MACKAY (Walkerston) resident Daryl Barnes could easily have let Parkinson’s disease get the better of him when it ended his full-time working life 12 months ago.
Instead, he’s used the time off to create environmental awareness, promote local wildlife and engage youth in his favourite hobby – bird-watching.
Mr Barnes will today officially launch his first children’s picture book, titled Crazy Bird Stories, which shares the stories of 12 “strange birds behaving in strange ways”.
All of the species mentioned, including lorikeets, crows, honeyeaters, crakes, can be found in the Mackay region.
Mr Barnes has also created a presentation about Mackay birdlife that he will take to schools around the region, including Eungella State School, Walkerston State School and Slade Point State School.
“It’s basically to get children to think about birds a little bit more, to realise they’re part of our environment and they’re a good indicator of how healthy the environment is,” he said.
Mr Barnes hopes younger people will take an interest in a lifelong hobby of bird-watching.
“If they’re interested in birds early, even if they lose interest in their teen years, it’ll still be in the back of their mind,” he said.
“It’s sowing the seed for the future.”
The book writing and birdlife promotion has helped Mr Barnes to deal with his progressive illness.
“Parkinson’s is a disease that can be associated with depression and other illnesses,” he said.
“I try and keep physically fit and mentally fit, and challenge myself as well.”
Mr Barnes first started bird watching in 2008 after first seeing a buff-breasted paradise-kingfisher in the wild.
“It was spectacular. It was something I’d never seen before and its habits were unusual. That’s what got me hooked.”
In 2013, he became president of Birdlife Mackay.
Mr Barnes is also relatively new to poetry, but plans to write more books in the future.
“I started writing poetry around 2009,” he said.
“I was asked to write a speech for my mother’s 90th birthday.
“I started writing a few dot points down and next thing I’d made a rhyming story out of it.”
Crazy Bird Stories was published with support from the Regional Arts Development Fund.