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

See the Singapore Bird Report for November at

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


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.


More about each organisation at;;;

More about the competition at the link here:


Back from the breeding grounds

Sojourners return to Singapore



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

More about these early birds at

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

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 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

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




Larks fly in Flanders

Flightpathproject reflects on flight on Armistice Day, 11 November 2015, in the 70th year after the end of WWII

  • in memory of Jim Monteith RAF, much-loved and sorely-missed, who – on metal wings – supported the evacuation of POWs in 1945 from camps in Thailand and Singapore
  • in memory of those who went to war years before him and those who went – are still going – to war years after him

Words from ‘The War to End All Wars’ that wasn’t:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

by Lt Colonel John McCrae, Canadian physician, after the funeral of a friend at Ypres in 1915

A flood, blood-red:


Ceramic poppies installed at the Tower of London, July to November 2014

Image at

Eyes on the skies

Enraptured by raptors:

Oriental honey buzzards high in the sky over Singapore

Oriental honey buzzards high in the sky over Singapore

Photo by Tan GC at wildbirdSingapore

Posted by Gim Cheong to members of wildbirdSingapore, 6 October 2014:

‘Raptor migration at Tuas South Avenue 16 today. We counted 265 Oriental Honey Buzzards, along with a Peregrine Falcon, a Chinese Sparrowhawk, 6 Japanese Sparrowhawks, plus a number of unidentified ones…’

Oriental honey buzzard

Oriental honey buzzard

Image at
Under Buzzards
Heavy summer. Heavy. Companion if we climb our mortal bodies
High with great effort, we shall find ourselves
Flying with the life
Of the birds of death. We have come up
Under buzzards they face us
Slowly slowly circling and as we watch them they turn us
Around, and you and I spin
Slowly slowly…
from Under Buzzards by James Dickey (1923-1997)
Listen to James Dickey read Under Buzzards at