The Tasmanian tiger was still roaming the Tasmanian grasslands and the swift parrot flew in its thousands when Mercury writer Michael Sharland put pen to paper 100 years ago to start what has become one of the longest-running nature columns in the world. The motivation for the column had two aims – to draw attention to wildlife’s wonders and to highlight threats facing our fauna and flora. “These nature notes are introduced with the object of arousing an interest in, and … [Read more...] about Peregrine’s spirit still soars
New Nature Writing
I strayed from the path of traditional, or pastoral, nature writing years ago when I discovered not only urban landscapes rich in wildlife, but anthropomorphism, irony, and bottles of red wine and bourbon with birds on their labels. As a young reporter, I had been impressed by the New Journalism of the 1960s which took reporting into the realm of the novel and short-story and a few decades on I found what were termed New Nature Writers breaking with tradition and exploring similar territory.
Although I still treasure the book that was my introduction to words about nature, Gilbert White’s The Natural History of Selbourne published in 1788, I now find inspiration in one of the new journalists, Hunter S Thompson. Thompson might not have written of nature as such but his words “I write with rage and ink” have an irresistible resonance that carries far beyond the suburbs to the wooded hills of the horizon.
THE Cinderellas of the bird world - the migratory shorebirds that usually hide from view in inaccessible and sometimes remote wetlands - are vanishing at an unprecedented rate from the state's shores. Two of the species known for their remarkable transcontinental journeys each year from Tasmania to the far northern hemisphere have now been declared "extirpated" in Tasmania and others have seen populations reduced by up to 90 per cent in recent years. The waders have … [Read more...] about Shorebird emergency hits Tasmania
The rise of the selfie has finally put New Zealand’s mercurial mountain parrot, the kea, in the picture. For long considered a pest by many New Zealanders, particularly farmers, the threatened kea is basking in the spotlight of celebrity. New Zealanders are learning to live with the super-intelligent kea – the only bird known to seek out humans for play – at a time when its numbers are falling. In many ways the promotion of the kea has a parallel with the Tasmanian devil, … [Read more...] about Threatened kea firmly in the picture
Don Knowler returns home to the welcome sound of resident songbirds - and news of an avian crisis A GREEN rosella sung a tuneful melody on my return from the Sunshine Coast this month, where I had travelled to escape the tail-end of winter. Together with my feathered friends, some of my other neighbours were also in tune as I made the rounds of my street to thank members of the Neighbourhood Watch for keeping an eye on my house while I was away, and the neighbour over the … [Read more...] about Imagine if our birds fell silent
Out of sight and out of mind, the Bassian thrush has always escaped my attention on Mount Wellington towering over Hobart, where I do much of my birding. Forays to the mountain, which also carries the Aboriginal name of kunanyi, have been about exotics, endemics. The elusive scrubtit is always on my radar and if this shy species does not come into view on any given day I’m happy to settle for a slightly more common species out of the hard-to-find basket, the strong-billed … [Read more...] about A lilt for Tasmania’s secret soul.