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
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.
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.
Foreward to Field Guide to Tasmanian Fungi, published 2016 MYCOLOGISTS call them the “orphans” of the wild, the fungi that live at the fringe of our consciousness when we tramp forest and glade. In search of a metaphor I prefer to call fungi Cinderellas of the woods. You find Cinderella working away in the dim, dank basement of the forest floor, often being bullied and threatened, at least in my Hobart valley in the shadows of Mount Wellington, by the ugly sisters of … [Read more...] about Cinderellas of the glades
Mercury taking point, September, 2017, opposing cable car plan for kunanyi/Mt Wellington. Where I come from we don’t have mountains or indeed wilderness. It’s not surprising then that someone like myself born in London and brought up on its suburban fringes should have a fascination with the high country. To say nothing of the south-west wilderness. Along with exotic animals, mountains always seemed to feature in the picture books I was bought as a child. They reared off … [Read more...] about Wilderness comes to the city
Tasweeekend magazine, Saturday Mercury, September 2017 Walking to work each day I’d look up at kunanyi/Mt Wellington towering above me and long to be up there, exploring rainforest and ravine, woodland and waterfall. Work as a journalist always got in the way, the priorities of typeface over rockface, and I would have to wait for retirement to realise a long-cherished dream of visiting the mountain daily for an entire year, recording the seasons in my shorthand … [Read more...] about A mountain metaphor for retirement