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
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 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
The Tasmanian currawong was a sight to behold. Jet-black matt plumage, ebony bill, mad orange eye and flashes of brilliant white at the tips of the wings and tail. It fluttered about the Waterworks Reserve, at times seemingly coming within touching distance. The lone bird had been a godsend on a quiet day without birds. I had been leading a bird walk and had struggled to point out any birds of interest. The satin flycatcher I had staked out previously failed to show (I … [Read more...] about Survival of the fittest
The tiny bird, so small it could dance in the palm of your hand, had found its place in the sun. In the dim and dank world of the fern glade, the scrubtit had emerged from the shadows and found a warm rock on which to perform a merry dance. This was the male’s territory of fern frond and tumbling stream and he wanted the world to know it. The little scrubtit, barely 10 centimentres long, is one of the forgotten birds of wood and forest, easily overlooked as nature lovers … [Read more...] about Scrubtit in a new light
A RAINBOW spread across the ocean, framing storm-tossed waves and distant, grey mountains. As if on cue, to make the panorama complete, a lone gull zig-zagged across the wave tops, before rising slightly and flying smack bang though the rainbow’s arc. We stood in awe, a trio of men behaving badly, who had gone to the clifftop at Dodges Ferry not to watch birds but to freshen up after an afternoon of what can be euphemistically termed as beer and wine tasting. We shouldn’t … [Read more...] about Men behaving badly