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5 December, 2020

I continue to be amazed at what happens when a part of a city such as Wollongong is left to the wildlife. Here at last I have good photos of pigeons making the best of a clock tower that long ago lost its clock arms.

The clock tower the pigeons have been residing in is part of a larger structure.

New Zealand in February had its moments, my trip to Kapiti Island being one of them. Upon my return to Paraparaumu from Kapiti Island, I had a fine Indian meal and relaxed, happy that I did get to see some native wildlife. I could have seen more if I had stayed on the island overnight. I’ll do that next time. Meanwhile a stroll along the beach at Paraparaumu did have its rewards. There was this gull trying to break open a shell for what was inside. The gull wasn’t having much luck.

The following day I took a walk up to the estuary that I was told was only a short distance away from where I was staying. It was more of a hike than expected but rewarding. I came upon some fascinating street art.

On the walk to the estuary I was reminded how much bigger some bees are in New Zealand than on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia.

The estuary was a place of mud, ash and sand. The ground you next step on might be solid. Then again you could sink down and struggle to get your foot and shoe out of this natural entrapment. Again, good footwear is required. The estuary, however, was not without its rewards and its charms. There were lots to see and photograph.

There were pied stilts with their long legs. They’re not very big but they are attractive. They do remind one of catwalk models. I remember working for the railways around November one year and seeing all these models from a nearby show going up the stairs and getting onto the trains at Circular Quay. Now that was some sight!

I also came upon this tiny New Zealand Dotterel or at least that is what I think this bird happens to be according to The field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand book. It skimmed along the sand at great speed and was difficult to capture on camera.

The estuary had quite a few ducks including Paradise Shelducks, some not on the move and quite happy to stay where I found them.

Not every Little Shag wanted to stay out of the water. One decided to swim off no doubt in search of food.

The estuary is the breeding ground for the Variable Oystercatcher. There is a sign saying no dogs allowed in one particular area where they lay eggs. While I was there some idiot let his dogs loose in that area. I was happy seeing the birds, not so pleased they were in danger and are probably still in danger from this lawbreaker. I reported the incident. And yes, we do have our share of thoughtless bastards in Australia.

Paraparaumu was the last stop over. Next was my quick trip to the airport at Wellington and then home by plane. The airport was a reminder of how much Lord of the Rings has come to mean to New Zealanders. The view out my window as I flew away back to Australia had me thinking about all those hills those buses I had travelled on had climbed and circled around various hills. Yes the main north Island of New Zealand just happens to be very hilly.

Reviewing it all, my trip to New Zealand could have been better. I will know in the future to avoid backpacker establishments and to plan better ahead. The locals were friendly and helpful. I discovered that New Zealand buses are well run and are suited to getting about on. At times, such as my days at Miranda Shorebird Centre, Norsewood, Mount Bruce, Paraparaumu and Kapiti Island, I was taken aback by the beauty that was there.

It seems to me that New Zealand birds are not as chatty as Australian birds but, then again, Australian birds have been accused of being excessively noisy. I suppose it comes down to what you are used to. I found Miranda Shorebird Centre, despite great flocks of birds, eerily quiet.

Decades ago, I read 1984 by George Orwell. It has stayed with me that long. Recently I read Animal Farm, a small novel Orwell wrote earlier.

I can understand why 1984 might never have been published. The words comrade and comrades appear quite often in Animal Farm. If you were to count how many times without actually reading the book and putting these words into context you might conclude Orwell was in favor of Communist Russia.

Such a conclusion is far from the mark. Orwell was both deeply appalled at and strongly disappointed in Stalin’s form of communism. It’s all there in Animal Farm. What’s more, he was never a true communist but a socialist and there is a definite difference between the two.

In the story the animals rebel against the human farmer and take over the farm but little by little the freedom they have gained is whittled away by the pigs until nothing is left of it. The other animals find themselves in worse shape than before the rebellion.

I once shared a house with a woman who claimed to be a communist. She thought the working class in Australia to be your basic peasantry that needed rescuing from sinister big business and consumerism. What’s more, despite my education, I was still a peasant.

Her idealism might have been inspiring if it wasn’t so misguided. She felt the government in a perfect world should take care of rent and of ownership of everything. In such a perfect world of course the government would be perfect and, quite frankly, I couldn’t see that happening anywhere in my life time.

Yes big business can be bad, especially in a thoroughly capitalist society. But we are living in a capitalist setup that has been tempered for generations with socialism so it can’t be as bad as it might otherwise be or as it might otherwise become. In Australia we have a pretty good Medicare system and every child is entitled to a rudimentary education. Things could be better but they could also be a lot worse. No need to turn to cannibalism.

Decades ago in Mitchell College, Bathurst, in the college library, I came across an unusual play written by a Russian in the 1920s during the Russian civil war.

The play was about a red dragon that terrorized this village for profit. One day a white knight came to the village and was paid to slay the dragon. When the dragon appeared again, the knight chased the dragon out of the village and confronted it in a cave. This might have been the ends of the dragon but the knight was cunning. The knight realized there was more profit to be had chasing off the dragon on a regular basis and being paid to do so by the villagers than killing it. And so a deal was struck between knight and dragon. They would continue to have the chase and share in the profits from it.

What does this play have to do with the Russian civil war? It was the red communist army against the white more democratic army. In the end, despite Australian soldiers sent to aid the white army, the reds won but not before both armies impoverished many a Russian village.

It’s funny but as a young man I didn’t have any trust issues with women. It seemed so straightforward. Either they liked you or not, either they would go out with you or not. I was not aware of any other possibilities. I certainly didn’t understand the complications that can arise from simply asking someone out.

There was this ad for a James Bond movie that struck a nerve. Men want to be him. Women want to be with him. Of course I had no desire to face the dangers 007 invariably faced but I liked the idea of being admired by Moneypenny. I suppose a lot of young men felt the same way. Also there was the idea of knowing a foreign language well and knowing good vodka from bad. He was smooth being Britain’s number one fictional troubleshooter. Sean Connery was the best of the Bond actors. Roger Moore wasn’t bad in the role.

Nowadays I don’t know who Bond is in the movies or why I should care. The 007 novels written in our 21st Century are much better.

Decades ago I read an article by Hemingway about these young Spanish men who ate broken glass to attract the opposite sex. It was written before the Spanish civil war. Could this eating of glass actually work? I wondered. I definitely had my doubts.

Some time later I discovered there were women in Australia, if nowhere else, happy to have young men risk everything they have – job, budding career, social life, money – for the barest possibility that they, the women, will grant them a date. The answer no here would result, in some instances, in the loss of everything to the young man and nothing at all to the woman. I thought this wrong and still do. Has this changed in the last thirty years? I doubt that it has.

I was once told if you don’t know the answer don’t ask the question. In such circumstances it makes perfect sense. But who would know the answer before asking or be daring to risk all anyway?

Once upon a time in Africa young men, to prove they are worthy of a bride, were sent out to kill a lion. Armed with a spear this must have been a terrifying thing to be called upon to do. Some came back scarred, others not at all. Those who fled rather than try their luck remained part of the tribe but never to be with a female of the tribe. This, when I came across it, seemed so much better than eating broken glass or risking the result of the question.

I remember A Current Affair or some other such show with space to fill, thirty years ago, decided to look into office flirting and why it had disappeared. The result? The office, where this woman reporter decided to try to revive flirting to show that it could still be done, got lukewarm responses from those who worked there. Some of the women were willing to try but none of the men. I think that says it all. Why risk everything you have for five minutes worth of embarrassment on television? I certainly would not have done so!

We are in the last month of 2020. Some of us are hoping Christmas, with all its glitter, will make the year better and that 2021 will turn out to be a really great year. There are people in Wollongong doing what they can to make this happen.

Shop owners in Corrimal are making an effort to look after the young ones this Christmas. A lot of shop owners are struggling right now and some won’t survive into the New Year. Meanwhile Myer continues to rubbish Christmas in their television advertisement. Less bah humbug would be nice even if it is most probably politically correct bah humbug.

Dragon Queen will definitely be out in 2021 which is something to look forward to. Aside from that I plan on doing more birding in 2021 and also more reading.