“To feed or not to feed?” It sounds like a quote from Shakespeare but it is a question often raised by the gardener trying to attract birds to his or her garden. It was addressed during a spring workshop on creating a bird-friendly gardens run by the owners of the Inverawe Native Gardens at Margate, Bill and Margaret Chestnut. The consensus among bird experts is that we should not feed birds, because it makes them dependent on humans – especially in winter – and can create … [Read more...] about A year-round larder for birds
On The Wing
A column for all seasons
Everyone has a story about birds. They are all about us and are our contact point with nature. The birds I see are usually in an urban environment and so I concentrate on these in my writing. I don’t pretend to be an expert but birds of the city and suburb are also the ones that most people identify with, the species you do not need a compass and binoculars to seek out. A scarlet robin singing in a garden is just as exciting as a swift parrot in an ancient forest and is worth just as many words in my On the Wing writings.
The sun was shining strong and hard when I awoke on the first day of spring and the day held promise for summer migrants. On September 1 I always go to my local birdwatching spot, the Waterworks in Dynnyrne, to see if welcome swallows have arrived but by the time I reached the reserve at about noon the weather took a turn for the worst. Winds blowing from the south-west brought rain to the Waterworks Valley and snow to the summit of kunanyi/Mt Wellington. Even the migratory … [Read more...] about False start to spring
I had a rare interaction with my resident house sparrows last month when I had to beep the horn to prevent them being squashed under the wheels of my car. The sparrows use the crushed mudstone of my drive as a dust bath and never bother to move as I come and go on foot, knowing I’ll give them a little space and respect. The car, though, is a different matter and although sparrows have no doubt over the eons learned to recognise friend and foe among the human population, the … [Read more...] about Sparrows deserve our respect
A wedge-tailed eagle which posed a threat to a German schnauzer in my sister-in-law’s garden has returned with a vengeance – this time to disrupt the family’s plans to sell their home. In June I wrote that the eagle had carried off a baby wallaby from the property overlooking the Tamar north of Launceston and then eyed the schnauzer which Judith Stanton was minding while its owner, her son and his family, took a holiday. This time the swooping eagle was not looking for a … [Read more...] about The day of the eagle
The trilling, far-carrying song of the fan-tailed cuckoo announced to all in the Waterworks Valley in Dynnyrne that the spring was on the way. Snow might still be coating kunanyi/Mt Wellington on a chilly winter’s day but I knew from that morning on the march to the season of warmth and rebirth was inexorable. The cuckoo, or at least the individual leading the way, came early this year, Thursday, August 9. I keep records of such things and usually the cuckoos are not heard, … [Read more...] about Cuckoo announces spring