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Swooping Season

The Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) is a familiar visitor to many gardens.

Magpies have a melodious, warbling, caroling call and can sometimes be heard on bright moonlit nights. They can mimic other birdsong, dogs, horses and humans. Juvenile birds have a persistent begging squawk and may occasionally be seen rolling around the ground playing together, unusual behaviour for birds. The birds walk rather than hop along the ground.

They are territorial birds with complex social and family lives in tribes and flocks. Tribes are structured groups of 2-24 birds which defend a territory and usually raise one brood of chicks. Flocks are more nomadic and consist of many more birds, mainly young and less successful non-breeding magpies. There is high mortality rate among chicks and juveniles however adults may live up to thirty years.

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Aussie Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs were dominant for approximately 185 million years during the Mesozoic era which contained three geological periods the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.

When dinosaurs roamed, the Earth's geography was different. In the Jurassic Period (208-144 million years ago) the super-continent Pangaea began to stretch and rift, ultimately breaking into two huge continents separated by the Tethys Sea. The northern continent was called Laurasia and the southern continent was called Gondwana.

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Land Snails

There are approximately 1500 species of land snails and slugs in Eastern Australia. Most snails found in urban gardens are introduced species, the common Garden Snail was introduced from Europe in early 1800s. Native snails are usually restricted to natural habitats and unlike the introduced species do not adapt well to environments disturbed by human activity.

A snail has a hard calcareous shell which it creates by releasing liquid from its body which hardens and acts as protection for its soft body. Over time the snail releases more liquid and this allows the snail to gradually increase the size of its shell as it grows. Because snails are so slow they rely upon their ability to retract their body into their shell to escape predators.

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Body Language

The London Olympics provides an opportunity not only to watch the pinnacle of sporting performance but also to observe human body language. Although this event involves people of all ages, cultures, sizes and nationalities, body language is so universally understood that we can perceive much of the athletes' and the spectators' state of mind simply by watching their posture and gestures. While the more demonstrative winners wave their arms or punch fists into the air in triumph, even the more subtle victors spontaneously lift their head and throw out their chests to stand upright, while the losers tend to drop their heads and adopt a slumped posture. This body language has been observed in blind athletes, which indicates that it is innate rather than learned behaviour. The same expression of triumph or disappointment can also be seen to a lesser extent in the spectators.

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A milestone - Higgs boson and Higgs field

For many years two teams of physicists have worked independently to hunt for an energy field called the Higgs field and its byproduct a mysterious and elusive elementary sub atomic particle called the Higgs boson which were both first described in 1962 by Peter Higgs, a Scottish physicist at Edinburgh University.

To understand this theory we have to consider the properties of matter. Everything is composed of matter, which we can split into smaller and smaller particles, into molecules, then atoms, then sub atomic particles, electrons, hadrons (protons and neutrons), quarks until we reach an elementary particle. The study of the constituents of matter and their dynamics is called particle physics which is summarised by a theory called the Standard Model.

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Injured Wildlife

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Random Images - NHA

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  • Description: Bushwalking in SE Qld
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Why does attentiveness to nature matter? In a very fundamental sense, we are what we pay attention to. Paying heed to beauty, grace, and everyday miracles promotes a sense of possibility and coherence that runs deeper and truer than the often illusory commercial, social "realities" advanced by mainstream contemporary culture. ... Our attention is precious, and what we choose to focus it on has enormous consequences. What we choose to look at, and to listen to--these choices change the world. As Thich Nhat Hanh has pointed out, we become the bad television programs that we watch. A society that expends its energies tracking the latest doings of the celebrity couple is fundamentally distinct from one that watches for the first arriving spring migrant birds, or takes a weekend to check out insects in a mountain stream, or looks inside flowers to admire the marvelous ingenuities involved in pollination. The former tends to drag culture down to its lowest commonalities; the latter can lift us up in a sense of unity with all life. The Way of Natural History, edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner and published by Trinity University Press (Texas)