Birds a sub­ject of a life­time

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - Shane Ni­chols

HAV­ING just com­pleted a ma­jor up­date and re­print of his book on Wet Trop­ics birds, Mt Mol­loy or­nithol­o­gist Lloyd Nielsen wants noth­ing more than to get out­doors again, track­ing a few out­stand­ing species he has on his mind.

For one thing about be­ing a bird man is that you some­times spend lengthy pe­ri­ods in­doors, with books, your pho­tos and sketches, and com­puter, do­ing ev­ery­thing that goes with writ­ing about birds.

Books and files about birds are ev­ery­where in Lloyd’s Mt Mol­loy home, with a cou­ple of tonnes of books in boxes rep­re­sent­ing print runs of more than 10 ti­tles in­clud­ing the lat­est. The walls are lined with ref­er­ence books, as you’d ex­pect of an ex­pert whose pas­sion for birds took wing when an aunty gave him a clas­sic bird book – Neville Cay­ley’s sem­i­nal “What Bird is That” – for his sixth birth­day, back in 1947.

In those times, Lloyd re- calls, there weren’t many books on birds, nor bird ex­perts for that mat­ter. To­day that’s all changed “and that’s a good thing.”

“I think it’s ter­ri­bly im­por­tant,” says Lloyd. “Us older blokes have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence and if you can put it all down for a younger gen­er­a­tion com­ing on, that’s the way to go. That’s what I’m do­ing.”

In the past cou­ple of decades a main­stream in­ter­est in birds has ex­ploded. As part of the more broad re­spect for en- vi­ron­men­tal and an­i­mal is­sues gen­er­ally among the pub­lic, per­haps thanks to peo­ple like sir David At­ten­bor­ough and his nat­u­ral­ist me­dia off­spring, and tech­nol­ogy like dig­i­tal cam­eras, birds are en­joy­ing a more el­e­vated pub­lic re­gard.

Not to men­tion bird books too. Cay­ley’s ground break­ing book went from a hum­ble start to be­com­ing a pop­u­lar clas­sic, most re­cently reprinted in 2011. The au­thor made it de­lib­er­ately use­able and ac­ces­si­ble for the novice bird watcher.

In the same tra­di­tion, Lloyd Nielsen’s book on the birds of the Wet Trop­ics, up­dated last year, is a mas­terly or­gan­ised and pre­sented guide to make bird iden­ti­fi­ca­tion much eas­ier. He has in­cluded small paint­ings of each species, of­fer­ing more than one view of the same bird. Bird habi­tats and re­gional lo­ca­tions are also grouped to help the reader, along with handy notes about birds that are eas­ily con­fused with oth­ers.

Or­nithol­ogy is an end­less sci­ence – there’s al­ways some­thing out there to chase. In Lloyd’s case it is the elu­sive and shy buff-breasted quail, which has never been pho­tographed. Per­haps it will be there, fi­nally, in the next up­date.

Birds of the Wet Trop­ics of Qld and Great Bar­rier Reef and Where to Find Them is avail­able at Moss­man Gorge Cen­tre and While­away Book­shop. Or go to Lloyd Nielsen’s Bird­ing Aus­tralia: www.birdingaus­tralia.com .au

Pic­ture: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Or­nithol­o­gist Lloyd Nielsen in his Mt Mol­loy stu­dio

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