“Birdsong sounds” by Celia Berrell


Birdsong sounds


We can:

cackle like a Kookaburra,

hoot like an owl,

coo like a dove

or cluck like a fowl.

But some bird sounds

need whistling skills,

to copy Willie Wagtails

or Fairy-Wren trills.

While other birdsongs

are too hard to do –

screeching like Galahs

hurts my voice box too!


inspired by the Birds In Backyards website, where you can listen to 40 different Australian backyard birdsongs:

“Do Dolphins Kiss?”  by Celia Berrell

1 Comment

Do Dolphins Kiss?


The dolphins swimming in the sea

make clicks and squeaks quite frequently.

These sounds move fast through liquid’s layer

compared to noises in the air.


Their clicks and chirps we can’t translate

but that’s how they communicate.

Not all their whistles we can hear.

They’re pitched too high for human ears.


They also sent out sounds to mark

locations of the sharks at dark

by bouncing echoes in the black

and timing when they’re getting back.


Since dolphins have to hold their breath

when swimming in the ocean’s depth

their voices aren’t from air that flows.

Instead they’ve lips inside their nose!


Their happy squeaks and chatty clicks,

those chirpy whistles, pops and hiss

like sounds of children’s playground bliss

are made from just a dolphin’s kiss.

“Food Flight”  by Celia Berrell

Leave a comment

Food Flight



in zero gravity


quite a calamity.


can float-off anywhere:


with your wafting hair;


your nose;


in your ears;


choking, sneezing





will soon fly in space


snacks to be in place.


can’t get up your nose.

At worst

they might mess-up your clothes.


thrown around


safe and fun.






First published in Double Helix (April 2017)

Reproduced with permission of CSIRO




“OCEAN OF POETRY” call by Celia Berrell

1 Comment


Dear poets,

My dream project each year is to share student poems for Science Week (15-23 August) on the Science Rhymes website.  This year, National Science Week is supporting my call for OCEANS OF POETRY from EVERYONE – not just school students.  Click on the blue links for more details, then submit your poems by 31st July.  I really hope you will join in … and please share this request with anyone you think may be interested.

Snapping Surprises  by Celia Berrell

(beware the globiferous pedicellariae)


Spiky-round sea-urchins

live in the ocean.

Grazing on algae

in graceful slow-motion.


As well as their prickles

providing protection

against hungry fish

they’ve another invention.


Free-floating jaws

that have venomous fangs

can break-off some urchins

like guard-dogs in gangs.


These jaws may be tiny

but fish soon get wise.

They all hate the pain of

an urchin surprise!


“Autumn Rainbows” by Celia Berrell



As days grow cooler,

deciduous trees

change their colours

then lose their leaves.


Before they fall,

green chlorophyll’s

no longer made

in autumn’s chill.


So we can see

those leaves unclad,

revealing what

they’ve always had.


Rich-red raincoats


pumpkin patchwork

veins criss-crossed,


flapping honey

leather soles,

and dying, dowdy

paper scrolls.


This autumn rainbow’s

red – gold – brown.

Confetti falling

all around.


“Forty Days in Italian”  by Celia Berrell



Venice, in the Middle Ages

feared infection from the boats

that visited its harboured stages,

ordering sailors to “stay afloat!”

For forty days they had to anchor.

NOT set foot on Venice land,

to make sure none were sick and rank

or had bubonic plague at hand.

Quaranta giorni (Kwa-rant-a jee-or-nee)

Quaranta giorni (Kwa-rant-a jee-or-nee)

is “Forty Days” in Italian.

That’s where the word for isolation

known as QUARANTINE began.



What does quarantine mean?

In general, quarantine is “a strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.” We know what you might be thinking: so, quarantine is … just an isolation? Not exactly.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains, the practice of a quarantine specifically involves:

the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic, from others who have not been so exposed, to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease.

The takeaway: People are put in quarantine when they are not currently sick, but have been or may have been exposed to a communicable disease. This can help stop the spread of the disease.

Voluntary quarantine (when someone isn’t ordered to go into quarantine but chooses to do so just out of caution) is often called self-quarantine.

Entering English in the early 1600s, this “isolation” sense of quarantine comes from the Italian quarantina, a period of forty days, derived from quaranta, the Italian for “forty.” (The Italian quaranta, if you’re curious, comes from the Latin quadrāgintā, also meaning “forty.”)

What’s so special about 40? Historically, quarantine referred to a period—originally of 40 days—imposed upon ships when suspected of carrying an infectious or contagious disease. This practice was done in Venice in the 1300s in an effort to stave off the plague.


“A Friendship Clock” by Celia Berrell

Leave a comment


“Got to stop. Got to stop

and blow the dandelion clock.”

That’s what my best friend used to say.

And then we’d blow that clock away.


She’s moved-on to another town.

I’m left alone and feeling down.

I still think of the fun we had.

Our friendship made me very glad.


The dandelion’s flower-head

all golden-yellow, sunshine-fed

is made of many small florets

arranged all neatly in a set.


When fertilised by bugs and bees

each little flower forms a seed.

They all hold hands with hairy arms.

As though they make a friendship charm.


And so I play this little game.

Remembering my best friend’s name.

“Got to stop. Got to stop

and blow the dandelion clock.”

“How to have hygienic hands“  by Celia Berrell


How to have hygienic hands


Some harmful bugs

we’ve touched will hide

in crinkly creases,

moist or wide;

in crevices

and groovy spots

of which our hands

have quite a lot.


Make sure the soap

will never fail

to rummage under


And rub each

padded fingerprint

upon a palm

or handy dint.


Then soap and rub

each finger base –

those webby bits,

with fingers laced.

When rinsed and dried

our hands are ACE …

unless we touch

our nose and face!



“The Trendy Regaliceratops”  by Celia Berrell with Teacher Notes

1 Comment

The Trendy Regaliceratops  by Celia Berrell

This leafy-loving herbivore

weighed a hefty ton or more.

Six metres long and bulky strong,

this dinosaur, we got so wrong!


His bony frill’s not meant as armour.

More, a snazzy lady-charmer!

Pretty as a peacock’s tail

in battle, it would surely fail.


Those horns above his nose and eyes

are such a trendy cute surprise.

Too flimsy for a fight to start

his fancy horns are body art!


A cousin of Triceratops

with colourful Canadian chops,

perhaps he was polite and coy

although he looked more like HELLBOY!


Spiky-Headed Dino Discovered

Dubbed “Hellboy,” the triceratops relative sports a bevy of horns on its crested cranium.

By Bob Grant | June 8, 2015

An artist’s impression of Regaliceratops peterhewsiIMAGE: JULIUS T. CSOTONYI/ROYAL TYRRELL MUSEUMResearchers have unearthed an impressive dinosaur skull from a Canadian river bed. Officially calledRegaliceratops peterhewsi, the new species had numerous protuberances jutting from its head, including a couple that reminded its discoverers of a certain comic book character. “There are these really stubby horns over the eyes that match up with the comic book character Hellboy,” study leader Caleb Brown, a paleontologist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada, told National Geographic. Brown and his colleague Donald Henderson published a report of the find last week (June 4) in Current Biology.

According to Brown and Henderson, R. peterhewsi—which was named after Peter Hews, the oil-and-gas geologist and amateur fossil hunter who discovered the specimen near the Oldman River in Alberta in 2005—roamed prehistoric North America about 70 million years ago. “This discovery shows that we are perhaps still quite a ways from knowing the complete diversity of dinosaur species in the Late Cretaceous of western North America,” James Farlow, a geologist at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, told Smithsonian. “The evolutionary tree presented by the authors suggests that an immediate ancestor ofRegaliceratops that would have lived a few million years ago has yet to be found. So there are plenty of interesting dinosaurs still to be discovered.”

  1. peterhewsi’s bony arsenal, studding its 592-pound skull, was likely used for mating rituals rather than aggression or defense, according to Brown. “When the first horned dinosaurs were found . . . we thought these were probably used for defense,” Brown told theCalgary Herald. “You have these iconic images ofTriceratopsdoing battle with Tyrannosaurus rex. [But] the more horned dinosaurs that we find, the less the explanation of defense makes sense. There are a number of species where their horns would be pretty much useless in defense.”

The newly analyzed fossils also suggest that there are more horned dinosaurs to be discovered. “This find tells us more about the kinds of horned dinosaurs that lived just before Triceratops was on the scene,” Andrew Farke, a curator at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, told Smithsonian. “I am now really curious to see what other oddities might have been around at the same time—this new beast is an important data point.”