Great ocean road

A lively cormorant drying his wings

losing our birds

One of the many birds on the beach at Airies Inlet

On a cloudy but welcoming day we wound our way down to the beach at Airies Inlet amidst cavorting swallows and piping fairy wrens. An angler untangled his line as we walked the shoreline. Then we saw a dead bird, a cormorant of some kind. A small bundle of damp black and grey feathers nestled unnaturally into the sand. Then another. And another. As we walked we must have seen more than 2 dozen small sad wet and still bodies, all the same kind of bird. Was it the recent storms of which they had fallen foul? If so why only cormorants? Bird flu crossed my mind. Is that likely and again why one species only. As we walked I felt useless. I couldn’t do anything for these beautiful creatures.

The tide was coming in. One after another they would be taken back by the sea.

All through Australia bird populations are crashing. We may not always see their small broken bodies like I did today; the loss is not always that obvious. But from Victoria to Queensland, Adelaide to Perth we’re losing a silent battle. Our birds are ever-increasingly the victims of over development causing loss of habitat. Just having what trees remain situated too far apart can have a devastating impact on small birds who can only fly so far.

Imagine a world without birds. No morning songs. No magpies guarding their nests. No laughing kookaburra. No colourful chatty parrots. No seagulls to steal our chips. No cheeky tree sparrows. No regal eagles and hawks. All gone. Our footy teams would be named after extinct animals.

Is civilisation worthwhile if it means we kill off everything that makes us civilised?

I’m sad for the sea birds. I’ll miss them.