About Me

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Canberra-based naturalist, conservationist, educator since 1980. I’m passionate about the natural world (especially the southern hemisphere), and trying to understand it and to share such understandings. To that aim I’ve written several books (most recently 'Birds in Their Habitats' and 'Australian Bird Names; origins and meanings'), run tours all over Australia, and for the last decade to South America, done a lot of ABC radio work, chaired a government environmental advisory committee and taught many adult education classes – and of course presented this blog, since 2012. I am the recipient of the Australian Natural History Medallion, the Australian Plants Award and most recently a Medal of the Order of Australia for ‘services to conservation and the environment’. I live happily in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise surrounded by a dense native garden and lots of birds.

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.