Winter had finally arrived, with a dusting of snow on Mount Wellington and a chilly wind rattling the eucalypt canopy but, observing the antics of the dusky woodswallows, you would not know it. The welcome swallows and tree martins had been gone for weeks but here on a sunny if bitterly cold day the woodswallows were still doing what woodswallows do best – launching themselves from bare branches to snap up insects in mid-flight. It was a surprise to come across them … [Read more...] about Woodswallows take their time
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 sea eagles ruled supreme at Eaglehawk Neck, but it was the beautiful firetail that stole the show. The white-bellied sea eagles had thrilled a party of bird-watchers on one of BirdLife Tasmania’s regular outings with a display of aerial prowess over the fishing trawlers moored in Pirates Bay. The firetail simply let its stunning plumage do the talking. Before the firetail had turned up it had proven a pretty unremarkable birding trip, although a fine sunny day had put … [Read more...] about Firetail steals the show
THE battle for the banksias and bottlebrushes takes place every autumn as soon as temperatures start to drop, and the smoke from wood stoves spills from household chimneys. The chill winds blowing off the high country carry with them the calls of the spinebills and crescent honeyeaters, the birds making their way down from breeding grounds to warmer areas closer to the coast. In the process, however, they clash with resident species like new holland honeyeaters, incensed by … [Read more...] about Tension in the avian war zone
The excited chatter of schoolchildren could be heard from along the lane, drowning out the call of the scarlet robin and the crescent honeyeater. Two dozen pupils from Margate Primary School were on their way for a lesson on birds and the wider world of nature. It was a crisp, autumnal day, the sun burning off the last of the dew from paddock and hedgerow; the sort of day you can’t invent, a sparkling, magical day that would hopefully linger in the minds of a future … [Read more...] about A lesson in nature study
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