asking for my address because she wants to send me something – and it’s a pin. OF A BASSIAN THRUSH! From that moment! I was so moved I cried. Here is what Bridget wrote in her enews:
It’s funny, when I think of the people I know who are very good birders, most would be too shy to call themselves Birdo Supremo! I am going to risk it all and nominate some of my favourite Birdo Supremos who definitely need and deserve this pin: Jane Rusden, Chris Timewell, Michael Gooch, Janine Duffy, Damien Kelly, and Geoff Park – these people not only know their birds they spend a helluva lot of time and energy sharing this love and knowledge!
I feel like this pin is a tribute to all of us in the enthusiasm and sharing space who lead countless bird walks and answer countless bird questions! Doing this does take time and energy but frankly we wouldn’t have it any other way – it is an enormous privilege! For if we can get even just a few people ‘hooked’ on the joy of a nature thrill – well that is better for us humans and the birds isn’t it? Thank you, Bridget!
Bridget celebrates the beauty of birds, and she celebrates those that love them – young and old alike! Check out Bridget’s books, artwork, pins and much more here: https://bridgetfarmerprintmaker.com/