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Two Sides of Newcastle

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 15 November 2019 | Views [119]

Royal Spoonbill, Hunter Wetlands

Royal Spoonbill, Hunter Wetlands

“COALS TO NEWCASTLE” IS AS RELEVANT IN AUSTRALIA as it was in Merry Olde England.  Newcastle is the second largest city in New South Wales and the largest coal exporting port in the world thanks, I’m sure, to China's insatiable energy appetite.  While the coal pollutes and abets climate change, Hunter Wetlands is a sanctuary for ducks and geese and songbirds.  

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   From the Hunter Valley to a Slow Boat to China (Internet photos)

The juxtaposition of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain adjacent to Hunter Wetlands National Park—like the platypus—is an example of Australian quirkiness.  And so is the “chicken salad sandwich” I had for lunch—a slice of chicken covered with salad, including beetroot.   


     Chicken Salad and Hold the Mayo

The news channels have been burning with stories of lives saved and homes lost from the wind-churned fires.  We don’t know enough Australian geography to tell what’s where so we were concerned about yesterday’s drive.  We haven’t actually seen any flames but our watery eyes and scratchy throats prove the corollary—where there’s fire, there is smoke.


   Black Swan and Cignet


                            Crimson Myzomela hanging down


                                                      Australasian Grebe

Hunter Wetlands is safe—for now.  While most national parks in New South Wales have closed due to bushfires, Hunter was chockablock with birds this morning.  We counted 40 species including a dozen Royal Spoonbills and two families of Black Swans.  There were too many egrets, Magpie Geese, ducks and coots to count.  Colorful Fire Finches and Cardinal Myzomelas flitted in the bushes while Oriental Dollar Birds, an Olive-backed Orioles and Pied Currawongs shouted from the treetops.

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   Pied Currawong                               Oriental Dollarbird

The flies were absent, replaced by annoying mosquitoes.  At least OFF™ keeps the mozzies at bay.


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