Monday, 3 December 2012

Nature Study in Australia - some free books to download

Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby

We have wallabies come into our garden from time to time but we hadn't seen any for a while and then this fellow turned up the other morning. We managed to get this photo but you can see that he was very intently watching us and he didn't stay for long. We have had a family of them in the past complete with a joey. I've had a gardenia, just to the left on this photo, which has never flowered and I think it's because the wallabies like the young leaves.

Some wallaby facts:
  • They are distinguished from kangaroos mainly by size. Wallabies are generally found in rougher terrain; being smaller they can jump around the bush easily, and whereas kangaroos tend to be of a uniform colour, the fur of the wallaby is more variegated.
  •  This particular wallaby is classed as vulnerable. They were found in abundance many years ago but in NSW between 1884 and 1914 bounties were given for their skins on more than half a million of them.
  • The Brush-tailed wallaby was introduced successfully to New Zealand in 1870 and to Hawaii in 1916 

I've mentioned before that we use the  Handbook of Nature Study which is quite useful for us but for our uniquely Australian flora and fauna we need to look elsewhere. A couple of years ago I picked up First Studies in Insect Life in Australasia by William Gillies for next to nothing at an op shop. The book had at some time probably belonged to a student teacher - Sydney Teacher's College was inscribed on the inside - and the book was obviously written to primary school teachers. Much of what the author writes echoes Charlotte Mason's ideas on the study of nature:

'An excellent rule in the teaching of Natural History to children is, that the lesson should be given, not on the frog, but on a particular frog; not on the spider, but on a particular spider; not on the robin, but on the particular robin that has perched each autumn morning on the school fence.'

I'd been trying to find more of his books secondhand but by chance I found that Cornell University has some of them archived. I've downloaded them onto Kindle (not well-formatted) and as PDFs (my preference, as I have an ipad). If you have trouble downloading leave me a comment and I'll see if I can help you somehow.
    Nature Studies in Australia

    First studies in plant life in Australasia, with numerous questions, directions for outdoor work, and drawing and composition exercises

    I've also found some books by Amy Mack. I read that she lived not too far from us and she recorded the wildlife around her as the city of Sydney was growing and the development was encroaching on the bush. We have a tract of bush behind us and even though we are only about 5 minutes from busy major roads it provides a safe corridor for natives such as the wallaby - unless they are unfortunate enough to get hit crossing the road which has happened from time to time.

    These are lovely books and I was thrilled to find them free online.
    Books by Amy Mack The Wilderness and  Bush Days

    A Bush Calendar by Amy Mack Harrison (I presume this might be her married name?) - records the months of the year with information on what flowers are blooming, which birds are arriving and which ones are breeding.

    Do people actually buy these? A new development in our local area


      Jeanne said...

      Thank you, thank you thank you, Carol. These are great!

      Joyfulmum said...

      Thanks so much Carol, I'm off to check out some of your links! what a wealth of information you are!

      Carol said...

      You're welcome, Jeanne.

      Carol said...

      I hope you find something you can use, Rosemary.

      Joyfulmum said...

      Thank you! I did! I downloaded the Furst Studies :)

      Sarah said...

      This is wonderful...thank you so much!

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