Tag Archives: emu

2 Comments

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).

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

 

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.

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...

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.

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.

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.

 

3 Comments

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 reachers 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 .

 

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.

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 I had worked in 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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, an area known as the Gulf Country. Lead, silver, copper and zinc are mined in the Mount Isa area.

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

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.

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

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.

 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 as 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.

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.

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 continues 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).

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.

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.

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

Standley Chasm

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 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)

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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

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.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) at sunset

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.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) up close

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

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.

And a view from almost the top of Uluru

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

With continued thoughts and questions from the Battalion Bloggers, another post was necessary to answer. To see their initial post and the follow up comments, here is the link...

A Surprise Post Inspires Action

Hello Battalion Bloggers,

There is no need to apologise for taking time to reply. I have seen how many quality experiences you have been having through blogging and know you would be having many other learning experiences in school. When we are keen to learn, there is always something to keep us busy.

Ethan, Isaac & Alex – There was no need to use a zoom lens to take the close up photo of emus. While it isn’t possible with emus in the wild, the photo was taken at Potoroo Palace, my favourite local wildlife sanctuary. I have hand fed emus at the sanctuary so being up close isn’t hard. I have seen emus a little taller than me and I stand 185cm tall so they probably can reach around 2m in height.

Dinosaurs – Well, there’s a coincidence. I am preparing something on dinosaurs for Year 1 and 2 in my local school. It will include a blog post I will also share with your class when it’s ready. It will take time as there is much to prepare. Below is a sample photo I have taken of a friend lurking near a tree at Australia’s National Dinosaur Museum in Canberra…

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. 

Kale – I think emus can run up to around 50kph (31mph) so they can run much faster than us. I think the one I saw would have only been running in the 30s.

As far as winged dinosaurs are concerned, there really weren't any. They were flying reptiles like the ones pictured below. When I was your age most thought they could only soar like kites but it has been shown they could really fly and some are known to have had feathers.

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. 

Melvin – One of the amazing things about learning is the way we can recall information we may have learned some time ago. That’s one of my secrets in blog commenting. Someone writes something and I remember a fact or two and, with extra research, I start writing a post.

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. 

Amy, Catherine & Noam – We don’t tend to see emus walking around wild in my area. However, in my first school as a permanent teacher, I sometimes had to chase emus out of the school playground before children arrived. In the first photo below, you can see my first school. It was 100km from the nearest town. Children lived on sheep and cattle stations.

The second photo shows you a close up of emu feathers. They feel almost furry but, of course, emus have feathers and not fur. You can also see an emu wing but, of course, they can't fly.

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.

Martin and Zyne – Auckland Museum was full of amazing displays of history, culture and nature but it was the moa I most liked to see. It would be amazing to see a living one but, unfortunately, they are now extinct.

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.

Jenna, Hilary and Claire – While I don’t have a photo of my own of the hoatzin adult, below is one accessed from Wikimedia Commons. They are amazing looking birds.

As far as emus go, I really only call them male or female although, as with other birds, you could call females “hens” and males “cocks”. In the post for Daniel, I mentioned males tend to make a grunting sound. I searched through my archive of video clips I have taken and found one where, if you listen carefully, you can hear what I think is the grunting sound of a male emu (on the right of the trio). Soon after Europeans first settled Australia, two species of emu became extinct and fossils show there was a third. The Tasmanian emu was thought to have become extinct in the mid 1800s. What we do have are three types of the one species of emus, Dromaius novaehollandiae novaehollandiae (in the south) and Dromaius novaehollandiae woodwardi (in the north) and Dromaius novaehollandiae rothschildi (in the south-west). Being the same species, they look similar but do have some differences. I will let your class know when I have my dinosaur post ready for my local school.

By Kate from UK (Hoatzin  Uploaded by FunkMonk) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kate from UK (Hoatzin Uploaded by FunkMonk) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Lane – When you see me write about many different things, I didn’t know about much of what I shared beforehand. It’s the questions people ask that give me the chance to research and learn more. As an example, in the comment above for Jenna, Hilary and Claire, they asked me how many species of emu there are. I did some research and now know there were other species but they have become extinct. We now have only one species with three subspecies. That was my learning from finding the answer. We don’t need to know the answers to everything but we must know how to find answers when we need them.

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.

Peng Peng & Daniel – I’ve always thought the Chinese system of names make more sense when the family name comes first so I would be Mannell Ross rather than Ross Mannell but I didn’t know about family tree differences. My family tree includes both male and female ancestors but the further back in time we go the more my family tree looks like a family forest because there are so many relatives.  Look to the end of this post for some big maths about relatives.

There are a number of museums in London. I visited the Natural History Museum, the London Transport Museum, the Science Museum, and the British Museum. There were so many fascinating displays in each I couldn’t choose a favourite. Remember, I’m interested in very many things and took many photos. Here are a few…

Science Museum

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.

British Museum

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.

Natural History Museum

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.

London Transport Museum

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.

Imperial War Museum

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.

Aya, Hannah and Kelly – Like many things in life, I am still learning. Answering your class’s questions, I have learned more facts. We should always keep or minds and eyes open to a world of learning. Writing comments and posts is my way of learning more and sharing what I find. All the knowledge in the world is no use unless we share with others.

What do I like about emus? With the kangaroo, they appear in the Australian Coat of Arms and so are a national symbol and, I think, remind me a little of dinosaurs from the past.

This is a public domain file.

This is a public domain file.

Some extra maths for Peng Peng and Daniel

I once looked at the numbers of parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, etc. we have. Before long, I realised there are so many every human on Earth has to be related to every other human somewhere back in time. Look at this maths…

If we go back only 10 generations (parents to great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandparents) there would be 1024 great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents.

If we go back 20 generations, there would be 1,048,576 great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents (that’s 18 greats).

Before you think I sat there working out all of this by hand, there is a maths trick we can use in a computer spreadsheet to work this out. If we start a spreadsheet and type the following into a cell,

=2^20

(for 20 generations) it gives you the answer…  1,048,576

=2^10 gives you 1024 for 10 generations

=2^25 gives you 33,554,432 for 25 generations

=2^30 gives you 1,073,741,824 for 30 generations

Can you see how big the numbers are becoming? By only 30 generations, there are over one billion great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents (that’s 28 greats).

Before long, there would be more people than there have ever been if everyone was still alive today. This means families marry into others families but, somewhere back in time, they were already related. We are all part of the same family. I am part of a family forest of which you are also part.

The Family Forest

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.

1 Comment

Daniel had some wonders about emus. A simple answer wouldn't have allowed me to share the information I had…

Hi Ross! I liked how you wrote each of us a comment. Thank you for sending us the animal cards because we got more wonders. What did the emus evolve from and what is the tallest bird? I wonder how the real name of the emu is pronounced. How can you tell the difference between a male emu and a female emu? If you didn’t send us the cards, I wouldn’t know that emus swim! Which continent is Polynesia on? We are so lucky that we blog with you, Ross!

Daniel, what wonderful wonders!

As can sometimes happen, a comment can lead to a post so let's see if I can answer your questions. I like challenges. 🙂

Let's work backwards through your questions.

1. Which continent is Polynesia on?

Polynesia isn't a continent. It is a collection of over 1000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. It includes Hawaii in the north, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the east, Tonga in the west and New Zealand in the south-west. The traditional people of the islands are known as Polynesian. Having heard the Maoris of New Zealand speaking their language, I have also visited Hawaii. Despite the two sets of islands being so far apart, I was able to recognise words similar to each area.  Polynesians share similarities in culture and language.

As well as Polynesia, there are two other major Pacific island groups, Micronesia and Melanesia. Melanesia includes New Guinea to  the north of Australia. Australia isn't part of these groups as it is both the world's largest island and smallest continent. The many cultures of the traditional people of Australia are very different to Micronesians, Melanesians and Polynesians.

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.

A Maori in traditional clothing.

2. What is the tallest bird?

The heaviest and tallest living birds are ostriches, native to Africa. They can weigh over 156kg and the males can be as tall as 2.8m. Next on the list are southern cassowaries found in northern Australia. Emus come along in 3rd place. The northern cassowary found in New Guinea comes in fourth. I have seen emus in the wild. I have only seen cassowaries and ostriches in zoos. Here is a Wikipedia link…

List of Largest Birds

When the Maoris first arrived in New Zealand (aka Aotearoa), they found a very large flightless native bird known as the moa. Look at the photo below of a reconstruction of the moa based on evidence from bones and fossils...

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 photographed this moa in New Zealand's Auckland Museum. There were nine species of moas, this being one of the largest two. They could reach about 3.6m in height and weigh about 230kg.With the emus reaching up to only about 2m, the largest moas would have towered over them.

But these weren’t the largest known birds to have ever lived. Does a bird thought to be more than 3m tall and weighing around 400kg sound big? Here a link to an extinct giant bird…     Elephant Bird

3.How can you tell the difference between male and female emus?

emu (eem-you)

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

The most important answer to this question is the birds can but let's see what I can find to help us. By looking at the photo above, I can't tell the difference between the male and female emus. They look very alike but it seems they can sound different. Males can grunt a little like a pig and, if they're caring for chicks, can whistle to their chicks whereas females make a more booming sound.

When I look at emus, I try to imagine them featherless with teeth in their beaks. When I do this, I imagine something like a dinosaur. Look at the photo of a dinosaur skeleton I photographed when at a museum in London. It has a long tail and clawed upper arms whereas  emus have a short tail and stumpy wings we don't notice because of their feathers but there are similarities such as in their feet and the way they moved. I suspect the dinosaur was a fast runner and I know emus can run at up to 50 kilometres per hour as I have been driving a car and slowed to see how fast nearby emus were running.

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.

 Of course, looking something alike doesn't mean they are alike. There can be similarities between very different animals simply because they need to do similar things so let's look at some ideas on the evolution of birds.

4. Where did emus evolve from?

The Evolution of Birds

For a long time people thought all of the dinosaurs died out with the great extinction caused by a large meteorite hitting Earth but we now believe this wasn’t completely so. We know the large dinosaurs couldn't survive the changes in the Earth but early mammals survived because they were small and fur covered. Fossils have shown this but what about the small dinosaurs?

I have seen information on two main types of dinosaurs...

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.

No, I didn't take the dinosaur photo when I was young. In 1989, I visited a dinosaur display. 🙂

the sauropods (lizard-footed) including the largest dinosaurs (one is pictured above)…   Sauropods

and the ornithopods (bird-footed)...    Ornithopods

By their names, you might think we would be looking at ornithopods but it’s the sauropods I find most interesting, as it seems these dinosaurs include the ancestors of birds.

A type of sauropod dinosaur are the therapods (beast-footed)...     Therapods

Could some dinosaurs fly?

 Look at the photos I had taken when a "DInosaurs of China" collection visited Sydney in 1983...

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 high quality fossil from China shows a winged reptile and the photo below shows a reconstruction of how they may have looked. These fliers weren't dinosaurs although many think of them as being dinosaurs. They were not the ancestors of birds.

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.

We had no evidence dinosaurs had feathers until a very fine fossil was found in 1861, an archaeopteryx (are-key-op-ter-ix). Look closely at the photo below and you will see the fossil below is so fine you can see feathers yet it appears to have claws on its wings. This was not the fossil of a flying reptile. If the feathers hadn't been present, it would most likely to have been thought to be a small sauropod dinosaur. After the fossil was discovered, we could see a link between the dinosaurs and birds.

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.

In  the photo below, you will see how the archaeopteryx might have looked. Fossils don't preserve colour so the colours are only guesses but sometimes ancient feathers have been discovered in amber and can show colour. Because feathers trapped in amber are rare, scientists can't test them without destroying them to find out more but they have been found to be very old feathers.

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.

Since the discovery of the archaeopteryx, more examples of fossils appearing to have feathers have been found...

Feathered dinosaurs

Scroll down the link and you will see a diagram known as a cladogram. The diagram shows a clade. Clades show an ancestor and all of its descendants sort of like a family tree humans use to show their family. Notice the ancient ancestor starts with therapods and leads to birds?

All dinosaurs didn’t become extinct, some evolved into the birds we see today.

Do any modern birds have claws?

I once wondered if any modern birds had clawed wings and the answer was no until I read about the hoatzin of South America. The hoatzin is also known as the "stinkbird" which gives us the idea it is a little smelly.

What interested me was its chicks. The chicks have two claws on each wing to help them climb around the trees where they live but they are true birds and not left over from the dinosaur days. The young lose the claws as they become adults. Below is a photo of a hoatzin chick I found on Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

This photo was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

This photo was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

The Evolution of the Emu

Science tends to classify birds into orders and into further groups within orders. For the emu, it is grouped with other ratites, or flightless birds including the ostrich, cassowary and New Zealand's moa and kiwi. In the link below, you will see another cladogram, this time of birds. The ratites come off very early on and are separate from all other birds so you could say they are closer to the first birds to have evolved.

Classification of Modern Bird Orders 

One last photo, this time a close up look at the emu's legs...

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.

Emus are modern birds and not dinosaurs but, when I watch them walk, I can imagine them being dinosaurs striding or running across the land perhaps being chased by a carnivorous dinosaur. What do you think?

4 Comments

To see the Battalion Bloggers post...

A Surprise Package Inspires Action!

Hello Battalion Bloggers,

I am sorry I have been mostly off line since the beginning of the year. The New Year is normally slow for me but this year has been very busy. I am trying to catch up a little now in between tasks.

One of Australia’s two major supermarket chains had a promotional idea. They decided to release animal cards children (including big ones like me) could collect. With the success of the first series on “grown up” animals, they ran a new very cute series on baby animals. I set to work and managed to collect three sets with the help of local staff and then had to decide where they should go. Australian children didn’t need them because they could get their own so two sets headed to Canada and one to USA.

I can see by your bar graph, some animals caught your interest more than others. I know I have favourites I like to photograph but my favourites are usually what I am photographing at that time.

Your comments…

TREE ANIMALS

Ethan – Flying foxes are very common in many areas of Australia (click Australia to see a map) and Asia. Sometimes at night I have been in my backyard and heard the flying foxes squabbling in a neighbour’s fruit tree. They are also found in cities. I know of colonies in Sydney. Bats are fascinating. I have even encountered bats (not fruit bats) when I tried some spelunking (cave exploring).

Now a less pleasant fact...

Some wild flying foxes and other bats have been found to have a problem for humans. They can carry a virus known as lyssavirus and so shouldn’t be handled as infection could be fatal if untreated. Lyssavirus is closely related to the rabies virus. I always find it safer not to handle wild animals.

Of course, human activity can be a problem for bats through habitat destruction or, in the case of what I think is a dead little broad nosed bat, collisions with cars.

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.

Melvin – The grey-headed flying fox is the bat I most commonly see at night around my home. Their squawks as they feed and squabble are easy to hear. Pteropus poliocephalus – my Latin isn’t great but I think the scientific name stands for wing (ptero), work (opus), greyish (polio), head (cephalus) so pteropus poliocephalus probably means grey-headed working wing.

According to Wikipedia, there are 60 species of flying fox bats in the world of which I think Australia has four, the little red, spectacled, black and grey-headed flying fox.

Catherine, Hilary, Aya and Jenna – Koalas are certainly picky eaters. Eucalypt trees (we also call them gum trees) are common and have a number of species in Australia but koalas won’t eat the leaves of all kinds. If we were to eat the leaves, we would become very sick because of the eucalyptus oil in the leaves but koalas are adapted to digesting the leaves. This can take some time. This is part of the reason koalas spend so much time sleeping. It saves energy so, rather than being lazy, they are being energy efficient. Would that make the “green” koalas?
Koalas don’t normally need to find and drink water because they take it in with the leaves but I have seen video of koalas after a fire has come through. If they survive, they can be very thirsty. Firefighters and animal rescue people have poured water in their hands and wild koalas they find have drunk from their hands. They are amazing little animals.

Jenna, a little extra information – A number of animals are known to swallow rocks or gravel to help digest plant foods. Such stones are known as gastroliths (mean stomach stone) and were even used by some dinosaurs. Many birds also use them for the same reason, they help digest food. As you know, chickens don’t have teeth to help chew food.

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

LAND ANIMALS

Kennedy – I have seen mobs (the name for a group of kangaroos) of red kangaroos bounding across drier areas of Australia. The males can be around my height and are very strong. Did you know the males fight using their strong legs? Until I was able to deliver it to a zoo, I had a young, orphaned red kangaroo. When it saw me, it would hop up and kick me but was too small to cause any damage. It was calm when it got into a sack. For the young roo, it was like being in its mother’s pouch. There are no red kangaroos near where I live now. We mainly have eastern-grey kangaroos and wallabies. Kangaroos are only native to Australia.

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 kangaroos

Kelly – Joey is a term we Aussies use for the young of most marsupials. So kangaroo and koala babies are joeys. My favourite name for a baby animal goes to the young of the echidna and platypus. Echidnas and platypuses aren’t marsupials (pouched animals). They are monotremes, egg-laying mammals. Monotreme young are known as puggles.
Only responding to movement might seem odd but it appears in other animals. I think I read t-rex dinosaurs probably only responded to movement so, if you ever face one, stay still. 🙂 It wouldn’t work with lions.
Here’s a puzzle for you, if red kangaroos only detect motion, does the world disappear if the kangaroos are still and no wind moves grass and trees? I suspect there is some vision at all times but kangaroos only respond to movement because the signal is stronger.

This is a public domain image sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

This is a public domain image sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

Daniel – As you would have place names and other words taken from native languages, many names in Australia come from local Aboriginal names. Sometimes, names might be exactly native because early European settlers misunderstood.
For emu, we aren’t certain where the name originated. Wikipedia states it may have come from the Arabic for large bird and be used by early Portuguese explorers.
When checking on the world’s largest living birds, the emu may be second in height but I suspect the cassowary (found in Australia and New Guinea) is heavier and the Australian southern cassowary might grow slightly taller. The tallest bird know to have existed was probably the giant moa (Dinornis) originally found in New Zealand. They are thought to have become extinct mainly because of hunting by early Polynesian settlers (Maoris).

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Here are just a few Aboriginal names for emu from the very many languages…
Ngurruy (Ngiyampaa people of N.S.W.)
Kalthi (Paakantyi people of N.S.W.)
Dhinawan (Wiradjuri people of N.S.W.)
Kawir – (Wembawemba people of N.S.W.)
Warrhukaathi – (Diyori people of S.A.)

These words are taken from “Macquarie Aboriginal Words” – ISBN 97809497571

Sam – While I have seen bilbies in zoos, I haven’t seen them in the wild where they are endangered.  There is a national plan trying to help the bilby numbers grow again.

It may interest you to know something about Easter in Australia. You probably know about chocolate Easter eggs and Easter bunnies but, here in Australia, you can also buy Easter bilbies. Money raised from their sales helps to save the bilby through donation to conservation programs

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.

Alex – Bearded dragons are interesting and I have held the spiky little guys and have seen them in the wild. They can be bought as pets here but you must be licenced in my state because all native reptiles are protected. They are not allowed to be collected from the wild.

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.

Isaac – Tasmanian devils are interesting carnivorous marsupials (pouched animals). Early European settlers in Tasmania would hear the sounds of the devils and feared evil spirits might be at work.
I have seen devils in zoos but didn’t see them in the wild when I was in Tasmania. Despite their snarls and strong jaws, they are cute little guys but I wouldn’t place a finger near their mouths.
Wombats are very strong diggers. I often come across their burrows when hiking. I suspect the Tasmanian devils find it much easier to use an empty wombat burrow than digging their own.

Click the link below to hear Tasmanian devil sounds.

TasmanianDevilSounds

This audio file was sourced through "Community Audio" where it was listed without a creator or any copyright instructions. I assume it is in the public domain.

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 didn't have a Tasmanian devil photo in my collection but did have this drawing of mine.

Kate – I have not only seen many eastern blue-tongued lizards (skinks) in the wild, I have found them visiting my yard as they search for bugs or delicious snails (not the French escargot type). They are docile (not aggressive) but I tend to leave them alone unless they’re injured. I did once find one seriously hurt little guy in my yard and had to take it to a local vet but he didn’t survive the injury. I think perhaps a dog had attacked him. Dogs and cats can be dangerous for many small native animals. The video below is a northern blue tongue giving birth…

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Noam – Short-beaked echidnas are native to most areas of Australia, including around my home. I have had one exploring my yard and seen them in parks in my town as well as in the wild. They’re aren’t aggressive and can’t bite but, being monotremes (egg laying mammals), they are fascinating little guys. When threatened, they use their strong claws to hold on to the ground while they show their spines.

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.

Peng Peng – I have seen dolphins off our coast a number of times, including bottlenose dolphins. They are beautiful animals and seem curious when they see humans in our waters. Bulls, cows and calves are good names although people often only think of cattle but the titles are used for other mammals including elephants.
Dolphins are part of the Order Cetacea of animals. Cetacea include whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

I photographed these dolphins as they swam near the shore.

Claire – Bottlenose dolphins can be found in oceans around the world but I don’t think they tend to reach Canadian waters because of cooler temperatures.
Did you know some sharks like bottlenose dolphins, especially the calves? The problem for sharks is the dolphins can often protect themselves. Dolphins turn and charge the shark. Sometimes groups attack and have been know to kill a shark.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

I believe this is a common dolphin. I photographed it while on a whale watching cruise off our coast.

Cohen – Port Jackson sharks can be found in Australian coastal waters but don’t tend to be along the most tropical areas. As the name suggests, they are also found in Port Jackson waters. You may not have heard of Port Jackson but it is the bay around which Sydney has been built.
As their diet includes mostly molluscs and similar creatures, they aren’t seen as dangerous to humans. Their egg cases are sometimes washed up on beaches and are easy to recognise.

This photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

This photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

Hannah – Black swans can be found on our saltwater lake or in large ponds. There is one area in a town only 35km from my home that can fill with water in wetter times. I once stopped to watch numerous black swans wandering along grassy areas near the water then realised all of the adults were being followed by cygnets. They can be aggressive if they think they or their babies are threatened.

Blac Swan pair

Amy – Turtles can be fascinating animals. My two nieces grew up in a Queensland town named Bundaberg. While Bundaberg is know for its fields of sugarcane, the coast east of the town is know for Mon Repos Conservation Park. Between November and March each year loggerhead, flatback and green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in the beach sand.
Nightly tours during that period of the year allow visitors to see they turtles laying eggs or, 6 to 8 weeks later, see hatchlings emerging from the sand and heading to the water.
We all know humans are either male or female as they develop before birth but turtles are different. The temperature of the sand makes the difference for turtles. Higher temperatures help turtles hatch sooner and emerge as females. Cooler temperatures tend to result in males.

 

This photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain

This photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain

Martin – Australian sea lions can be seen around southern and south-western areas of Australia but not normally near where I live. We are more likely to find Australian fur seals in our waters. One old male was an annual visitor to a favourite rock in our town’s lake.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

These are New Zealand fur seals. They have also been found along Australia's coastline.

Well, what started out with an intention to write a short comment seems to have blown out into something a little longer. It’s like much in life, we start with some knowledge and seem to collect more as life moves along. We learn. We share. We are all both teachers and students in life.

Learning is a lifelong journey we all travel. When we travel it with others our journey is all the richer.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

2 Comments

For part 1 of this post...

http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2013/06/22/skyping-with-k123-from-canada-part-1-Koa-to-Jorja

For Part 3 of this post...

 http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2013/06/23/skyping-with-k123-from-canada-part-3-linden-to-the-end/

Part 2

Do I know about an Australian tree which has black hair on it?

This one need a little research because I didn't know what type of tree it might be. Here is a link I found that has some "hairy" trees. They might help you know what tree you mean. 🙂

Australian Tree Images

What types of animals are found in Australia?

 Australia has a large range of animals but some of our most famous are our marsupial (pouched) and monotreme (egg laying) mammals and our birds. In Part 1 of this post, I have shown some of our reptiles I have photographed so I will only show some mammals and birds.

Here are some of the birds I have seen visiting my home.

Kookaburra

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.

Magpie

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.

Australian Wood Duck

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.

Corella

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.

Crimson Rosella

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.

King Parrot (male)

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.

Rainbow Lorikeet

This is the crazy type of bird I mentioned enjoyed a diet of sugary flower nectar. One of these birds flew between another person and me when we were talking.

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.

Monotremes (egg laying) Mammals

The most ancient type of mammals are the monotremes. The females lay leathery eggs. On hatching, the young take milk from their mother like all mammals.

The only monotremes known to exist in our world today are the echidna and platypus. The platypus is only found in Australia. Echidnas are found in Australia and New Guinea.

The platypus is hard to photograph in the wild. While I have seen them, they are more like a ripple as they surface in creeks after searching for food. Not having a photo, here is my drawing of a platypus.

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 echidna (or spiny anteater) is a harmless animal whose only defence when attacked is to dig it's strong claws into the ground and show its spines. I have found one wandering in my garden. The photo is of a short beaked echidna. The long beaked echidna 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.

Marsupial (pouched) Mammals

Marsupial or pouched animals are born very tiny. They make their way up their mothers fur and into the pouch where they can attach to a nipple. When they grow too large, they start to come out of the mother's pouch and eventually stay out. Here are some photos and drawings.

Brushtail Possum

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.

Wombat - This joey (young marsupial) lost his mother 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.

Tiger Quoll

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.

Koala - Sapphire is the baby of Blinky and Suzie

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.

Red Kangaroo - the largest of the kangaroos

This is a public domain image sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

This is a public domain image sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

Tasmanian Devil

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 mob - groups of kangaroos are called mobs.

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.

 Diprotodon (extinct) - When the first native Australians arrived, these huge marsupials still roamed the land.

Wikimedia Commons graphic created by Dmitry Bogdanov

Wikimedia Commons graphic created by Dmitry Bogdanov

Thylacine - Tasmanian Tiger - hunted to extinction. The last known thylacine died in captivity in the 1930s. Some believe they still exist in isolated areas of Tasmania.

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.

Our animals even feature on the Australian Coat of Arms. Take a kangaroo and an emu...

 

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.

Add a little wattle

 

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.

Show the seven pointed Federation Star and the emblems of each state and you have the Australian Coat of Arms.

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 did I teach when I was a teacher?

When I was at university, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree. This meant if I taught high school (Grades 7 to 12) I would have taught science and possibly maths. Instead, I chose to gain a Diploma of Education in primary (Kindergarten to Grade 6) education. By teaching primary students I could teach English, Science, Maths, Social Studies, Music, Art, and Craft.

When computers came along, I was able to teach computer skills to classes and teachers. I first used computers back in 1975 and in class in 1981. Because I have many interests, I thought primary school would allow me to share much more than high school. Now, I share many of my interests online with classes around the world.

3 Comments

Mrs. Ranney and her class prepared a post looking at adaptation in desert dwelling animals...

Desert Dwellers, Announce Your Adaptations!

Hello Mrs, Ranney and Class,

 

Your post on desert dwellers and adaptations was fascinating so I thought I might prepare a post on some animals found in Australian deserts. Unlike your post, I haven't been able to find any animals to tell their story so I'll have to write for them.

Deserts in Australia

Wikipedia Reference: Deserts of Australia

Deserts cover about 18% of Australia's land. That's about 1,371,000 square kilometres (529,000 square miles).

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Copyright holder: Martyman at the English language Wikipedia

Deserts may not be completely without plants but the plants are sparse and low. In the photo below, the area is not really part of a desert and is taken from on top of Uluru (Ayers Rock) looking west towards Katatjuta (The Olgas). The Great Sandy Desert begins further west of Katatjuta but you can see the arid (dry) landscape of central Australia.

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

Some Animals of the Australian Desert and Their Adaptations

Feral Camels

Wikipedia Source: Australian feral camel

I know the first reaction when people read 'camels' might be picturing them roaming the deserts of a Middle Eastern country but camels can be found wandering Australian deserts. They were first brought to Australia, mainly from India, in the 1800s to carry supplies to isolated communities in central Australia. By the 1900s, trucks started to replace them so they were released into the wild. They have become a problem where their numbers are too high. Australia now exports wild camels to the Middle East.

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

Camels have adapted to dry conditions and can go a long time without taking a drink of water. They store fat in their humps to help them through dry times. Their long fur helps protect them from the heat of the daytime desert. Even when they breathe out through their noses, much water vapour is trapped and reabsorbed.

Red Kangaroos

Wikipedia source: Red Kangaroos

Other Source: Nature Notes - Red Kangaroos

This is a public domain image sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

Red kangaroos (Macropus rufus) are the largest of the kangaroos. They can be found in much of Australia's drier and desert climates. In my first school as a teacher in western New South Wales I would see them bounding across the countryside.

Red kangaroos are mainly active at dawn and dusk, resting in the heat of the day.

Their hopping has been found to save energy. At low speeds, there hopping uses about the same energy as a similar sized animal running on four legs. At high speeds they use less energy than a four legged animal. They can reach speeds of 35 to 30 kph (13 to 16 miles per hour). While I don't have a video clip of red kangaroo, below is one showing eastern grey kangaroos at a local animal sanctuary. Eastern greys are smaller than reds but fully grown males are almost the same height. I have seen some about my height of 185cm (73 inches). The video clip shows mostly females and young kangaroos and includes some hopping.

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

Emus

Wikipedia reference: Emu

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

Emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae) are the second largest bird found in our world today. They can reach up to 2 metres (78 inches) in height and are flightless. Only the ostrich is larger.

In the wild, they are found across huge areas of Australia. Again in my first school in western New South Wales I would see emus running across the plains. The above photo was taken as I drove to school one day. They can run long distances at speed but can reach around 50kph (31 miles per hour) in a sprint.

Their feathers protect them from the heat. They don't need to drink frequently but when they do they take in as much water as possible. Below is a video clip I took of emus in a local animal refuge...

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

Dingo

Wikipedia Reference:  Dingo

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

Dingoes (Canis lupus dingo) are a subspecies of the grey wolf. They are thought to have first arrived in Australia with seafarers perhaps 12,000 or more years ago. They are found from desert to grassland areas but can't roam too far from water. They live in dens, deserted rabbit holes or logs and are Australia's largest predator. Dingoes don't bark like domestic dogs. Their bark is short. They do howl.

 

 For a class looking at Australia -

Australian Flag

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

Aboriginal Flag

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

Torres Strait Islander Flag

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

Some Audio Files

Australia's National Anthem - as sung by a combined choir in a performance I filmed...

 Advanced Australia Fair

Many official functions start with an Acknowledgement of Country in order to recognise the traditional owners of the land...

Acknowledgement of Country

The didjeridoo was made from a hollowed branch and was part of many ceremonies. The hitting of sticks or boomerangs together often accompanied them.

Sticks and Didjeridoo

Below are links to Australian related posts on my blogs including links to others. I hope they are of some help...

HMB Endeavour at Eden - Replica of Captain James Cook's HMS Endeavour visited  in 2012. James Cook was the first explorer from Europe/UK known to have sailed along Australia's east cost.

My Region of Australia - A general look at my area of Australia featuring the old family dairy farm, scenic photos, beach activities, and Australian animals.

Tasmania – Sharing old photos - Looks at the Australian island state of Tasmania and a little of our convict heritage.

Older Australian Currency - Australia uses dollars and cents these days but before 1966 used pounds, shillings and pence.

Aboriginal Cultural Resource Links for the Roadrunners - Information about the Aboriginal people of Australia and their traditional culture. Check the "Twelve Canoes" link in particular.

Class 6 – Olympic Countries – Australia - History, the Australian flag, National Anthem, animals, Sydney Harbour Bridge, sport

ANZAC Day for 2/3 Class - Looking at ANZAC Day and its meaning for me.

For Emily from Michigan who was interested in Australia - A collection of photos taken in different parts of Australia (including animals).

More photos and information on Sydney for Emily - Some photos of Sydney past and present.

Spring has Sprung in Australia – for 4KJ and 4KM - Looks at the seasons of the Southern Hemisphere.

 Australian National Parks near me in answer to ♥Ell♥e♥ and ಢAcacia✄ - Information about Australia as well as some national parks in my area.

Australian Birds – Mostly Close to Home…

Some plant photos taken in my area…

The family dairy farm for someone who loves everything farming

Maoris, Volcanoes and Aboriginal Rock Art (some notes) for Roadrunners and their comment. Includes the Aboriginal flags of Australia, information about paintings and engravings

Australian Animals for Mrs. Watson’s K/1/2/3 and “Our World, Our Numbers” - An assortment of photos, drawings and information.

Koalas and Kangaroos - Two video links I prepared for a class

Australia’s Extinct and Endangered Species – for Katey of Techie Kids

Tasmanian Devils for Christian and Techie Kids

Some More Aussie Animals for Alexis & Techie Kids

 

You Tube Video Clips

These are my own video clips uploaded to my You Tube Channel. Some are already embedded into the above posts but can be viewed here as well...

Eastern Grey Kangaroos

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

The life of "Sapphire" the koala

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Echidna (Spiny Anteater)

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

"Bert" the wombat joey (baby)

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Walking koala from a series of photos

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

The Song of the Lyrebird

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

"Lyrebird Story" by Alexandra Seddon

This video clip may not be copied or distributed in any fashion.

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Suzie the koala's baby makes an appearance

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Black-Headed Python Experience

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Potoroo "Daniel"

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Koala encounter with "Blinky" and "Suzie"

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Echidna "Spike" Encounter

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Ringtail Possum "Estelle" Encounter

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Swamp Wallaby "Serena" Encounter

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Emus

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Many of the above animal video clips were filmed at Potoroo Palace . It is a native animal educational sanctuary operated by volunteers and funded by visitor entry fees and donations. Potoroo Palace is a not-for-profit organisation passionate about caring for the Earth. The aims of Potoroo Palace are...

  • To improve the habitats and wellbeing of the native animals already in our care

  • To promote public awareness of their plight in the wild

  • To educate the community about the importance of the conservation of our unique Australian native animals and plants.

At times I have been invited to film their animals.

13 Comments

This post was one off my 100th Extended Comment post. As the 99th post, the school will be receiving a copy of “Wombat’s Secret” book, two small souvenirs from Potoroo Palace (where I have taken many animal photos) and some Australian animal postcards.

Dear Riley,

Like you, I love animals and nature. I have many photos from insects and other small creatures up to large animals.

All of the photos appearing on this post were taken by me. Schools and students have permission to use them for non-commercial purposes. This means I am letting schools and students use these photos in their school work.

I have created a post for you so I can re-show a number of animal pictures appearing in assorted posts on this blog...

This is a photo of a female swamp wallaby (marsupial mammal). She thought I might have some food for her. The photo is one of my top favourites because she seems to be smiling at me. 🙂

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (marsupial mammal). He stood nearly 6 ft (175cm) tall.

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

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

"Blinky" is a male koala (marsupial mammal) living at a local animal sanctuary named Potoroo Palace.

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Suzie is Potoroo Palace's female koala (marsupial mammal). You can see females have a much whiter front than males.

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Leaf curling spider (arachnid). You can see its legs at one end of the leaf.

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

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

If we take the time to look,  spiders can be beautiful.

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

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

This painted lady butterfly (Lepidoptera) was trying to warm itself one morning.

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

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

The blue-tongued skink (lizard) isn't fast moving. I have found them in my garden.

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

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

The kookaburra whose call sounds like it's laughing.

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Magpies can sometimes be aggressive. Although most don't, some birds swoop down on people and animals they think are threats. This one didn't seem to mind me taking a photo.

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

Location: Merimbula, N.S.W., Australia

Australian Wood Duck - One of our prettiest native ducks, this is a male

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Corellas - Corellas can arrive in large flocks but in this case three arrived on one of my trees

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

Location: Merimbula, N.S.W., Australia

Crimson Rosella - Their call is like a single not from a piccolo

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Emu - not quite as large as an ostrich. Did you know the male ostrich looks after the young, not the female?

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Wombat (marsupial mammal) - They are not normally out in the day. They prefer dusk and night but I saw this guy while hiking one day.

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

Location: Yellowpinch, N.S.W., Australia

The black-headed python is non-poisonous.

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Alexandra, a volunteer at Potoroo Palace, hows visitors "Olivia" the olive python. Being a python, Olivia is non-poisonous. On my hikes, I have seen three very poisonous snake, the red-bellied black snake, the brown snake, and the tiger snake but I don't have any photos at this time.

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Rainbow Lorikeet - These birds live on flower nectar. With such a high sugar diet, they are very noisy and a little crazy when they visit my garden.

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Echidna or spiny ant eater (Monotreme mammal) - Like the platypus, the females lay eggs from which the young hatch. The mother's have glands on their skin that can secrete milk. Just like all mammals, the young have milk to drink. I once found one of these guys in my garden and have seen them a number of time in the wild.

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

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Mammals are divided into three groups.

Monotremes - such as echidna and platypus - are egg laying mammals

Marsupials - kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats and many others -  they are the pouched animals. Marsupials are born very small and make their way into the mother's pouch where they feed and grow until large enough to come outside.

Placentals - This group includes animals like cows, goats, horses, pigs, apes, monkeys and humans