A note: the microscopy material that I am putting in this blog at the moment was originally written for, but then deleted from, the upcoming (due out May 1, 2012) National Library of Australia publication Australian Backyard Naturalist, which is directed at readers aged about 10-14. The majority of them might have trouble accessing or using a microscope, but if they can manage that, well, the information is here to allow them to go the extra mile, so to speak. You don't need the book to use what you find there.That's the end of the commercial
The most unlikely puddles can turn out to be home to an amazing range of tiny plants and animals. I like to search puddles beside streams, but I also like searching the scrapings from reeds in a pool or a dam. Things like that often hold surprises. Every pond is a jungle, with animals eating plants and animals eating animals, though some of the smaller animals specialise in collecting scraps and bits. Nothing is wasted in an ecosystem—that's why it's called a system!
|Basic microscopy equipment. From the top: backed razor|
blade, eye-dropper, dissecting needle, forceps (tweezers),
Pasteur pipettes, brushes.
You will need a microscope, slides (and one well slide), cover slips, a dissecting needle to lay the cover slips down, a medium size camel hair brush, and an eye dropper or a Pasteur pipette (this is an eye dropper with a long drawn-out point). You may also need advice on how to use a microscope, but as soon as you feel ready, start looking at the water fleas or whatever else interests you. Remember Rule 1 of being a naturalist: the most interesting questions are your own questions!
|Oops! As oldsalt19 has pointed out, this is a protozoan|
called Vorticella. Colour me absent-minded!
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This blog covers quite a few different things, so I tag each post. I also blog about history, and I am currently writing a series of books called Not your usual... and the first two have been accepted by Five Mile Press, The offcuts appear here with the tag Not Your Usual... . For a taste of Australian tall tales, try the tags Speewah or Crooked Mick. For a miscellany of oddities, try the tag temporary obsessions. And language us covered under the tags Descants and Curiosities, while stuff like this, all about small life is under Wee beasties.