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A bird in the bush is worth everything

Wednesday, 16th April, 2014

Lynette English headed west from her home in Victoria to catch a glimpse at rare and elusive birds before they migrated for the winter. Lynette English headed west from her home in Victoria to catch a glimpse at rare and elusive birds before they migrated for the winter.

By Erica Visser

Most Broken Hill residents have seen an emu or two in their time, but not many could say they have spotted 60 distinct types of bird near the city in just four days.

Lynette English, an experienced birder, said that the Far West contained a “smorgasboard” of bush birds and water birds, including some endangered and rare species.

She visited Broken Hill over the past week to view as many as possible in their natural habitat and ended up doing “better than I expected”.

“They’re everything from your Magpie, right through to your Crested Grebe,” Ms English said.

“I did better than I expected, given it’s such a dry, arid environment, because of all the waterways like at Menindee.

“There’s a Bluebonnet out there, you just don’t see those. And if Lake Eyre fills up you’ll get amazing birds out there that you’ll not normally see.” 

Ms English also visited the city to catch up with her close friend Darriea Turley, a local councillor.

“I took Darriea along on the weekend and she read her book while I got out with my binoculars,” Ms English laughed.

“Darriea thinks it’s funny how excited I am when I spot a bird.”

Ms English, a Telstra Businesswoman of the Year turned school principal, took up birding 24 years ago when a work colleague showed her the ropes.

“I would never consider myself a greenie or anything radical ... I loved bushwalking and it just added a whole different dimension to it - you’re listening for sounds as you walk along.

“It’s a time where I don’t think about work. For me, the off button goes on and I’ve got time away from all the other nonsense that goes on at the office.

“Birding has given me an added incentive to travel to some really amazing parts of the country.”

Ms English recently lived in Indonesia for three years and then the Middle East for five years, but her love of birding was one of the things that drew her back home.

“I had no interest in birding overseas so I just didn’t do it. In the Middle East a woman could never go out somewhere alone.”

Ms English said that with advanced technology, birding had become a lot easier for beginners.

While she used to carry heavy books with her to identify birds, she now records her sightings using a smartphone app.

“You can learn at your own pace, you can choose if you want to do bush birds or water birds,” she said.

“You’ve got to be fairly patient. If someone wants to go out to get their heart rate up then birding is not for them.”

Ms English recommended that anyone interested in birding check out Birdlife Australia for nearby groups and also visit websites such as www.eremaea.com.au, where people record recent sightings of interesting birds.

“It’s a great place for birding here, you can really take your time and there’s no traffic or pollution,” she said.

“Plus, birding is not an expensive hobby so long as you’ve got a reasonable set of binoculars you can do it.”

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