Friday, 29 March 2019

Autumn Life

One of the surest signs of autumn is the wonderful smell of petrichore - one of my favourite smells, and favourite words - and a flush of mushrooms. I saw some yesterday. Lovely and fresh, but I'm just not that confident in identifying the Australian varieties so left them to be consumed by the animals.

And then I saw this lovely animal nearby, wonder if they would eat mushrooms? It's a wombat outside its burrow.

It was still early morning and quite cool, so I think this wombat was lying sunning itself at the burrow entrance. A sign of autumn-winter? I don't think they need do that in summer here in Canberra.

It certainly wasn't perturbed by my presence, so I took a few shots including close-ups of its face. Something I don't usually see, they tend to scurry off when approached and only show their hind end.

Meanwhile, up in the tree in the background of the first photo, there was another sign of autumn. The local Tawny Frogmouth had settled into his autumn-winter roost. He was sitting basking in the sunshine to warm himself up, strategically positioned on the sunny side of the tree, as they always do in autumn. The only tell-tale sign that he was there was a pile of white droppings on the ground below.

Look how well the plumage on his back and upper parts mimics the mottled dark grey of the topside of the peeling wood to his left, and how his breast feathers mimic the stripes of the grain on the lower side of the peeled wood.


Saturday, 2 March 2019

New Eagle Book

Following on from the last post, I give you news of the publication of the book on golden eagles that Adam Watson and I wrote and finalised at the end of last year. Unfortunately Adam never saw the final product which was being printed when he died. Below is a brief note on the book's page in the Hancock House Publishers website.


Regular price$34.95
Newly Released!
Hancock House is saddened by the loss of one of Scotland's greatest conservationists- Dr. Adam Watson, but proud to have helped produced his last published work. We have provided some obituaries highlighting some of his lifetime achievements below.

Follow this link to Hancock House publishers to see the obituaries and further information on the book.

The book draws upon data collected on golden eagles by Adam since 1943, myself since the 1970s and Derek Spencer in recent years. There is a long history of studying golden eagles in Scotland since the pioneering work of Seton Gordon in the late 1800s. And in this book we brought together long-held unpublished information on golden eagles in north-east and north-west Scotland. The aim was to collate our combined knowledge of golden eagles, share that knowledge with others, and interpret our findings with a broad comprehension of how golden eagles have fared, are faring and will probably fare in the future in Scotland.

Some of the contents are descriptive, some scientific, all we hope will enlighten.

This book is in a way an archive of information on golden eagles as we pulled lots of data and historical details from our notebooks. It would have been difficult to have much of the contents accepted by modern scientific journals or even popular magazines. For many of the former have become heavy reading and much of the latter have become very light reading. Much of our text lies in between. 

We added about a hundred photographs to illustrate the history of eagle study in Scotland and current work being done. And we thank all those helpers and people who contributed data and photographs to the book.

We both found the foreword, of which the last sentences are copied below, very encouraging if a bit awkward to our Scottish demureness. Me, I am grateful to Adam for the shared trials, discussions and joys while putting the book together.


`............This book deserves rich accolades for the massive, persistent effort of the authors and their colleagues. In the annals of single species studies of raptors there is no comparable project, and no comparable volume, to what Adam Watson and Stuart Rae present here.'

David H. Ellis and Des B.A. Thompson.

P.S. The hardcover edition is nicer.