Sunday, November 17, 2013

mutton bird vs. migration

the last week in this neck of the woods (otway ranges and great ocean road), have been utterly vile. to be completely honest. howling easterlies that were unrelenting in their battering, squalls of lashing rain that instantly drenched, and cold that sunk straight into the bones. NOT GOOD. however, spare a thought for the poor little Tasmanian Shearwater or Mutton Bird as its more commonly known. A migratory bird that calls Griffith Island home and nests there each year during the warmer months, they are currently on their way home and on the final stretch of their journey that has taken them essentially around the entire pacific ocean. During this very last stretch, the birds (in their hundreds) have been fighting against the winds and once again this year as it did two seasons ago, the howling easterly has taken its toll with many succumbing to exhaustion and literally falling from the sky and washing up on our shores. Its hard not to feel the sadness of such an event, particularly as its a protected species, but at the same time, mother nature seems to have an incredible capacity for regulating population numbers without human interference and perhaps this cyclical event is one such form of this regulation. we can only hope anyway. As i walked along the beach the other day surrounded by little mutton birds (who p.s shed nearly half if not more of their body weight during this arduous trip home), i tried to rack my brains to find a positive in a sad situation. Mother nature and her population regulation was one hypothesis, another one was looking at the bodies of the deceased Shearwaters and thinking how each one could essentially be a huge source of nitrogen and minerals for composting, breaking down into a rich source of elements to benefit the soil structure and of course then, helping our gardens to thrive and flourish. of course, probably not many people would show an interest in scooping up three or four dead birds and putting through their compost system, but fact of the matter is, when there are resources at your feet in their natural state, it seems foolish to ignore them and instead going to Bunnings or similar to buy pre made, fabricated and processed fertilisers, that are full of additives and chemicals that don’t need to be a part of our everyday life, particularly when it comes to growing our own food. so upshot of it all was that even though it was a negative situation, perhaps because it was an entirely natural event, it seemed relatively possible to envisage a way to turn that negativity into a positive by returning the deceased mutton birds back into the cycle of life and keeping it all ticking over as it would in its natural state. 

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