Thursday, February 11, 2016

MORTON

My debut poetry collection, Morton, is soon to be released by acclaimed Sydney publishers Pitt Street Poetry (who have also published work by esteemed writers such as Peter Goldsworthy, Luke Davies and John Foulcher). There will be a launch in the Southern Highlands. The 12 poems in Morton celebrate many aspects of the national park I love so much. A lot of places, creatures and people are brought to life within its pages. It also features photographs I've taken in various Morton locales. I'm proud of the work and I love what PSP's team have done with my pamphlet. It looks tremendous. Stay tuned for more details... LJ, Feb 11 2016.

2016

A belated happy new year to one an all. It's been a while between drinks! I've not been in the field that often of late so not a lot to report. The schizophrenic Bundanoon weather has been a drag. So much rain and wind and mist and coolth. I do wish we'd had a constantly hot and still summer. I was on Efete in Vanuatu for 8 days in January. A glorious place (though a place of struggle and hardship and confusion and restlessness). I miss it. A swift fan, I adored watching and identifying swifts and swiftlets most afternoons I was there. Glossy Swiftlets, flying very low over a clearing on the edge of a forested range near Mele Cascades, particularly impressed me (though Uniform Swiftlets are cool!). I wish we had these birds in Australia. Anyhow, I'll try to post more regularly on WB this year. LJ, February 11 2016.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

ON THE WAY BACK FROM STINGRAY SWAMP FLORA RESERVE

Returning from Stingray Swamp Flora Reserve (which backs onto Penrose State Forest and is a good 30 minute walk from the junction of Old Argle and Ferndale Roads in Bundanoon) the other day, the crunching and snapping of distant trees caught my ear. I padded slowly through rugged open eucalyptus woodland to a patch of casuarinas to see what the source of the racket was. I thought I was hearing feeding Glossy Black-cockatoos. How right I was! A male and two females were gnawing dead and live timber and snapping she-oak seedpods. I was thrilled to see them. I'd forgotten how staggeringly arresting the red in their tails is when the birds are in flight. It was terrific to see the females allopreening (underwings, tails, sides etc.) and the male clamber over one of the feeding females when on his way to seize more seedpods. Now and then they emitted their Red-tailed Black-cockatoo-like wails. I have seen GBCs on very few occasions in my life. I was blessed to have thirty-five captivating minutes with this trio. They were not concerned by my presence. According to the NSW Government's E&H division, GBCs are listed as Vulnerable, meaning that they may become extinct in this state in the medium-term future if we don't preserve the precious woodlands they require. We have to stick up for these quirky, charming characters of the Aussie bush. LJ, September 2 2015.

Monday, July 20, 2015

ALPINE CONDITIONS

A considerable amount of snow dropped on many Southern Highlands towns last Friday, but not in Bundanoon, much to my dismay. Driving to work before 7am, I heard a traffic report on ABC 702 advising motorists that the Hume Highway had been shut in both directions near Berrima due masses of snow and ice. Consequently, I travelled through Sutton Forest, Moss Vale, Bowral and Mittagong to get to the Hume. It felt like being in Europe. Absolutely gorgeous stuff. A snowman was on a roundabout in Bong Bong St Bowral. I took footage here and there on my iPhone. I'd not seen a dump like this before in the Southern Highlands. Family at High Range woke to 7 inches of the stuff. As I'm not a winter sports enthusiast, that was only the second time I've seen snow in Australia. LJ, July 20 2015.

THANKS

My sincere thanks to those who turned up, in bleak, bleak weather, for Winterfest's birding event. Some even drove from Wollongong! It was great to meet many new faces and have a couple of very enthusiastic younger birders on board. I was impressed with the fieldwork of a few people -they found things way before I did. Well done. A lone, quite approachable Bassian Thrush at the entrances to Erith Coal Mine was the day's highlight. We were able to watch it for about 15 minutes. I'd really like to have another birding for beginners bash in summer, when all our migrants have returned. Stay tuned. LJ, July 20 2015.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

ARCTIC TERN AT AUSTINMER BEACH

I didn't expect to see an Arctic Tern at Austinmer Beach (north of Wollongong) last Sunday. Conditions were warm and still. I watched the bird for about five minutes, recording notes of its appearance into my iPhone as I did. After consulting every field guide I own, I decided the bird was an immature Arctic. One has to be very careful when identifying terns as they have similarities. Common, White-fronted and Little Tern, which are similar in their various forms, had to be ruled out. The Arctic I saw had a clear white rump and tail, black edges to the forked tail, a cap that started above the eye and stretched behind the eye, white lores, smokey black-grey on the shoulders and black wingtips. It also plunged into the water after food (not all terns do this). After consulting with Alan Morris, a man who keeps NSW bird records, I found Arctic Terns are only spotted about three times a year along the NSW coast. So, a real rarity. And a tick. My Aussie bird tally now stands at 536 species. LJ, June 18 2015.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

176, 177, 178, 179

Peaceful Dove (I was a little surprised to see this on two occasions - hopefully not an aviary escapee), Yellow Thornbill (I can't believe it took me years to come across this species in town considering they're so bloody common in NSW), Pacific Swift (with White-throated Needletails; the only time I've spotted one in NSW) and Feral Pigeon (the only other place in The Southern Highlands I've seen them is at Moss Vale) now bring the bird tally to 179. LJ, June 7 2015.