JOURNEY THROUGH AUSTRALIA: BIRDS, MAMMALS, LANDSCAPES, PEOPLE
- Thursday, March 18, 7 p.m., Ukiah Civic Center
by Kate Marianchild
Swans in Australia are black. Some Australian mammals lay eggs. Australian people invite virtual strangers to stay with them in their homes.
Roger Foote, retired biologist and former president of Peregrine Audubon Society, will share fascinating facts and images from "Down Under" during a slide presentation entitled "Journey through Australia: Birds, Mammals, Landscapes, and People" on Thursday, March 18, at 7 p.m., at the Ukiah Civic Center. Roger spent nine weeks in Australia last fall, traveling from the tropics in the extreme north to the temperate southern tip of Tasmania. His talk will focus on Australia's birds and mammals, and will touch on the evolutionary history of Australia's flora and fauna. He will also include several photographs of aboriginal art, including ancient pictographs, and will describe the warmth, friendliness, and hospitality of modern-day Australians. Audio and video clips will illustrate several of the more memorable aspects of the trip.
"Marsupials, the dominant class of mammal in Australia, sometimes resemble our placental mammals," Roger explains," but they have evolved independently and are actually extremely different." In addition to photographs of well-known herbivorous marsupials such as Wallabies and Kangaroos, he will show slides of carnivorous marsupials such as Quolls and Tasmanian Devils. He also photographed the Spiny Anteater, a member of the egg-laying class of mammals known as "monotremes," as well as several placental mammals such as dingos and water rats.
Roger found Australia's foliage, which is dominated by numerous eucalyptus and acacia species, to be exotic. But it was the strange and different birds that captured most of his photographic time and attention. Australia boasts colorful wild birds that are found mainly as cage birds in the United States: parrots, lorikeets, cockatoos, galahs, and rosellas. The country is also home to penguins, cranes, swans, kookaberras, honey-eaters, night jars, pardalotes, and megapodes. Megapodes are birds with big feet that build mounds of compost and leave their eggs in them to be incubated by the heat generated by decomposing organic matter. The Spotted Pardalote, a tiny bird with contrasting black and white spots and orange highlights, was the trip's "jewel among jewels." Spotted Pardalotes were nesting in their bank-side burrows while Roger was there.
This Peregrine Audubon Society presentation is free to the public, though donations will be welcome. The Ukiah Civic Center is at 300 Seminary Avenue. To join Peregrine Audubon Society and receive a newsletter with regular announcements about programs and field trips, please send $15 to PAS, P.O. Box 311, Ukiah, CA 95482. For more information please go to www.peregrineaudubon.org.