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 overwinter

Winter wings

Image result for cranes texas january image

Whooping cranes (Grus americana) in Aransas Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Image at wikimedia commons

The Cranes, Texas January

I call my wife outdoors to have her listen,

to turn her ears upward, beyond the cloud-veiled

sky where the moon dances thin light,

to tell her, “Don’t hear the cars on the freeway—

 

it’s not the truck-rumble. It is and is not

the sirens.” She stands there, on deck

a rocking boat, wanting to please the captain

who would have her hear the inaudible.

 

Her eyes, so blue the day sky is envious,

fix blackly on me, her mouth poised on question

like a stone. But, she hears, after all.

January on the Gulf,

warm wind washing over us,

we stand chilled in the winter of those voices.

by Mark Sanders

More at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/mark-sanders

Listen to whooping cranes atThe Cornell Lab of Ornithology site https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Whooping_Crane/sounds

Watch whooping cranes on this Texas Parks and Wildlife video

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

New wings in Singapore

Patrolling Petrel

A new sighting for Singapore, with the fly-by of Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii.

Image result for bulwer's petrel in flight

Image at http://www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

See the Singapore Bird Report for November at https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/2016/12/11/singapore-bird-report-november-2016/

Petrel poetry:

A pre-revolutionary parody from Russia stars the Stormy petrel.

 

Stormy Petrel by John Audubon

The Song of the Stormy Petrel
Up above the sea’s grey flatland, wind is gathering the clouds. In between the sea and clouds proudly soaring the Petrel, reminiscent of black lightning.
Glancing a wave with his wingtip, like an arrow dashing cloudward, he cries out and the clouds hear his joy in the bird’s cry of courage.
In this cry — thirst for the tempest! Wrathful power, flame of passion, certainty of being victorious the clouds hear in that bird’s cry.
Seagulls groan before the tempest, – groan, and race above the sea, and on its bottom they are ready to hide their fear of the storm.
And the loons are also groaning, – they, the loons, they cannot access the delight of life in battle: the noise of the clashes scares them.
The dumb penguin shyly hiding his fat body in the crevice . . . It is only the proud Petrel who soars ever bold and freely over the sea grey with sea foam!
Ever darker, clouds descending ever lower over the sea, and the waves are singing, racing to the sky to meet the thunder.
Thunder sounds. In foamy anger the waves groan, with wind in conflict. Now the wind firmly embraces flocks of waves and sends them crashing on the cliffs in wild fury, smashing into dust and seaspray all these mountains of emerald.
And the Petrel soars while crying, reminiscent of black lightning, like an arrow piercing the clouds, with his wing rips foam from the waves.
So he dashes, like a demon, – proud, black demon of the tempest, – and he’s laughing and he’s weeping . . . it is at the clouds he’s laughing, it is with his joy he’s weeping!
In the fury of the thunder, the wise demon hears his weakness, but he’s certain that the clouds will not hide the sun – won’t hide it!
The wind howls . . . the thunder rolls . . .
Like a blue flame, flocks of clouds blaze up above the sea’s abyss. The sea catches bolts of lightning drowning them beneath its waters. Just like serpents made of fire, they weave in the water, fading, the reflections of this lightning.
-Tempest! Soon will strike the tempest!
That is the courageous Petrel proudly soaring in the lightning over the sea’s roar of fury; cries of victory the prophet:
-Let the tempest come strike harder!

by Maxim Gorky

translation and image at wikipedia.org

 

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

From a Home to a Home

Migrants in Melbourne:

‘The search for home unites human and winged travellers in a unique exhibition involving sixteen artists from seven countries…’

PictureFROM A HOME TO A HOME: A STORY OF MIGRATION
Friday 25 November – Thursday 8 December
Opening: Friday 25 November , 6.00–9.00pm
BSG, 322 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Gallery hours: Tues–Fri 10am–8pm; Sat–Sun 10–6pm

More information at http://www.kategorringesmith.com.au/news.html

Immigration Nation:

English lessons at Bathurst Migrant Camp 1951. Courtesy National Archives of Australia

English lessons at Bathurst Migrant Camp 1951. Courtesy National Archives of Australia

 

More at http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/aplaceforeveryone/bathurst-migrant-camp/

See also http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/11760707658/immigration-nation-the-secret-history-of-us

Immigration
I’ll tell you why.
To survive

the onslaught of religion.
To outlive

the ghosts of martyrs.
To recover

from the world’s longest war
since WWII. To live

beyond the hatreds
of patriotism. To see

the kinder face of humanity.
To think

free of the Faith’s manacles.
To believe

without the obligation
of forming belief.

To discover
the basic joys of being.

The price? I’ll tell you.
Evaporation.

Marginalised to the point
of disappearance.

Barred for nothing
more profound than a shade

of skin, a tone
of speech, a taste

of lifestyle. Alienated
beyond the word.

Ignored by the mighty.
Detested by the commoner.

Worth it? Doubtless.
To finally grasp

humanity’s fraudulent truth.
To dream

the sweetness of equality.
To see past

the façade of brotherhood.
To be touched

you might say, by the rays
of a luminous discovery.

To abandon
all faith, and come to cherish

the immense solitude
of non-believing.

To desire. To know
the power of desire. To wait

joyfully amid unpalatable sadness.
Recommend it?

Only to loathsome enemies
and to my dearest friends.

by Iranian-born Australian-based writer Ali Alizadeh

More at https://alializadeh.wordpress.com/

ali

Ali Alizadeh

 

Back from the breeding grounds

Sojourners return to Singapore

 

great-knot-fyap

The globally endangered Great Knot was spotted at Seletar Dam and photographed by Francis Yap in mid-August.

More about these early birds at https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/singapore-bird-report-august-2016/

Life on the wing: the Great Knot

This bird’s a traveller, summers

in north-eastern Siberia,

winters in southern China

and has vagrants that fly to Australia…

from ‘The Great Knot’ by Robert Adamson