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10 Februuary 2021

Shakespeare in Australia, Local birding, a young cowboy from the 1960s and Westerns!

Near a birding sight on the south coast of New South Wales there is a grim reminder we don’t get to live forever. What it is a skull of I don’t know. I know it isn’t human but it does remind me of Hamlet, one Shakespeare’s plays.

Not far from Central Station in Sydney there is a pub dedicated to Shakespeare and I take it to writers in general. The name of the place isn’t a mistake. Apparently, at one time, there were a number of ways of spelling the old bard’s name before Shakespeare stuck and so became the norm. On more recent signs for the pub the correction has been made if one wishes to consider it to be a correction.

In a shop window, three years ago, I came across this miniature of the pub. Since I haven’t been in that area for a while now I don’t know if it is still there. The photo I have taken of it, however, gives you an idea of how the pub is laid out. Not far from this pub is News Limited.

Life can be found everywhere. This should not be surprising but sometimes it is just that, surprising. The other day a field where locals fly model airplanes did not seem to me to be all that promising but birder Andrew Wood thought it might provide some wonders to observe and photograph. In this he was right.

Hidden somewhere in the underbrush near the field there were frogs. We could hear them croaking but not see them. On the field were at least four pipits moving about in the short grass looking right at home and making themselves as hard for me to photograph as possible. I thought I had seen every species of bird within a fifty mile radius of my home in the Illawarra. These pipits proved me to be wrong in this, making me wonder what other species are out there to find. There was the sound of a bird of prey in the distance and Andrew was pleased with the photo he took of a New Holland Honeyeater.

That afternoon near the field I also managed to get some nice photos of a Wattlebird.

I have been luckier at Towradgi Beach over the last five years when it comes to New Holland Honeyeaters. They seem to like perching on the small trees just before you get to the beach.

The path that takes you to Corrimal Beach remains excellent for Butcherbirds as well as Wattlebirds. These are photos of a Butcherbird taken the other day on that walk. There were two but I only got one on camera.

Over the past five years I have kept my eye on a pair of Sooty Oystercatchers that frequent Towradgi Beach and I believe Bulli Beach as well on the south coast of NSW, Australia. There is a sign at Bellambi Lagoon warning people with dogs to be careful when it comes to these Sootys but I have never seen a Sooty Oystercatcher at that lagoon. From what I can gather from observation, is they prefer places where there are rocks as well as sand. Regardless, they are endangered because they lay eggs in sand and people need to be careful when they are near them. They are harmless but have a lot to fear from us humans. When I see a Sooty I look for his companion and usually find her not far away.

Here is a cowboy from the 1960s looking tough with his cap-gun. Well, trying to look tough. This is me going back quite a few years. Westerns were popular and my dad loved westerns. He was a big John Wayne fan. I remember Gun Smoke, Rawhide, Rifleman, Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley, Bonanza, Maverick, Have Gun, Will Travel, Bat Masterson, and Lawman.

The first episode of Gun Smoke got an intro by John Wayne. In real life Annie was never a sheriff but someone decided for a show about her to work she should indeed be a sheriff. They got a young woman of the right height to play the part. Annie in real life was a sharp shooter but not very tall. Have Gun, Will Travel was unusual in that it was about a mercenary who wears a black hat and whose calling card is a black knight chess piece. In real life Bat Masterson used a baseball bat, not a fancy cane.

I am not sure if either Zorro or The Lone Ranger should be classified as strictly being westerns. Zorro, a Disney series I would love to lay my hands on, is set in old California with Zorro being a masked vigilante. I was very disappointed a few years back when Golden Years of Television picked the absolute worst Zorro episode to show. It was one in which there wasn’t any sword play. Guy Williams, who went on to play John Robinson in Lost in Space, was an excellent Zorro. One story about him that has surfaced is the trip he took to Argentina with his family and how he was mobbed by fans who wanted to see him sword fight. There is also an episode of Lost in Space where he does get to battle with what appears to be an alien sword. Sadly he died young. He was only sixty five.

The Lone Ranger started off as a radio play about a masked lawman and his Indian sidekick Tonto. There have been comic books as well as a long running television show. In later years one of the men who put on the mask, there were two, made an appearance in The Greatest American Hero.

The worst lame dog of a western television series was The Cisco Kid. Unless you like exceptionally lame dogs, it is best forgotten.

Just as crime shows are popular and cheap to make today, in the 1960s right up to the early 1970s westerns were popular and inexpensive for Americans to make. The weirdest of the westerns was The Wild, Wild West and there was the comedy F Troop. I loved the art work in every episode outlining the development of the story as well as the action in The Wild, Wild West. F Troop was good for laughs. It had great slapstick and a brilliant introduction song as to how such a troop came to be and how they got such a clumsy leader.

My dad was also into fishing and looking out for wildlife. A tad later I became a Star Trek fan and also a fan of Shintaro the Samurai. Strangely enough, there is an episode of early Star Trek set in a fantasy western town and early Shintaro had him as a Japanese warrior with a revolver as well as a sword. The revolver didn’t suit both the actor and the character and so was quickly discarded.

As for sport, I suppose bushwalking, fishing and photography were the things I got into back then besides chewing gum cards and comic books. Later I took up squash and tennis for a while.