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Jim’s Australiana Spot – 2UE - April 7, 2013

  Aussie Birds - Neville Cayley & John Gould

John Gould
John Gould

Jim has just returned from Stone the Crows - which had a bird photo competition.

Most of the older generation know whatever we know about Australian birds because of lectures and films and being forced to join THE GOULD LEAGUE at school ! Who remembers being a member at Primary School? Remember the bird call competitions?

Q
John Gould’s book is famous but most of us owned Neville Cayley’s book – what is it called?
A
What Bird Is That?
Q
What is the correct word for the call the magpie makes in the morning? (
A
warbling or carolling
Q
Sparrows numbers fell in direct relation to the coming of the motor vehicle… WHY?
A
They fed mostly on seeds in horse manure


John Gould learned taxidermy at Windsor Castle, where his father was foreman of gardeners. In 1827 he became taxidermist to the Zoological Society of London. The arrival in 1830 of a collection of exotic bird skins from the Himalayas enabled him to produce the first of many folio volumes, A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains (1831-32). Gould's sketches were transferred to the lithographer's stone by his wife, the former Elizabeth Coxon, whose artistic talents were to enhance many of his works until her death in 1841. The five-volume Birds of Europe (1832-37 was so successful that the Goulds were able to spend two years (1838-40) in Australia, where they made a large collection of birds and mammals. The collection resulted in Gould's most famous work, The Birds of Australia, 7 vol. (1840-48; supplements 1851-69), and in Mammals of Australia, 3 vol. (1845-63). He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1843.

Gould's lifetime work comprised more than 40 volumes, with more than 3,000 coloured plates. His many scientific papers, mostly devoted to descriptions of new species, established his professional reputation, but he is best known today for his folios of artwork. The Gould League, established in Australia in 1909, encourages an interest in nature and conservation among young people.

NEVILLE WILLIAM CAYLEY was born in Yamba in 1886, he was the son of ornithologist and bird artist Neville Henry Cayley and consequently signed his name as Neville W. Cayley in his professional years. Cayley's family moved to Sydney in the mid-1890s, where he studied art and was a pivotal member in the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club. Cayley truly believed in the value of ornithology and in memory of his father, he created a scholarship in Economic Ornithology at Sydney University to be administered by the League and funded by royalties from What Bird is That? The scholarship was eventually extended to post-graduate students involved in wildlife study or management relating to birds from universities around Australia. It endured for around 50 years, with the final two 'Gould League of NSW Cayley Memorial Scholarships' awarded in 2010.

Birds
Birds
Some examples of Gould's paintings

 

'magpie season'
Bob Magor

Maggie
It’s that blasted magpie season
When for no apparent reason
These sweet gentle backyard creatures
all become a killer force.
Crack attack – no time for details,
Clear the sky – from wrens to wedgetails.
And the earthbound feel their fury too
from rabbit up to horse.

Do their hormones stir internal
When these birds become maternal
And these placid peaceful neighbours
change from Jekyll into Hyde?
And you know your peace is erstwhile
When a fiery feathered missile
Makes you wish you’d worn a helmet
if you journey far outside.

It’s beyond my comprehension –
They reject my intervention
While perched sixty feet up skywards
on a eucalyptus throne.
And their beaks snap close to ravage
Howling wings swoop past to savage
For where yesterday was peaceful
now today’s a battle zone.

Overnight the rooster moulted
Then the house cow up and bolted.
The poor cat’s gone into hiding
and the dog’s got PMT.
Yes, that’s Puppy Magpie Tension
And it’s embarrassing to mention.
That my farm’s reduced to chaos
by some birds up in a tree.

For they’ll catch you unsuspecting
Like from chook house egg collecting
Even hanging out the washing
soon becomes a risky chore.
And I s’pose they think it’s funny
As I seek the outside dunny,
That they sometimes cause a mishap
long before I reach the door.

But although these feathered fighters
Are annoying little blighters.
There’s odd bonuses created
sent to make a fellow glad.
The wife’s mother copped a mauling
And Jehovahs ceased their calling
And I’m too scared to mow the lawn now
— so you see it’s not all bad.

Tune in to hear Jim on 2UE every Sunday at 10.30 am

 

Check out Stone the Crows Festival - held at Wagga Wagga - Every Easter

Listen to Jim at 10.30 am every Sunday on Radio 2UE Sydney - or afterwards on the podcast at 2ue.com

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