My touchstone of the seasons is the arrival and departure of the swallows. I welcome the swallows in spring and salute their departure in autumn. It’s an act rooted in ancient folk-lore and ritual, with the Roman natural philosopher Pliny the Elder writing in the First Century AD that farmers took their cue from the swallows on when to sow and when to reap In my case, it is the first sight of the appropriately named welcome swallows in September and their departure in late … [Read more...] about The swallows’ flight tilts at the winter
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.
The voice of Missy Higgins rang out through the dry woodland of the Queens Domain, carried on a light breeze which tossed the ears of the kangaroo grass. I recognised the song, The special two, immediately and then realised what I was hearing was not someone with the knobs of a ghetto-blaster turned to high volume but the actual voice of the multi-hit singer. My mission had not been about music. It was to view the native grassland in all its golden glory, after a letter … [Read more...] about The kangaroo grass sways to Missy’s rhythm
A villain emerged from an ABC prime-time television program earlier this month. A gangster and thug of the first degree but this villain was not of film noir, a creation of the cinematic and television world. The “heavy” in the TV drama was the ubiquitous and aggressive noisy miner, this time featured in a program devoted to urban wildlife. Melbourne was the location for the Catalyst special but it could just as easily have been Hobert, where the noisy minor struts its stuff … [Read more...] about Bullyboys flex muscles in the ‘hood
Two cockatoos canoodling on the strands of a wire fence. Canoodling seems the right word to describe the male gently preening the plumes of his mate, running his beak through the feathers of her neck, tugging at spent and loose ones and watching them float to the ground. Although it is early evening there is still enough light for a little cockie bonding before the birds retreat to a high roost in gums in the foothills of kunanyi/Mt Wellington. Two cockies on the strands of … [Read more...] about Cockie love is in the air
The common bronze-wing pigeon picked at seeds in the grass right in front of me, oblivious to my approach. Usually these elegant birds are wary of people and take flight as soon as they come into sight. You only get a glimpse of retreating plump bodies and a frantic slapping and flapping of wings. This bird, though, was more trusting, allowing me to raise my arms at close quarters to train my binoculars. Although the bronze-wings are commonplace in the Waterworks Reserve … [Read more...] about A bronze medal for beauty