Communiqué 4: Endlings

The Hooded Plover. Image courtesy of Natural Resources South Australia.

It’s been a little while since the last communique, things have been busy and a tad distracting of late. For this largely Fleurieu-centric post, I touch on Plovers, endlings and several updates to the Fleurieu Sound Map.


Today (16th September) is Plover Appreciation Day, which raises awareness of the plight of ground nesting plovers around the world. Plovers the world over (especially in Australia) are threatened and – in some instances – critically endangered due to a myriad of ecological impacts: habitat loss, climate change, disease and predators. Down on the Fleurieu Peninsula, there are efforts to rehabilitate the habitat of the Hooded Plover and closely observe their mysterious behaviours and breeding patterns.

I was down on the Fleurieu Peninsula last weekend, undertaking another road trip to add to the sound map I’ve facilitated since 2011, and as I strolled along Normanville Beach I saw a cordon of bright nylon rope clearly demarcating a Hooded Plover rehabilitation zone among the shallow dunes. It was a particularly dreary afternoon and the prevailing conditions inclined me to morbidly contemplate the present-day plight for thousands of species around the world.

I recalled a 2017 essay I had read by Harriet Riley entitled Endlings. An ‘endling’ is a term which refers to an animal which is the last of its species. Riley sets this against the 21st Century epoch of the Anthropocene and a world of disappearing species:

Whether it’s Martha the passenger pigeon or Lonesome George the Pinta Island tortoise, every endling is a lesson in how humans should – or rather, shouldn’t – interact with the natural world. But the word ‘endling’ itself tells us something important, too, about how we relate to species on the brink of extinction. We do not see them as real.

Or, perhaps more accurately, we do not see extinction as real. 

That last line reminded me of Timothy Morton’s term, hyperobject, and how this describes something so big and  beyond our comprehension that we cannot ‘see the edges’ of it – e.g. climate change, extinctions.

We may not be able to see the edges of a hyperobject like climate change or extinction, but when one reflects on the tenuous plight of a species – such as the Hooded Plover – you certainly feel it. As I scanned the plover habitat zone at Normanville beach hoping to see a little plover, I felt pangs of despair come over me.

Now in 2019, with climate change manifesting itself on a daily basis, it feels like everything is in perpetual decline. The odds appear invariably stacked against any signs of recovery. For every marginal step forward; hyperobjects push us back several.

Still, we can only do what humans are inherently equipped to do: be compassionate, selfless and empathetic. To hope and love for every living thing on this planet and do what we can do.

This […] was the better way to love – to work for the living, not hunt for the dead. After all, humans aren’t endlings yet, and we can always find new people and new species to care for.

plover day

Fleurieu Sound Map updates

As I mentioned above, last weekend I travelled down to the Fleurieu Peninsula to make some new field recordings for the Fleurieu Sound Map. Covering the inland upper tiers of Springmount, the Glacier Rock at Inman Valley and Normanville Beach, I encountered the micro climates which are synonymous with the Fleurieu region in early Spring – namely, obnoxious gusts of wind, glorious sun, freezing showers, absolute stillness and more wind.

Thankfully the less favourable conditions were negated by the virtue (and serendipity) of arriving at a given location at just the right time, making a recording, and then hopping in the car again before things turned rotten. In this respect, I managed to obtain some fine recordings which can be found over at the sound map in the September 2019 updates section.

springmount cp.jpg
Springmount Conservation Park

In addition to the recordings, nice photos and updates to the site, I’ve also produced another one of my Road Trip Video Blogs which documents the trip.

Whilst I feel I’ve gotten better at ‘trimming the fat’ at the editing phase in these videos, in the first instance of sitting down to talk through the road trip, I should probably ensure I’m a little more awake before opening my mouth. The coffee scarcely did anything on this particular occasion, and no amount of post-production ‘oomph’ to the dialogue audio can lift my voice beyond its somnambulist condition.

Lastly, I’ve begun the arduous process of updating the audio clips on the Fleurieu Sound Map to a Soundcloud embed. I was initially apprehensive about making this move, but given that the Bandcamp embed isn’t exactly user-friendly for the purposes of a sound map, I’ve bitten the bullet. Aside from the greater flexibility and ease of use, I’m also hoping that this might lead to a little more engagement from visitors and users of the site. At this stage, only the recent additions exist as Soundcloud embeds, but I’ll update the existing ones in the coming weeks.

A shorter than usual instalment, but I’ll be back in another fortnight to report on further goings-on and stray observations. Thanks for reading!



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