The squeaks and squawks of a family of brush wattlebirds have woken me at daybreak in the early autumn. I’m so attuned to the songs and calls of the resident birds in my garden I sleep blissfully through them as they start up but any new sound immediately makes me sit up in bed, as with the wattlebirds. Although wattlebirds are not uncommon in the Hobart area, they usually prefer drier bush rather than the wet forest found around my home. It was something of a mystery why … [Read more...] about Red-hot pokers a link to the past
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 clarion call to prepare for autumn came this year from the yellow-throated honeyeaters which make my garden their home. Autumn usually announces itself with a sudden chill in the air at dawn and dusk, the musty smell of vegetation past the sell-by date of summer and a drawing in of light in the early evening. This year, however, the yellowthroats appeared to be in fuller voice than usual. The call – a loud, staccato “tonk, tonk, tonk” – woke me in the early morning and … [Read more...] about Indian summer turns up the heat
A magpie-lark strutting about the walkways and car park of the marina at Prince of Wales Bay has created a stir in the twitcher-sphere. The sighting in Derwent Park of the species, which is usually seen on the mainland, was first reported by the twitcher’s bible, the Eremaea birdline website, in January and again in person to me when Pieter van der Woude, who runs wildlife cruises to Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey, saw the bird late last month at his mooring at the … [Read more...] about The twitcher’s curse
A 19-year connection with a family of swallows looked to be broken in the early spring when I found the nest they had used year after year wrecked by vandals. The mud-cup nest rested on a roof beam within one of the BBQ shelters at the Waterworks Reserve and over time the family building it each year had survived trials and tribulations – storm and tempest and human disturbance – to always produce young. This year all seemed to be going to plan, even if the remains of last … [Read more...] about Mixed fortunes for swallows
A party of black-faced cuckoo-shrikes fluttered in undulating flight across an impossibly blue sky as I tucked into my treat for the day, a lemonade scone served with cream and strawberry jam. I was birdwatching in style, taking morning coffee at the Mt Nelson Signal Station restaurant and at the same time enjoying a feast of birds passing the veranda where I was seated with a birding buddy, Denis Abbott. The great thing about bird-watching in Hobart is it’s possible to put … [Read more...] about Birdwatching in style