Tasmanian birdwatchers are being alerted to a serious threat to one of the state’s best-loved ducks. The Pacific black duck is losing the unique character that defines it by inter-breeding with a duck from Eurasia, the mallard. The black duck of Australasia (Anas superciliosa) is the common species that frequents all types of water, from city parks, to isolated forest pools and tidal mudflats. It is not black but chocolate-brown, with shades of pastel-yellow around the … [Read more...] about Ducking for cover over black mark
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.
It might have been a hot and sunny day, but I knew immediately that winter was on the way when the harsh, metallic call of a crescent honeyeater rang out across my garden. In the same way that the welcome swallow bookmarks spring and summer between the months of September and February, the crescent honeyeater marks the beginning and end of the period when nature goes into its own form of lockdown. Although both species are migratory, plotting their course by the stars and … [Read more...] about Chilling reminder of change
The descending, joyous twitter of the silvereyes takes on a more sombre note as we go deeper into autumn. The song becomes more melancholy as these little birds switch to winter mode. The male melody of spring and summer is designed to lure females and declare territory. In autumn and then winter both the male and female silvereyes utter a different call as they strive to keep in contact with each other on the great migration they undertake from Tasmania to southern … [Read more...] about Long-haul travel with silver lining
The swift parrot has always provided a backdrop to the Bruny Island Bird Festival in the decade the event has been in existence. This is not just because the parrots have put on aerial displays over the Adventure Bay Community Hall where the festival is centred. The rapid tweets of the “swifties” has also formed a soundscape to accompany music, poetry reading and speeches in the hall itself. This year, however, the parrots will not be seen or heard. A rescheduling of the … [Read more...] about Absent ‘swifties’ may be a portent of things to come
With an anguished squawk, a white-faced heron let it be known it was not happy. It took flight on lanky wings as its feeding ground on the lower Sandy Bay Rivulet was invaded by a noisy, eager bunch of university students. The elegant bird was not to know it but the students in gumboots were taking part in an environmental initiative, to not only clear the rivulet of rubbish but to plant reeds so that fish species would have somewhere to deposit their eggs. The … [Read more...] about Tide turns for Sandy Bay Rivulet