What Birds Teach Us by WA Hewson – Book Review

What Birds Teach Us by WA Hewson is a very unique book with the clever idea of highlighting particular traits of birds and finding parallels in our own lives. Each Australian bird species featured in the book has some interesting information about their behaviour with a few words on what we can learn from these birds and how to incorporate that into our own lives and also why it is important for us that we should do so.

For instance, we can learn trust by watching our parents love, care and nurture us, just like the sea eagle chicks who trust their parents when they are pushed out of the nest to fly for the first time, trusting their parent will catch them in time should they not be able to fly.

Another example is that we can strive to remain happy even when things aren’t going our way and be grateful for what we do have, just like the golden whistler who continues singing beautiful melodies even when food may be scarce and they are undergoing hard times.

We can also learn patience by observing the white-faced heron, who is often spotted standing in shallow water, watching and waiting ever so patiently for the right time to act on its next meal as it swims by. In today’s stressful times, it can be very beneficial for people to slow down and use some self-control, and simply wait until the time is right to have what you want instead of pushing the limits to get what you want right now and put yourself in a worse situation.

These are the things that birds teach us and they are thought provoking indeed.

It is obvious from reading the book that the author, Mr Hewson,  has a passion for Australia’s diverse birdlife as this clearly comes across in the knowledgeable information he imparts about each species of bird. Hewson’s knowledge in family counselling also shows in the insightful comments he makes about each bird’s behaviour and how we can be like them. The book is also stunningly illustrated with big, beautiful photographs of Australia’s native birds taken by the author himself.

This is definitely a book to treasure and share with your children and grandchildren and is money well worth spent. I have had this book for about a year now, and I still like to get it out on occasion and flip through the pages and pictures.

Visit the author’s website for more information about this book and to purchase it, and also check out the author’s birding blog.

Please note that I purchased a copy of What Birds Teach Us of my own volition and the views expressed in this review are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Project Noah

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast anywhere in the world and love taking photographs of the animals around you and you like to share your discoveries with others, you should check out a website called Project Noah.

What is Project Noah? Well, in their own words from their website –

Project Noah is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere.”

Project Noah is an award winning software which began in 2010 as an experiment to help people reconnect with the natural world. It’s backed by National Geographic and is helping people all over the world appreciate their local wildlife by utilizing new mobile technologies to collect ecological data and help preserve biodiversity.

You can look at some information without registering on the website, however, once you’ve signed up and can fully access the site, you’ll be able to do a whole lot more.

When you first go on the site, you’ll be presented with a list of uploaded sightings. You can choose to view them in order of popularity, date uploaded, or even what’s trending. You can also select to view unidentified sightings if you’d like to have a go at identifying some species that other users have uploaded. Here’s a partial screenshot of some popular listings. Hovering your mouse over a photo brings up details of the user who posted it and the number of “favourites” (equal to likes) as well as the number of comments. By clicking on the photo you’ll be taken to the spotting page where you can see all the details, make a comment, “favourite” the sighting, and share on social media sites.

Once you’ve signed up with Project Noah you can set up your profile and start uploading your wildlife photos. Here is a partial screenshot of one of my wildlife spottings.

You are able to add notes for each photo, including an animal’s description, its habitat, and anything else you’d like to add. You can even have more than one photo for each animal and include links as well. You also have the option to input an animal’s geographical location (it’s important to note that the locations of rare and endangered species are not published by the site).

Project Noah also has missions you can join. Missions are like categories that you can link your photos to. For example, in my wildlife spotting above, I’ve added the Kingfisher to 4 different missions. Below is a partial screenshot of some of the missions I’ve joined. There are tonnes of missions available, some global, some local, some broad ranging and some specific, some big and some small. There’s sure to be more than one mission that would meet your interests.

 

You can also earn patches, which are colourful symbols displayed on your profile showing specialist categories. For instance, you might post quite a few bird photos so you will earn a patch called “birds of the world”. The patches I’ve earned so far are Birds of the World, Tadpole, and Noah.

I really like Project Noah. I love the idea of what it is trying to do and how lucky we are in this day and age that we can digitally share our wildlife experiences with other like minded people anywhere in the world and assist scientific researchers. I love that you can upload new and old photos and can write notes, manually put in geographical details, and join in missions.

My user id on Project Noah is oznaturepix and you’re more than welcome to follow me to see my wildlife spottings, however, I haven’t been as active on it lately as I would like. I hope to be able to invest more time in this worthwhile project after Christmas because I have lots of interesting animals to share!

If you prefer a more fun and gamelike experience while sharing your wildlife photos, check out my review of Questagame as this might be more to your liking. But if you prefer a more serious side to Citizen Science and don’t want to use a mobile phone, Project Noah might be exactly what you’re after.

 

 

Review: The Lost Cave of Corinna by Greta Kerschbaum – An Adventure Fantasy Tale Helping to Save the Devils

I first read this amazing novel late last year and absolutely enjoyed it, and I recently re-read it and loved it just as much, so I thought I would share my review here with you. Below is an extract of my  review that I published on Amazon.

A percentage of the profits from this book is being donated by the author to the Save The Tasmanian Devil Appeal.

Synopsis

Twelve year old Tom is spending his summer holiday in what he thinks is a boring seaside town. But an accident leads to his transformation and a journey of survival in the dangerous and sometimes magical world of the Tasmanian bush. If Tom wants to return home, he must follow the call that will lead him to the mythical Lost Cave. But Tom is now on the menu for anything with fangs and claws, and that’s how he meets Dibley, a hungry Tasmanian Devil. Will Dibley overcome his natural instinct to eat Tom and join him on his journey to find the Lost Cave?

My Review

Tom travels to Tasmania for a holiday with his aunt and uncle. When Tom goes fishing with his uncle, he is told an old tale about the mad gene in his family, and how a great uncle claimed to be able to talk to animals. Tom then starts to hear a haunting call that draws him in, and after he has a serious accident, he finds he can talk to the animals himself because he has been transformed (how and into what I will not say!). Tom then meets the all-knowing and cryptic Nini who explains to him he needs to find the Lost Cave where he will find the creature that is calling to him and who might be able to help him go back to the way he was. And so Tom begins his long and dangerous journey through the Australian bush. Along the way, Tom meets a number of native animals, including a grumpy old Tasmanian devil called Dibley, who is suffering from the very real fatal cancerous disease. Tom’s experiences with each one of these animals on his journey to the Lost Cave clearly shows the damaging effect humans have on them and their environment. Tom also meets some not so native animals and his frightening encounters with them also shows what effect these animals have on Australia’s habitat and wildlife.

The Lost Cave Of Corinna is beautifully written and Ms Kerschbaum’s writing is descriptive and polished. The storyline is very intriguing and the different plot twists along the way keep you interested all the way through. The story is very captivating and I was so engrossed in this book that I was very reluctant to put it down.

I loved the descriptions of the surrounding bush landscape in the story. Ms Kerschbaum writes about the sights, sounds and smells of the bush, and it brought back many memories for me about my times in Tasmania. I also loved the portrayals of the different animals in the story. Ms Kerschbaum has described each animal’s personality even better than I imagined them to be, and their behaviour is epitomised beautifully. Every animal was aptly depicted not just in what they looked like, but how they behaved, how they smelled, what they felt like. After reading this book, you will find yourself looking at these animals with a new perspective. Admittedly, I do have a soft spot for the character of Dibley, the Tasmanian devil, but I also loved the other animals Tom met, including one very entertaining wombat.

As well as being a children’s fantasy adventure story, The Lost Cave Of Corinna addresses a number of underlying issues that are important for everyone to know about, no matter where you live. The story is a perfect way for kids to understand these issues and they are dealt with in a subtle manner so that they are important angles of the development of the story. Beneath the storyline, you will discover issues such as how feral animals and domestic animals have an effect on Australia’s wildlife; how the use of chemical poison affects the habitat and the animals that reside there; what happens to the animals and the environment when land is developed for human use; and how far reaching the effects of pollution can be. You will also find within this book elements of trust, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness, survival, justice, sacrifice, loss, healing, and having to face your fears. But most of all, we learn from this book that change is possible and there is always hope.

This is one of the best books I have ever read. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you anxious, it will keep you in suspense, it will keep you enthralled with its magic and mystery. The Lost Cave Of Corinna will stay with you long after you have finished reading it. It will definitely appeal to everyone – young and old. It even includes a few beautiful black and white illustrations of native animals. If you relish reading stories that are full of adventure, fantasy, mystery, myth and magic, you will enjoy this book. If you love animals and the environment, you will revel in this book. If you savour all things Tasmanian (or even Australian), you will love this book.

So get yourself a copy of The Lost Cave of Corinna and join Tom on his fascinating journey to the Lost Cave and see the world in a new light.

 

Buy this book on Amazon.com – paperback version only for $7.99AUD. The book is also available at many bookstores in Hobart and from some online stores.

A percentage of the profits from this book is being donated by the author to the Save The Tasmanian Devil Appeal.