Antigua – West Coast

Antigua, 21 September 2016

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

In our last full day in Antigua, we decided do explore the west coast.  Here we are, about to start in English Harbour.

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You might think that in a Caribbean island, everyone stays in a resort and it is very expensive.  Well, there can still be cheap accommodation options available if you look. (And we weren’t staying here but I also wouldn’t stay in a resort if I could avoid it).

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A rather nice cottage nearby.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

And a range of local transport, possibly available for hire.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

You have to go inland from English Harbour before you can get to the west coast.  These early images are all in and around a small town called Swetes.

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Tyrell’s Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

An old ruined windmill, a relic of the sugar cane era.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

We are at the coast now.  this is Carlisle Bay Beach.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

This is nearby, atop a headland.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

So there are places to stay in Antigua that might be entirely free, if somewhat lacking in privacy.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

A bit further on, at Morris Bay is some more enticing accommodation prospects that may be quite cheap.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

This one even has its own car in the lounge room.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

And there is a ruined windmill nearby.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Excellent views down the beach.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

I think “Location, location, location!” is the phrase.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

A bit further along the coast, we found some colour transitions between sand, sea and sky.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

I think this is probably Valley Church Beach.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Not sure where this house is, maybe Five Islands, beside the road though, heading to the north-west.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

We got to Fort Barrington National Park but didn’t have time to climb up to the fort.  I’d say this is a Martello Tower, rather than a windmill.  In other words, it is a small defensive fort from the nineteenth century (though not Fort Barrington).

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Nearby, this is Deep Bay.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

A sign we passed on the way back to English Harbour.

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Antigua – Half Moon Bay and Devil’s Bridge

Antigua, 20 September 2016

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

We went again to Shirley Heights for the view at dawn.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Another view of English Harbour, from a vantage point on the way back for breakfast.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Nearby, a hummingbird and cacti.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

This is much later and we are on the road heading for the east coast.  This is a Poinciana at the side of the road, introduced from Madagascar.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Half Moon Bay.  You can see how it got its name.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Not many people around.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

This is idyllic here but we had a less salubrious experience a bit earlier.  The road was blocked and we were turned back by a guard on a road leading to a beach near a resort.  We were told later by a local that this is illegal, everyone should have access to beaches.  Multinational resorts appear to be a new colonialism in the Caribbean and not have a good reputation with many locals we spoke to.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

It is three hours later and this is an entirely different beach.  This is Long Bay Beach, not far from Devil’s Bridge.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

A bit of weather out to sea.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

This is Devil’s Bridge National Park.  You can see the natural bridge (bottom left) and the surge would be spectacular in a heavy sea.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

It seemed like a nice place for a bite to eat and a drink.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be anyone around.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Maybe if we came back in a few years.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

I didn’t see these people there either.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

On the way back, this is St Peter’s Anglican Church at Parham, built in 1840.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

… with a remarkable interior roof.

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, Devil's Bridge, English Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Landscape, Nature, Parham, Photography, seascape, Shirley Heights, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

(Church interiors with fisheye lens).

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Antigua – Fort Berkeley and Shirley Heights

English Harbour, Antigua, 19 September 2016

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In the afternoon, we walk past Nelson’s Dockyard to visit Fort Berkeley.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Probably an eighteenth century ship’s anchor.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Looking back across the harbour at the marina.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Fort Berkeley, but from a distance.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

This is the same view with a wide angle lens.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

The fort is quite small but this is evidently all that was needed with such a narrow mouth to the harbour.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

In the distance in the middle horizon is Shirley Heights, with another former military emplacement that we shall visit soon.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

The last cannon left of twenty-nine.

The British were in Antigua from 1632 and English Harbour from 1704.  This was the best harbour in the islands of the eastern Caribbean.  Enclosed by hills, it was protected against hurricanes so the British were able to shelter here whereas the French had to send their ships back during the hurricane season.  All the other islands changed hands several times but the French never captured Antigua.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Looking across to Galleon Beach.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Either a storehouse or a guard house.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

The sheltered stone steps leading up to the building on the right suggest that it was a store house supplied by sea, perhaps primarily for ammunition.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Passing by Nelson’s Dockyard again.  Didn’t need to make a phone call.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

We are now on the heights at the other side of the harbour, at Dow’s Hill, where there is the remains of a large barracks.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

A view of the spectacular coastline nearby.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Cacti and the sea.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Looking towards Shirley Heights, where we head next.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

View from Shirley Heights.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

The Royal Military Guard House at Shirley Heights (named after Sir Thomas Shirley, Governor of the Leeward Islands in the late eighteenth century).  There were four cannon on a platform beside the building and a signal post above it.

There is a restaurant that can open here and a brass band that plays on Sundays.  But we weren’t told about that when we arrived the previous night so either it had finished or more probably it wasn’t happening because we were there in the off season.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Remains of a cannon.  I wonder if it shattered in anger.  Underneath the crown is GR for George Rex, which doesn’t tell us much because it could be George I, II or III and is therefore between 1716 and 1820.  It’s clearly not an American cannon and therefore doesn’t relate to their George I (1789-1797), George II (1989-1993) or George III (2001-2009).

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

A view looking north towards Indian Creek, Stand Fast Point and Mamora Bay.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Close by the Guard Station is the remains of another barracks.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Back now at our accommodation in English Harbour, as the evening slowly descends.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife .

Antigua – Morning at English Harbour

English Harbour, Antigua, 19 September 2016

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

We hired a car in Antigua and drove around as shown on this map.  The airport is at the top and we stayed at English Harbour, which is at the middle bottom.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

This is a view in the early morning from where we were staying at English Harbour.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

These days there is a marina.  In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was Britain’s main naval base in the Caribbean.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

We went for a drive and walk to the coast a bit further south.  Here we are looking back towards English Harbour and it is Fort Berkeley at centre left, built in 1704.  We will visit there later.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

From the same spot, looking south.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

A frigate bird overhead.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

From the same viewpoint as the earlier image including Fort Berkeley, but showing the context with a wide angle lens.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

This is a Turk’s Head or Barrel Cactus, endemic to the Caribbean.  Also known as Mother-in-law’s Pincushion.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Closer view with a tiny flower.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

This is Galleon Beach, Freeman’s Bay, so we’ve driven all the way around to the beach on the other side of the harbour behind Fort Berkeley in the previous images.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

Back on the docks at English Harbour.  A fishing boat has arrived and the fish are circling.  These are quite large, say about a metre long but they are not the target.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

There are swirls of activity as bits are thrown out.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

It’s a bit like a koi pool but this is the ocean.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

They are bringing the catch ashore.  I presume it is tuna.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

The crabs are interested too.

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

And just a few minutes later, we have some tasty fillets.

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Catedral Primada de America

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 13 September 2016

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We stayed briefly in the zona coloniale, the old quarter of Santo Domingo, which is the oldest continuously occupied city in the Americas.

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The central area is quite safe, with a heavy police presence but especially coming from Cuba,  it didn’t always feel as safe outside that.

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We went to visit the Cathedral, but what we thought was the entrance was not actually the way to get in.

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So we had to walk around the block to get to the other side of the building.

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This looks like a forgotten side entrance but is actually the way in.  The statue by the door is of Archbishop Merino, 1833-1906.

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

The cathedral is known by locals as Catedral Primada de America, though its proper name is Basilica Catedral Santa Maria de la Encarnacion.  It is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, begun in 1514 and completed in the 1540s.

 

Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

Evidently the grave of an archbishop, dated 1569.

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

Santo Domingo is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the Americas.  It was founded by Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher Columbus, in 1498.

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Looking up at the ceiling.

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

This is an altar at one end of the cathedral.

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And here it is at the top of this image, with the other end of the cathedral at the bottom..

It takes a lot of heavy machinery operating outside the cathedral to compress it in this way, and you have to hope the stonework does not fall down on you.

A safer and less expensive approach, which is less likely to incur the ire of the authorities, is to stitch together multiple images, six images taken with a fisheye lens for example.

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And this is the far end.

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

At the far end, looking up.

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

The inscription on the left says something about returning the picture of the Blessed Virgin of La Antigua to the Dominicans and is dated 1862, so it probably refers to the painting on the right.

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This somehow looks almost modernist in an El Greco sense.

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

This is below the archbishop’s grave we saw earlier.  It’s a bit hard to translate the Latin because the words run together but I suspect it marks the graves of Don Rodrigo and perhaps his wife Senora Rodriguez, and is dated 1553.

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No idea what this says.  there doesn’t appear to be a date.

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

Outside of the cathedral.  I think this is the way out.

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

Out in the streets again, and we’re heading to Fortaleza Ozama (next post).

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

I’m pretty sure this and the next two images are from the Museo Casa de Tostado.

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This is the house of Francisco de Tostado who came to the island with Governor Nicolas de Ovando in 1502, and it was built in the early sixteenth century.  His son Francisco de Tostado de la Pena, who also lived here, became a university professor and was killed by the cannon fire of Francis Drake in 1586.

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

Old doors on the street.

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Architecture, Cathedral, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

Woman feeding pigeons, I think near the cathedral.

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From Havana to Santo Domingo

Havana, Cuba to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 12 September 2016

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I’ve just come back from a weekend covering the Thredbo Blues Festival and now have 3,000 images to process, so these posts may slow down a bit for a while.

On Monday around 12:30pm we were driving back from Thredbo. Normally I would have been playing table tennis and have had my car parked outside the centre. Had that been the case, the car would have been pulverised by hail, golf-ball sized or even larger. The windows would have been broken, all the panels dented and the car may have been written off.

Such are the incidents of the unfolding Climate Crisis. Especially with the current political corruption and paralysis, particularly in the US and Australia, it is merely a foretaste of what is to come, and not just in Australia.

Today there was also a fire burning on the edge of Canberra, just a few kilometres from where I live (though blowing in the opposite direction). Homes and an industrial area were threatened. A recycling centre is burning, creating hazardous smoke and Canberra Airport was closed for much of the day. Today was a high wind day. That fire is relatively under control but further high winds are forecast, including for a large area of south eastern New South Wales where there are several large fires burning out of control. Conversely, conditions may also be easing from tomorrow and the Indian Ocean Dipole (a major trigger) has now moved to neutral.

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OK, back to the Cuba/ Caribbean trip. This post shows images taken from the plane between Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

We have taken off from Havana and are now flying east over Cuba.

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

The farm land looks productive.

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

Perhaps you have read of the insect apocalypse.  80% decline in insect numbers over the last forty years, perhaps worldwide, at least Europe and the US.  Global warming is a factor but probably a greater cause is use of insecticides and other agricultural poisons.  Perhaps Cuba is fortunate here, because US sanctions may mean they have no access to modern toxic chemicals from companies such as Monsanto.

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

We’re still over Cuba, but now the coast and islands at the eastern end.

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel .

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel .

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel .

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

I’m pretty sure this is the western tip of Haiti.

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

For those with limited knowledge of geography, the island to the east of Cuba is Hispaniola, which is divided into Haiti to the west and the Dominican Republic to the east.

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

I have read that you can see the boundary between Haiti and the Dominican Republic from space.  Haiti is quite deforested and the Dominican Republic not at all.

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

This goes back to the days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic (1930-1961).  Dictators are usually bad news but he preserved the forests and sent the army in to ruthlessly suppress illegal logging.  Haiti on the other hand is one of the poorest countries in the world with little effective government and the whole countryside was stripped bare.

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

It was too cloudy for me to see the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  We are by now over the Dominican Republic (and probably for one or two of the previous images).

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A large dam with a city near by.

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

Agricultural land

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel .

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Aerial Photography, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel

Probably the coast near Santo Domingo.

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Montague Island Monochromes

Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia, 8 to 11 November 2019

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Links go to posts with the colour versions of the images (where there may also be more information and context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies. (Click on any image to see it larger).

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Pelican in Narooma Harbour.

Montague Island Day One..

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Humpback whale disappearing.

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Humpback whales, mother and calf.

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Seals off a headland.

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A seal launching into the sea.

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At the lighthouse cottages when the storm hits.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Crested terns courting.

Montague Island Day Two.

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Silver gull.

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Silver gull chicks.

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View from the lighthouse looking south, showing the stones sacred to the Aborigines (the whale, the shark and the tortoise) and also the small lighthouse cemetery.

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View of lighthouse cottages from the lighthouse.

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The old wharf.

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Sea eagle.

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Tiny ground flowers.

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Old banksia setrrata cone.

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Little penguins coming ashore.

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Great cormorants on rock.

Montague Island Day Three (Morning).

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Seal interactions.

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Shell on rock.

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Sooty oystercatchers.

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Created tern coming in to land.

Montague Island Day Three (Afternoon).

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Silver gull and nesting material.

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Crested tern with fish.

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Silver gull coming in to land.

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Crested tern and chick.

Montague Island Day Four.

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Contention.

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Competing for space.

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Welcome swallows.

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The lighthouse receding.

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Pelican confused by sign.

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I’m due to go down to Thredbo for the Thredbo Blues Festival next weekend but because of bushfires in the area I won’t know whether the festival is on until later today or tomorrow.  There may or may not be a post on that in a few weeks.  Next week though, I expect to resume the account of my travels to Cuba and the Caribbean at Santo Domingo in the Dominican republic.

Australia Burning

12 September 2019 to 5 January 2020, Canberra, ACT

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The first part of this post is images taken out the back of where I live in Canberra. The second part is images taken this morning in a very smoky Canberra.  (If you are on a computer, click any image to see it larger).

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We live backing on to a reserve and often take a half hour walk out the back in the mornings.  On our walk four months ago in early spring, this is an acacia baileyana coming out in flower,

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Kangaroo and joey.  You can see there is very little grass for them to eat.  We have had a very long drought.

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Kangaroo and joey in late afternoon light.  Both kangaroo images are in early spring.

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Crimson rosella at a nesting hole.  This and the next three images are in late spring.

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Cunningham’s skink in their fallen-tree home.

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Callistemon phoenicius in the back yard.

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Shingleback in the back yard.  An ancient-looking lizard.

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Echidna in the back yard on New Year’s Eve.  They are one of only two monotremes, or egg-laying mammals, the other being the platypus.

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If you are living outside Australia, your have probably heard of the massive fires here at present.

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On New Year’s Day, Canberra had the worst air quality of any city in the world, worse than Delhi and Beijing, due to bushfire smoke drifting in from the south coast of New South Wales.

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This followed a peak fire day.  We had another one yesterday and the smoke was as bad today, so I got up early to take some photographs.  This is the Australian War Memorial.

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Carillon, on Aspen Island, Lake Burley Griffin, and ducks.

Yesterday, the day before I took these i9mages, we had record temperatures in Canberra at 44ºC or 111ºF.

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The fires are unprecedented.  Simple equation really.  Take unprecedented drought, add unprecedented heat, and you get unprecedented fires.

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Small island in Lake Burley Griffin near the Carillon.

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There are hundreds of fires currently in Australia, many out of control.  The number doesn’t mean much because they combine to form larger and more dangerous fires.  The fires have burned 105,000 square kilometres so far (40,000 square miles), about the size of South Korea or Iceland (updated 7 Jan) and they will continue for weeks or months, flaring up sporadically to peak intensity.  In recent days there has been an unprecedented evacuation of thousands of people from the south coast of New South Wales and north east Victoria.  This continues as different towns and hamlets come under threat.  In a week or two the fires might reach Canberra. So far dozens of people have died and thousands of buildings have been burnt, including well over one thousand homes.

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Reconciliation Place and National Library.

The toll on wildlife has also been alarming.  I recall an estimate of 500,000 animals dead and koalas are in danger of extinction.  Fires have also razed through rainforests, normally too wet to be affected and not equi8pped to recover.

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Old Parliament House.

Although there are weather patterns and variations that have always affected Australia, these fires are unprecedented and a major cause is the Climate Crisis, primarily caused by human activity..

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Old Parliament House and a flock of straw-necked ibis.  The white ibis has adapted to urban life and is colloqually known as “bin chickens” but the straw necked ibis is not as urbanised.

The situation with these bushfires is not a one-off event, however drawn out, and it is not relevant only to Australia though different places may see change in different ways.  The extent of global warming that is already with us is causing an uncomfortable new “normal” and long lags mean even the most concerted action will be slow to arrest this.

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New Parliament House.

Of course there is much we can do and the first step is to reduce our dependence as much as possible on petroleum and coal.

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In front of the Parliament House, I encountered a group of Climate Refugees from the South Coast Fires, there for an impromptu cricket match.

The worst approach to the Climate Crisis is to pretend it isn’t happening, in defiance of all the scientific evidence, and do nothing.  Unfortunately, this is exactly what the Government of Australia has been doing.

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And the cricket match is under way.

The Liberal-National coalition government is sometimes known as the COALition and it is in the grip of a climate-denying fringe.  Prime Minister Morrison notoriously brandished a lump of coal with glee in Parliament and won the last election with an astonishing lack of policies including no policy at all on energy.

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It’s a heavily grassed pitch.

Not long before the fires hit, Morrison refused to meet forty-two former Bushfire Chiefs who wanted to talk to him about the Climate Crisis and preparations for the oncoming fire season.  He had also greatly reduced bushfire budgets and requests for better water-dropping planes had sat with the Government for several years.

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Some balls are there to be hit.

In Mallacouta last weekend, four or five thousand people sat on the beach while the fires invaded the town.  The sky was black after 9am, then red, then orange.  Falling ash made breathing difficult and the temperature reached 49°C.  Just as people were about to get into the water, the wind changed and the town was saved, at least for a few more days.

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Others are very tempting.

In this fire crisis, Morrison has displayed startling insensitivity and alienated a significant part of the population, some of whom might have voted for him.  He went on holiday in Hawaii as the main crisis broke out and didn’t significantly change his return date.  The he tried to pretend it was just a normal situation in order to avoid any mention of the Climate Crisis.  He was heckled by locals when he turned up unannounced in the burnt out town of Cobargo.  While he was there he grabbed the hand of a young woman to shake it, quite uninvited.  She was pregnant, had just lost her house and asked him for help.  He turned his back on her and walked away.  He later denied doing this but it was recorded on video.  There are other stories.

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And some just get away from you.

The scale of the fires and their ongoing nature is forcing Morrison to act but he is most unlikely to address underlying problems.  For that we can only hope for a different and better government and for that we are likely to have to wait another two years.

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This is back at the Old Parliament House.  The Aboriginal Tent Embassy has been there since 1973 and it is off to the left.  This is a display they have set up to proclaim Aboriginal sovereignty over land.

One common refrain is that there should be more preventative burning in the appropriate season, as the Aborigines used to do.  While there is some truth in this, it is not as easy as it sounds.  For one thing, the cool damp winter window for this is much reduced on what it was and last year the fire season started in winter.  For another, the ecology is not what it was.  In many places, Aborigines farmed the land and lived in houses and even towns.  This was recorded by the first settlers but quickly wiped out and then hidden lest it be a basis for claims on land.  Sheep and cattle grazed the perennial native grasslands to the roots, then trampled and compacted the thin soil.  Fire managed grasslands became scrub so it’s all very different now.

We also have other problems in our modern world of supposedly perpetual growth and prosperity, even apart from the Climate Crisis.  Sustainable development is a wider problem.  You may have heard of the “insect armeggedon” whereby 80% of insects have died in the last forty years, thereby threatening the viability of flowering plants and other species.  This may be partly due to Climate Change but likely more due to unnecessary agricultural poisons.  There is also the perplexing problems of micro-plastics, invading the food chain and our lungs with unknown effects.  And then there is the problem that there are simply too many humans and they are increasing too rapidly.

There are solutions for all these problems but they will require wisdom, coordination and determination.  Things are certain to get worse before they can get better.

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I can suggest a couple of books you may be interested in reading.

One is “Dark Emu” by Bruce Pascoe which outlines the extent of Aboriginal civilisation (yes!) prior to European arrival.

The other is “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells which outlines the problems we face in the Climate Crisis and what we might do to ameliorate them.

Montague Island Day Four

Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia, 8 to 11 November 2019

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This was the last morning and the boat was due to leave around midday.  The previous afternoon I had photographed crested terns flying in to the colony.  I decided to spend some of my remaining time photographing their interactions on the ground.

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There were many eggs but only a few hatched chicks.  Parents kept them close to protect them not merely from silver gulls but also from other terns.

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On the edge of the colony there is danger from silver terns so this mother tried to move with her chick into the colony.

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The terns pack in much closer than silver gulls but they still defend territory so contention arises.

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Making a point…

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This is where she wants to be but there is a certain amount of opposition.

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… including some pinching of the tail….

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At least the chick is not being attacked which can happen.

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And the mother, though under siege, does her best to protect the chick.

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Nearby there was a silver gull hidden under a bush on an egg in the middle of the tern colony.  It must have been there before the terns arrived.  I didn’t photograph it because the shadow was too deep to show it in context.  What was going to happen when it tried to leave was an interesting question.

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After a while, she pulled out of the area of contention back more to the edge of the colony.

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Her mate is with her here.

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She is now protecting the chick from silver gulls as well as other terns.

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Nearby, a pair of welcome swallows had made their nest in walls of one of the cottage’s toilets, entering the wall through the ventilation holes.

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Just outside the colony, a bit of mating display was going on.

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Two’s company….

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A last view of the terns.

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Now we’re on the boat and the lighthouse and cottages are receding away.

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The wharf is down below the lighthouse.

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Back in Narooma harbour, this pelican seemed confused by the direction instructions of the sign.

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Montague Island Day Three (Afternoon)

Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia, 8 to 11 November 2019

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Having returned and after lunch, I settled down at a tern colony near the lighthouse to photograph them in flight.

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I was mounting my long lens on a gimbal (the mechanical type, not the electronic variety for video) which attaches to your tripod and allows your lens to sit at a point of balance, for easier and quicker responses.

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This is the wing of a silver gull.  This shot wasn’t intended and it isn’t entirely in focus but I still like it.

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A tern coming in to land.

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Some distance away, over the sea.

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They are small and fast5, making it a challenging exercise.

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Head on.

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Silver gull with nesting material.

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Silver gull coming in to land at a silver gull colony.

 

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Silver gulls were patrolling around the edge of the tern colony.  Just below me, a mother tern stood up and left her egg exposed.  A silver gull hopped in and took the egg.  The mother is protesting and the egg is in the middle here but you may have to click on the image to make it larger to see the egg.

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Chicks can also be in danger, so here parents are protecting a chick.

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Back to the terns coming in to the colony.

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This was the most successful flying tern image.  Coming in with fish and completely sharp.  Well exposed to retain detail in the black head and eyes white while not losing detail in essential white areas caught by the sun.  There is an element of luck in this as there is no room for error and the image on the histogram on the back of the camera shows less than the RAW file captures.

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