The first piece of what I call the jigsaw of bird migration was put in place in the last weeks of August when I heard a fan-tailed cuckoo calling in the Waterworks Valley. Next day straited pardalotes arrived from the mainland. The swallow might be the traditional harbinger of spring but it is the fan-tailed cuckoos and pardalotes who arrive first, a little later this year on August 18 and 19. I suspect the cold snap that brought snow in late August and early September … [Read more...] about Spring migration takes shape
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 little black cormorants were riding the surf. Strange to see them behaving in such a way. Usually they sit low on calm, open waters but on this spring morning they appeared a mirror image of the human surfers catching the waves all around them. Although at first I thought the cormorants were merely at play like the surfers at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, I soon realised there was method in their spring madness. As the waves swept towards them, the cormorants suddenly … [Read more...] about The ocean delivers its treasures
A pair of noisy miners outside the Eastlands Shopping Centre were living up to their name. An unbelievably loud “pwee pwee pwee’’ resonated across the tables of the alfresco dining area of a restaurant there, making it impossible for me to hear what a relative I had met for coffee was saying. Each morning in summer and spring, I was told, the noisy miners woke him at dawn. Only this was not spring, it was barely into the last month of winter. The hint of spring carried on … [Read more...] about Miners put on a noisy show
The cockies that bring mayhem and mischief to our valley in winter have left for breeding grounds in the upper Derwent Valley and it’s a relief not to hear their squawking, screaming and general carrying on. After they arrive in autumn, the cockies raid fruit trees in gardens and also attack wooden roofs, presumably to sharpen their beaks. But the antics of the hundreds of cockies which roost at night in the Waterworks Reserve from about May to the end of August have … [Read more...] about Cockies prove they’re not bird brains
They’re back. The welcome swallows have returned to the Waterworks Reserve. Most years I can set my calendar by them, always turning up in the first few says of September although last year they were about a week late for reasons I could not determine. At the end of August I always watch for them, just in case they make an earlier than usual return, along with the traditional early trans-state migrants, the striated pardalote and the fan-tailed cuckoo. An entry always goes … [Read more...] about Swallows make a welcome return