The young bird, fresh out of the nest, was like any fledgling of any species. A slightly comic air, ungainly, unbalanced, unwary at the feeding station. The gentle, warm rain had given its new and growing feathers a spiky appearance, and decorating its beak and head were dots of bird seed. A young bird in summer, the new breed of the season, but this orange-belled parrot carried a greater significance here at the end of the earth, in the southwest wilderness of Tasmania, … [Read more...] about Battle to save the last of the line
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.
In the shadow of Scoop’s William Boot
William Boot, the bumbling war correspondent in the satirical novel about journalism, Scoop, and I have much in common. Or so I have been told by readers of the “On the wing” column. Although I’ve tried to develop the image of a cool, jet-setting journalist – at least during my younger days – I’ve never quite escaped the shadow of William Boot, the nature writer for the Daily Beast who found himself sent to Africa to cover human conflict by mistake. Notebook in hand, … [Read more...] about In the shadow of Scoop’s William Boot
Hobart’s mountain playground
WHERE I come from we do not have mountains or wilderness. It is 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 the page, always with their jagged tops painted white to indicate snow. But us Cockney kids did … [Read more...] about Hobart’s mountain playground
Journalist scales new heights
The launch of Donald Knowler’s The Shy Mountain by Charles Wooley soon turned into a bunfight after Charles told Knowler to put away his speech and engage in a conversation about the book. Chris Pearce, the owner of the Hobart Bookshop where the launch took place on Wednesday, told Tasmanian Times it was one of the funniest occasions the bookshop had hosted. Here is the speech Knowler didn’t get to make … I’m described as a nature writer, largely because I write the … [Read more...] about Journalist scales new heights
A silent prayer for a tree
Don Bentley and his silver birch had much in common. It had not become apparent at first but over the years Bentley had discovered a symmetry between their lives. They were soul-mates. Bentley had happened on the tree walking to work one morning. At the start of spring he always took a detour through St David’s Park in the heart of Hobart. He found the dappled glades in spring sunshine, and the songs of the birds, calming before the turmoil of the working day. The park … [Read more...] about A silent prayer for a tree