The pandemic period of self-isolation has forced me to pay attention to birds I do not usually give a second glance – house sparrows. Peering out of the window, watching the cheeky sparrows squabbling on the garden lawn one autumnal afternoon, I suddenly realised I had never determined what sparrows actually eat, beyond their cadging crumbs inside and outside Banjo’s bakery in Salamanca Square. I have written in the past of the smart, crafty sparrows working out how the … [Read more...] about Crumb of comfort for sparrows
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.
A group of bird nerds – popularly known as “twitchers” – were all a twitter last month when a species normally seen in the tropics and sub-tropics, the eastern koel, was heard calling from a tree in Hobart. An office worker who grew up in northern New South Wales heard the distinctive, far-carrying cry of a koel while eating a sandwich in the heart of the city, Franklin Square. There could be no mistake about the source of the loud, ascending call which usually rings out as … [Read more...] about Eastern koel in the ‘twitchersphere’
The elegant black swans which gather in their hundreds on the Bridgewater stretch of the Derwent at this time of year have certainly been given a bad press during the Coronavirus crisis. How come the pandemic ravaging the world has been called a “black swan” event? The global chaos has nothing to do with swans, of course. The devastating virus causing havoc throughout the world in recent months is also not related to the “bird flu” which struck some years back. The term … [Read more...] about Black swans receive a bad press
You would be surprised what turns up if you just settle awhile in your own backyard. Often, though, this passing parade of nature is overlooked in our fast, hectic lives. During recent months we have been forced to slow down a bit and it has provided an ideal opportunity to look at the wonders of nature literally on our doorstep. Before the coronavirus crisis I had planned to dash off in search of birds in more remote, romantic places other than suburbia but I was forced to … [Read more...] about Nature on our doorstep, literally
The race to embrace pets to ward off isolation during the Coronavirus crisis had me not looking at dogs and cats but a reliable favourite during times of stress – a female forest raven I call Gloria. Gloria was not about when the pandemic struck but she soon learned that I was spending more time at home than usual. She began to sit on the roof, cawing loudly in the early morning as soon as she detected movement inside the house. I was pleased to see her. During the past … [Read more...] about Gloria, the pandemic pet