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
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 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
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