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23 Februuary 2021

More on Pied Oystercatcher 35, Birds at Play, Summer Lizards, Toadstools and Holidays

Some true-life stories just get bigger and bigger the more you dig. This is evident when it comes to Oystercatcher 35. It turns out she is an old girl of fifteen who has travelled from Victoria into New South Wales. I saw her when I was with Andrew Wood at Cameron Island in January.

According to Sally Leonard, Pied Oystercatcher 35 is her favorite and a great provider. She doesn’t have a left foot which is not obvious in my photos of her.

According to Gisela Kaplan in her book Bird Bonds, birds with high intelligence are into socialization and this socialization provides mutual support and even a sense of identity within the flock. Can this socialization also include play that has nothing to do with sex but has everything to do with forming bonds of friendship? Can Sulphur Crested Cockatoos play? I say yes.

When I was a kid, we had a pet Cockatoo that was kept in a large cage. He was called Stan and there was plenty of room for him to move about in. One really hot summer’s day, my dad was hosing the bird with a light spray and Stan was bobbing his head and making a hell of a racket. I asked my dad if he was hurting Stan. My dad moved the hose water away from the bird and Stan moved into the water and began bobbing up and down and making a hell of a racket once more. He likes the water on a hot day, my dad told me. He’s enjoying himself. If birds can thus find enjoyment in such a fashion which is a man made fashion, can they find it on their own and in their own way?

Stan turned out to be a real escape artist and, after figuring out how to open the lock on his cage, made an exit for parts unknown. I hope he made it to a friendly flock of Cockatoos and is still around somewhere. I am not that keen at present on owning a caged bird. I prefer birds to be wild and out there in the world.

Recently, in Corrimal, I came across these Sulphur Crested Cockatoos mucking about on a wire. At first I thought there were two Sulphur Crested Cockatoos that had landed clumsily on the wire and so were handing upside down.

Then others joined them in hanging upside down. They few off but returned again and again to hang there. What was going on here? Was this wire like a swing to these birds and they were experiencing friendship and just messing about with their mates? Yes. I can see that being so. Connections with others can be made and have no sexual content whatsoever. Mutual protection through community spirit can, of course, always be argued.

That day I also came across a female Blackbird having a dig not far from the sports oval in Corrimal. Was she the same bird that had, weeks ago, entertained me in my front yard by digging around successfully for grubs? I watched her but she didn’t seem to have much luck. Perhaps my front yard is a better spot for her. I note that Blackbirds are not natives and originally came from Britain. Nowadays you will find them on the south coast of New South Wales and the main north island of New Zealand.

A pause in the recent rain and the skinks come out. These skinks were found near the shops at Corrimal. It is always good to see them. I also spotted some water dragons.

With the rain come the mushrooms and the toadstools making patterns in the grass not far from the shops at Corrimal, no doubt making patterns elsewhere as well. There are greater varieties of both mushrooms and toadstools that can be found in Wollongong Botanic Garden after it rains./

Rain isn’t a big deal unless you have been in a drought or have experienced even the aftermath of a bush fire with smoke invading your home. We might grouse at not going for a bush walk because of a downpour but better to grouse about that than smoke and fire that does a lot of damage to our native wildlife and can destroy our houses.

In the past I haven’t made much of the flowering plants that can be viewed at Wollongong Botanic Garden because my main interest has always been in the birds, lizards and sculptures. People, including university students, do make a study of flowering plants and you do come across university students with cameras out photographing them. This is an excellent time of year to observe all sorts of flowering plants in this wondrous place which is but a stone’s through away from the entrance to Wollongong University.

In August 2018 I came across a flock of Little Corellas not far from a car museum at Kembla Grange, south coast, NSW. They were having a great time in the grass and, not far away in a tree, there were Little Corellas nesting. This was one of the few times I have seen so many Little Corellas all at once on the ground and it was quite a sight too. Back then in August 2018 it was dry and a patch of green must have been a welcome sight to these Little Corellas. I actually picked a day in 2018 to visit Kembla Grange when it was raining. So far this year, in 2021, we have had plenty of rain on the south coast of New South Wales.

I went to Kembla Grange in 2018 to do some birding and, when it rained, I took shelter in the Kembla Grange car museum. There I found are a great many examples of how we used to travel. Holden is well represented. There is an old caravan that might bring back memories to some readers of caravan parks and holidays near the many wonderful beaches we have in Australia. A lot of Australians still go caravanning, especially at Christmas and during the school holidays. In February and March it can be good weather for that sort of thing though, by then, most people are back at work and their kids in school.

It has been a year since the last crash at Cronulla or, I imagine, anywhere. I have my entry as a writer, Talk to the Hand, for this coming Sunday. Hopefully there will be plenty of bums on seats since it would be great to edge even further back to normal. Reviving live theatre in 2021 in Australia would be great. Live theatre throughout Australia took a bad hit. Time to restore what can be restored.

I missed out on the Viking Festival this year because of the corona virus but I suppose there will be next year. By all accounts, the Viking Festival was a wonderful success and those able to attend had a good time. Let’s hope the same can be said for the crash next Sunday at Cronulla, a southern suburb of Sydney.