Newcastle is experiencing an influx of lorikeets, birdwatcher Alan Stuart says.
"There are lorikeets galore, with a lot of gums in blossom," said Alan, who is a Hunter Bird Observers Club member.
"We've got rainbow and scaly-breasted lorikeets in really big numbers and lots of musk lorikeets have come in as well.
"It's really been a birding bonanza."
Lorikeets were feeding on spotted gums and swamp mahogany in particular.
"Maybe they've had to consolidate into Newcastle-Lake Macquarie because of the bushfires over summer," he said.
Many people found themselves paying more attention to birds during lockdown. It was somehow liberating to notice birds being free to fly around as normal, while us humans were confined to barracks.
With the streets quieter than usual, people have been hearing the birds a bit more, said Alan, who lives in New Lambton.
Alan Stuart writes the cryptic crossword for Australian Birdlife, a quarterly magazine.
"I've been doing that for about 10 years," Alan said.
During the lockdown, a fellow birder on a Hunter Birding chat group asked Alan to create a non-cryptic crossword.
So he did. He called it the Daily Cross-bird. The cross-birds proved so popular that BirdLife Australia published them on its website.
Alan has been doing the little five-by-five cross-birds for nine weeks. He'll do his last one on Saturday, reflecting the easing of restrictions.
Alan reckons his little crosswords were popular because they gave the bird community a much-needed distraction from worries around COVID-19.
"People had nothing else to do and it was bird-related. I was chucking in a lot of foreign birds, so people had to do a bit of research to solve them," he said.
When we suggested to Alan that cryptic crosswords were much harder to solve than ordinary ones, he said: "Cryptics are easier".
"My little five-by-fives are actually quite hard because I give very brief clues.
"Whereas in a cryptic, you get the definition and a word play. So you get two routes into it."
Cryptic crosswords are for lateral thinkers not literal thinkers, he says.
"A lot of people don't like cryptics and can't do them. Sometimes they haven't really tried hard. If you think literally, you'll never solve a cryptic crossword."
We went to Birdie Beach on Wednesday to check out the shipping container that had washed ashore.
As well as the container, we saw face masks washed up on the beach.
When we showed Herald journalist Max McKinney our photo of masks on the beach, he quipped: "Best put one on to be safe. Could be a second wave."
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