Animals

To see Mrs. Yollis and class's post...

So Long Summer :: Hello Autumn!

Hello Mrs. Yollis and class,

For us down south in Australia, this is the time of year for the Spring Equinox. Days are now growing longer than night and deciduous trees are sprouting new leaves.

1. Most native trees in Australia are evergreen, i.e. the leaves stay green throughout the year but parks and gardens often include non-native deciduous trees, including my own yard's Japanese maple tree (Acer palmatum). Australia does have some native deciduous trees but not as many as you have and most are found in northern tropical areas.

My Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) has sprouted new leaves and small flowers. There is the sound of bees attracted to the flowers.

2. Our Spring Equinox has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night just like your Autumnal Equinox. It's at each equinox you and Australia have the same length day. Your days will now get shorter than night while our days get longer. As your blog stated, it's all to do with the Earth's tilt as it orbits the sun. For Australia, the tilt is bringing us spring and longer days. Here s a simple animation I prepared for you...

The above video clip may be used by students and schools for educational, non-profit purposes.

3. With warming weather and Term 3 vacation now underway, thoughts of being outside and, weather permitting, visiting the beach or our local national parks come to mind. The need for warm clothing will be swapped for cooler clothing. A sight you don't see on your beaches are kangaroos. Kangaroos also come into my yard looking for grass to eat when food is scarce.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

4. Animal behaviour is changing here too. Birds are nesting, whales migrate south along our coast to spend summer in Antarctic waters and our marsupial and monotreme mammals produce their young.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

A Nankeen kestrel out looking for food. It is a raptor, a bird of prey.

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This is an old favourite photo of a mother koala and her young.

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Wombat - This is Grace. She is an orphaned wombat joey. We call the young of our marsupials joeys. It looks like Grace might have been saying, "No photos!"

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Migrating humpback whale.

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Short-beaked Echidna - Echidnas are monotreme mammals. Together with the platypus, they are the only remaining mammals in the world where females produce eggs. Like other mammals, the females produce milk for their young.

Did you know a young echidna is known as a puggle?

I know the pup of beagle and pug dog parents can also be called a puggle but the echidna young have had that title much longer.

To see the post written by Mrs. Yollis and her class once a surprise package arrived...

Meet Walter the Wombat

Wombats, Marsupials and Joeys

Following the arrival of a friendly wombat to Mrs. Yollis and her class in California, I wanted to share a couple extra photos.

Wombat

There are three species of wombat still to be found in Australia.

In my area, we see the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus). They are herbivores and live in burrows. Normally, they aren't see during the day but can be seen venturing out at dusk. I have seen them in the daytime but this is unusual. Unfortunately, wombats are sometimes killed when crossing roads but groups such as WIRES plus the staff at Potoroo Palace care for joeys if their mother is killed. The fathers don't take part in raising young. The photo below is of an orphaned wombat joey. It was in the care of Potoroo Palace staff. Potoroo Palace seeks to return injured and orphaned animals to the wild if at all possible.

One of Potoroo Palace's greatest wildlife heroes, and a friend, is Alexandra Seddon. She has devoted her life to wildife and the environment. A documentary of her life and care for the environment was just released. Click here to see the short about Alexandra and someof what she has achieved.

Alexandra Seddon

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Wombats live in burrows.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Seems a little yucky but below is a photo of wombat droppings. They are easy to identify because they have a cubic shape.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I realised I hadn't added a video clip of wombats to my You Tube channel so I have added a brief one showing Bert the Wombat taken at Potoroo Palace back in 2011.

Kangaroos and Wallabies

Most people know of kangaroos and the smaller wallabies. Not only are some species native to my area, they sometimes feed on my front lawn and are an extra obstacle for golfers at a local golf course. Also marsupials, the females have pouches. They are not all the large kangaroos we see on TV. Here are just a few species.

Parma Wallaby  (Macropus parma) Taken at National Zoo in Camberra, Australia's capital city.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

Tree Kangaroo Taken at National Zoo in Camberra, Australia's capital city. Yes it climbs. There are 12 species of tree kangaroo found in New Guinea and northern Australia. The photo is of a Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi) and is found in New Guinea.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) - Very common in my area and sometimes have fed on my front lawn. The first photo shows females and joey too big for the pouch at Potoroo Palace. The second photo is of a male in the wild. He was about my height (183cm - 6').

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This photo below shows Alexandra Seddon at Potoroo Palace. She is holding a swamp wallaby (wallabia bicolor). I see more of this species of wallaby thank eastern grey kangaroos.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Here is one of the short videos I have made showing the Eastern Grey Kangaroo at Potoroo Palace.

Koalas

Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) rival kangaroos as the best known Australian animals. The first photo is of Suzie the Koala and the second of Blinky at Potoroo Palace in 2011. They were the parents of Sapphire. Blinky and Suzie passed away a few years back but Sapphire lives on a now is a mother. The video shares a little of Sapphire's life and includes her emerging from Suzie's Pouch. The video clip was made over two years from 2011 to 2013.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Did you notice Suzie has a much larger and more defined white patch on the chest? This is a feature of females.

Other Marsupials - Antechinus

There are so many marsupial species in Australia apart from wombats, kangaroos, wallabies and koalas, too many to show here but I thought I would add a little about one of the smallest marsupials. The photo shows a mammal expert holding an antechinus in his hand. It was taken when I was recording activities in a local biological/environmental survey.

Antechinus are the size of mice and are often mistaken for them but they are true marsupials and females have a pouched area to carry young. Antechinus have pointier snouts than placental mice (common mouse).

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

It's been some time since I have added a post. My life as a carer as well as recording and producing DVDs and occasionally CDs for schools and community groups as well as taking long hikes when I can escape to one of our national parks has kept me busy but, with a new school year having started for some of my Northern Hemisphere friends, I wanted to share a post about some local animals and a group called Backyard Buddies.

Backyard Buddies is a free education program run by the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. Backyard Buddies are the native plants and animals that share our built-up areas, waterways, backyards and parks. Backyard Buddies are also the people who value native wildlife and want to protect it.

In order to raise funds and awareness, Backyard Buddies sells soft toys. Appreciating the work they do, I have purchased some over the last few years and want to give them a new home. I will share a little about each of the three soft toys I have and at the end of each section will reveal where they will find new homes.

Sulphur Crested White Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Sulphur-Crested White Cockatoos are common in my area and are often heard because of their loud squarking call. Most days, some of the cockatoos visit my yard looking for seed I leave out for native birds. Occasionally, one of the cheeky birds comes near my back door, looks inside and squawks loudly if I'm a little late putting out seed.

The photo is of a pair of cockatoos looking for seed in my backyard. I have a Backyard Buddies cockatoo soft toy that will be winging its way to a school I know so well in Calgary, Canada. They will also find a small plastic sign, a copy of the type drivers in Australia might see along the roads in some areas.

Kangaroo

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Kangaroos, and the smaller wallabies, are often seen when I'm hiking or along roadsides. Because of this, kangaroo warning signs are often along the roadside. For the unwary driver, the kangaroos and wallabies can suddenly jump in front of cars , especially in early morning and dusk. I'm sad to say, I often see kangaroos and wallabies on the roadside that didn't make it across roads.

Occasionally, kangaroos and wallabies visit my front yard in order to fee on the grass on my lawn. The most common kangaroo species around here are eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus). The males can be up to nearly 2m in height. The photo is of a young eastern grey kangaroo in full hop. The most common wallaby species is the swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor).

Did you know scientists looked at the hopping of kangaroos and wallabies because they wanted to find out if it was an energy-efficient way of moving? They found the hopping can help them cover large distances quickly whereas walking would use much more energy to cover the same distance.

A Backyard Buddy kangaroo will be hopping its way to a school in Whitfield, U.K.

Wombat

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Wombats, like kangaroos and wallabies, are common in my area and can sometimes be seen along the roadside where they weren't able to make it safely across the road. The plastic sign with this Backyard Buddy is a small version of the wombat warning sign drivers can see along some of our roads. The photo shows an adult wombat I saw while hiking. Unusually, I saw it during the day whereas they normally come out of their burrows as it starts to become dark.

The wombats in my area are known as common wombats (Vombatus ursinus), They can be an average of about 26kg in weight. The photo below is of a young wombat being cared for at Potoroo Palace Native Animal Educational Sanctuary. It's mother had been killed on the road.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The Backyard Buddy wombat will be digging his way to a class in California.

My Local National Parks

There are three national parks as well as two nature reserves in my area, They are Ben Boyd National Park, Bournda National Park, South East Forest National Park, Bournda Nature Reserve and Nadgee Nature Reserve. When I can find the time, I visit some of the sites and go hiking and taking photos. You can see some of the photos I have taken on my Google+ page at Ross Mannell.

As I tend to hike alone, I carry a peronal emergency beacon (PEB) with me in case of an emergency if I'm out of range for mobile phones. My love of hiking dates back to when I was a Scout back in the 60s.

The Grade Three Bloggers wrote a post about the packages I sent them. What started as a simple comment grew and so a post was needed. To see their original post, click the link below...

A Special Surprise Arrives!

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”

Mark Van Doren

When I retired from teaching I at first thought my times of assisting the education of others was coming to an end yet, as can happen in life, it was the time of new beginnings. Through blogging I found I could still be involved in the learning of others and, having always wanted to share with others, I found I could still share resources as I had with children in my classes. The packages I sent were some of the learning “treasures” I still collect in the hope of sharing.

“Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”

Will Durant - The Great Gadfly, Time magazine, 8 October 1965

I shared the above quote because I have found similar to Will Durant, although sixty years ago I was only one year old. It seems the more we learn, the more we realise how much there is still to know.

As I read through the cards, I discovered new information about some of the animals; in fact some of the animals were unknown to me before I read the cards. I realised I still have large gaps of knowledge waiting to be filled. Learning is a lifelong journey just waiting for us to explore.

Unlike Mrs. Renton, I find snakes interesting and have seen a number of poisonous species while out hiking. Red-bellied black snakes, tiger snakes, eastern brown snakes and death adders are native to my area. I have a healthy respect for these snakes and tend to keep my distance although I once had to chase a young black snake out of a school playground. Black snakes are the shyest of these snakes and prefer to slither away rather than attack.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

What’s happening for the rest of my year?

You already know I film and produce DVDs and CDs for schools and community groups in my area. I have an adult choir and a dancing school production edit under way at this time and will soon film a school play (Dec. 8) and Kindergarten Graduation (Dec. 11) in two schools. With our year soon to end, I thought that might be the end of projects for the year but I had a phone call and have been asked to again be a photographer and videographer for a BioBlitz on December 4 and 5.

What’s a BioBlitz?

Scientists and interested amateurs, including school students, take part in animal and plant surveys in a given area. It’s a method of checking the environmental/ecological health of an area. This time it will be in Bournda National Park to the north of my town. It will be the second I have been able to record.

I arrive with cameras ready before dawn each day hoping to capture a sunrise at least once. The Friday doesn’t end until about 8 p.m. and the Saturday ends around 4 p.m. It’s a chance to learn more about my area. It seems there’s so much yet to see.

I know I will be adding photos and video clips to my collection and sharing them with the BioBlitz team. I hope to add a blog post about the experience by the beginning of 2016. I wonder if I will be able to photograph some interesting animals again this time?

Here are a few images from the 2014 BioBlitz in an area known as Panboola

Sunset  in Panboola

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

frogs

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

lizards

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

scorpions

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The little guy below is a marsupial mouse, species antechinus.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Birds of Prey

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

What people thought about being involved in the BioBlitz.

To view Mrs, Watson and K/1/2/3 original post, click the link below…

Our First ABC Performance

Hello Mrs Watson and K/1/2/3,

A favourite instrument... Like so many things in life I have many favourites because I like the sounds. I play a little recorder, flute and piano but not very well so they are amongst my favourites.

At times, I like unusual musical sounds so discovering new instruments means hearing new sounds. From more ancient instruments in Aboriginal culture such as the didgeridoo (another spelling is didjeridu), clapsticks and bullroarer to instruments such as sitars (India), shamisen (Japan), djemba drums (Africa), Taiko drums (Japan), and voices raised in music, I like the sounds. They can be fascinating.

One big activity I have here in Australia is filming school and community performances in order to produce DVDs andsometimes CDs. While I can’t share the images, I can share the sounds from some performances. Here is a little audio from a few of the performances I have put together for you…

African Djemba drums and a cowbell

Djemba drumshave a fantastic sound when played together. You can feel the sound in the room. This is the sound of around 30 drummers from a primary school.

Didgeridoo and clapsticks

Didgeridoos are played by the men in a number of Aboriginal cultures. Women aren't permitted to play one. Clapsticks are two stcks struck together to give the beat. This was a recording of primary school boys and girls performing a traditional dance.

Dingboxes and boomwhackers

I must admit, when I first heard of dingboxes and boomwhackers, I wasn't certain what they were. Did you know? Dingboxes are boxes with a springed lid and a tuned bell inside. Step on the box lid and the bell rings. Boomwhackers are length of tuned plastic tubes you can hit together. The other sound a little like a drum is a person hitting a box with their hand.

Recorder and violin

As I once taught the recorder in class, I like their sound if played well. This is the sound of 31 primary school recorder players with two high school students playing violins over a recorded background.

Loop pedal

This was a new piece of equipment I heard for the first time this year. It was used by a high school student to create an original piece. You will hear her add sound using only her voice. The Loop pedal stores the sound and then repeats it while she adds a new sound. After adding a third sound to make the backing, you hear her sing. I thought it was fascinating to hear one person create such a sound using the loop pedal.

Storm Choir

This is an original piece of music from a performance I was asked to record. A choir of 9 people use their voices to create the sounds of a coming storm. You hear thunder as they stamp their feet and their voices create the sound of rain falling.

Taiko Drums

Taiko drums are traditional in Japan. Played together, I like the sound. You can feel the sound in the room as Taiko drums are played.

I also like the sounds of nature. Listen to the sounds of these birds…

A favourite, the kookaburra…

While hiking recently, I saw one kookaburra fly to a tree where another was perched. I suspected they would start to sing together. The recording is the sound they made. Can you hear why some people think kookaburras are laughing at us?

While hiking, 50 to 100 ravens landed in the trees around me…

It was quie a surprise to see so many ravens in one place so I took out my phone and recorded them. The raven choir sounded incredible.

and a sound recording taking me weeks to get close enough, the lyrebird…

The lyrebird, named for the lyre shape of its tail, is a mimic bird. This recording is of a lyrebird copying the calls of other birds. I have heard of lyrebirds copying the sound of machines and of one, raised from a chick by someone who played the flute, being heard mimicking the sound of flute music. While shy of people in the wild, I have seen them a number of times but find it hard to get close enough to record them singing. On the day of the recording, I was down wind from the bird and could see its lyre tail just above a bush. It didn't see or hear me.

  * * * * *

While sounds can be loud, soft, musical and even horrible, they are part of the world we live in. Whether we hear them or feel them, I love hearing interesting new sounds.

Did I say feel them? Have you felt the vibrations caused by sound? Drum beats, especially large drums, bass guitars, and the delicate vibrations of a soft piano piece when you put your ear against the piano, we can both hear and feel them.

Did you know one of the great composers, Beethoven, became deaf as he grew older? He still composed music but would place his ear against the piano to feel the sounds. He wrote his final and 9th symphony when almost totally deaf.

Did any of you feel the music through the floor as you listened to your ABC performance?

8 Comments

Another blogging milepost has been reached. There have now been over 200 posts on this blog since it was started in May, 2012. For number 201, I thought I would introduce the celebration for the 200th post by sharing a little information on bilbies. At the end, there is a surprise for the class that received post 200 and something for the class one off at post 199.

Lesser Bilby  (macrotis leucura)

 The lesser bilby (macrotis leucura) is thought to have become extinct in the 1950s.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

Greater Bilby  (macrotis lagotis)

The greater bilby is listed as threatened. Let's learn a little about the greater bilby.

 

This image was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain. Author: Dcoetzee

This image was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain. Author: Dcoetzee

From the photo, you can see their size and long ears give them a rabbit-like appearance. While many comment on the likeness of bilbies to rabbits, bilbies are, like kangaroos, marsupials.

Bilbies are nocturnal (they come out at night) and were once found in arid (desert), semi-arid (almost desert) and  some better areas but are now only found  in arid areas.

Greater bilbies can be 29-55cm (11-22in) in length. Males can grow up to 1.0 - 2.4kg (2.2 - 5.3lb) in captivity (zoos and animal sanctuaries) while females can grow to 0.8 - 1.1kg (1.8 - 2.4lb) in the wild.

Bilbies have a good sense of smell and, as you might guess by their ears, good hearing. Like humans, they are omnivores (eat plants and animals). Their diet includes fruits, seeds, fruit, insects, spiders, and other small animals. They find most of their food by scratching and digging in the soil.

Like other marsupials, their young are born (usually 1 to 3 joeys) very small (about 0.5cm of 0.25in after only 12 to 14 days) and must make their way into the mother's pouch where they attach to a teat.

Bilbies live in burrows so bilby mothers have developed pouches facing backward to stop soil getting in or babies being knocked out. Young bilbies leave the pouch after about 70-75 days. A female bilby can have up to four litters per year if conditions are good.

Saving the Bilby

There are zoos and animal sanctuaries with bilby breeding programs in Australia. Possibly the most famous bilby has been named George. He lives in Taronga Zoo's Prince George Bilby Exhibit in Sydney and was given the name in honour of the young Prince George when he visited the zoo with his father and mother,  Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

In 2014, I shared some information with a class about bilbies at Easter time and the sale of chocolate bilbies to help support the Save the Bilby Fund.  Easter has passed again but I wanted to support the Save the Bilby Fund yet again this year. With the 200th post on this blog approaching, I thought I might buy some of the Save the Bilby Fund items in order to give the class receiving the 200th as well as some items for the classes one off at the 199th and 201st posts.

The class that received the 200th post will get the following package of Save the Bilby items...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The 199th post class will receive the pack pictured below with a smaller bilby.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Your class missed out on the 199th or 200th post?

I have one extra pack pictured below. It was meant to be sent to the class receiving the 201st post but work I do for local schools and community groups has meant my time has been short and I am about to share another milestone for this blog. Any class leaving a comment for this post has the chance of receiving the pack below. You don't need to have received a post or to have ever visited this blog. You simply need to be a school class. Individual students need to ask permission from their teacher before leaving a comment because the pack will only be sent to a class not the student with the winning comment. I will randomly select a winning comment in two weeks (June 6, 2015).

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

How do you get a post on this blog?

As the name of the blog implies, most posts on this blog are written as a comment for a class or student blog post when content has caught my interest and I wish to share more than a simple comment. Others can be made in reply to a comment or question left in the comments section of this blog's posts. You can ask directly for a post on a topic but the decision to write a post depends on whether I feel I can and if I have time but the answer is usually yes if a class wants information.

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To visit the original blog, click on Rocky River Goes Global

This is the 199th post on this blog. Rocky River, check out post number 201...

Post 201: About  Bilbies and 200 posts

Hello Rocky River, here is the second part of a post I promised. This time we will look at life in a small, isolated school serving sheep and cattle stations, School of the Air, cattle stations in the Outback and life on a large sheep station.

Schools of the Air

By Premier's Department, State Public Relations Bureau, Photographic Unit [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Queensland Premier's Department, State Public Relations Bureau, Photographic Unit [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 1960

Because of the isolated locations of some children on sheep and cattle properties or in communities too small for a school around Australia, a number of schools were set up to allow children to use two way radio. The first radio broadcasts dated back to 1951 and were sent out from the Royal Flying Doctors Service in Alice Springs. From 2003 till 2009, short wave radio was used but schools of the air are now turnng to internet technology giving students better access to information and the world.

In earlier years, radio became a contact to the world for isolated people. They used radios which were pedal powered. Someone would pedal to make electricity from a generator in order to power their radio.

 

Sourced through Wikimedia Commons - This image is of Australian origin and is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired. According to the Australian Copyright Council (ACC), ACC Information Sheet G023v16 (Duration of copyright) (Feb 2012).

Sourced through Wikimedia Commons - This image is of Australian origin and is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired. According to the Australian Copyright Council (ACC), ACC Information Sheet G023v16 (Duration of copyright) (Feb 2012).

With modern technology, you would find it much easier to use solar energy for electricity.

There are now a number of locations for Schools of the Air around Australia. According to Wikipedia, the schools of the air are in the towns of...

 School of the Air Locations

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Within my state of New South Wales, the most isolated school is listed as Tibooburra School of the Air. The school is based in the town of Tibooburra. The school where I first had a permanent teaching position wasn't a school of the air although some high school students in my area used correspondence school where lessons were sent by mail. My school, Marra Creek Public School, was the sixth most isolated school in my state and the first not to be located in a town.

Marra Creek Public School

This was the first school were I was a permanent teacher and it was considered the sixth most isolated school in New South Wales. The five more isolated, while further from the state capital of Sydney, were in towns. Marra Creek Public School was 100km (62mi) from the nearest town. The children lived on sheep and cattle stations around the school and could travel from up to 50km (31mi) to school each day. Because the outback refers to isolated and remote areas, it could be considered an outback school. If you click on the school website link above, you will see they list themselves as an outback school.

This section of the blog post looks at my time in this outback school in the early 1980s.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

When I first arrived at the school, the above photo shows what I found. You can see it had tanks to catch rain falling on the roof if it rained and a toilet block near the school building. We had a flagpole and a tall TV antenna but we could only receive one TV channel if the weather conditions were good.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The playground was mostly dirt but there was some ground covering plants. You couldn't go barefoot because there were often nasty wooden thorns called catheads. They would always have one spike pointing up.

Phone winding

We had a phone where, if you wanted to make a phone call, you would pick up the handset and listen to make certain no one else was using it. You would then put the handset down, wind a handle, then pick the handset up to see if the operator had answered. You could then ask for a number.

We didn't have mobile phones, push button numbers, emails, CDs, DVDs, Bluray or the internet back then but, for 6 weeks each year, we were able to use a borrowed Apple II computer. The computer had only about 12 programs so I wrote some extras for the class to use. Luckily for the children, I had used computers while a university student in the 1970s.

It was back in 1982 I purchased my first personal video camera. They were new on the market and expensive. When I used it, some people thought I might be from a television station. Using it, I produced my first school video clip. Now converted from VHS video tape to digital, below is a section of that first video clip. The youngest children, 5 years old, in the video would now be about 37 years old. I have never before shared this video clip with others since I was in that school so this is a special share for you to see outback children at work and play in the 1980s..

You Tube has removed some copyrighted music I used back then. I try to make certain video clips I now make only have music I am allowed to use.

During my two years at the school, numbers ranged from 12 to 20 students aged from 5 to 13 all in the one small classroom. I was the only teacher and was known as the Teacher In Charge (not a principal).

With a new classroom and my old classroom now the library, a teacher house and access to the internet, the school would be very different compared to when I taught there but it is still about 100km from the nearest town and so is still an outback, isolated school.

Sheep Stations

While teaching at Marra Creek Public School, I lived "next door" to the school about 20km (12mi) distant by road. I stayed in a house on a sheep station known as Lemon Grove. While I has there, the property grew to about 400 square kilometres (100,000 acres) although at the time the video clip below was made, the property was half that size. A neighbouring property had been bought by the end of 1982.

Below is a video clip I again made in 1982. It features Lemon Grove stud (sheep breeding property) and its annual field day. The field day allowed Lemon Grove and neighbouring properties to sell their sheep. It was also a social event for the area.

For any outback property, reliable water supplies can be a problem. Many properties have to pump water from natural underground sources such as the Great Artesian Basin found under about one quarter of Australia although water from the Basin came come to the surface by itself  (see the grey shaded area on the map below).

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

On many farms, and sheep and cattle stations, you will see windmills. The windmills use wind power to pump water up from underground. Lemon Grove had a windmill near the main houses.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Each year, the sheep on Lemon Grove would be brought in for shearing in the shearing shed.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Shearers take the sheep and shear off the fleece in one piece.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Once done, the shearer takes the next sheep while others collect the fleece and take it to a table where bits of plants or dirt can be removed. A woolclasser then checks the quality of the fleece. They check how fine the wool is. Merino wool from these sheep is amongst the finest wool in the world.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Once classed, the fleece is put into a press with the same quality wool. When full, the press forces the wool together into bales. Bales can then be placed on trucks and sent off for sale.

Sunsets at Lemon Grove could sometimes be amazing, especially when storm clouds were gathering.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Sometimes, the miracle of rain comes to the dry land and within two weeks, the land can turn green with plant growth.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

If you look very carefully in the middle of this photo, you can see an emu running away from where I was standing. Like ostriches, they can't fly. They rely on running to escape danger.

It is a male. How do I know? Look even more carefully and you can see chicks following the emu. For emus, once the female has laid the eggs she leaves. It's the males that care for the eggs and developing chicks.

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

CATTLE STATIONS

Cattle stations mixed with sheep stations are found near Marra Creek School but, as you move into northern and more western Australia, sheep give way to cattle. Australia's largest cattle station is known as Anna Creek Station.

Anna Creek Station is roughly 24,000 square kilometres (6,000,000 acres or 9,400 sq mi) or about the size of the U.S.A. state of New Hampshire. It is in the state of South Australia. The largest cattle ranch in the U.S. is, I think, King Ranch in Texas.  At 3,340 square kilometres (825,000 acres or 1289 sq mi) you would need a little over 7 King Ranch to make up Anna Creek Station.

In areas where rainfall is low, stations need to be very large to allow enough land for cattle to feed. In the photo below, taken by Robert Kerton of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in the Northern Territory, you can see how arid cattle station land can be.

This image is a CSIRO Science Image taken by Robert Kerton. It was sourced through Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSIRO_ScienceImage_1672_Cattle_in_dry_landscape.jpg

This image is a CSIRO Science Image taken by Robert Kerton. It was sourced through Wikimedia Commons. This photo was taken in the Northern Territory in NOvember, 1989. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSIRO_ScienceImage_1672_Cattle_in_dry_landscape.jpg

Anna Creek Station in South Australia is roughly 24,000 square kilometres (6,000,000 acres or 9,400 sq mi) and, as at 2012, it had 17,000 cattle. That means each animal has about 1.4 square kilometres (353 acres or about half a sq mi). Smaller stations where more feed and water is available would have higher numbers of cattle for the land available.

Australia is a huge country, although smaller than U.S.A.'s 50 states yet most of it is arid or semi-arid (desert or near desert). Most Australians live around the coastal areas, paricularly in the east of Australia.

Sheep and Cattle Where I Live

My home is along Australia's east coast about half way between Sydney and Melbourne. It is in the Bega Valley Shire, an area known for Bega Cheese and its beautful coastline is popular with tourists. My family has been in this area since the 1840s. They were, and my cousin still is, dairy farmers. As well as dairy, we have beef cattle and sheep in my area. A few properties also have alpacas, none of these animals being native to Australia.

Below is a photo taken on the old family farm...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

You can see it is much greener and hillier than central Australia. Farms are much smaller than the sheep and cattle stations of the Outback.

...and since I mentioned our coastline, here is a photo I have taken of the coastline as can be seen from my town.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

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Mrs. Todd and her Roadrunners are looking at Outback Australia. This is a post about an Outback journey I organised for parents and children from a school back in 1985. It's hard to believe those students would now be about 40 years old.

In this post, some video clips I had taken back in 1985 as my group travelled to Uluru and back have been shared. They have been converted from VHS tapes to digital and are being shared for the first time. 

The Australian Outback

I don't know exactly where The Outback is said to start but I've always understood it to be the more isolated, arid (desert-like) areas across the centre of Australia. Most Australians live in coastal areas although there are larger communities in some Outback areas including traditional land owners, miners and graziers (cattle ranchers).

Let's look at a satellite photo of Australia Wikimedia lists as NASA sourced and in the public domain...

This image was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it has bee sourced from NASA and is listed in the public domain. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Australia_satellite_plane.jpg

This image was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it has bee sourced from NASA and is listed in the public domain. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Australia_satellite_plane.jpg

If you look at this photo you can see green areas are mostly coastal whereas from the west (left on the photo) to most of the way east you see reds, browns and even white. The white areas, especially the very white areas are not snow. They tend to be salt lakes and high salt areas only filling with water when there are very heavy rains in Queensland. Once the water reaches the lakes, it has nowhere to go as the lakes lie below sea level. The water evaporates and leaves the salt behind.

Let's look at the journey my group took back in 1985. I was the tour organiser and minibus driver on our two week, 7000+km (4350+mi) journey into The Outback and back .

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We started out in Sydney, the capital of the state on New South Wales and headed west then turned north to spend our first night in an isolated school where I had worked in the early 80s.

The school, Marra Creek Public School, is about 670km (415mi) from Sydney and lies 100km (62mi) from the nearest town of Nyngan. It served children from local sheep and cattle properties. I stayed at a neighbouring shearer's house about 20km (13mi) from the school.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Was the school in The Outback? It was isolated, used water from tanks, had a phone where you had to talk to an operator to be connected, and only sometimes could pick up one television station if the conditions were good. I sometimes had to chase emus and kangaroos or even wild pigs out of the playground.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

A video clip of emus in an animal sanctuary close to my home.

 

And some kangaroos from the same sanctuary.

 

When I first started there we had been in drought and the water tanks were low, temperatures at times reached 47C (116F). With rains, the clay pans turned green with grass and roads became muddy. We didn't have snow days but we did have mud days when half of the students couldn't make it along the dirt roads. We didn't build mud men. Snow seems to work better and is cleaner.

Heading across country, we visited the town of Bourke most would consider an outback town. It lies along the Darling River, a river sometimes drying out if rains don't fall in Queensland and can also flood when heavy rainfall comes. On our trip, rainfall in the outback had been unusually good but still low compared to coastal.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Not too far north of Bourke, we crossed into the state of Queensland. You can see in the photo below just how flat and semi-arid (almost desert) much of inland Australia can be.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Heading north, we were heading towards the town of Longreach. The landscape had dried out.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Stopping for the night, we were entertained by brolgas, the only cranes native to Australia. While at Marra Creek Public School, I had watched brolgas "dancing" their mating dance as they made jumps into the air.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip below isn't one of mine but shows the dance of the brolgas.

Just north of Longreach, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. This means we were now in the tropical region of the world.

Near Longreach we saw an echidna on the side of the road. Echidnas and the platypus are the world's only living mammals that lay eggs but, as they are mammals, the mothers can give milk to their young. Echidnas are also found around my town and have sometimes visited my garden in search of ants.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Below is a video of an echidna taken at an animal sanctuary near my home.

Our next major settlement was Mount Isa (pictured below), a mining town in western Queensland. Lead, silver, copper and zinc are mined in the Mount Isa area.

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You can easily see the red of the soil, a soil colour so common in The Outback.

From Mt. Isa, we head west to the border with Northern Territory. The photo below was taken standing in the state of Northern Territory looking into Queensland.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Reaching the Stuart Highway, a highway running from Adelaide, the capital of the state of South Australia, in the south to Darwin, Northern Territory's capital, in the north, we took a left turn because we had reached as far north as we were going on this journey.

Passing through the town of Tennant Creek,  our next major attraction was Karlu Karlu (known also as the Devil's Marbles) 105km (65mi) south of Tennant Creek. Here are some photos taken at Karlu Karlu.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

That's not me pretending to hold up the rock.

The video clip below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

Karlu Karlu is a sacred site to the Alyawarre (Aboriginal) whose country includes the site. It's also sacred to the Kaytetye, Warumungu and Warlpiri people. There are a number of traditional Dreaming stories for the Karlu Karlu area but only a few are able to be shared with uninitiated people such as us.

From Karlu Karlu, we continued south towards Alice Springs. As we travelled, we again crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, this time heading out of the tropics. Someone with a sense of humour had painted words on the road (not us).

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Alice Springs is the largest town in Central Australia and the third largest in Northern Territory. Central Australia is only a name for the area and is not a state. To the local people, the Arrernte, the Alice Springs area is known as Mparntwe.

On our visit, we managed to see a rare rainbow over Alice Springs.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Alice Springs lies within the MacDonnell Ranges. There are so many beautiful places to visit in this arid area. Here are just two...

Standley Chasm

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip of Standley Chasm below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

 

Simpsons Gap (it was late in the day)

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip of Simpsons Gap below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

The video clip of black-footed rock wallabies below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time. The rock wallabies were our companions as we explored Simpsons Gap.

After leaving Alice Springs, we took time for a camel ride. Camels aren't native to Australia but were brought here by Afghan camel herders in the 1800s. Before roads and railways, all supplies had to be brought in by camel trains. When road and rail arrived, many camels were released into the wild. Australia now is the country with the largest number of wild camels in the world and at times exports camels back to the Middle East.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip of camel riding below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

We were heading to Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Along the arid way, we saw Mount Conner standing high above the desert.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Tourists to Central Australia shouldn't miss a chance to see  Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Here are some photos I had taken.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) at sunset

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) at sunset

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) up close

You can get an idea of its size by looking at the people climbing it.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

And a view from almost the top of Uluru

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Since my visit 30 years ago, visitors have become much more aware of the importance of Uluru to the local people. While they don't stop visitors climbing the rock, many visitors now choose not to climb in respect for the beliefs of the local people.

The video clip of an Uluru sunset below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time. It is running at 20x normal speed.

Around the base of Uluru, there are many sacred sites we are asked to respect. Some are sacred men's sites and some sacred women's sites.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

However, there are sites visitors can see. Here is a photo taken at one such site, Mutitjula (Maggie Springs). You can see some of the rock paintings.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

From Uluru, it is possible to see the distant Kata Tjuta rising from the desert plain.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Back in our mini-bus, we headed along the dirt road to Kata Tjuta.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

On leaving Uluru and Kata Tjuta, we rejoined the Stuart Highway and again headed south crossing the state border into South Australia.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Our next stop would be Coober Pedy, famous for its opal mined in the area. Because of the high temperatures on summer days, some homes in Coober Pedy have been built underground.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Heading further south, we started to see salt lakes near the road. As they are lower than the distant sea, water entering can't flow out. The water evaporates and leaves the salt behind. You can see a late afternoon photo of a salt lake.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

There were many kilometres of flat roads as we continued south.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

On reaching Port Augusta in South Australia, we headed east and back to Sydney. We had travelled over 7000+km (4350+mi) in our journey through The Outback.

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This is a short post about the koala. Make certain you read down to the end of the post for something very special to celebrate the 100,000th visitor to this blog. Thank you for all of the visits to my blog. I had no idea it would be such a success when I started it in 2012.

http://www.rasaint.net/ - Glitter Graphics

Koala - Phascolarctos cinereus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Above is a photo of Sapphire the koala. She was born in 2011 to...

Suzie

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

and Blinky

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

Did you notice Suzie had a large area on her breast much whiter than Blinky? Female koalas tend to have a larger, whiter area than males. You can see this on Sapphire as well. Seeing a koala up in a tree, you can often tell if it's a boy or girl from the breast area.

About Sapphire

Koalas can live  up to 13 to 18 years in the wild. Both Suzie and Blinky passed on in 2012. This left Sapphire alone.

Would she be sad?  Koalas in the wild are normally solitary, i.e. they live alone, and only mix socially about 15 minutes on average a day, except in breeding season (October to May). Because their diet of eucalyptus leaves is very poor in nutrition, they can spend around 20 hours a day sleeping. I don't think koalas would be sad in the way we might be when they have leaves to eat and a place to sleep.

It can take a human child 9 months to develop before being born but koalas only about 38 days before being born and making their way into the mothers' pouches. Once in the pouch, they continue growing and can spend 6 to 7 months before they are too big to stay in the pouch.

Along their life's journey in the pouch, when the koala joey is large enough it at first  sticks its head out of the pouch. As Sapphire grew, she spent more and more time out of Suzie's pouch.  I was there to record some of her life's journey.

Koalas in the Wild

Koalas in the wild are listed as vulnerable. That's one step from being endangered and means we must take steps to preserve them and help their numbers grow in the wild.

For koalas, one of the biggest dangers is habitat loss. As trees are cut down, groups of koalas can be isolated, known as fragmentation of habitat.

When their habitat is fragmented, they can face the dangers of crossing roads or attacks by dogs as they try moving  from one treed area to another. They can walk along the ground but prefer to stay in the trees. Below is a short video clip of Sapphire walking put together from a series of photos.

And now for a 100,000th Visitor celebration...

Sanctuaries such as Potoroo Palace rescue injured koalas and also have breeding programs to help keep koalas for our future. There are groups who concentrate on care for animals in the wild and educating people about our wildlife and environment. One such group is known as Backyard Buddies.

Each year Backyard Buddies contact me about their current fundraising goals. When I received the phone call towards the end of 2014, they explained for 2014 their goal was to raise funds to help animals in the wild. To do this, they sell special buddies and so, supporting such groups when I can, I purchased one of their buddies. Because of the amount of white, I suspect my buddy is female but am too polite to ask.

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The buddy is 30cm (1 foot) tall and doesn't yet have a name.

To celebrate the 100,000th visitor to my blog, the buddy pictured above wants to find a new home. All you will need to do is leave a comment, "Backyard Buddies",  in the comments section and I will carry out a random draw on March 1 this year.

There are some rules to remember...

1. Do not, in your comment, give any personal details. Safety online is very important. 

2. The buddy can only be won by a class or school and not by individuals.

3. Individual class members can leave a comment but only their class can win. Individual class members must have permission from their teacher in order to be included.

4. Your comment need only say, "Backyard Buddy". As all comments need my approval, your comment will not appear on my blog until the comment has been approved.

5. The eligible comments close at the end of February 28, 2015, allowance being made so all time zones reach midnight on that day.

6. The random number selector I use will select a number.  With the first comment received being number 1, each comment will be numbered consecutively. The comment corresponding to the random number will be deemed winner providing I can contact the school concerned.

Check on March 2 to see if your class or school is the winner. I will attempt to email your teacher, class or school to find a delivery address for your class or school. The buddy will be sent as a regular post parcel, air mail if the winner is outside Australia.

Upcoming other blogging milestones...

200th post - Some time this year I will make my 200th post on this blog.

3rd Birthday - On May 21, 2015 this year my blog will turn 3. 

2 Comments

Hello Emma,

Thanks for the comment on my "Adaptation and the Wildlife Experience" post.

I never really think about how long a post will take to write. Sometimes I start with a short comment on a blog then realise I need to add more than a simple comment. For the post on adaptation, the writing didn't take too long and all photos except the last picture are ones from my personal photo library taken over many years. What normally takes most time is researching what I write. I try to check the information I remember and can also find new interesting information. My posts help me learn more.

In the adaptation post, one of the bigger learning points is on convergent evolution. Scientists know simply because animals or plants have parts looking similar, it doesn't mean they are closely connected to each other. It just means they have developed something similar to do the same sought of tasks.

Bats and birds both fly but bats are mammals like us and are not birds yet both have wings but bats have hair and birds have feathers. Humans and gorillas are much more closely related. We are part of a group known as hominidae (or great apes) including chimpanzees, gorillas, and orang-utans.

I also love animals (and enjoy knowing about plants, rocks, space, and so many other things). My university degree is in science and included studies such as animal physiology (how living things work) as well as animal behaviour and even psychology so I could better understand people as a teacher. There is so much of interest for us if we only take the time to find it.

Ben and Jerry? It sounds like the American ice cream company. 🙂 They're cute names for the possums that visit your yard.

I find all animals interesting, even snakes and other reptiles, insects and other invertebrates (animals without backbones) and microscopic life. I do have a respect for more dangerous animals because we need to be safe but that doesn't stop me being interested.

About your animals of interest...

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This young wombat is Bert. He was orphaned when he lost his mother. Volunteers at Potoroo Palace look after injured and orphaned native animals.

Here is a video clip I loaded in 2013 so you can see Bert, a wombat joey, exploring visitors to  Potoroo Palace.

I can give you some Wikipedia links if you want to learn more about animals you mentioned...

sloths
pigs
red pandas
wombats
flamingos

The old family farm use to have pigs and I see wombats and wombat holes around my town when hiking but I've only seen sloths, pandas and flamingos in zoos.

Keep learning. There is so much out there to know.

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To see the original post from Mrs. Yollis and her class blog...

Wildlife Experience!

Hello Mrs. Yollis and class,

I started out preparing a comment to add to you blog but as it grew I knew it would need to be a post.

From the blog posts I have made, you are probably aware I have a keen interest in animals including their behaviour and adaptations. Something fascinating me is known as convergent evolution. I know it sounds like a pretty hard idea but all it means is different animals develop similar features to do similar things. Here is an example…

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We know some animals can fly. We know about birds and bats. Birds are birds and bats are mammals yet their wings have similarities. This is because their wings have similar functions, i.e. to help them fly. This doesn’t mean birds and bats are closely related. It means they have evolved similar features in order to fly. Birds and bats visit my yard although birds are normally around in the daytime and bats at night.

Go back further in time and you would see flying reptiles soaring through the skies. Again, their wings had similarities to birds and bats.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The human hand

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gorilla and human skeletons

I can see you have learned about your opposable thumb and how hard it would be if we didn’t have them. We can see opposable or near opposable thumbs in a number of animals but one adaptation interests me and it is found in pandas. Pandas have five fingers and no opposable thumb but, if you see them eating, they appear to hold bamboo with fingers and thumbs. They have an extra-long bone acting like a thumb.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The Opossum and the Possum

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Australian Brush-tailed possum

Living in a land with so many marsupials, I was interested in your opossum. Like all marsupials, they are pouched and like many marsupials, they are nocturnal (active at night). Seeing a marsupial in Australia can be pretty easy. I simply go for a hike or look at the sportsground across the road some mornings and can see kangaroos and wallabies.

Pepper Possum is now on the way to you. I hope Pepper arrives before you break for vacation.

Amphibians

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Common green tree frog

The only types of amphibians native to Australia are frogs. We don’t have salamanders. They don’t have pouches to carry their young like marsupials. They tend to start their lives in water as in tadpoles but can live on land although some found ways around this.

Owing to a lack of photos of gastric brooding frogs mentioned below and with an unknown copyright status, click the link below to be taken to an image found on Wikipedia.

Gastric brooding frogs

Australia had two species of gastric (stomach) brooding frogs becoming extinct in about the 1980s (habitat loss, pollution? We don’t know why). Once fertilised, the female would swallow the eggs. The “jelly” around the eggs would switch off acid production in the mother’s stomach and the eggs would develop. Tadpoles would hatch and develop inside the stomach. During this time, the mother didn’t eat. When ready, the mother would regurgitate (throw up) the little frogs. How’s that for an adaptation?

Reptiles

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Red-bellied black snake

Australia is known for its many deadly snakes. In my area, we can find death adders, red-bellied black snakes, brown snakes and tiger snakes. I have seen all but the death adder when hiking.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Go back 25 years to a younger and heavier me and you can see a python friend. I'm the one in the blue shirt and wearing glasses.

We also have pythons that constrict (squeeze) their prey until the prey suffocates. They are different to amphibians in that their eggs have a membrane (layer) to keep water in. They don’t need to return to water to lay eggs.

Teeth

As you found, teeth can give us the idea of an animal’s diet. I have a puzzle for you. Although it isn’t as clean as the skulls in your photos, I have a photo of a skull I picked up while hiking. Its front teeth were missing but look similar to our front teeth,

What kind of animal do you think it is?

What do you think it ate?

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

When you have decided, click the link below to find out what animal it is.

I think I know the animal.

Fennec Fox

How cute! On the cuteness scale, the baby fennec must be 10 out of 10. 🙂

Foxes aren’t native to Australia but early European settlers brought red foxes here for fox hunting in the 1800s. Now there is thought to be over 7 million. They do cause problems for many of our small native animals and our national parks have to take action to control their numbers in order to protect native animals.

I have a cuteness long-eared photo for you.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

Do you know what it is?

Do you think its large ears are a similar adaptation to the Fennec’s long ears?

Click the link to find out more.

Long Ears

Click to go back to "What the Dino Saw"

The displays shown on this blog post were photographed/filmed in April, 2014. Displays may change over time.

Things to remember:

We don't really know what colours dinosaurs were. Fossils don't show colour. The colours you see are guesses.

We don't know what sounds the dinosaurs made. Like colour, the sounds are also guesses.

Scientists can make guesses about how dinosaurs looked by looking at fossils.

You have survived going through the dinosaur's mouth so let's see what's next in the Canberra's National Dinosaur Museum. Have you heard the song "Never Smile at a Crocodile". The smiling skull you see when you enter is a deinosuchus. Below it you can see a crocodile skull. Deinosuchus is related to an alligator and is not a dinosaur but it was very big.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Deinosuchus

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Now meet your first inside dinosaur. It is a raptor like the velociraptor but bigger.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Utahraptor

Some of the dinosaurs in the museum can move. Click on the video below to see the moving utahraptor...

 

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As we walk inside, there is a discovery area for hands on investigation at the left and a shop on the right but our journey is up the stairs to see the dinosaurs. Look up as you climb the stairs and you will see flying reptiles. They are not dinosaurs but soared through the sky when dinosaurs were around.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Click on the video below to see one of the flying reptiles move.

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Now you're on the top floor, there are many dinosaurs and other creatures to see. Here are a few...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Stegosaurus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Carnotaurus 

Click on the video below to see the carnotaurus move...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Spinosaurus 

Click on the video below to see the spinosaurus move...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Iguanodon

Click on the video below to see the iguanodon move...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Click on the video below to see the tyrannosaurus rex move...

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Now, a question for you. Look at the picture of a spinosaurus below. Underneath the spinosaurus are photos of four replica dinosaur teeth. Can you guess which replica tooth belongs to the spinosaurus?

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Once you have decided which tooth belongs to a spinosaur, click the link to show the answer...

I've made my guess.