THE black duck was in panic, a loud quack becoming a sort of strained screech. She had gathered her tiny ducklings around her, tucking them under her wings, and was ready for war. Minutes earlier I had seen the duck family merrily waddling down a culvert of the Sandy Bay Rivulet. First I had seen a single, downy chick not long out of the nest, scurrying ahead of the rest, the mother calling to it. The mother and the other chicks came into view and when they saw me standing … [Read more...] about Goshawk caught off-guard
On The Wing
Passport to birdland
Birdland is a magical place where it’s possible to escape all the pressures and stresses of the environment of the city created and inhabited by one species – humans – and immerse yourself in a less one-dimensional world. Birdland is nowhere in particular, and does not have to be special or noteworthy. It could be in the wildest of wild forest, or in suburbia. It could be a pristine beach, a few hectares of eucalypt woodland, or a neatly manicured city park. It could be a backyard. That’s the magic of birds; they bring beauty and wonder to every corner of the planet, wild or untamed, and my On the Wing writing is their celebration.
Secretive and superbly camouflaged to merge into its leaf-litter domain, the Bassian thrush goes about its business out of sight and out of mind. Trekking through the wet forest you would never know it was there, except for its song that somehow penetrates the dense foliage of such places and fills any open space it can find with a beautiful melody. The song is like sunlight in the forest, brightening dark places, but in my experience song and sun never go together. Other … [Read more...] about Lilt for Tasmania’s secret soul
It was a battle of life and death, staged right in front of me, in a low sandstone wall at the entrance to the Waterworks Reserve. A tiger snake had located the nest of a striated pardalote hidden between cracks in the drystone wall and was trying to get at the pardalote’s young. The snake had squeezed at least half of its considerable length into the wall’s crevices and its tail wagged wildly as it thrust itself even further into the gap. I could hear chirping and … [Read more...] about Sandstone wall of terror
When is a ditch a stream, or a brook or a rivulet? The Friends of the Sandy Bay Rivulet have known the answer to this question for a decade and they were pleased to have it confirmed once again on a recent Sunday by a leading freshwater ecologist, Professor Peter Davies. The rivulet that makes its way down from Mt Wellington to the Derwent at Sandy Bay might look like a ditch in its concrete-lined lower reaches but, despite two centuries of misuse during which time it was … [Read more...] about Rivulet of life
EVERY year there’s the bird that got away, the species that eluded me in the summer months. Last year it was the satin flycatcher, this year another migrant, the shining bronze-cuckoo. Cuckoo songs are loud and far-carrying, as much a part of summer as the whirr of the garden strimmer and lawn-mower. We all hear them in the suburbs without knowing of the birds making these strange sounds. Two of the four cuckoo species visiting Tasmaniain summer, the fan-tailed and pallid … [Read more...] about The cuckoo’s summer torment