The cockatoo on a telephone line in Sandy Bay was having the time of its life, hanging upside down with wings outstretched and screeching, as if to say “Look at me, look at me”. I could see he was a young male, doing what young males do best. He was showing off, displaying all his masculinity, being bold and daring; dare I say it, being cocky. Autumn is cockatoo time in Hobart when birds that have spent the summer in the country – usually feeding and nesting in the upper … [Read more...] about Cocky in a high-wire act
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 Eagles, Hawks, Magpies and Crows…. Birds have a potent, symbolic connection with Australian winter sport, especially that played on the footy oval. I might not be as passionate about Australian rules football as I am about soccer but I can understand the obsession with footy. It’s rooted in the bond between father and son, and in many cases daughter, and the rite of passage that sees the magical, unforgettable first visit to a major game. My son’s initiation came … [Read more...] about Flight of passage
Tasmanians might make jokes about elusive foxes in the state - mainly about the cost of the $50-million fox eradication program that never seems to turn one up – but in Britain they are no laughing matter. The urban fox has taken hold in London to a remarkable degree and day after day they demonstrate why they are impossible to eradicate once they establish a presence. The urban foxes are plundering not only wildlife in city parks but taking domestic animals like cats. The … [Read more...] about Beware the cunning fox
FOR some months now the wall of my study has been adorned by a print of a rare colonial picture which provides a glimpse of how Hobart and its surroundings looked during the first days of settlement. It’s an idyllic scene and I go there when the rain is falling beyond my study’s window and I can’t experience the real thing. The long-forgotten painting by John Charles Allcot, recording a tranquil and leafy Sullivans Cove at Hobart's foundation in 1804, was brought to public … [Read more...] about Picture points to the past
The great bittern hunt started early one morning with the mist still hanging like candyfloss on the hills framing the HuonValley. The reedy wastes of the Egg Islands in the Huon River at Franklin is home to the rare and elusive bittern and I was part of an expedition to not only circumnavigate the wild and untamed landmass but to find the endangered bird in one of its last stamping grounds in the state, if not the country. The eerie and haunting “booming” of the bittern is … [Read more...] about Rare bittern proves elusive