Redshanks: return and recollection

Follow the leader:

Sketches from Sungei Buloh on World Shorebird Day, 6 September 2014


redshanks arrive pui san tham

Artwork by Tham Pui San – artist, educator, conservationist and contributor to the Flyway Print Exchange.

More images of Tham Pui San’s World Shorebird Day sketches at

See also

Then we waded at low tide to Hilbre Island;
and we marvelled at scores of thousands of waders:
Sanderling, Knot, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Curlew and Dunlin;
and the giant gull of the north, the hyperborean Glaucous,
glided snow-mantled above the remains of the old lifeboat station;
and there suddenly stooped from a cloud the colour of Blanenau Ffestiniog slate
a Peregrine into a blizzard of wheeling Calidris Alba
and the falcon hit and we heard the thud and a handful of silven feathers
whorled in the wind and the great dark raptor rose with the dead meat locked in its talons;
and I said to my friend: ‘We will mind this as long as we live.’ (He is dead now.)
From Laertidean, by Peter Reading (1946-2011)

Migration, place and memory

‘I cast the net of memory…’

from The Net of Memory in Last Poems, by Laurence Hope,

In October Flightpathproject will wing its way to India, staying until December.

It will trace the trajectory of poet Laurence Hope — aka Adela Florence Cory, aka Violet Nicolson – who died in what was then Madras, in 1904.  Her exotic, erotic poems set hearts fluttering in drawing rooms across Victorian England.

At the same time it will follow the footsteps of John Jealous, who died in England in 2006. His letters and notes from trips to India reveal a growing obsession with her.

LH photo from Lilac-bleeding Star

Image in Under a Lilac-Bleeding Star by Lesley Blanch, Atheneum 1964 (note LH’s name, misspelled)

Writing places

Mirroring the movements of LH and JJ, Flightpathproject will arrive in north India as high-altitude birds migrate to the foothills of the Himalayas. Writing on the way, Flightpathproject will move to south India at the same time that migratory birds escaping the European winter flock to sanctuaries like Vedanthangal.


Image at

News from 2013


Was it worth while to forego our wings

To gain these dextrous hands?

Truly they fashion us wonderful things

As the fancy of man demands.

But – to fly! to sail through the lucid air

From crest to violet crest

Of these great grey mountains, quartz-veined and bare,

Where the white clouds gather and rest.

Even to flutter from flower to flower, –

To skim the tops of the trees, –

In the roseate light of a sun-setting hour

To drift on a sea-going breeze.

Ay, the hands have marvellous skill

To create us curious things, –

Baubles, playthings, weapons to kill, –

But – I would we had chosen wings!

from Last Poems by Laurence Hope

On display and on the way

On display: The Flyway Print Exchange 8-28 September 2014

See wings on the walls at Melbourne’s No Vacancy Gallery:


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Information about the idea and the artists at and

More about the printing process and the paper at



On the way:

In Australia spring has sprung and migratory birds are heading back via Southeast Asia to escape the northern winter. Early birds arrived at Sungei Buloh in Singapore in late July; others have arrived since.

‘Hi All Wader Lovers,

Since the arrival of the Common Redshanks at SBWR on 28th July ( reported by David Li) followed by other shorebirds like the Common Greenshanks, Whimbrels and Lesser Sand Plovers, we had to wait until the last day of August to welcome the uncommon Black-tailed Godwits to the main pond. There were eight.
The Asian Dowitcher, Grey-tailed Tattler and the Terek Sandpiper were missing after making a one day appearance. But more Curlew Sandpipers turned up, some still in their partial breeding plumage.
Time to bring out your scopes and tele lenses and try to pick out the expected but less common Broadbilled Sandpipers, Great Knots, Ruddy Turnstones…’
A crowd of Common redshanks at Sungei Buloh

A crowd of Common Redshanks at Sungei Buloh

Notes by Alan Owyong to Wildbird Singapore: