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11 December, 2020

A new book on birding has just come out. It deals with the Illawarra, is written by bird expert Terrill Nordstrom and is titled A GUIDE TO BIRDLIFE of the ILLAWARRA REGION OF NSW. The photos are excellent. I have only just started my reading of it. The book is available through Illawarra Birders and other outlets.

A rule of thumb with birding is to expect the unexpected. You don’t always get to see what you want to see but that is not always the end of the story. The Illawarra Birders Christmas get-together was held with permission at the Girl Guides site on Mt. Keira, south coast, NSW, Australia.

We were not allowed to have a barbecue because of the corona virus but a simpler meal in pleasant surrounding suited everyone who was there. I was offered a beer but turned it down because beer tends to run through me quickly. I wanted to be fine for the walk that would take place after lunch. It was a good setting with lots of green about. After the meal we all set off in search of what we could find. There were birds including birds of prey. There was a pair of Crimson Rosellas high up in the trees.

Truth be told I had come across a Crimson Rosella the day before in Corrimal and had managed to get some up close shots of him. I perhaps too often say the Crimson Rosellas I do photograph are posing for inclusion in a tomato soup commercial.

One of the highlights of the Christmas get-together at the Girl Guides site was this unusual building. It has its own water tank but if you want to examine this water tank in detail then you had better have good legs for the climb up the stairs. I found the shape of the general structure fascinating as did other birders.

Another highlight of the Christmas get-together was the sighting of two Monarch butterflies mating. I tried filming them but it was the still photographs that came out clearer and so worked out better for me.

There were a lot of Cicada shells around during our get-together and the noise from the nearby Cicadas hidden in dense foliage was deafening. It took some effort to find a live Cicada. I think what I did locate was a Black Prince. I had never come across a Cicada with this coloring before. I am more used to Cicadas being green. I remember one of my nieces not being thrilled at having a Cicada climbing about on her hand. She was young at the time so I hope she got over that fear. Cicadas are harmless and provide excellent food for some bird species.

One of the birders on the get-together wondered if I really had photos of kookaburras mating. There is this photo from 2019 showing two kookaburras going for it. I also have earlier photos of two White Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos doing the naughty not far from Corrimal train station, platform 2.

In 2017 there was a fantastic drawing in chalk on the pavement at the mall in Wollongong. There was also lively music to mark the occasion.

There was also fascinating sculpture on display in Wollongong in 2017 to intrigue shoppers and mark a year of cultural exploration.

2017 was also the year for strange, haunting images found on display in Wollongong such as this young woman at an entrance to a car park and a well made welcome sign not far from the train station.

In 2018, around December, the flame trees in Wollongong were in full bloom and appreciated by this local rainbow lorikeet.

Meanwhile in 2018 Saint Vincent’s in Corrimal had in their window well sculptured biblical figures. I haven’t noticed these figures on display ever since. Maybe they were sold.

2018 was special for me because of a blue-tongue that decided to take up residence under my unit. Blue-tongues are harmless. What’s more, they keep the insect population down. It would be fine with me if a family of blue-tongues were to take up residence under my unit this year.

It so happens we had a Dalek visit Wollongong library in December 2018. Nice? You’re okay. Naughty? Exterminate! Exterminate! I hope the Dalek does return. Right now Doctor Who fans everywhere know that the present scriptwriters on the show are awful and need replacing with people who have some understanding of the Doctor’s history and also science fiction. The present Master should take lessons from early episodes of Doctor Who featuring Roger Delgado to understand how The Master should be portrayed. Screaming at the Doctor is dumb, not sinister.

Around Christmas time last year there was street music in Wollongong to mark the silly season and also the beginning of the New Year.

This year it is quieter with less activities planned in the Wollongong area in December because of the corona virus. There’s nothing politically correct about it so no complaints from me. Lives are at risk so events had to be cancelled.

Apart from my trip to New Zealand in February, which was worthwhile and well documented in other blurbs, there have been other great moments I can mention including the creation of this website which would not have got going without Andrew Wood’s help. Working out what best to put down here isn’t easy since there have been so many memorable events. Even so I will do my best to summarize my own 2020. There have also been times we shouldn’t ever forget.

In January there were the horrendous bushfires. There was smoke that colored the sky and got into people’s homes that lived miles from where it was really bad. A lot of wildlife killed. The waterways, already damaged by the drought, were further harmed. Bellambi Lagoon’s water became acidic. It has since improved and, thanks to the rain in November and early December, there may not be another bushfire in the Illawarra this year or early next year. See how brown the water was in Bellambi Lagoon in January.

In March I went with a group of Illawarra Birders to a site in Corrimal where mining used to take place. We had permission from the owners to be there and to have a good look around. The highlight was this plump pigeon with a rather small head.

March was also the month I explored Shoalhaven Heads for the first time. The bird life there was amazing. There were Pied Oystercatchers and Red-Capped Plovers.

March was not without its Water Dragons such as this one at Towradgi Creek. Not often do you see one in a tree. I have yet to get a good photo of one swimming.

In May I got a good shot with my camera of a young bird of prey at Towradgi Beach plus a sinister one of a Frog-mouth in a small park in Corrimal. In truth though, I do like Frog-mouths and appreciate them being close by in the Illawarra area. The sinister aspect was really the branches in the background heralding the coming winter.

In June I got some great shots of a Black-fronted Dotterel at Bellambi Lagoon. I had never seen one there before. Also in June I came across a Liar Bird at Mount Keira lookout. There was also a Liar Bird on the road. Liar Birds are great imitators of other birds plus they can make other sounds as well. One I came across with Andrew Wood made the sound of a camera click.

This year I managed to get some nice photos of Sooty Oystercatchers actually getting stuck into some oysters. This was in July and further south from Wollongong.

In August we had high winds but that didn’t stop birding expeditions. Pied Oystercatchers at Shoalhaven Heads were there as well as a Sea Hawk that dropped by to pick up an eel.

At Mount Annan in September there were long-necked turtles in the pond at the botanic garden. There were dragon flies aplenty at a hide I visited. There was also a lot of nesting going on around Corrimal including a Willie Wagtail making a nest in the shelter on platform 2 Corrimal Railway Station. There was a Sacred Kingfisher sighted by me in Corrimal.

In October I spotted a Godwit for the first time at Bellambi Lagoon plus there were Wood Ducks with young at Towradgi Creek. In November one of the highlights was seeing these magnificent black swans at Spring Creek Wetland and finding out about the white stripe they have on their beaks. So far December has mainly been about getting ready for Christmas plus some birding on the side, also the final stages of editing Dragon Queen.

Some birds in the Corrimal area this year have been rather difficult during nesting. I had to have words with a certain magpie that has a tendency to terrorize some humans during this time. There was also a Pee-Wee warning me off even though I had no idea where the nest happened to be.

As you get older certain concerns arise. The footpaths in the Corrimal, Bellambi and Towradgi area, for instance, should be renamed since those using their feet have become such an intrusion to so many others.

Keep to the left, the left, the left! Road rules apply! But it’s a footpath! Same rules, sonny Jim! Lots of pushbikes, some motorized. So be sure to keep to the left, the left, the left or else!

There was a warning or a threat to people who dare to use their feet on the footpath near Bellambi Lagoon. I mentioned it to Wollongong council. Naturally they want to get rid of the warning or threat without doing anything about why there would be or could be a warning or a threat.

I talked to some Wollongong council P.R. guy about this using the footpath for bikes instead of feet and got the spiel that, yes, the council also looks after the infirm and the disabled. But what if you are not infirm or disabled but prefer to walk or walk for exercise? He had no answer for that except to confirm that the council also looks after the infirm or disabled. And so, if I cannot walk or ride a pushbike, I am assured of some support from the council. It might come in handy if I am ever hit by a motorized pushbike.

I can understand the need to have something for young people to do, especially since, during 2020, a lot of sports activity had to be cancelled. Even so, I should think that people who walk have rights as well as people who ride.

Gearing up for Christmas, I have plenty of books and DVDs to get past commercial television blues plus there’s bush walking. I hope to see Black Cockatoos in and around Bellambi Lagoon and Towradgi in December and January but there nothing is certain.

As you can see 2020 hasn’t been without its good times, especially for birding, but we all hope for a better 2021.

Please note the accounts of what went on in New Zealand and in New South Wales, Australia this year in my blogs are my own. Others will no doubt have different experiences and views and this is as it should be.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog as well as the others on this website. There’s more to come. Cheers!