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19 January 2021

Birding, Socks, Local Environmental Concerns, and books

On the 11th of January I came upon a flock of Little Corellas. They were in the trees near Corrimal High School. I got some great photos of them. One of my photos shows their individuality. One is singing, one is looking away from me, and one appears to be looking at me. They may be together but they don’t all think and act exactly the same and at the same time.

Why birding? I struggle to be in the moment. It is one of my all-time failings. Birds and other wildlife tend to put me there, allowing me to not fuss about the past, present or future. Writing can also do this for me at given times.

Of late I have been observing this female Blackbird scampering about my front yard and backyard in the Illawarra. I have taken to calling her Little Missy. On the 12th of January she dug up and so scored a worm. Good for her!

A bird that was at Corrimal Railway Station I couldn’t identify, I recently got the word from bird expert Terrill Nordstrom as to what it is. The bird sighted and photographed by me turned out to be a White-plumed Honeyeater! Sometimes it does pay to ask.

A walk through Wollongong Botanic Garden on the 13th of January resulted in the sighing of young Australian Brush Turkeys, Crimson Rosellas, Magpies, Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos, Blackbirds, Satin Bowerbirds, and Eurasian Coots with their offspring. No Welcome Swallows.

There were plenty of Water Dragons in Wollongong Botanic Garden. There were also plenty of Dragon Flies, not only the red ones but also the blue metallic looking ones. It was a lazy, hazy sort of day ideal for a swim. I was hoping to find birds using the bird bath. All I got was a Noisy Minor splashing about for a few minutes before flying off.

Recently, at Towradgi Beach, I caught sight of a Tern fishing. The bird circled, dove but didn’t seem to have much luck. I hope the bird had more luck later on after I had left the area.

One of the challenges in photography is getting a bird in flight and then being pleased with what you have captured. A trip to James Road Pond, Dunmore, south of Wollongong with Andrew Wood proved to be entertaining with Welcome Swallows flitting about everywhere.

I took quite a few pix of Welcome Swallows to get a sense of these birds in motion and, out of the photos I took, I believe I have a few gems.

Andrew Wood made a great discovery at James Road Pond, Dunmore. It was a Lathams Snipe found in a swampy area enjoying plenty of shade from a large, native tree. I went there in search of the Snipe but without any luck. Andrew, however, photographed the bird and agreed that I could use his photograph here. So the above bird is not my find but one of Andrew’s and quite a wonderful find at that.

Heading further afield from James Road Pond that day Andrew and I came across some Straw-necked Ibis. They are different from the ibis found in Sydney and no doubt are different from the more sacred ibis found in Egypt. I got one in flight.

We were hoping to find a bird of prey that day and did manage to find one, the same bird twice. I think it is a Nankeen Kestrel.

I took a recent trip to Woonona by train and was surprised by some of the street art I found there during my early morning walk to the dentist. Like most people I am afraid of the dentist perhaps more so from bad experiences when I was young. I can say the Woonona dentist was, unlike an earlier dentist, a credit to his profession.

I have written a play for the next Crash Test at Cronulla’s little live theatre, the Arts Theatre Cronulla, 6 Surf Road, Cronulla. I have titled it Talk to the Hand and, wouldn’t you know it, I found the hand on my Woonona walk. Well, some street artist’s notion of a hand. The Crash will take place on the 28th of February. We are trying to go back to normal and do normal activities. I just hope the corona virus lets us do this.

The purple woolen socks I got from Lyn McConchie when I was visiting her in New Zealand last year have been excellent for local birding and, because of their color, are not likely to get mixed up with any of my regular socks and thus lost. The Little Thief of Socks found in one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels won’t be laying his greedy hands on them!

I will be working as a casual in Wollongong library in 2021. Some of the work takes place in the basement. To get to the basement you need a special pass that activates the lift, allowing you to go down that far. At last I am The Man from UNCLE. The question is whether I am a Russian or an American in my library duties. Also I remember there was a similar arrangement in the Baxter Building if you wanted to go up to the Fantastic Four’s penthouse. Ah! The things one remembers from one’s youth!

Ah! I have received a phone call from NBN on my mobile. Apparently I will be cut off in 24 hours if I don’t act now. A scam? You bet. A bit more sophisticated than give me all your money this is a holdup but pretty much the same thing. Its only January and yet the bastards are at it. It is ’stand and deliver’ in our world of electronics. And a recorded message too so you can’t hurt the scam artist’s feelings. Just follow her instructions and see your money disappear.

We connect with the world via computer, landline and mobile phone and the world is not always a friendly place. When it comes to our finances there have always been sharks in the water. It would be so great if the law could send in some squids to take out these present-day sharks. You know, like the really big one in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.

It came to my attention that a quick, easy and convenient pathway to East Corrimal shops from Railway Street, Corrimal will be cut off by those in charge of Corrimal High School. The walk takes one through a lightly forested area where there is birdlife. This brings up another question. Will they keep the trees or chop them down? I didn’t know but I did get in touch with Corrimal High School and I did find out what they were doing and why.

Here is the email I received from Corrimal High School. It is long but worth reading: Thank you for raising your concerns with the school. The path that you describe (dirt track) cuts across grounds which although unfenced, actually form part of the school grounds. I understand that this has been a thoroughfare for many locals for many years, however, technically anyone cutting across that area is trespassing. I note that you are concerned that the path that everyone including old folk take from Railway Street to the East Corrimal shops has been removed? You will note that there is still full access using the pedestrian footpath provided along Pioneer and Murray Roads from Railway Street to the East Corrimal shops.

The new fencing is part of a broader program to reclaim school grounds and increase the security for the students and the school. In addition, the construction of the new Industrial Arts building will be taking place in the front area of the school to replace the building that was lost in the fire in 2018. This new building will be a showpiece for both the school and for the community and will hopefully continue to improve the reputation of the school - something that I have been working hard to do since commencing at the school in 2018. This building will also have a significant solar energy system to decrease the burden on the electrical grid.

In regards to your concerns surrounding the environmental aspect of tree removal, any trees that have been removed from the grounds at Corrimal High School recently have been the result of an arborist report following the annual tree audit which is undertaken at every Government school. These reports determine whether or not trees need to be removed for the safety of all. It is not my intention to remove any more trees from the front area of the school unless I am advised to do so as the result of one of these audits. I am concerned that you think that the school is acting inappropriately in this regard and has no concern for the environment.

To the contrary, earlier in 2020, the school undertook a new environmental initiative for National Tree day in conjunction with Wollongong Council and the Botanic gardens where we planted 60 new trees in the area to the north of the school. It is my intention to continue to do this in order to create increased habitat for local wildlife. I am sure that you can appreciate that this takes time to establish. In addition, the planting of 60 new trees far outweighed the loss of any trees recently from the school grounds. We have also incorporated this initiative into our Year 7 Geography curriculum where we are looking at landscapes and landforms. This will be part of the ongoing learning for our students so that they can play their part in improving the environment on a local and broader scale.

You may also note as you walk past the school that there have been many other improvements including new gardens and plants at the front of the school to encourage birdlife, work completed on the Agriculture farm to enhance the environment for the animals there as well as the local aesthetic as well as many other improvements. There are also plans in place to create a school wide recycling initiative which we hope will further reduce the impact that we create on the environment.

I hope that this addresses your concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further concerns. Regards, Paul Roger Principal Corrimal High School.

Apparently the pathway will be no longer be in use but it seems that the school is acting in the best interests of their students plus is seems they do have some understanding of environmental matters. So I will leave it at that.

In Bird Bonds by Gisela Kaplan we are reminded of how much damage in two hundred years has been done to Australian wildlife by white settlement. It many cases it cannot be reversed or even stopped. Our politicians have to be all geared up for it to continue because of worldwide concerns when it comes to human population expansion plus the Australian economy. More people equal less space for our precious wildlife.

It is not only humanity that has caused declines in native Australian wildlife. There has also been the introduction by Westerners of species from elsewhere including the Indian Myna. Add to this the clogging of our waterways with rubbish and it is almost a miracle anything other than humans and their pets can manage to live in our suburbia let alone our cities.

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos manage to live in our suburbia and also kookaburras but wilderness areas are still needed for creatures not able to adapt to conditions we have created.

It isn’t completely hopeless. Areas, such as James Road Pond, Dunmore, where humans don’t want to build, will be preserved longer and, hopefully, more people will be in favour of keeping, for as long as possible, what can be kept for our wildlife.