A young shining bronze-cuckoo ushered in a new year of birdwatching when I went on a birding excursion to the Waterworks Reserve on the first day of 2019. The cuckoo was not what I had expected because I had in mind the birds that I usually associate with summer, the satin flycatcher, the black-faced cuckoo shrike and the dusky woodswallow among them. The four species of cuckoos visiting Tasmania are also summer visitors but I’m not a fan of the cuckoo family. At this time … [Read more...] about Optimism for the year ahead
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.
Christmas day brought a present I had not expected, not from Santa but a female raven I have befriended over the years. The raven I call Molly introduced me to her offspring as my Yule-tide surprise. Birds had been off the radar during the Christmas build-up as I rushed about town doing the last of the holiday shopping. And on Christmas morning I did not pay much attention to an unusual raven call I heard coming from my garden’s exotic wattles. It was an insistent, … [Read more...] about Molly the raven brings a ‘gift’
A thud at the window of my study as I was typing away at my latest bird column. I didn’t need to go to the panes, and look outside to see what had made the noise. I was pretty sure it was a bird strike. Although I try to shield my windows - to reduce reflection of green leaf and sky which might lead birds to believe they are flying into open space - my home is prone to occasional bird strike. The house sits on the edge of the bush and birds in the frenzy and delirium of the … [Read more...] about Windows spell menace for birds
My first close encounter with birds came when a flock of blue tits flew through a classroom window of the primary school I attended in Britain in the 1950s. The arrival of the birds was opportune because that very morning the class had had nature study, a core syllabus at the time. Nature study took its place firmly alongside the Three Rs, reading, writing and ’rithmatic, Nature study meshed nicely with the first two because when it came to learning to read many of the … [Read more...] about The language of birds
The noisy miners were being particularly raucous one Sunday afternoon this month when Hobart’s Bushcare volunteers gathered for their annual year-end BBQ. A lone magpie and a flock of eastern rosellas put in an appearance, too, although they graced the event with sweet song and not the miner’s harsh, look-at-me, look-at-me cry. Perhaps the birds were there to say thanks to the Bushcare volunteers for all the hard work they had put in over the past year to help conserve the … [Read more...] about Bushcare volunteers to the fore