I stalked one of the ubiquitous “little brown birds” on a recent road trip through News Zealand’s spell-binding Southern Alps. The mountains formed a backdrop against the blue waters of Lake Tekapo but I ignored the stunning beauty of the snowy peaks, painted pink in the rising sun at dawn, to focus on the bird flitting around a low bush. The bird promised to be my first New Zealand species, although the trip was not primarily about birdwatching, I was on my way to the … [Read more...] about Hopeless hunt for NZ’s native 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 wetlands of southern Tasmania have been described as the “litmus test” for rapidly decreasing migratory shorebird populations across their range and a look at BirdLife Tasmania’s surveys proves the point. The local affiliate of the national bird conservation body, BirdLife Australia, has the oldest data sets of shorebird populations and their records spanning more than half a century highlight the catastrophe enmeshing our wading birds. A presentation by a Birdlife … [Read more...] about Waders missing from the mudflats
Birdwatching is good for body and soul. I might be considered an evangelist when it comes to promoting the joys of watching our feathered friends but this is more than a personal flight of fancy. The latest research into the health of seniors in the United States suggests that developing an interest in birds can slow the ageing process. Also, I read on the Talking Point pages of the Mercury earlier this month that loneliness can be a very big problem among the ageing … [Read more...] about Twitchers stay young
On a glorious autumnal day, the sparkling waters of the Waterworks Reserve’s reservoirs were dotted with an equally sparkling flock of white-eyed ducks. The white-eyes were still in their crisp summer breeding plumage, chocolate heads and their bodies carrying a hint of chestnut, white tails and shining white eye which gives the species its common name. The ducks are only occasional visitors to the reserve – usually seen out of the breeding season, in winter – and with a … [Read more...] about Ducks in hunter’s sights
It’s the night season again. Early April after the clocks have gone back, when fungi in a multitude of colours spout in the woods, and the smell of wood smoke clears from the air. The leaves and wooded debris of autumn have been burned in garden and paddock and now a darkness descends while we are still going about our daytime business. We’ve been alerted to the shift in the clock, the descending dark but our own internal clock never seems programmed for it. Light stolen at … [Read more...] about Owls make an early start