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Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg: Falklands Ornithologist - The Quietus


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© JM and Andy Stanworth
Jonathan Meiburg, the frontman for Shearwater, moonlights as an ornithologist, and his interest in the natural world and our uneasy place in it turns up often in Shearwater's music. The Austin and New York-based band is now at work on two new albums, but last August, in the midst of 200 shows in support of 2012's Animal Joy (Sub Pop), Meiburg took a month off to get out of the tour van and into the field. He travelled to the remote island of Steeple Jason to study Striated Caracaras, rare and strange birds of prey that scavenge at albatross and penguin colonies in the Falklands and Tierra del Fuego. This is his account of a few weeks away from the world - or much closer to it, depending on your perspective.

 

Travelling to the Falkland Islands from New York means about thirty hours in the air, much of it over the southern Andes, a chain of wild, snow-capped mountains longer than the Himalayas. Looking down from 30,000 feet, you can see the remnants of the Patagonian Ice Sheet, which still holds entire mountains and valleys in its grip but once swelled to the size of ten meters’ worth of global sea level. This wall of ice probably isolated Striated Caracaras from their Andean relatives hundreds of thousands of years ago, and confined them to the remote places they live now: a handful of islands south and west of Tierra del Fuego, and the Falklands, where they live and breed on the outer edges of the archipelago.

 

Read more: http://thequietus.com/articles/11988-shearwater-jonathan-meiburg-bird-study-falklands

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