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
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.
When is a ditch a stream, or a brook or a rivulet? The Friends of the Sandy Bay Rivulet have known the answer to this question for a decade and they were pleased to have it confirmed once again on a recent Sunday by a leading freshwater ecologist, Professor Peter Davies. The rivulet that makes its way down from Mt Wellington to the Derwent at Sandy Bay might look like a ditch in its concrete-lined lower reaches but, despite two centuries of misuse during which time it was … [Read more...] about Rivulet of life
EVERY year there’s the bird that got away, the species that eluded me in the summer months. Last year it was the satin flycatcher, this year another migrant, the shining bronze-cuckoo. Cuckoo songs are loud and far-carrying, as much a part of summer as the whirr of the garden strimmer and lawn-mower. We all hear them in the suburbs without knowing of the birds making these strange sounds. Two of the four cuckoo species visiting Tasmaniain summer, the fan-tailed and pallid … [Read more...] about The cuckoo’s summer torment
A COOT in need of friends, or even love, was seen pottering around the Browns River at Kingston during the late summer, attracting attention from local residents worried about its lonely plight. The Eurasian coot usually goes about its business in sheltered watercourses unnoticed and I was touched when I received an email from a Kingston Beach couple telling me all about the visitor to the stretch of river near their home. The coot did not have a partner and at times was … [Read more...] about Eurasian coot
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 Rare geese roaming far and wide