6. Bush Stone-Curlew: Don Hunt 2010   

Section
1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship
Chapter
1.8 Photographs
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1.8.6

This is one of my favourite photographs – of a Bush Stone-Curlew (see also Articles 1.1.1). The photograph was taken by Don Hunt for an excellent little book called ‘The Bush Stone-Curlew in Northern Victoria’1. At first glance you can barely see the Curlew, so well hidden is it in its scrubby environment, but then you see its wild eye and the whole image materialises like a pointillist painting. It seems to be a bird as much of the imagination as of feather and bone.

Up until now in the Photographs section I have been deliberately switching between the intimate close-up of components of Nature, e.g. the Jacky Winter or the elephant, and the grand, sweeping whole of landscape, e.g. Rock Island Bend. To be fair, this is a somewhat false dichotomy and Ansel Adams began to combine the two in ‘Morning Mist’: great expanse of mountain and sky, but also intricate detail of trees and rocks and water. This is taken further by those who explicitly place their subjects in Nature, in habitat, feeling that this greatly expands meaning.

‘Bush Stone-Curlew’ is a fine example of the above, its cryptic behaviour, patterns and colouring all making sense when you see it merge and emerge from the surrounding bush. There is something of the dreamlike quality of Rousseau (1.7.3) and Davey (1.7.4) here, though there is none of the blank fear of Rousseau, nor the quirky otherness of Davey. The feeling is overwhelmingly one of adaptive harmony and quiet mystery.

(DeGroot, D. Bush Stone-Curlew)

For those feeling a little deprived from getting to know the Bush Stone-Curlew because of its exceptional camouflage, here’s a close-up taken by Dave DeGroot. They really are the strangest birds: heads like little old men, great bulging yellow eyes that are often half-lidded, strange stooping walk. They glide through the bush on moonlit nights uttering their eerie ‘weer loo’ calls. They really seem some sort of spirit bird, and to hear them is one of the slightly unsettling pleasures of the Australian bush.

 

1 Sleigh, S., Williams, L., and Stothers, K. 2010. The Bush Stone-Curlew in Northern Victoria – Conversations and Conservation. GBCMA, Shepparton.

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1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship
1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship 1.1 Articles 1.2 Art Installations 1.3 Books 1.4 Buildings 1.5 Film, Documentaries, Podcasts 1.6 Music 1.7 Paintings 1.8 Photographs 1.9 Poems 1.10 Spiritual Responses
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