|Dusky Woodswallow, photo Chris Tzaros|
Bird nerds, birders, birdos, twitchers and all the rest of us have another welcome reason to visit Bruny Island over the weekend 14-17 of October, with the return of the Bruny Island Bird Festival.
The inaugural festival was set up in 2010 as the brainchild of three organizations; BrunyI sland Environmental Network, Inala Nature Tours and Birdlife Tasmania but the wellspring and motivation for the festival comes from the desire to have people look at how intact habitat really is and to celebrate the amazing island and its birdlife.
Tasmania is home to 12 endemic bird species all of which sometimes find themselves at home on Bruny Island, and importantly the island is sometimes the only place the critically endangered Swift Parrot is found. Logging was finally suspended on the island primarily to further protect the habitat of this beautiful parrot.
The festival is not just for those with a passion for bird and bird life, it offers a wide range of events from a family day on Saturday, a range of tours with Discovery Rangers, and Nick Mooney will be hosting a session called Claws, Beaks and Wings, the weaponry of birds, where the rare opportunity to dissect a Wedge Tail Eagle is offered. It is important to note that this specimen, was generously donated to the festival following its accidental death by electrocution.
The festival caters for adults and children, and there will be a Bird Ball Masquerade on the Saturday evening, a Poets Breakfast at Dennes Pt, MCd by Pete Hay, with poets Sarah Day, Jane Williams, Adrienne Eberhard, Karen Knight and Liz McQuilkin, and also a nature writers’ open mike MC’d by Pete Hay. Pete Hay will also be in conversation with Michael Leunig, though this is now sold out – but you can still hear Leunig launch the festival proper – and there is also the opening of the Bird Festival Art Exhibition again, by special festival guest, you guessed it, Michael Leunig, followed by the launch of the second edition of Birdsong: A Celebration of Bruny Island Birds.
Nicole Gill, is a scientist who has not only just had an essay included in the Best Australian Science Writing 2016, but has also been shortlisted for The Bragg UNSW Press Prize for ScienceWriting. She is hosting ‘Nature Writing: From Outdoor Adventures to Articles’ where she will explore how young people can earn money writing about birds and other wild creatures. This session will show you how to craft entertaining articles and include tips on how to pitch your story ideas to magazines and other non fiction markets.
It’s hard to find an excuse not to go to Bruny Island, half an hour out of Hobart, accessible by ferry, ringed by beaches and forests, and saturated with thousands and thousands of years of history. I hope to see you there.
The article was first published in Warp magazine, October 2016.