Illustrating Australia's Threatened Species

Gerard Jenkins, a keen bird photographer who runs the Canberra Birds and Wildlife Facebook page, was contacted recently by poet and artist, Giles Watson. Giles has now used Gerard's photo of the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater, a recent visitor to Canberra, as the inspiration for a pastel painting. Giles specialises in writing poetry and pose and painting images of endangered Australian wildlife species. Gerard and Giles plan to collaborate further.

His poem about the Regent Honeyeater (reproduced with Giles permission) is below:

The bird book I grew up with describes them
in flocks of hundreds, descending on the Eucalypts in flower,
their voices bubbling like mountain-water
forming rivulets over quartz.

Older books called them warty-faced,
as though not noticing their plumes of ivory,
ebony and gold. They might have been called
the Spiderweb Bird, since they stitch
intricate nests of tree-bark together with their silk, or Blossom Bird,
Lerp Bird, Bird of Charcoal and Sunlight,

but instead they called them Regents:
temporarily enthroned. By latest estimates
there are scarcely enough left to crown
a single flock, their forests felled,
their valleys flooded, their last singing-places
awash with babbling flames.

It's all hydroelectric and reservoirs,
glib governmental compromises,
concrete, chainsaws and crassness,
the songlines severed like limp serpents,
and every ephemeral beauty trampled.

Close, close the childhood book: we're through.
Its joys no longer joys, its truths no longer true.

      

Regent Honey Eater by Giles Watson

Regent Honey Eater by Giles Watson

Regent Honeyeater by Gerard Jenkins

Untitled photo