Proof of life

Wanted alive

In New Zealand, birders are searching for the maybe (or maybe not) extinct orange-wattled South Island kakapo.

 

Buller Kokako.jpg

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

 

Wings, warming and Walden Pond

Early birds:

Swallows

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

Image result for thoreau image

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

Words for birds

Creative conservation

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.

rialto

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:

NATURE AND PLACE POETRY COMPETITION 2017

Still waters

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 pygmy

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.

ashishreeds

ashish3

 

 

 

 

 

ashish2

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

violet jacob

 

 

Bird notes

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

Front-cover Molloy

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

 

Birding by ear

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

juan pablo

Image at http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33345913

Sight unseen 

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

where song began 2Australian 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

land of parrots

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

BIRD04

Palm Cockatoos

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

 

 

 

Hearts in hiding

‘…my heart in hiding/Stirred for a bird’

from Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins

https://i2.wp.com/wainwrightprize.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2015/01/hforhawk.jpg

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