About Me

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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation. In January 2018 I was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for 'service to conservation and the environment'.

Friday, 31 August 2012

On This Day, 31 August

* 1699; the Roebuck, assigned by the British Admiralty to William Dampier for exploration purposes, anchored off Enderby Island, north-western Australia; the next day he began collection of the first Australian plants that would be described in English. He was also the first Englishman to describe Australian birds in the course of this trip.
The Common Noddy was one of the first Australian birds to be
illustrated and informally described, by William Dampier in 1699.
This one was across the country on Lady Elliott Island.

* 1798; Matthew Flinders and George Bass, while circumnavigating Tasmania in the Norfolk and proving the existence of Bass Strait, stopped at the Swan Islands off the north-east coast where Bass shot two ‘Barnacle Geese’ (now Cape Barren Geese).

* 1836; the Beagle stops off at the Cape Verde Islands, some 500km west of Senegal, for their penultimate stop before getting home. It was a brief stop, but it had also been their first port of call on the way out, more than 5 years previously, when Darwin expressed his excitement at being somewhere new (he had never before left Britain). In his journal he amply demonstrated his curiosity and powers of observation on animals from sea slugs to octopi. I've never been there, and probably never will, but it sounds an interesting place for a naturalist, with five endemic bird species, 12 endemic lizards (out of 15!), nearly 100 endemic vascular plant species and hundreds of endemic invertebrate species.

1 comment:

Flabmeister said...

Your previous post mentioned photos justified by their narrative relevance (an excellent proposition). The one here of the Noddy requires no such justification: Its excellent.