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 therialto.co.uk; rspb.org.uk; birdlife.org; conservation.cam.ac.uk

More about the competition at the link here:


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




Redshanks: return and recollection

Follow the leader:

Sketches from Sungei Buloh on World Shorebird Day, 6 September 2014


redshanks arrive pui san tham

Artwork by Tham Pui San – artist, educator, conservationist and contributor to the Flyway Print Exchange.

More images of Tham Pui San’s World Shorebird Day sketches at https://artinwetlands.wordpress.com/2014/09/

See also http://www.theflywayprintexchange.info/

Then we waded at low tide to Hilbre Island;
and we marvelled at scores of thousands of waders:
Sanderling, Knot, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Curlew and Dunlin;
and the giant gull of the north, the hyperborean Glaucous,
glided snow-mantled above the remains of the old lifeboat station;
and there suddenly stooped from a cloud the colour of Blanenau Ffestiniog slate
a Peregrine into a blizzard of wheeling Calidris Alba
and the falcon hit and we heard the thud and a handful of silven feathers
whorled in the wind and the great dark raptor rose with the dead meat locked in its talons;
and I said to my friend: ‘We will mind this as long as we live.’ (He is dead now.)
From Laertidean, by Peter Reading (1946-2011)

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

Setting the scene (and the seen) in Singapore

Lines on a page:

Tham Pui San – artist, observer of nature, environmental interpreter – on-site at Sungei Buloh, Observation Hide 1A

ps draws

ps hands 2

Drawing comparisons:

An artist’s notebook, a writer’s notebook

sungei notebook 2

ps vj 1

artinwetlands.wordpress.com; http://theflywayexchange.info/; http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Flyway-Print-Exchange/175252916007801


The Poetry Foundation’s emailed poem of the day, the morning after Sungei Buloh.

The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

The tide rises, the tide falls,

The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;

Along the sea-sands damp and brown

The traveller hastens toward the town,

And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,

But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;

The little waves, with their soft, white hands,

Efface the footprints in the sands,

And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls

Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;

The day returns, but nevermore

Returns the traveller to the shore,

And the tide rises, the tide falls.

 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882); http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/1739

26-curlewEurasian Curlew, a rare visitor at Sungei Buloh, in October 2008.

Image: http://www.besgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/26-curlew.jpg

On wings in Singapore

Flightpathproject is  in Singapore 26 February to 3 March 2014

Pre-flight reading:Sing bird books 2

Sing birds books 3

On the shelf: Natural History Drawings: The Complete William Farquhar Collection, Malay Peninsula 1803-1818 (Editions Didier Millet & National Museum of Singapore, 2010); Birds of Singapore, Clive Briffett & Sutari Bin Supari, (Oxford University Press, 1993); A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia, Ben King, Martin Woodcock, EC Dickinson (Collins, 1975)

Stopping over:

sungei buloh sign

‘. ..108 species of migratory birds have been sighted at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve over the past decade. As a site along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway for migratory shorebirds and an ASEAN Heritage Park, migratory birds are the main attraction at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, especially during the annual migratory bird season between the months of September and March.

As many as 60 different species of birds can be spotted in a single day during this period, as thousands of migratory birds from their breeding grounds in Russia, North China, Japan and Korea make Sungei Buloh their resting point before continuing their flights down south.

From commonly seen birds such as the Common Redshank, to the incredible ones, such as the tiny Pacific Golden Plover’s uncanny ability to travel over great distances (from Siberia to Singapore), Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve has only too many interesting sights to amaze you…’

See http://www.nparks.gov.sg

 In transit:

Changi airport

A total of 51.2 million passengers flew through Singapore in 2012…

See http://www.changiairport.com


Pink-wing_flying_fish wikimedia commons

‘…The process of taking flight, or gliding, begins by gaining great velocity underwater, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) per hour. Angling upward, the four-winged flying fish breaks the surface and begins to taxi by rapidly beating its tail while it is still beneath the surface. It then takes to the air, sometimes reaching heights over 4 feet (1.2 meters) and gliding long distances, up to 655 feet (200 meters). Once it nears the surface again, it can flap its tail and taxi without fully returning to the water. Capable of continuing its flight in such a manner, flying fish have been recorded stretching out their flights with consecutive glides spanning distances up to 1,312 feet (400 meters)…’

See http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/fish/flying-fish/

 Another form of flight

bird vase grace

Bird Vase-Grace by New York-based Singaporean ceramicist Wee Hong Ling.

Image and article at http://singaporepoetry.com/ 10 Feb 2014