Archive for the 'Nature' Category

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The magpie returns

A couple of years ago I cared for a baby magpie with a broken leg. She healed up well and was eventually released with a couple of birds raised by another wildlife carer.

I occasionally hear on the grapevine that she is doing fine and making her way around the Kingston area.

After at least two years She’s back for a visit! I just love that magpie song and knew as soon as I heard it that it must be her. Good fun — and she still loves a hand out of her favourite meal worms.

Nature’s reds

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Green & silver

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Fascinating fungi

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Fern frond

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Stars

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Frogs

Tasmania is home to eleven kinds of frog, from the gorgeous green and gold frog — the largest — to the musical banjo frog with its distinctive ‘plunk-plunk’ call.

All Australian frogs are creatures of Gondwanaland, the vast ancient continent which split into Australia and South America millions of years ago and they are quite distinct from their European relatives.

In recent times frog numbers have fallen sharply. Scientists put this down to pollution — frogs are extremely sensitive to many chemicals — and to the destruction of their habitat by human activity.

Now, another enemy in the shape of a fungal disease threatens frogs all over Australia and it has recently been found in Tasmania.

The Tasmanian Tiger

The mysterious Thylacine lives on in Tasmania’s imagination, even though some diehards still believe it is out there somewhere in the wilderness.

Tasmania is the only state in the world which uses an extinct animal as its emblem; the last one in captivity died in a Hobart zoo in 1936.

Its extinction was prophesied in 1863 by the famous naturalist John Gould. A large and fearsome-looking animal, it was feared by the settlers, even though it was far shyer and more nervous than its little cousin, the Tasmanian devil.

A government bounty, land clearing and, finally, a distemper-like disease meant its end – but tantalising stories of sightings persist to this day. Maybe, just maybe …

The wonderful Platypus

Who could imagine a sleek-furred, duck-billed, web-footed animal whose babies hatch from eggs and are suckled on milk?

The platypus is one of the bushland’s hardest to discover secrets. It may take many hours watching by some quiet, unpolluted creek on the eastern coast of the continent to see the v-shaped ripple that shows where a platypus swims.

Its dense fur keeps it warm and dry as it submerges, eyes and nostrils shut, to hunt along the creekbed; its wide rubbery bill detecting tiny electrical signals given out by the small aquatic creatures apon which it feeds.

The female platypus lays two soft shelled eggs in a burrow dug in the creek bank.

The Tasmanian Devil

Now found only in Tasmania, in the distant past the Devil lived on mainland Australia too.

The early European settlers believed it killed livestock and trapped and hunted it almost to extinction, but after the death of the last Tasmanian Tiger it was protected.

Since then the Devil has become important culturally. Popular with tourists, it has been adopted by sports teams, businesses and government as a symbol.

But today this unique creature is again threatened with extinction by a deadly disease which baffles science.

Researchers hope to find a cure before it is too late; I hope they succeed.

Read more about them at the ABC’s Scribbly Gum web site.

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