Australia · birds · clouds · garden flowers · in my garden · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · subtropical weather · summer · Tweed Valley

Plenty of Ibis – but no mountain

One day during the week, when I spotted an Ibis in the front garden, I soon discovered it was not alone. There were ten! I kid you not, I counted ten of these massive birds pecking through the overgrown grass, which, when it is dry enough to mow, we like to call our lawn.

Today I saw just four Ibis peck, peck, pecking away. Most people call these birds ‘Bin-Chickens’ – they are scavengers who will eat just about anything edible.

So as I wouldn’t frighten them away, I took my camera, ever so quietly, out the back door, snuck around to the side of the house, and zoomed in on them. It didn’t take long for their keen hearing to pick up on the fact that they were being watched, so they headed up the driveway to the road, undoubtedly searching for longer, greener pastures.

While taking photos of the Ibis, it occurred to me that I rarely take photos of a whole section of my garden. I usually – hmm, perhaps always – zoom in on the beauty of each individual flowering plant. For a change, today I took a photo of the garden beside my driveway. In this photo, I see New South Wales Christmas Bush, Gerberas, white Gaura, (lots of Gaura!) Duranta, Hydrangea, white and purple Buddleia, Port Wine Magnolia, lilac Daisies, and Roses. I do have the (unfair) advantage of knowing my garden though! And it goes against the grain not to show a close up of individual plants, so I won’t show full garden photos often – I promise. 😉

We had hot, dry weather today, and cloud so low that Mount Warning didn’t have a hope of making an appearance. The crazy-cloud patterns continued, hiding the setting sun as well. The weather has been so changable lately.

I wonder what tomorrow’s weather will bring …

Australia · birds · clouds · in my garden · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · subtropical weather · summer · sunset · Tweed Valley

Soul-ties

This afternoon, I had another visitor in my front garden, right near the front door. Yesterday it was the Pee Wees and a Butcher Bird – today, a Kookaburra. It’s my guess that the birds enjoy the coolness of my front garden, which is why they have been spending time there during the afternoon of the past two days. The weather has warmed again, but the humidity isn’t too bad at all.

From the amount of brown dirt smeared on his beak and feathers, I’d say this beauty has been foraging for worms recently. He patiently posed for a close-up photo session though, so I had to reward him with a small morsel of food.

This boy features in a few of my photos. I recognise him because of the bare patch in his upper chest feathers. He’s fairly tame, but just a tad reluctant to take food from my hand.

He listened intently to every word I said to him though. Some birds look deep into your soul – this particular bird can definitely connect on a spiritual level.

Connections between humans can – and should – be the same. We are all human beings, and when I read the words of Maya Angelou today, her wise words seemed more profound that ever –

“It’s very hard to hate someone if you look them in the eye and recognize them as a human being.” ~~ Maya Angelou.

This afternoon as the sun was setting, I noticed a few interesting cloud formations. Rain is predicted overnight, so I’m hoping we have a dry day tomorrow. Who knows – I might get some early morning gardening done, before the heat sets in again. 🙂

This cloud looks to me like a dragon flying across the sky, its wings expanded to either side as it sours across the mountain. Does anyone else see that, or am I reading too much Harry Potter? 😉

Australia · birds · clouds · in my garden · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · summer · Tweed Valley

Will he stay – or will he go?

Again today, the rain in the valley hid Mount Warning and kept the humidity in the air. At least this weather isn’t overly hot, so it is actually making summer more bearable than usual. 🙂

Ever since the little Pee Wee – or Magpie Lark – arrived in my garden. I have suspected he was a male, calling for a mate. Today, my suspicions were confinrmed. I saw three more Pee Wees arrive. There may have been more, but I only saw three, and immediately I noticed that one of them had different markings on its face, it had more white than my little friend. A trusty Google search has confirmed that my little friend is a male and one of his visitors – the one in the photo on the right – is a female. My little friend is on the left.

The others, including the female, didn’t stay long, so now I will have to wait and see if they return. Alternately, my little friend may leave, and if he does, I will miss hearing his happy little song each day. I’m hoping he will stay, but the choice is his. ❤

Australia · birds · gardening · in my garden · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · summer · Tweed Valley

Developing relationships – overcoming phobias.

The mountain is a tad dull today, more rain is predicted.

There’s something I have never shared before and it may surprise people who have known me online for some time.

Regularly, I share photos of birds. I feed some of the tamer wild birds by hand when they visit my garden. I worry if I don’t see my regulars for a while, and gush over them when they return.
For many years, however, I had a phobia of birds.

I don’t know to this day why they frightened me so much, they just did.

It wasn’t a phobia I could easily hide either. Every time a bird came near me, I panicked. I rarely shrieked – I’m not that vocal a person – but I would break out in a sweat and have to remove myself from the situation, wherever it was. It could be a friends home, a park, the beach, even in my own back yard. If a bird came near me, the sweats and shudders began.

Many well meaning people attempted to psychoanalyse me. I must have had a bad experience with a bird, or birds, as a child, I was told. Most ornithophobics can pinpoint their phobia to an incident. I couldn’t think of any traumatic incidences I had had as a child, so I asked my parents if they knew of anything. No, they said. They were as baffled as me.

Baby Magpie spotted me in the garden, so dropped by to say hello.

Had I watched the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds, I was asked. He’ll no! was my reply. I would like to get rid of my phobia, not exacerbate it.

Face your fears, I was advised. Have you tried hypnotherapy, I was asked. No – and no – I replied.

Eventually, I concluded that I would simply avoid places where there were likely to be birds. That seemed simple enough. I was determined not to pass my phobia onto my children, so tried to hide my fear of birds from them. I needn’t have bothered. Children can be surprisingly understanding, I discovered. The day we were picnicing in a National Park and I turned around to find a bush turkey standing right next to me, I jumped up on the picnic table to get away from it. My children chased it away, then they laughed and told me how silly I was to be afraid of birds.

The years passed by and I coped just fine with my phobia. It didn’t hinder my life too much, and I kept myself to myself while I was gardening. No birds came anywhere near me, until one day, a magpie dared to come within a couple of metres of where I was digging a garden bed.

I shrieked, the bird flapped and moved away from me, whilst eyeing me suspiciously. Didn’t that silly bird know who it was dealing with, I thought?

What’s up with her? the magpie’s expression seemed to suggest.

That was enough for me. I retreated indoors. My safe garden haven was no longer safe.

As I walked through the garden, Baby Magpie followed.

Something about that bird’s reaction stayed with me though. I realised a few things – firstly, the bird had not been afraid of me. Secondly, I had been more afraid of the bird. Most perplexing of all, the bird didn’t fly away when I reacted badly.

Finally, I concluded that the magpie had not meant to cause me any grief. It was as stunned by my reaction to it, as I had been in unexpectedly seeing a bird so close to me in the garden.

The magpie did not want to harm me! How amazing is that? That was my conclusion back then, and I was absolutely astounded by the realisation.

The next day I went out to the garden again. While digging and weeding, I kept a lookout for the magpie, and sure enough, it returned. The bird went about its business while I went about mine. When the magpie was ready to fly away, off it went. The magpie actually seemed to enjoy my company!

The next time I went into the garden, I took some food with me. When the magpie arrived, I threw a few scraps to it, and the bird seemed pleased with my meagre offerings.

Many generations of magpies have visited my garden since then, and over time I have discovered that birds have more to fear from people than we have from them.

The result of me beating my phobia of birds is well documented here on my blog. I never sought professional help to overcome my phobia, I simply learned to trust nature. I also learned to trust my own instincts, and my instincts nowadays always tell me that birds can be trusted. To clarify that point, if you treat birds well, they can be trusted. They react the same as most animals.

I still haven’t watched The Birds, and I never will. I haven’t had any nightmares about birds in several years either, so I do not intend tempting fate by putting myself in any position that will create doubt in my mind. I have many feathered friends now, and will do absolutely nothing that may compromise my freedom to love and enjoy them.

Clearly, this years baby magpie doesn’t know I’m a recovered ornithophobic, as that sweet little bird often tries to land on me! I must admit to some anxiety when he comes too close to my head, flapping his feathers, but I cope.

Baby Magpie continued to follow me, right down the back of the garden.

The photos in today’s post were taken about two weeks ago. It had been raining, and between showers I went outside to take a few photos. Baby magpie saw me, so followed me as I walked around the garden. When I stopped to take photos, he perched nearby and waited. When I moved on, he followed me. Like all the other generations of magpies before him, baby magpie enjoys my company. And I enjoy his company. It’s as simple as that.

I hope by telling my story, it might help someone who has a fear or even an unexplained phobia. I can’t offer any magical cure, all I can advise is to find another point of view to consider the problem from. Stay rational and calm, think the situation through with a clear mind, and go with the flow. Try not to fight your fear. It was when I decided to relax that I grew to love birds.

It’s difficult to describe the difference between a fear and a phobia, but there definitely is a difference. While both can be controlled by mind-power if we so choose, from my experience, fears can be faced and overcome. From my own experience, fear is more a state of mind where we imagine something is going to be worse than it actually is. Phobias are debilitating, and in my case, unexplainable.

I will be interested to hear your thoughts on the extent to which you believe a person can control a phobia through mind-power, or by using rationalisation. Do you believe it is possible, even easy, to overcome a life-long phobia, as I seem to have done? To this day, I cannot explain why my phobia of birds is gone!