Thoughts for the year 2021

It took years to find the night parrot in the outback of Australia Photo; Steve Murphy

So here we are, cautiously venturing into the new year, a lot less innocent than we were at the start of 2020, but paradoxically, maybe a lot more hopeful than at any time during the dark times. Its a new year, after all, and hope is a human condition.

One can’t help but wonder what science will bring this year – along with the long-awaited vaccine, will there be other amazing discoveries, and will any of them come from within these shores?

Last year, among the hundreds and hundreds of new species discovered by the scientific community, the world heard about ten new species and sub-species of birds found on tiny islands in Indonesia,(https://www.audubon.org/news/10-new-birds-described-biggest-avian-discovery-more-century). Well, that makes me wonder, what’s left to find in this country?

We thought we’d lost the night parrot but we found it again, out there in the arid wilderness of the inland. What else could be out there, in that vast emptiness where few dare to go? What might have flashed in front of a lonely vehicle, or fluttered away in front of a misplaced grey nomad?

A small earth coloured shadow, barely noticed, flying too low or too high for casual identification, dismissed as a more well-documented inhabitant. Or emerging into the stillness of the freezing desert night to creep across the gibbers, chirping quietly to far-flung relatives, eking out an existence like a refugee in a war zone.

Or maybe we don’t need to go that far – maybe there’s something hiding in plain sight , it wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.(https://www.audubon.org/news/a-miraculous-discovery-near-medellin-yields-insight-mysterious-songbird). Have you taken a good look around lately?

It took one man years to find the night parrot, to believe it was out there and to invest a lifetime looking. And now we’re finding those same, secretive and mysterious birds in places where once there was only rumour and a few old stories.

So as we creep cautiously into 2021, maybe we should be encouraging our scientist,s to creep further into the corners and crevices of this ancient land? Or to take a walk on the wild side of our cities and towns to look and listen and report back – who knows what’s out there?

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