My newsletter “A Quirky Nature Newsletter” is now live on Substack, where I recount my experiences as a born naturalist. My love of nature led to a Ph.D. in Zoology and a lifelong journey into sharing our amazing wild world with young readers in more than 140 books. As an author of books for kids, I’ve been able to have some very special experiences that tourists never encounter that I will share with you.
Have you ever strolled through a pelican rookery, noticing that the noisy growing chicks look like dinosaurs? Do you know that wolf puppies have a sweet, wild aroma when you hold them? I call my newsletter “quirky” as I often see things a bit differently than other people. You can see this in my first post Why I’m Loving Kaua’i’s Wild Chickens
Lots of people can’t stand the chickens, because of the noisy roosters. But I enjoy them, especially the mother hens and how they raise their chicks. Take a look at the post, and if you enjoy it, subscribe for future free posts, and you can join me on my many adventures.
Next I head for Australia
My next few posts will take my readers to Australia, to learn about its unique wildlife, especially the Tasmanian Devil.
This vital link in the ecology of Tasmania suffers from a mysterious disease, DFTD (Devil Facial Tumor Disease) that popped up around 1986. It eats away at the faces of its victims so they can’t eat. In some areas by 2014 it had already killed about 90% of the devils. Would it wipe out the Tasmanian devil completely? Worried scientists are still working hard to understand it, a new kind of illness, a cancer that can be transmitted from one victim to another.
I had to learn first hand what was going on and write about it for young readers. Luckily my Australian friend Jenny Graves was involved and could guide me in learning on site about the disease and the scientists wanting to understand and fight it.
So it was time for me to head for Australia, a country I’d always wanted to visit! While there, I learned fascinating information about how researchers strived to understand and battle this terrible disease. I also took the time to see other parts of the country and learn about its wildlife. Sign up for “A Quirky Nature Newsletter” and you can meet devoted scientists and explore this beautiful country through my eyes.
An important stop on the journey was the Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary near Mole Creek on Tasmania. This private wildlife reserve raises disease-free Tasmanian devils and provides them with large enclosures that have varied features so they live in a stimulating natural environment.
I learned a lot about the devil’s behavior and importance to the ecology of Tasmania while visiting this sanctuary. You can learn more about the devil in my upcoming posts about my Australian adventures.
Sign up to receive my free newsletter and you’ll learn more about the battle to overcome DFTD. Over the next few posts, you’ll learn more about not only the devil and how scientists are working to protect it from the disease but also about the glorious wild world of Australia.
Getting to gently cradle a baby Tassy devil in my arms was a sweet side benefit during the visit. That’s me on the left and Jenny on the right. It’s important that devils remaining in captivity get used to being with humans. Jenny and I were both glad to help out by carefully cradling this baby devil.