Jet-lagged, not knowing the time of day, or even the day or month, I lay in bed listening to the twitter of a robin. The room was in near darkness. Was it dawn or dusk? I had no idea, but in that strange twilight of the mind that is jetlag I knew at least I had arrived safely in Britain from Tasmania. The song of the robin told me so, and I knew it was winter. The robin was singing a winter territorial song, the one I heard from churchyards in my winter ramblings as a … [Read more...] about Silence is golden
New Nature Writing
I strayed from the path of traditional, or pastoral, nature writing years ago when I discovered not only urban landscapes rich in wildlife, but anthropomorphism, irony, and bottles of red wine and bourbon with birds on their labels. As a young reporter, I had been impressed by the New Journalism of the 1960s which took reporting into the realm of the novel and short-story and a few decades on I found what were termed New Nature Writers breaking with tradition and exploring similar territory.
Although I still treasure the book that was my introduction to words about nature, Gilbert White’s The Natural History of Selbourne published in 1788, I now find inspiration in one of the new journalists, Hunter S Thompson. Thompson might not have written of nature as such but his words “I write with rage and ink” have an irresistible resonance that carries far beyond the suburbs to the wooded hills of the horizon.
Talk at Wildwords event at Bruny Island Bird Festival, 2018 Among the most astute observers of the natural world and the human place within it have been writers. It can be said that as long as people have been writing, they have been writing about nature. The first wildlife writers - or writers of nature notes as they were more likely to be called in earlier centuries - found their inspiration embraced by forest, mountain and stream. Nature writers today, however, are … [Read more...] about Nature writers sound a warning
The young bird, fresh out of the nest, was like any fledgling of any species. A slightly comic air, ungainly, unbalanced, unwary at the feeding station. The gentle, warm rain had given its new and growing feathers a spiky appearance, and decorating its beak and head were dots of bird seed. A young bird in summer, the new breed of the season, but this orange-belled parrot carried a greater significance here at the end of the earth, in the southwest wilderness of Tasmania, … [Read more...] about Battle to save the last of the line
William Boot, the bumbling war correspondent in the satirical novel about journalism, Scoop, and I have much in common. Or so I have been told by readers of the “On the wing” column. Although I’ve tried to develop the image of a cool, jet-setting journalist – at least during my younger days – I’ve never quite escaped the shadow of William Boot, the nature writer for the Daily Beast who found himself sent to Africa to cover human conflict by mistake. Notebook in hand, … [Read more...] about In the shadow of Scoop’s William Boot
WHERE I come from we do not have mountains or wilderness. It is not surprising then that someone like myself born in London and brought up on its suburban fringes should have a fascination with the high country. To say nothing of the south-west wilderness. Along with exotic animals, mountains always seemed to feature in the picture books I was bought as a child. They reared off the page, always with their jagged tops painted white to indicate snow. But us Cockney kids did … [Read more...] about Hobart’s mountain playground