Shearwaters Return Exhibition

 Mike Cleeland
A poem
Shearwaters Return Exhibition
October 2013

Just a Few Eggs

The wild spring gales every year
bring mutton birds back home
to lay their eggs in burrows
in the coastal sandy loam
And locals take the greatest care
to nurture every one
(except eggs laid on top, they'd only
dry out in the sun)

In early years the danger was
of poachers coming down
They'd dig up all the burrows
and erode the breeding ground
So the locals would report illegal
actions that they saw
(and take a few eggs home with them;
a well deserved reward)

And so upon Cape Woolamai
in 1933
the Cleeland boys set out to find 

an egg or two or three
The birds were laying thick and fast
and eggs were everywhere
It seemed like such a waste to leave
them all just lying there

They'd gathered up a hatful each
but didn't have a tin
so they nursed them in their singlets
and tucked their shirts well in
then turned their horses off the Cape
and down onto the beach
trying to manage eggs and reins, 

with one hand holding each

Along the way a few eggs cracked
and yolk would dribble down
so the rider reached inside
and scooped it out onto the ground
As the reader can imagine
these were pretty messy jobs
as the horses footprints mingled
with a trail of yellow blobs

As they rode around a sandhill
with about a dozen each
a rider came towards them
on his bike around the beach
It was "Cliffy" the Inspector
looking out for poaching crew
and the boys approached him warily
and wondered if he knew


They must have looked suspicious
but he didn't stop to see
why they both leaned slightly forward
and had only one hand free
He nodded as he passed them
and proceeded on his way
and the Cleelands nodded back to him
then raced to get away

Eventually they made it home
and hid the eggs inside
then disappeared around the farm
to find a place to hide
forgetting all about the broken
shells they'd left behind
the trail of damning evidence
that Cliff was bound to find

Then a message reached the homestead
that described their little lark
of the meeting on the beach and how
the boys had left their mark
warning "If you must get eggs from Woolamai
then get them in the dark!"

- Mike Cleeland

Prue Clements
A childrens book
Shearwaters Return Exhibition
October 2013

p. clements.  watercolour on paper. 1985

p.clements. watercolour on paper. 1985

Contact me about purchasing copies of this book which will be available soon.
Sarah (

Sian Adnam
Shearwaters in flight
sculpture clay wood wire

sarah crinall.
Shearwaters return exhibition.
October 2013

rookery. quick painting on site. Sarah. painted with Prue, late March 2013


Baby shearwater seen on walk.  Sarah. taken March 2013

Mikala Peters

Photographs and story
Shearwaters Return Exhibition
October 2013

"One year ago exactly to the day, 
I witnessed the homecoming of 
hundreds of shearwaters back to 
Cape Woolamai for the first time. 

I wrote in my diary how we spotted a couple of small dark birds swoop closer and closer, 

"it must be them!" we cried out. 

Following that day we watched the homecoming from the dunes many times, feeling their anticipation for darkness, spotting the first one to cross from sea to land, listening to the faint whoosh of their gliding flight, then the crash-land into the bushes. Our minds filled with awe for their long journey, their mysterious life, so near yet so foreign, they remain elusive in the fading light. 

I tried photographing them, 
and the blurry results actually represent them perfectly, 
we just get glimpses, 
our imaginations left to fill in the details. 

A year on, and I am excited to welcome them home again, a complete year, eggs have been laid, midnight squabbles had, chicks hatched, food gorged, journeys began and journeys ended, did last year's chicks make it back? 

Thank you shearwaters, for sharing Cape Woolamai with us."

Mikala Peters, October 1st 2013

Sarah Crinall
Shearwaters Return exhibition
October 2013

"its mid winter
and the wind howls outside.
my dressing gown
is like a down feather layer
and the
sun is trapped between my feathers and my body.

I am a shearwater.

Roosting in my rookery.

Shearwaters arrive in september
hearts enlarged
stomachs reduced
fat stores depleted
in their

Some have energy
and others
lay here and there
dotted amongst garden beds
along streets
and paths.

but not always succeeding to
make it between homes."

- 7th May, 2013

In our day to day
A local melodrama
Playing out.
the shearwater
Is stranded
the story of us and the story of
Surf beach
And we
Are becoming inter
parts of this place
knitted shearwater.

- 6th May 2013.

Invitation to contribute
30th September 2013

Welcome Shearwaters.

While the weather whistles and taps outside
bringing shearwaters back
I thought
we could 'sing'* them home with images
about on inspired by these resilient 
incredible birds?

Along the way 
I've learned their
hearts enlargen,
their stomachs shrink
and they travel 10,000 km
from Siberia to Australia
every year and back again
to lay their eggs in rookeries along the south eastern
Same nest
every year.

Last year I heard the chirping young in their nest for the first time.
Found several broken eggs.
Two years before,
a new resident to Phillip Island,
I thought I had hit one on the road
and drew this drawing (above) for it.
I bought this knitted shearwater for edith's first birthday at the local CWA in Cowes.
and knitted the eggs for it.
Edie puts them in her mouth
the eggs.

Would love to post your shearwater works and reflections too.


(ref: *Singing the Coast by Somerville and Perkins 2010)

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