THE folk who live on the mountain at Fern Tree pride themselves on being a little different from the rest of the denizens of Hobart. They are tougher, hardier and their closeness to the whims and moods of nature ensures they band together in times of adversity, watch out for each other when blizzards or bushfire threaten. They all have a story to tell, and tell it frequently and loudly. I’m not talking about the human residents of Fern Tree, although much of what I have … [Read more...] about Song of the mountain
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.
LIKE the seasons, a human life comes full circle. The seasons have a symmetry and I’ve found that life too often follows a pattern, events and experiences that had gone before are apt to return, even if in a slightly different form shaped by the passing years. On a rainy and windswept morning when commonsense should have found me at home I came across a lone Cape Barren goose at the Waterworks Reserve and immediately I was transported back to memories of my childhood and … [Read more...] about Flight back to childhood
THE black duck was in panic, a loud quack becoming a sort of strained screech. She had gathered her tiny ducklings around her, tucking them under her wings, and was ready for war. Minutes earlier I had seen the duck family merrily waddling down a culvert of the Sandy Bay Rivulet. First I had seen a single, downy chick not long out of the nest, scurrying ahead of the rest, the mother calling to it. The mother and the other chicks came into view and when they saw me standing … [Read more...] about Goshawk caught off-guard
Secretive and superbly camouflaged to merge into its leaf-litter domain, the Bassian thrush goes about its business out of sight and out of mind. Trekking through the wet forest you would never know it was there, except for its song that somehow penetrates the dense foliage of such places and fills any open space it can find with a beautiful melody. The song is like sunlight in the forest, brightening dark places, but in my experience song and sun never go together. Other … [Read more...] about Lilt for Tasmania’s secret soul
It was a battle of life and death, staged right in front of me, in a low sandstone wall at the entrance to the Waterworks Reserve. A tiger snake had located the nest of a striated pardalote hidden between cracks in the drystone wall and was trying to get at the pardalote’s young. The snake had squeezed at least half of its considerable length into the wall’s crevices and its tail wagged wildly as it thrust itself even further into the gap. I could hear chirping and … [Read more...] about Sandstone wall of terror