Migration nation

Settled in for summer

Migratory birds of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway are back in Australia for southern hemisphere summer, as is the well-travelled Flyway Print Exchange exhibition.

3980_whatson_size235x400Wings over water by Kate Gorringe-Smith

The exhibition is on display at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne until 27 March; see http://museumvictoria.com.au/immigrationmuseum/ and link to ‘What’s On’

Par Avian

Visitors are also invited to add to Par Avian, an installation of postcards with messages for all travellers along the Flyway, whatever their reason for travel.

Flyway 1Edwin Mighell’s Curlews

  – in transit at the Flyway Print Exchange exhibition at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Singapore, 2015 –

See all the Flyway prints at http://www.theflywayprintexchange.info/prints

Par Avion

On a hunt for a mailbox
I carried the letter through town.
In the great forest of stone and concrete
this lost butterfly fluttered.

The stamp’s flying carpet
the address’s reeling letters
plus my sealed-in truth
now winging over the ocean.

The Atlantic’s crawling silver.
The cloudbanks. The fishing boat
like a spat-out olive pit.
And the wakes’ pale scars.

Down here work goes slowly.
I often sneak peeks at the clock.
The tree-shadows are black figures
in the greedy silence.

The truth is there on the ground
but no one dares to take it.
The truth is out on the street.
No one makes it their own.

Air Mail by Tomas Transtromer, translated by Patty Crane from Swedish




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


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




Love birds

Shorebirds share love around:

American avocets adopt a duckling in San Francisco Bay; it learns to feed by sweeping its beak from side to side, like they do.


Photo Jarred Barr

See conversation between shorebird scientists who recorded the event and friends at http://on.fb.me/1ouIEZ

Love birds of another kind:


Romance, who loves to nod and sing,

With drowsy head and folded wing,

Among the green leaves as they shake

Far down within some shadowy lake,

To me a painted paroquet

Hath been—a most familiar bird—

Taught me my alphabet to say—

To lisp my very earliest word

While in the wild wood I did lie,

A child—with a most knowing eye.

Of late, eternal Condor years

So shake the very Heaven on high

With tumult as they thunder by,

I have no time for idle cares

Through gazing on the unquiet sky.

And when an hour with calmer wings

Its down upon my spirit flings—

That little time with lyre and rhyme

To while away—forbidden things!

My heart would feel to be a crime

Unless it trembled with the strings.

 by Edgar Allen Poe

Tugging at the heartstrings:


Bird Stitchers by Mirranda Burton 2010; linocut inks on paper; from the collection of Nillumbik Shire Council

See http://victoriancollections.net.au/items/52d76e412162ef0e0c4ccb80

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: http://no-vacancy.com.au/show/flyway-print-exchange/


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Information about the idea and the artists at http://www.theflywayprintexchange.info/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Flyway-Print-Exchange/175252916007801

More about the printing process and the paper at http://www.imagescience.com.au/blog/2014-09-02/the-flyway-print-exchange-shorebirds-exhibitions/



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: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/wildbirdSingapore/info

High flyers

A special delivery arrives

kate art 1 web

Kate Gorringe-Smith, coordinator of the Flyway Print Exchange project, writes:

‘It has been an exciting week for the Flyway Print Exchange, an environmental art project linking 20 artists from nine countries along the East-Asian–Australasian Flyway…

…after travelling for 59 days and 29,000 km from Melbourne, via New Zealand and Singapore, to Anchorage, Alaska, and then back to Melbourne, the Travelling Prints have arrived back safely! Each one has come back — we have a 100 per cent survival rate (better than the birds I suspect) — a little worn, a little weary, but with a tale to tell…

kate letters web

…the travelled prints will be exhibited alongside their pristine counterparts at the Flyway Print Exchange exhibition to illustrate the journey travelled by Australia’s migratory shorebirds.’

The exhibition opens at the OzAsia Festival in Adelaide on 4 September 2014 then on to its next destination, Melbourne.

 Images courtesy Kate Gorringe-Smith

 More information at www.kategorringesmith.com.au/

See also: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Flyway-Print-Exchange/175252916007801

and: http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020

kate art 2 web


Stopovers on the e-Highway

Bird Brain Dance

From Ducks and geese, 2004. Image Anja Hitzenberger.

From Ducks and Geese, Spring 2004

Image Anja Hitzenberger

‘Bird Brain Dance is a multi-year navigational dance project by Jennifer Monson that investigates the migratory patterns and habits of birds and other animals and their biophysical and metaphorical relationships to humans as fellow travellers…’

www.birdbraindance.org had some access issues in January 2014; link through www.greenmuseum.org/c/enterchange/artists/birdbrain/

The Flyway Exchange

‘The Flyway Print Exchange is an exchange between…twenty artists, from nine of the twenty-two Flyway countries, [who] will create prints inspired by the idea of the Flyway…’


 The Border Consortium (TBC)

Camp locations on the Thai-Burma border

Camp locations on the Thai-Burma border

Map courtesy TBC website

‘TBC’s Executive Director was among the first people to witness, and respond to, the urgent needs of thousands of refugees from Burma who fled into Thailand in 1984…’


Foreign retirees flock to Asia

‘…many retirees are initially looking for an escape from the dreary, cold winters in the northern hemisphere. Many come for the winter months then go back home, but after a few years they come back for good…’



The Ornitarium in Denmark, Western Australia

The Ornitarium in Denmark, Western Australia

‘…the Ornitarium is an architectural sculpture that is sited at the Wetlands Education Centre just outside of the Shire of Denmark, WA. This project has been inspired by “local knowledge” found in Southwestern Australia – specifically knowledge related to birds that populate the region’s wetlands areas…’

Inside the Ornitarium in Denmark, Western Australia

Inside the Ornitarium

Images m12studio/Richard Sexton


East Asian-Australasian Flyway

‘The East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) aims to protect migratory waterbirds, their habitat and the livelihoods of people dependent upon them.’


Flyways Music

‘Flyways celebrates the great bird migration between Africa and Eurasia along the Great Rift Valley, using music of the cultures over which the birds fly…’