Each spring Tasmanians hold a collective breath, waiting to see how many of orange-bellied parrots return to their breeding grounds from the mainland. The good news this season is that more – 22 – have come back to Melaleuca in the far south-west than last year. Although the number is small what is significant is the females of the species have led the way. And this has given the biologists charged with trying to ensure the tiny parrots’ survival a unique challenge – they … [Read more...] about Endangered parrot putting up a fight
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.
Forget the Melbourne Cup, the other race that stopped the nation in mid-November was Australia’s Bird of the Year contest for 2019. Unlike the horse race won by Vow and Declare, the bird contest was not decided by a short head. The black-throated finch led the field from the start when voting opened, dominating the initial 50 starters and then clinching victory when the contest was decided in a second round of 10 finalists. The finch scored 11,153 votes, with the next … [Read more...] about Rare finch sets the pace
A swamp harrier soared high above the Waterworks Valley, painting the blue sky in circles against a backdrop of streaks of white cirrus cloud. It was a rarity for my neck of the woods and my good friend Brian “The Flute” Owens had seen it first, pointing skyward and then identifying the raptor. Focusing my binoculars, I thought it might be a brown falcon at first, more common in my valley, but with naked eye Brian spotted the bird of prey’s distinctive feature, a white rump … [Read more...] about A harrier in tune with the wild
You can’t keep an old birder down and so it was during the last week of October when I took my binoculars and crutches up to the Waterworks Reserve near my home to participate in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count. No matter I was only six days out of hospital after undergoing total knee-replacement surgery. The birds and Australia’s army of birders demanded I do my bit to participate in the annual census of our feathered friends. I wasn’t being quite as brave, or foolish, as … [Read more...] about A home in mankind’s world
The most harried and hindered bird of our beaches – the hooded plover – looked remarkably relaxed when I found a family of them one summer’s afternoon, strutting under a bright blue sky, gentle waves lapping at the shoreline close to their nest. In the past I had only seen the tiny plovers amid throngs of people, the “hoodies” on their short, stout legs trying to keep clear of not just the human beach users, but their dogs, horses and on several occasions, four-wheel-drives … [Read more...] about Hoodies find paradise lost