As I spend another day in the studio working on elements of my new installation work, I’m reflecting on some of the things I observed over the past week during my travels interstate. I had the privilege of spending a few hours around Goolwa and Hindmarsh Island at the mouth of the Murray River where I photographed some of the birdlife. Hindmarsh Island was an eye opener – a place where you can wade out into the river just before the brown river waters enter the green ocean waters of Encounter Bay. The wind was blowing a gale and the sand was blowing in drifts into the river. There was native flora hugging the sand dunes between the carpark and the river beach. Despite an environment that sees farming, tourism and growing housing estates (complete with marinas and private jetties), some birds have obviously found a home within the shrubs near the river.
Days later we were heading to Broken Hill from the Clare Valley, along the Barrier Highway, where there were vast areas completely devoid of trees. Birds had built nests of sticks on the top of power poles, for want of trees. The amount of roadkill ensured that the predator species flourished in these areas.
Today I’m back in the Fire Station Arts Centre studio, thinking of what all this means in terms of birds as an indicator species…What does it mean if some birds are adaptable enough to cope with arid environments (which could include some housing estates). Some are indeed well adapted to these environments. The question probably comes back to the biodiversity of species. Big birds do flourish, as the ‘traffic light crow’ outside my studio window is testament to, as do the foreigners who have adapted so well to the urban environment, like the pigeons evicted from the Fire Station during its transformation
It’s the little birds who are more vulnerable to environmental degradation. I didn’t hear or see any little birds in these extreme environments. Something I’m
conscious of as I continue to photograph laser-levelled housing estates ready for chocolate box houses to sprout upon, complete with European-inspired, landscaped gardens.
It all makes me feel privileged to live where I live, surrounded by the sweet (and sometimes annoying) birdsong of finches, wrens, robins, pardalotes and a huge variety of honeyeaters. They are my inspiration.