The black cockatoos were moving from the high country, their far-carrying calls a keen for the close of autumn and the approach of the snows of winter. I was walking the Organ Pipes Track on kunanyi/Mt Wellington and a keen – an Irish lament – seemed an appropriate noun to be applied to cockatoo contact calls. Wisps of cloud tumbled down from the highest point of the Organ Pipes above me and the freezing mist promised snow. Hobart myth says the sight of yellow-tailed black … [Read more...] about Black cockie song of the mountains
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.
A raven out of synch with my bedside clock guarantees I get an early start to the day. Although the clocks went back in April I didn’t get the benefit of an extra hour in bed because the female forest raven I feed daily kept to her old routine. If you are a raven you judge time by the rising and falling of the sun and not the ticking of a clock. “My” raven sits on the roof at exactly seven o’clock instead of the current time an hour later, at the moment I usually rose to … [Read more...] about Raven keeps to its own time
Driving to Taroona on a misty autumnal night recently I was struck by a sense of déjà vu, a journey that was coming full circle. As a cub reporter a half century previously I cut my journalist teeth on the type of community meeting I was about to attend. Many men of my age speak of a misspent youth frequenting snooker parlours; I spent mine covering community gatherings like garden clubs with my reporter’s notebook. During summer weekends it was garden shows along with the … [Read more...] about A journey back in time
Migrating Tassie fantails have been captivating twitchers on the other side of Bass Strait this autumn. Victorian birders often gather at this time of the year along their southern coast to watch the arrivals of not just fantails but other Tasmanian-born birds before the migrants make their perilous journeys further north. On some occasions, with favourable weather conditions, there are “waves” of the birds to rival the spectacle of more famous migration sites in the Gulf … [Read more...] about ‘Waves’ of fantails head north
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