I’ve received a steady stream of mail from the “grey birder” fraternity following a column I wrote saying that bird-watching had been proven to slow the ageing process. It seems that many correspondents can confirm the finding by the American Institute of Ageing that for older people our feathered friends can be good for mind, body and soul. A reader in Claremont wrote to say in no uncertain terms that “bird-watching is great”, a view influenced in part by the sight of two … [Read more...] about ‘Grey birders’ take flight
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.
Migrating birds and migrating people have something in common. They know no boundaries. The thought occurred to me during the night of the winter solstice when I joined a wildlife walk in the Waterworks Reserve which had been organised for new arrivals to Tasmania. Environmental group Wildcare Tasmania organises wildlife experiences for people new to Tasmania under its “get outside’’ banner and I joined the first they had organised to study nocturnal birds and animals. The … [Read more...] about Bird and human migrants know no boundaries
On the shortest day of the year, in the depths of winter, I expected the birds in my neighbourhood to be mute, saving the energy required for song until spring was on the horizon. But confounding this theory, the new holland honeyeaters, the eastern spinebills and golden whistlers were in full voice on June 22. Already the birds of the Waterworks Valley where I live were preparing to move from the territories they had established to see them through the winter and were now … [Read more...] about It’s all in the stars
The proverbial canary in the coalmine sprang to mind when I drove the winding road to New Norfolk recently to help compile the annual census of Tasmania’s three gull species. The old coalmining concept of caged canaries warning miners of the presence of deadly methane gas had nothing to do with the debate about the Adani mine project in Queensland which has revived the canary metaphor in both cartoon and protest poster. Although the black-throated finch, whose habitat … [Read more...] about Gulls the canaries in the coal mine
I know when goshawks are visiting my garden without having to actually see them. The alarm calls of the new holland honeyeaters announce the brown goshawk and the smaller collared sparrowhawk are in the vicinity and stalking birds in canopy and shrubbery. No raptor instills such terror in the honeyeaters and other garden birds than the goshawks which, unlike other birds of prey, generally kill by ambush in trees, although they will also pin both bird and small mammal to the … [Read more...] about Raptors face poison menace