Birds, feathers

Red caps Morley 26 Dec

Morley Beach is all glinting shallows today. It’s a long way from Pak Thale, where Flightpath: Thailand will make landfall in a few weeks.

Morley Beach is part of wide and wild Wilson Inlet near Denmark, on Western Australia’s south coast; here are muddy sandflats fringed with samphire groundcover and paperbark forest. Pak Thale is on the busy waters of the Gulf of Bangkok;  there, there are saltpans, mudflats, mangroves. For migratory shorebirds, both places offers a rest and refuelling stop on their annual long-haul flight.

feet and boots

A solitary greenshank calls alarm and takes off. Small flocks of resident red-capped plovers run and stop, run and stop along the receding waterline. Summer visitors are arriving –  at the moment there are sharp-tailed sandpipers, greater sand plovers, tiny red-necked stints. For the next few weeks they will rest, feed and bulk-up here, before developing breeding plumage and beginning the long journey, via the countries of the East Asian-Australasian flyway, back to their Arctic nesting grounds together.

My Great Aunt by Roland Leach

My great aunt was always looking for a husband.

She had a few and left them all. Attracted to water,

the distance it offered. She was good at loving

from a distance. My great aunt was always looking.

She was a good looker. Took a steamer out of

Liverpool for the islands of the East, imagining

them still as spice islands. Took men of all creed and colour.

Didn’t mind a risk my great aunt, could always find

a racetrack. Fell in love with a young naturalist on board,

grey-coated and too occupied with the flight of birds

to notice her. She liked that. Didn’t like fawning men.

Just attracted to water and distance.

She had her way though. Lured the poor man

in dresses soft as butterfly wings, the colour of macaws,

pretending she was in flight, which she was.

back stump web