Don Bentley sprawled out under the spreading boughs of a stringybark gum. He had a bottle of Barking Owl shiraz and a ham and cheese sandwich and was seeking a quiet moment to himself on his day off from work: a spot of lunch and a few glasses of good red, the birds singing around him, spring in the air. It had been an impossibly hard week at the Chronicle newspaper and he needed to chill out. Bentley didn’t even take a book or a newspaper up to the Waterworks Reserve in … [Read more...] about Hair of the fox
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.
AMID life, John Simmonds was thinking of death. If he believed the television screen in the corner of his room, life was all smiles and blue skies. It was vibrant, and action-packed and fast-paced with happy endings. And here he was in a wheelchair, a paraplegic. John Simmonds, tired of television, would look out of his window at the birdbath positioned in the centre of the garden lawn. Over the years he increasingly looked to the birdbath, looked away from the television … [Read more...] about The birdbath
HENRY the heron came strolling down our street and there was rejoicing in the neighbourhood. He hadn't been seen all year but we knew he would be back. He always arrived with the first hot weather of spring to patrol the streets of our Hobart suburb, looking for a tasty meal of skinks. Zoologists say we should not anthropomorphise birds and animals, however some creatures of the wild, like penguins and herons, cry out to be given human characteristics. They appear to mirror … [Read more...] about Written in the stars
WILDLIFE documentary-maker David Attenborough was once asked what was his favourite bird out of all the thousands of species he had seen on his travels worldwide. He did not have to cup his hand to his chin in classic pose to think about it. He had an instant answer, all the while looking wistfully out of the window of his suburbanLondon home, to the garden beyond. The bird wasn’t the wandering albatross that circumnavigates the globe on wings with a span 3.5 metres, the … [Read more...] about My hero Gilbert White
BEFORE I retired from the Mercury newspaper, my colleagues used to joke that they always knew when I’d been on duty by the number of bird stories that appeared in the newspaper. Writing and looking for bird news, especially when compiling and editing the world pages, was a welcome distraction from all the man-made turmoil and mayhem in the world. One night on my usual journalistic bird hunt, or bird trawl through the new agency reports coming across the wires, I was … [Read more...] about Beatles, Brahms and Blackbirds