At the outset, let me wish you a thoroughly enjoyable festive season. What follows is not an end of year summary of all the things that happened in relation to nature conservation over the previous 12 months. It is also not a commentary on the recent election and the possible consequences for our wildlife as a result – when there finally is a result. Neither is it an analysis of the financial health of Wildlife Queensland, our appeals, our campaigns and policies, our projects and our many achievements. These matters have been adequately canvassed during the year.
It is time for a more gentle and light-hearted approach to what our Society is about. But, more to the point, a look at why each of us feels so strongly about protecting our unique and fascinating wildlife – both plants and animals. In a sense, this is a invitation to each and every reader to stop for a while and contemplate your relationship with the natural world. A modicum of introspection can be cathartic and enjoyable.
How does nature speak to you? Are you captivated by an orb-web spider spinning its intricate web, or rendered speechless by the beauty of a pied butcherbird call, or transfixed in reverence by the towering closeness of a rainforest? Even the frustration of a brush turkey rearranging a carefully constructed urban garden engenders a begrudging element of awe when you contemplate the importance of that species in distributing nutrients and aerating soil on the forest floor.
How do you express your feelings for our wildlife? Are you a keen observer, a photographer, a sound recorder, a writer, a painter, a researcher, or a volunteer for a conservation organisation? These, of course, are not mutually exclusive. Or do you simply enjoy knowing that things are happening or advocacy is taking place to enhance wildlife protection? These are personal questions and I’m not asking you to reveal them, other than to yourself.
That said, I will share one form of expression that I employ from time to time – poetry. At one point in my working life, I undertook research on a number of seabird species – black noddies, red-tailed tropicbirds, and silver gulls. I am in awe of birds that can comfortably spend time in the air, on land (nesting), on the water, and under the water (chasing food). By way of example, there is an element of beauty in a black-naped tern (a small white seabird with a flash of black) searching, hovering, then plummeting into the ocean to capture small fish to distribute to its chick back on the land.
But just observing some behaviour is not necessarily an end-point in itself. The memories produced will linger and mix with other wildlife encounters to help refine a caring approach to the natural world. Can you recall some of those events, and resulting memories, that helped mould your attitude to wildlife protection?
THE TERN’S RETURN
A flash of white disturbs the sky –
And comet-like it hurtles by,
Faster than the watching eye
Can ascertain, or even try.
I wonder why?
It cuts the sea at breakneck pace
To disappear without a trace,
Save for some droplets held in space
To advertise its entry place.
A suicidal race?
But wait! Another flash of white
Emerges slowly, holding tight
A tiny oceanic sprite
Bejewelled with flecks of dripping light.
Can this be right?
What is there left to contemplate –
The tern’s descent, the fish’s fate?
No pathway through the sky will wait
For others to investigate.
Is it too late?
But don’t despair! For you will find
The image that is left behind
Will gently pollinate the mind
With rainbows of another kind….
To be refined