November 27 - December 3, 2022: Issue 564

sunday comics and cartoons

One of the reasons we first started reading the Sunday paper was to get the children's section and read the cartoons. In keeping with that a cartoon or animation will run each Sunday on your page. Some of these you will need to read and others you can watch. This Issue a great animation called 'Snack Attack'.

The Australian Magpie: our suburban caroller

Although this wonderful suburban bird may be often taken for granted, it has a LOT going for it and is one of our most beautiful and musical suburban birds and also one of the few suburban birds that offers 'protection for other birds in a way as the yellow-rumped thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa), willie wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys), southern whiteface (Aphelocephala leucopsis), and (less commonly) noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala), often nest in the same tree as the magpie. 

A pair of magpies will mate for life and often return to the same tree year after year o use as a nesting place. Once the eggs hatch the young remain in the nest for about 4 weeks while being fed by the mum. During this time the nest is defended by the male. The family group will help protect and educate the young with the dad teaching them foraging skills. 

The young magpies, once they leave home, will move around together in a group called a 'tribe' although the collective word for a group of magpies is also listed as 'tidings'.

As one of Australia's most accomplished songbirds, the Australian magpie has an array of complex vocalisations. It is omnivorous, with the bulk of its varied diet made up of invertebrates (insects) although it will eat seed, tubers, walnuts and figs.

On the ground, the Australian magpie moves around by walking, and is the only member of the Artamidae to do so; woodswallows, butcherbirds and currawongs all tend to hop with legs parallel. The magpie has a short femur (thigh bone), and long lower leg below the knee, suited to walking rather than running, although birds can run in short bursts when hunting prey.

The Australian magpie was first described in the scientific literature by English ornithologist John Latham in 1801 as Coracias tibicen, the type collected in the Port Jackson region. Its specific epithet derived from the Latin tibicen "flute-player" or "piper" in reference to the bird's melodious call. An early recorded vernacular name is piping poller, written on a painting by Thomas Watling, one of a group known collectively as the Port Jackson Painter, sometime between 1788 and 1792. Other names used include piping crow-shrike, piping shrike, piper, maggie, flute-bird and organ-bird. The term bell-magpie was proposed to help distinguish it from the European magpie but failed to gain wide acceptance.

Port Jackson, consisting of the waters of Sydney Harbour, Middle Harbour, North Harbour and the Lane Cove and Parramatta Rivers, is the ria or natural harbour of Sydney.

Artamidae is a family of passerine birds found in Australia, the Indo-Pacific region, and Southern Asia. It includes 24 extant species in six genera and three subfamilies: Peltopsinae (with one genus, Peltops), Artaminae (with one genus containing the woodswallows) and Cracticinae (currawongs, butcherbirds and the Australian magpie). Artamids used to be monotypic, containing only the woodswallows, but it was expanded to include the family Cracticidae in 1994. 

The word 'Artamidae' means 'wood swallows'.

There are also a lot of old stories associated with this bird.

In the old languages of this island home, according the Noongar Dreaming of Western Australia, the sky was once so close to the ground that trees could not grow, people had to crawl and all the birds were forced to walk everywhere. Working together the birds managed to prop up the sky with sticks, but it threatened to break the sticks and collapse to earth again. The magpies, known for being clever, took a long stick in their beaks and pushed it up and up until the sky sprang into its proper place, revealing the sun and, with it, the first dawn.

The magpies' lovely carolling singing each morning is to remind everybody of their important role in creation. Their unique song is reflected in its Noongar name: "Coolbardie". Similarly, the mining town of Coolgardie means "magpie" in the local  Aboriginal dialect.

In Queensland the indigenous peoples of the Cloncurry district (N. Q.) have a strange legend concerning the moon. They believe that in the past, and before white men mixed with them, all indigenous peoples were turkeys. 

One of them happened to damage his foot very badly, and asked a female aboriginal, then a cockatoo parrot, if she knew where the nearest water could be found. She said, "There is no water here." He then asked a green parrot if he knew where the water was, and as his foot was becoming more painful he requested him to cut it open, but the green parrot said that he was unable to do this. He thereupon successively appealed to the crow (an aboriginal doctor), an eagle-hawk, and the moon (white-fellow doctor), to render him the necessary assistance, but they all said that they could not undertake the job. 

As a last chance he begged the earth-grub to give him relief. The grub promised to do his best, and he bit into the swollen flesh, sucked all the putrid matter out, and cured the patient. A large corroboree was then held, and galahs, storm-birds, white and black cockatoos, butcher-birds magpies, bowerbirds, opossums, porcupines and bandicoots, all took part. 

While the turkey and the earth-grub together with the cloud and skies shifted their position (for the last named until then had always remained on the surface of the ground) the whole party began singing, "there goes our brother up," and of course, both creatures stayed up there! But so that the people below should always remember what a good physician he had proved himself to be, the earth-grub sends a moon regularly every month to bear him in mind, for the moon is a brother of his and like him, bores his way out of the ground, rises up again on high, sinks once more, and then dies. This worm has plenty of brothers, and so he sends a different moon every month!

Others speak of the carolling song of the magpie, telling us; 

'the koolardi, or grey bell-magpie, is known in parts of the bush as the 'rain bird.' This does not appear to arise from any reputation it has made as a weather prophet, but from the fact that its notes sound like 'It's going to rain.' It is a frequent prediction of the koolardi, no matter what kind of weather it may be enjoying. By way of a change it sometimes announces that 'Two and two are four.' Its relative, the kurrawong, or pied bell-magpie, is more common. Its notes, flung out in a loud, ringing voice as it flies through the forest, sound like 'Come along! Come along!' and give the impression that it is impatient and in a hurry. The aborigines interpret the notes as 'kurrawong.' Many of their bird names are derived from, or suggested by, the birds' own notes. In some places the kurrawongs and koolardis are called scrub magpies and black magpies, though they resemble the choughs' more than the magpies.' - Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), Wednesday 11 July 1928, page 18

Of course, nowadays we know that magpies carol to reinstate their territory - this is the same reason kookaburras sound out at dawn and dusk - to let other birds know the tree they are in, of ten with their children, and that this is 'their place'. 

However, it is this letter penned to the Sydney Morning Herald in the Spring of 1933 that celebrates this wonderful melodic music we hear from our local magpies we like best - we hope you like it too:



Sir, One word more and let my excuse be the fullest recognition of Australia's finest songster-the magpie, whether he be the black and white friend we all know or the white-backed so praised by the authorities. The departure of winter has meant the departure from my valley of the "snowie," for he likes his colder home country best. Still I can find no lessening in the volume of cheery magpie song. I admit his half-brother abounds here aplenty, and this being nesting season, and both pa and ma busy putting the new shack in serviceable order, their song from tree to tree resounds the whole live-long day. Theirs is the belief that the finest work in the magpie world is the building of a home. A couple of small sticks dropped into position gives occasion for an admiring joyful chorus, then off again to work. What a pity the Broadcasting Com-mission does not add to its opening morning session the gay, hopeful carol of the magpie. The old kookaburra is good in his way, but he always sounds as if he had the laugh on us.

I must thank the correspondents to your columns for correcting my impression regarding the non-singing of the snow magpie. To those, too, who, in fond recollection of a youthful home pet, have written me personally, I offer the gratitude of a nature-lover. I cannot but admit now that the "snowie" under some conditions must warble. Most of my correspondents recount Victorian experiences. Could it be that the Victorian atmosphere had such an enheartening effect upon their bird spirits that they responded in praise to life in that more pleasant State? To the opinion of Mr. Owen Litchfield, of Cooma, I pay every respect, because he has seen with his eyes and heard with his ears what my eyes and my ears have failed to give me over the past twenty odd winters. (As I write, the black and white fellows are carolling away in the orchard in rain and cold wind as if the sun were shining in the very brightest and best of worlds, and no such thing as a depression existed). 

Mr. D. G. Stead's views on nature subjects are ever enlightening. Perhaps next winter, when Kiandra's white mantle sends down to us again the annual migration. I may be able to induce him to share my corn beef and damper for a few days while we endeavour to find out the reason for the silence while here of the handsome "snowie." And he may be able to discover also what causes such great mortality among them some winters when first arriving here; they drop dead from the trees in scores, seemingly plump and health.

September 16.

CAROL OF THE MAGPIE. (1933, September 21). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from

christmas 2022 Advertisements

Yes, it's that time of the year when we have a look around at what all the ads are for Christmas for you - we hope you enjoy these ones - we'll put some more up next week!

Magic of Making - Knives & Forks

Why do animals have tails?

Dogs use their tails to communicate. Eastimages/Moment via Getty Images
Michael A. Little, Binghamton University, State University of New York

Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to

Why do animals have tails? – Kristin M., age 11, Kansas City, Missouri

Scientists have found fossils of animals with tails dating back hundreds of millions of years. Back then, early fish used their fanlike tails as fins to swim through oceans and escape predators.

As these fish evolved into creatures that lived on the land, their tails started to change too.

Whether they belong to reptiles, insects, birds or mammals, tails serve a wide variety of purposes. Modern animals use their tails for everything from balance to communication and finding mates.

A balance and movement assist

Scientists believe that dinosaurs, including the Tyrannosaurus rex, swung their tails side to side to balance their heavy heads and bodies while walking on two legs. This movement allowed them to run fast enough to catch their prey.

Similarly, present-day kangaroos use their tail for balance when they leap across the open land. But they don’t just use it as a counterbalance for their weight – the kangaroo’s tail also functions as a powerful third leg that can help propel them through the air.

Cats and other animals that climb often have bushy or long tails that help them balance, kind of like a tightrope walker holding a long pole.

Monkeys use their long tail for balance while swinging through forest tree branches. Many have prehensile, or grasping, tails that act like hands and allow them to hold onto tree limbs.

These tails are so strong that they can even hold the animal up while it eats fruit and leaves.

A Tyrannosaurus rex could swing its heavy tail to balance itself while walking.

A defensive mechanism

Other animals’ tails evolved into weapons. For instance, stingrays have a trademark stinger tail they can use as a defense when a predator attacks them.

Venomous rattlesnakes have buttons of dried skin on their tail that make a racket when they shake it. This warns any animals that might threaten the rattlesnake that it’s getting ready to strike.

Many insects also have tails, but they evolved separately from other animals with backbones, like fish and mammals. Most tailed insects use their tails to lay eggs or to sting and paralyze hosts or prey. In some animals, like wasps, their tails can do both, as certain parasitic wasps will lay their eggs inside a host.

Grazing animals, like North American bison and the wildebeest and giraffe in Africa, have tails with bunches of long hairs that can be waved as a whisk to swat off mosquitoes and other insects that may be bothering them. Domestic cows and horses also have that kind of tail.

A brown rattlesnake flicks its rattle in the air
Rattlesnakes have tails that evolved for defensive purposes. Paul Starosta/Stone via Getty Images

A communication aid

Birds use their feathered tails both to balance while sitting on a tree limb and to steer and reduce drag while flying. Some birds also use their tail as a mating display.

This visual display is most remarkable in species such as turkeys and peacocks: Male turkeys and peacocks will unfurl their colorful tail feathers to attract female mates.

Animals that live and hunt in groups or packs, like wolves, use a variety of tail positions to indicate their rank.

Dogs, who descended from wolves, also use their tails for communication. You’ve probably seen dogs wag their tails when they’re excited.

Why you don’t have one

Even though humans don’t have a long grasping tail like monkeys do, or a vibrant feather tail like peacocks have, our ancestors did have tails.

Scientists believe those tails vanished from our human ancestors around 20 million years ago. Once they started walking upright, they no longer needed tails to help with balance anymore.

Hello, curious kids! Do you have a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to Please tell us your name, age and the city where you live.

And since curiosity has no age limit – adults, let us know what you’re wondering, too. We won’t be able to answer every question, but we will do our best.The Conversation

Michael A. Little, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Binghamton University, State University of New York

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Curious Kids: how is lava made?

Janice Crerar, Charles Darwin University

How is lava made? – Leon, age 7, Sydney, Australia

Thank you for a great question Leon!

Have you ever seen lava? What does it look like to you? Lava can be red, fiery and liquid or cool, dark and solid, like in the picture above.

In the picture you can see red hot lava, flowing over black solid rock where the lava has cooled. Lava is molten rock, melted because of very high temperatures, much, much hotter than you would see on the surface of the earth.

Can you imagine how hot it must be to melt rock? This gives a clue about how lava is made, somewhere with very high temperatures below Earth’s surface.

While underground, the liquid rock is called magma; it becomes lava when it flows onto the planet’s surface, usually through a volcano. When the lava cools – that’s the dark solid ground you see in the image – it is called “igneous” rock. This means “fire” in Latin (scientists use a lot of Latin words), so it is fire rock.

To understand how lava is made and where it comes from, we need to journey below Earth’s surface – which we can’t do, because it would be too dangerous. Imagine trying to travel somewhere hot enough to melt rock, what would that do to you?

Instead, we can look at the structure of Earth in the image below and imagine the journey.

A chart showing Earth's crust, upper mantle, lower mantle, inner core like a dissected gumball
Earth has several layers in its structure, from surface all the way to the solid core. Naeblys/Shutterstock

We would travel down through Earth’s crust, into the mantle and then into the core. Once there, we would discover that the crust and mantle are mostly solid rock. After the mantle we would notice the liquid outer core and then the solid metal inner core.

In Earth’s core the temperatures are very hot, usually between 5,000 and 7,000 degrees Celsius. Think about this to compare: chocolate starts melting at around 80℃ and tap water boils at 100℃. This very hot core acts like an oven for Earth, heating it from within.

Along the way we might find some magma in the mantle where it is made, in a space between the outer mantle and Earth’s crust. Magma is formed through heat and pressure – imagine squeezing a ball of plasticine as hard as you can: that is you putting pressure on the ball. While the mantle is not as hot as the liquid core, there is a lot more pressure. The pressure is caused by movement in the rocky mantle, pressing against the crust.

This pressure, and the temperatures from Earth’s “oven” at the core, cause rock to melt and magma is formed. The magma moves to Earth’s surface through openings – sometimes these openings are volcanoes – and forms new crust.

Often the new crust forms into islands, like many of the Pacific islands. This happens because liquid comes out through openings on the sea floor and cools, forming land.

You can watch this video for the story from Mother Earth herself. But be warned: never put rocks in a fire to try and melt them, some might explode! I’ll let you ask about that another time.The Conversation

Janice Crerar, Lecturer in Education, Charles Darwin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Scientists need help to save nature. With a smartphone and these 8 tips, we can get our kids on the case

Judy Friedlander, University of Technology Sydney and Thomas Mesaglio, UNSW Sydney

Citizen science is touted as a way for the general public to contribute to producing new knowledge. But citizen science volunteers don’t always represent a broad cross-section of society. Rather, they’re often white, male, middle-aged, educated and already interested in science.

This lack of representation has several problems. It can undermine the potential of citizen science to bridge the divide between lay people and experts. It also means fewer people benefit from the chance to advance their informal science education and gain valuable life skills.

It’s important that citizen science projects engage volunteers from across society, including young people. A new Australian initiative is doing just that.

The B&B BioBlitz aims to get school students gathering data about Australia’s natural environment. This year’s event shows how citizen science in school can help develop STEM skills and make gains in biodiversity research.

young child hides behind tree branch
For citizen science to be truly inclusive it must engage all age groups, including children. Shutterstock

More hands on deck

It’s broadly acknowledged that Australia needs more hands on deck when it comes to scientific data collection. For example, only about 30% of Australia’s estimated 750,000 species have been formally named and documented. Rectifying this will require an enormous uptick in information gathering.

What’s more, Australia has one of the world’s worst extinction records. Citizen science is an important way to fill information gaps, identify species’ declines and their causes, inform conservation decisions and evaluate their effectiveness.

This year’s State of the Environment report recognised the need for more citizen science. It said the level of biodiversity research required “cannot be achieved by professionals and institutions alone”.

That’s where the B&B BioBlitz comes in.

Man kneels in mangrove taking notes
The task of biodiversity monitoring is far too big for professional scientists to undertake alone. Shutterstock

What exactly is a BioBlitz?

The B&B BioBlitz is a national school citizen science program co-ordinated by PlantingSeeds Projects – a non-profit sustainability organisation founded by the lead author of this article. The inaugural event ran in National Biodiversity Month in September this year. Both authors of this article were project organisers and educators.

Sixty schools from across every Australian state and territory participated. Participants comprised students from infants to high school, and their teachers.

Most schools are located in urban areas, which makes them particularly valuable sites for scientific research. Many threatened plant and animal species live in urban areas, yet, only 5% of citizen science projects in Australia are urban-based.

The project involved students taking images of plant and animal species in their school grounds on devices such as tablets and smartphones provided by the school. Students also recorded information such as the time, date and location of the photo.

A designated teacher uploaded the photos and data to the B&B BioBlitz project on iNaturalist, one of the world’s most popular biodiversity citizen science platforms and apps. At the time of writing, iNaturalist contained more than 121 million observations uploaded by citizens from around the world.

Throughout September, students made more than 2,300 observations in school grounds, involving 635 plant, animal and fungi species. Students could log onto iNaturalist to see a project “leaderboard”, browse the observations submitted and learn about species’ taxonomy and distribution.

photos uploaded to citizen science app
A screenshot from iNaturalist, showing some of the 635 plant and animal species observed during the BioBlitz. iNaturalist

A study has demonstrated young people can contribute observations to iNaturalist that are “research grade” – and therefore more accessible and potentially useful to biodiversity research and monitoring. And the longer they participate for, the better their observations become.

Observations of species during this project contributed to more comprehensive datasets that scientists can now draw upon. Of note were images of an uncommon “Balsam Beast” katydid and the iconic Sturt’s desert pea.

Almost all observations uploaded to iNaturalist are also directly exported to the CSIRO’s Atlas of Living Australia.

The pros and cons

Verbal and online feedback by students reveals how citizen science can be a practical and positive experience.

One North Melbourne primary school student said the activity made her feel “like being more a part of a community”.

One student in Darwin said the activity was “the most fun he had ever had” and his teacher reported that while taking part, the student was “the most engaged he had seen”.

But the B&B BioBlitz was not without its challenges.

Many teachers, including science teachers, had limited knowledge of citizen science and often hadn’t heard of the term. This meant that teachers needed basic education on the topic prior to any school involvement in the BioBlitz.

Teachers are busy and face many pressing demands. However, if the benefits of citizen science are to be fully realised, there’s a need to broaden teacher awareness of the practice, and improve their skills in accessing databases such as iNaturalist.

8 tips for successful biodiversity citizen science

So how can young people be helped to take a good citizen science observation? The following eight tips offer a guide:

  1. Capture as many angles and as much information as you can. While some groups such as birds can often be recognised from a single photograph, many other taxa require multiple features for a positive identification to be made

  2. When observing plants, photograph as many features as possible. This includes flowers and leaves (from above and below), bark, fruit if present, a branch showing leaf arrangement, and a shot of the whole plant to give a sense of its growth habit

  3. Photograph fungi from above, below (showing the gills or pores) and the side

  4. Record the “substrate” you find a fungus on, such as soil or dead wood, and the type of soil a plant is growing in

  5. Insect identification can often be helped by the number and position of veins in an insect’s wing. Try and capture this by getting shots from directly above

  6. Noting the plant you find a beetle or bug on can aid identification and provide useful ecological data

  7. If you find a spider in a web, photographs of both the upper and undersides can be helpful

  8. If in doubt, just record as much information as you can. You never know who might find your data useful!The Conversation

Judy Friedlander, Adjunct Fellow, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney and Thomas Mesaglio, PhD candidate, UNSW Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Grumpy Monkey 

Published by Toadstools and Fairy Dust

'The King of Kindergarten' read by Terry Crews

by Storyline Online

The Wiggles: 1997 BIG show

Published The Wiggles


Book of the month: november 2022 - Wombat Goes Walkabout by Michael Morpurgo

Archive of millions of Historical Children’s Books All Digitised: Free to download or Read Online

Enter the 1: Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature here, where you can browse several categories, search for subjects, authors, titles, etc, see full-screen, zoomable images of book covers, download XML versions, and read all of the 2: over 6,000 books in the collection with comfortable reader views. 

Find 3: more classics in the collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.

WilderQuest online fun

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is pleased to present the WilderQuest program for teachers, students and children.

The WilderQuest program includes a website and apps with game and video content, Ranger led tours and activities in national parks across NSW. It provides opportunities for families to experience nature, science and Aboriginal culture in classrooms, online, at events and in national parks. The Teacher portal and free primary school resources have been produced with support from our Environmental Trust partners.

Profile: Ingleside Riders Group

Ingleside Riders Group Inc. (IRG) is a not for profit incorporated association and is run solely by volunteers. It was formed in 2003 and provides a facility known as “Ingleside Equestrian Park” which is approximately 9 acres of land between Wattle St and McLean St, Ingleside. 
IRG has a licence agreement with the Minister of Education to use this land. This facility is very valuable as it is the only designated area solely for equestrian use in the Pittwater District.  IRG promotes equal rights and the respect of one another and our list of rules that all members must sign reflect this.
Profile: Pittwater Baseball Club

Their Mission: Share a community spirit through the joy of our children engaging in baseball.

National Geographic for Australian Kids

Find amazing facts about animals, science, history and geography, along with fun competitions, games and more. Visit National Geographic Kids today!

This week the National Geographic for Kids has launched a new free digital resource platform called NatGeo@Home to entertain and educate children affected by school closures.

The three main categories of content on the NatGeo@Home site aim to educate, inspire and entertain. For parents and teachers, there are also separate resources and lesson plans covering everything from getting to grips with Google Earth to learning to label the geological features of the ocean.

For the main Australian National Geographic for Kids, visit:

For the National Geographic at Home site, visit:


Mona Vale Library runs a Lego club on the first Sunday of each month from 2pm to 4pm. The club is open to children aged between seven and twelve years of age, with younger children welcome with parental supervision. If you are interested in attending a Lego at the Library session contact the library on 9970 1622 or book in person at the library, 1 Park Street, Mona Vale.

Children's Storytime at Mona Vale LibraryMona Vale Library offers storytime for pre-school children every week during school terms. Children and their carers come and participate in a fun sing-a-long with our story teller as well as listen to several stories in each session, followed by some craft.  

Storytime is held in the Pelican Room of the library in front of the service desk. Storytime is free and no bookings are required. 

Storytime Sessions: Tuesdays  10.00am - 11.00am - Wednesdays  10.00am - 11.00am  - Thursdays  10.00am - 11.00am

Profile: Avalon Soccer Club
Avalon Soccer Club is an amateur club situated at the northern end of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. As a club we pride ourselves on our friendly, family club environment. The club is comprised of over a thousand players aged from 5  who enjoy playing the beautiful game at a variety of levels and is entirely run by a group of dedicated volunteers. 
Avalon Bilgola Amateur Swimming Club Profile

We swim at Bilgola rock pool on Saturday mornings (8:45am till 11:30am). Our season runs between October and March

Profile Bayview Yacht Racing Association (BYRA)


BYRA has a passion for sharing the great waters of Pittwater and a love of sailing with everyone aged 8 to 80 or over!

 Mona Vale Mountain Cub Scouts

Find out more about all the fun you can have at Mona Vale Mountain Cub Scouts Profile

our Profile pages aren’t just about those who can tell you about Pittwater before you were born, they’re also about great clubs and activities that you too can get involved in!