Well, what do you do in retirement? Do you want to do something completely different, maintain work skills, develop IT skills? Do you want to keep fit, to meet people with similar interests, to experience the natural world, travel Australia or the world? Do you want a challenge, to relax, or to learn more about a topic of interest. Is there something that meets all/most of these criteria?
For the past ten years Gail and I have gone birdwatching on a regular basis – three or four 3-week trips and quite a few local walks a year. What an enjoyable pastime it has been! I like to take video of birds and Gail likes to photograph them. Birding is certainly different to the teaching careers we both enjoyed (most of the time). We have developed skills in photography and video editing, visited many areas of Australia and investigated many different environments in the many national parks across the country. When you venture into these environments you keep up a reasonable level of fitness – walking and thinking, and you meet lots of interesting people with similar interests – some that you learn from and some to whom you may pass on valuable information picked up over the years.
Most people give very little thought to the birds that they see on a daily basis, the food and water they need, the habitat required for nesting, shelter and rest, the behaviour displayed to ensure mating and to protect food and young, the time required to maintain feathers for efficient flight, their role in pollinating trees and shrubs, the spreading of seeds, relationships with other bird species and animals, and the impact of humans. There is much to learn when you become involved in a hobby and undertake projects.
Our challenges have changed over the years but in recent times have settled down to trying to take better photographs and trying to create one minute of quality video of 500 Australian bird species. The first 200 species are relatively easy once you join a birding group in your local area, read some of the many bird guides, learn the basic calls of bird species, and put in some time. Patience is a necessary attribute and learning to deal with frustration comes in handy. Even when you find a suitable environment in an area within the range of a species, the birds do not always want to sit on a branch, with no leaves or twigs in front of them, to have their photo taken! Lighting and wind conditions, as well as noise from any number of human devices (motorbikes, aircraft, lawnmowers, etc) make the task of taking quality photographs and video quite difficult. After 200 or so, the little challenges of trying to find a specific species becomes more difficult and usually requires travel to many of the beautiful habitats of Australia. When your list reaches 300 or more, finding, photographing and taking video of a new bird species can be very challenging and as our list approaches 500 each new species makes for a very exciting day.
With a notable decline in bird numbers over the past few decades and recent talk of species extinctions due to human activity, it has become our focus to make others aware of the issues. We have obviously influenced family and friends just as we have been influenced by the wonderful people we have met on our trips. Their knowledge and expertise has made it possible for us to find difficult species and to learn more about them.
We hope you enjoy the photographs and videos presented on, and linked to this website. We have certainly enjoyed the variety of habitats that Australia has to offer and the variety of birds to be found across the country. When next you see a bird in the garden or on a walk, look it up in an app or bird guide, appreciate its beautiful plumage, listen to its calls, think about its food and habitat needs, and think about the millions of years it has taken to evolve into such a beautiful creature. We encourage you to take up the challenge of finding and recognising as many birds as possible and in the process appreciate the Australian countryside. There is nothing more enjoyable than to say you have GONE BIRDING.