Blackbutt beasties, and forest portrait number two

Many beautiful beasties live in wet sclerophyll forest, including those that dwell or nest in the hollows of venerable old trees. Gliding possums that eat leaves, blossoms or trees sap; owls, tree-creepers and parrots; bats, snakes and antechinuses¹.  As I … Continued

Why are Australian swans black?

Australian swans are black, while most swans are white. Why should this be? When I was a child, growing up in Australia, the only swans I saw were black. At Lake Wendouree in Ballarat, or in the Botanic Gardens of … Continued

The toadfish, the toe-cutter, and the great swimming head

posted in: Tales of science, Writing | 2

  I once met a man who could hypnotize toadfish. He would stand ankle-deep, on the mudflats of Bramble Bay, with his heels together like Dorothy. And the little common toadfish would swim into the ‘V’ created, and become still. … Continued

The strangler fig: everyone’s favorite killer

posted in: Tales of science, Writing | 2

A rainforest tree is subject to many mortal perils: shade, cyclones, fires, chainsaws. One of the most grotesque and extended deaths is carried in a tiny seed, rained down from above by complicit birds and bats. Many such seeds drop … Continued