In New Zealand, birders are searching for the maybe (or maybe not) extinct orange-wattled South Island kakapo.
South & North Island Kokakos
By J. G. Keulemans, in W.L. Buller’s A History of the Birds of New Zealand, 2nd edition, published 1888 Image courtesy of http://www.commons.wikimedia.org
More about the elusive South Island kokako at http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-38757748
I don’t know if you’re alive or dead
I don’t know if you’re alive or dead –
Can you be found on earth so?
Or only in twilit thoughts instead,
Be mourned, in that peaceful glow?
All for you: the prayer by day,
The hot sleeplessness at night,
The white flock of poetry,
And the blue fire of my eyes…
from I don’t know if you’re alive or dead, by Anna Akhmatova
Image Markus Vareavuo/naturepl.com
Birds are migrating earlier as temperatures rise: see http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-38450228
Warning of warming in the 1840s:
Henry David Thoreau’s notes from Walden Pond provide a benchmark for climate change; see more at https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/mar/14/henry-david-thoreau-climate-change
Henry David Thoreau, image at wikipedia.org
Resuming new life:
To a Marsh Hawk in Spring
There is health in thy gray wing,
Health of nature’s furnishing.
Say, thou modern-winged antique,
Was thy mistress ever sick?
In each heaving of thy wing
Thou dost health and leisure bring,
Thou dost waive disease and pain
And resume new life again.
by Henry David Thoreau
Poetry magazine The Rialto, in collaboration with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Birdlife International and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, invites submissions for the 2017 Nature and Place poetry competition.
More about each organisation at therialto.co.uk; rspb.org.uk; birdlife.org; conservation.cam.ac.uk
More about the competition at the link here:
In October 2015, Flightpathproject revisited India.
Migrants in Madhya Pradesh
Flightpathproject spent a morning birding at the 600-acre Sirpur Lake, near Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Winter migrants are late this year, waiting for the weather to cool down, but some early birds, including cotton teal, have just arrived.
Cotton teal (Nettapus coromandelianus, aka Cotton pygmy-geese) among lily pads.
Image at http://www.birds.iitk.ac.in/wiki/cotton-pygmy-goose
Still waters at Sirpur
Reed beds line the lakeshore: a filter system for water and feeding ground for birds.
More of these extraordinary images of Sirpur’s reed beds at http://www.dubeyashish.com
More information about conserving Sirpur at http://www.tnvindia.org
Words about wetlands
Flightpathproject was again tracking the movements of poet Laurence Hope. The 1895-1900 diaries of Scottish writer and painter Violet Jacob, who was in central India at the same time as and spent time with Laurence Hope, brought Flightpathproject to the lake. The lilies of Sirpur – then known as Sherepore – had the same effect now as then.
20 July 1896: I heard the other day that the great pink lotus was to be seen in flower at a place called Sherepore tank a few miles from Indore…the creek was full of lovely rose-coloured flowers standing with their heads raised above the thick masses of leaves…it was most wonderful to me who have only seen it in pictures.’
Violet Jacob Diaries and Letters from India 1895- 1900, Canongate Publishing, 1990
Birds, words and music:
A piece about about Molloy, Messiaen and the music of birds by Australian composer and broadcaster Andrew Ford at http://www.insidestory.org.au/everyone-was-a-bird
Georgiana Molloy – the mind that shines.
Biography by Bernice Barry, Redgate, 2015
Catalogue of birds:
Listen to the Black-eared wheatear by Messiaen from his Catalogue d’oiseaux at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE4vSviuoSw
Making sense of sound
One of Brazil’s best birders is blind. Watch award-winning sound recordist Juan Pablo Culasso at work at http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33345913
Image at http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33345913
The Michigan Bird Brains are a team of young blind birdwatchers, lead by Donna Posont. Read her essay about birding blind at http://blog.allaboutbirds.org/2012/04/19/sensing-natures-beauty-in-sound-scent-and-touch/
Where Song Began
Australian biologist Tim Low traces the discovery that Australia was the first home of the world’s songbirds (published by Penguin,2014).
He describes parrots – including the kooky palm cockatoo pictured on the cover – as having ‘aptitude with attitude’.
Film clip taken from the documentary Australia Land of Parrots. See http://www.abc.net.au
Read more about the palm cocko’s DIY drumsticks and use of drumming at http://www.sciencewise.anu.edu.au/articles/drumming%20parrot
Recordings of palm cockos (and birdsong from around the world) are available online at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/201266
Illustration by the late, great Australian bird artist William Cooper (6 April 1934 – 10 May 2015).
Image at http://www.nokomis.com.au/cockatooplates.html
‘…my heart in hiding/Stirred for a bird’
from Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins
A story of love, grief and wilderness, of inner and outer landscape, of hearts stirred by a bird.
Published by Vintage 2014; winner of the Costa Book Award 2014
The Song of the Caged Hawk
High in the hiss of shrill chill winds, in league with roughneck frost,
The skyward-striking scouring goshawk veers through dawnlit day.
Thick mists are riven, closed clouds cleft, the rainbow hacked in half.
He thunders by, bolts, blazes, skims low hills and is away.
The fell swoosh of his killstroke quills cuts through the thorn and bush,
He falls to poach a fox or hare then soars, long gone, in gray.
With fur-flung claws and blood-drunk beak, scourge of a billion birds,
He stands alone, and scans the world- the fierce, proud Lord of Prey.
Then molten months and blistering winds burst on him unawares.
His moulted feathers fall. Hewn in the heart, he broods at bay.
The grassborn rats and cats he prized become his persecution.
Ten times a night he stares about in shellshock and dismay.
by Liu Kongyuan, 773-819AD