Wings Big Year – restart of research

I’m working well, focusing well. Many birders are flush with guides and coffee table books and references. Our birding collection is small and haphazard. I decided not to fuss but to grab Simpson & Day’s 2014 edition of FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA. No photos only drawings (but sometimes they reveal more than photos). Half a page on Australia’s Brolga (grus rubicunda) and Sarus Crane (grus antigione). I jotted notes on these two endemic (found in no other country) marvels. They’re big, almost shoulder height on me. You expect a field guide to be dry but Simpson & Day are parsimoniously poetic: both Cranes are described as “stately, long-legged” – doesn’t that conjure a picture? How about “soars in thermals” or “dancing displays of leaps, bows, high steps and loud trumpeting calls”? I read carefully enough to reckon I could pick one species from the other with binoculars, even though they’re so similar that Sarus Cranes have only been distinguished from Brolgas for fifty years. On the miniature maps, Brolgas are shown across half of our country, the east and north, while Sarus Cranes are only in the Cairns-and-north corner. I even read up on their (similar) nesting habits. The drawings, including a small dancing cameo, evoke my future. All of this stirs my mind and heart.

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