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Posts from the ‘natural history’ Category


#Non-Fiction The Moth Snowstorm



Finished: 19.01.202
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: C



  1. You can’t say M. McCarthy does not have a creative style.
  2. You will find Adam and Eve, Neil Armstrong, Prospero and Ariel from
  3. The Tempest….all on one page.
  4. Birds and butterflies swoop through the paragraphs.
  5. The estuary of the Dee is Elysium for McCarthy
  6. …..but not for me.
  7. This book is not my cup of tea!
  8. If you want to take a journey into nature
  9. …my recommendations are:
  10. Foxes Unearthed: A Story of Love and Loathing in Modern Britain by Lucy Jones
  11. The Shepherd’s Life: A People’s History of the Lake District by James Rebanks.

Jo Chandler: Feeling the Heat


Who is Jo Chandler?

  1. Chandler is a freelance journalist and author.
  2. She won the Walkely Award 2017 Freelancer of the Year
  3. I discovered Jo Chandler  in  The Best Australian Essays 2016



  1. In a attempt to understand what is happening to our planet,
  2. Chandler travels to climate science frontiers
  3. Antarctica, the Great Barrier Reef, the Wimmera and
  4. North Queensland’s tropical rainforests.
  5. Jo Chandler puts together some of the
  6. …pieces in the climate puzzle
  7. …meets many passionate and eccentric characters
  8. …discovers what makes them tick, and
  9. …learns a thing or two about herself.


What is Chandler’s goal in this book?

  1. The purpose of the book is to tell the authentic,
  2. raw story of science at the real-world climate frontiers.
  3. Narrator:  Chandler  is of a non-scientist and journalist
  4. ….a questioning observer.
  5. Chandler presents scientist’s evidence as clear as
  6. possible and then takes a step back as all scientists do.
  7. “Our leaders must define the path which will get
  8. us to where we need to go.” (pg 228, epilogue)


What did Chandler find personally?

  1. Chandler uses the metaphor
  2. …the difference between bearing and heading.
  3. Explorers note physical markers to register
  4. …their drift and shift against satellites.
  5. Heading is not always the
  6. …direction you are moving towards.
  7. Heading is the direction you are pointing.
  8. If we fail to define the
  9. …coordinates of our objective (…in life)
  10. …drift out of  course due to crosswinds
  11. …we plough blindly forward
  12. …without heed for perils along the way.
  13. It is important  to find your bearing.
  14. …your position with reference to a known (land)mark.
  15. “” feels like a revelation. A strategy to better find my way
  16. …when I return to earth.” (pg  40, ch 3)


Storm Front

  • Jo Chandler’s  departure from Hobart to Casey Antarctica:

Flight of the Albaross –  Arriving at Casey Base:

  1. 5 hr flight from Hobart
  2. 70 km (4 hrs rough riding from Wilkins Airport)
  3. 4000 km south of Perth
  4. Flight attendant Airbus landing at  Wilkens Inter Airport:
  5. ” Welcome to Antarctica…it’s not bad out there today
  6. ..mild mid-summer -6 C.”

Buried Treasure

  1. Fact: Antarctica holds 70% of the fresh water on the planet.
  2. Irony: Antarctica is the driest place on earth.
  3. Personal: Chandler experiences Antarctica
  4. …as more than an scientific platform.
  5. She felt moments of connection with nature
  6. …which ache so powerfully
  7. it is like the instant of finding love.
  8. Antarctica  divines or future….and archives our past.
  9. Reasearch: Ice samples pulled from Law Dome
  10. contain bubbles of the atmosphere
  11. ….dating back 90.000 years!
  12. Expert:  scroll down to see beautiful
  13. …video (3 min) of Antarctica with
  14. Dr. Tas van Ommen


Revisiting Gondwana

  1. Chandler now moves to the Wet Tropics of Australia.
  2. …the subtropical Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area
  3. Despite its small size these tropics host the highest biodiversity in the country.
  4. The forest throbs with life.
  5. Just take the time to LISTEN to the sounds of the rainforest….so relaxing!
  6. I listened…while reading!

  1. Some of the wettest areas on Earth where forests are so
  2. …often shrouded in cloud they truly are “cloud forests”.
  3. Clouds condense on leaves and drip to saturate soils below
  4. But the rainforests are deeply vulnerable
  5. …to human induced climate-change.
  6. Cyclones are a part of the north
  7. …they have always come…and they always will.
  8. But what happens when warmer oceans
  9. …feed the frequency and fury of the storms?
  10. Will the rainforest have the opportunity to recover between blasts?
  11. Cyclone Yasi  30.01.2011  CAT 5 ..most furious storm to visit east coast
  12. …of Australia in a century!
  13. Personal: Chandler feels unsettled in this place with a high ‘ick’ factor.
  14. It takes some days to come to terms with
  15. …the tight grasp of this menacing environment.

The Sleeping Giant:

  1. Climatic change is everywhere in the news.
  2. If you want to get the most out of this book
  3. …I would suggest while you are  reading
  4. …to google for images that will help you see what chandler is discussing.
  5. The Sleeping Giant refers to the East Antarctica ice sheets.
  6. They are now relatively stable.
  7. But Chandler explains that the character of the ice is changing.
  8. (warm current sweeping under the ice sheet)
  9. Without this image for instance …I would not have
  10. ..understood what Chandler meant.
  11. Antarctica is difficult to imagine!
  12. Personal: Chandler feels in Antarctica “..very isolated, very small,
  13. …very lucky and a little afraid.” (pg 112, ch 6)


Strong point:

  1. Explanations are clear and in accessible language.
  2. It is not academic book  but very strongly supported
  3. citing numerous articles in science magazines and research papers.
  4. The main topics that are being investigated in Antarcitca are:
  5. Ice sheets – ice melt – atmosphere (ozone hole) – ice cores (drilled to study the past)


Strong point:

  1. This is the first book I ever read about climatic change.
  2. Chandler’s perspective as a non-scientist observer
  3. …made me feel at ease.
  4. I was learning….as she was.
  5. Chandler helped me  with her journalistic style ‘here are the facts’  and
  6. …clever analogies (bathtub = hidden underbelly of the  Totten Glacier, ch 6).


Strong point: 

  1. You can read  all the chapters one after another
  2. …but I found I was
  3. drowning in information overload.
  4. You can also read the book as a series of essays
  5. …put the book down and let the information settle.


Strong point:

  1. Chandler’s book made me more aware of the consequences
  2. of climate change that I experience myself: 
  3. frequent storms,  diluvian cloudbursts and sweltering heatwaves.


Weak point: no illustrations!



  1. This book is a great read emphasizing that
  2. …the clock is ticking and issues like
  3. …ice melt and sea-level rise are urgent.
  4. If there is even the smallish risk
  5. …of a very big adverse outcome
  6. ..due to sea rise and ice-melt (Antarctica and Greenland)
  7. it would be wise to do something about it.
  8. Once the thaw starts the risk is that the
  9. …tipping point is tripped...” (pg 122, ch 6)
  10. But as we know action is blocked by
  11. Big Oil and Big Coal.
  12. I think one of the things I or any other citizen of the world
  13. …can do is #VoteThemOut
  14. Vote  out the politicians
  15. …and leaders of countries who are on the
  16. ..fossil fuel industries…payroll!


Last thoughts:

  1. Chandler’s mission:
  2. Explore and explain the dynamics of
  3. …the forces at work in a changing world.
  4. Personally..
  5. …I was most fascinated by the Antarctica.
  6. Jo Chandler’s  storytelling is
  7. ….personal (ch 6-7 and especially the epiloge)
  8. … mixed with scientific: for example…
  9. man-made ocean acidification ch 8
  10. Great Barrier Reef and Heron Island  ch 9-10-11-12
  11. Penguins Antarctic Adélies, elephant seals 
  12. …and mosses, the most advanced plants
  13. …on continental Antarctica! ch 13

  1. It is an amazing feat to
  2. …digest all this scientific information
  3. clarify all the jargon for the  readers
  4. …who just dabble in science, like me.
  5. One thing I DID LEARN...
  6. What caused the biting cold Polar Vortex
  7. …24 February – 01 March 2018 that brought
  8. ..The Netherlands  back to ice skating on the canals?
  9. There is more heat coming off the relatively ice-free Arctic  waters
  10. increasing air pressure and
  11. …pushing the polar cold air south …in my direction!
  12. #MustRead


Wild Kingdom

Twitter: @burns_nancy

  • Author: S. Moss
  • Title: Wild Kingdom
  • Published: 2016
  • Trivia: Short list The Wainwright Prize 2017
  • Trivia: pg 280 S. Moss cites that the Netherlands (my country!)
  • …as a prime example of creating a habitat of 22 sq miles
  • to bring back lost wildlife !!
  • “Oostvaardersplassen” near Lelystad, the Netherlands.
  • Ecologist Frans Vera wants the 56 square kilometres of
  • nature reserve to be made a Unesco world heritage site.



  1. Stephen Moss travels the length and breadth of the UK.
  2. He wants to  witness at first-hand how our wild creatures are faring and
  3. …ask how we can bring back Britain’s wildlife.



Moss writes about the house sparrows….and I just look outside my window and see some familiar friends. I started in September to feed the birds. Well, those sparrows  as Moss said  are social but also fussy!

  1. I moved the birdseed silo…and only saw 10 ‘angry birds’ sitting on my hedge.
  2. I bought some blueberries ($$) especially for the sparrows… they did not eat them
  3. I bought a bird feeding table…would not go near it.
  4. I finally wedged the little table into the hedge….then they were satisfied.
  5. There is no pleasing sparrows!
  6. But anyone who has watched the behavior of birds
  7. like me from my front room window knows
  8. …that doing so is good for the soul.

Strong point:  the descriptions of the wildlife, hares sprinting, roes popping their heads up, bumblebees floating  over the hedgerow. I just let my mind wander throughout the English countryside with S. Moss.

Strong point: the book made me curious and ask questions what the state of wildlife is here in The Netherlands? I just never took the time to investigate our situation.

Strong point: Moss does mention the silence in the fields. Now, I used to set the clock when the  blackbirds started chirping late in the afternoon. What is more relaxing than the chirping of birds? But now I only hear silence.

The Usutu virus has recently been detected for the first time in the Netherlands. The virus has been detected in captive great grey owls (Strix nebulosa) as well as in wild, dead and living, common blackbirds (Turdus merula)

Now I have to listen to blackbirds (Turdus merula) via You Tube….how sad is that?  Just listen….

Strong point: The only way to really enjoy this book is reading it and regularly looking at the the birds and other animals with Google images! This foto of a dragonfly took my breath away…just look at that delicate latice work in the wings!

Their four gossamer wings move independently of one another, giving them the ability to fly forward, backward, and sideways, or to just hover in place. Bead-like eyes provide 360–degree stereovision, allowing them the ability to spot insects in any direction without turning or moving their heads. (In fact, dragonflies have the biggest eyes in the insect world.)

The colors of the king-fisher are breathtaking!


Last thoughts:

  1. I really enjoyed this book because it made me aware of the
  2. wildlife…..that is disappearing.
  3. wildlife…..that I don’t take the time to appreciate!
  4. Walking along the fields I stop and stare at a hare hopping along or
  5. …watch a coot family with their chicks in our canals.
  6. If you like birds and treeslook up
  7. …if you like plants and insectslook down!
  8. But whatever you like…
  9. relax, meditate and #TakeAWalk  in the countryside!