BACOPA (Sutera cordata)

I’ve photographed the lovely flowers of this blue Bacopa several times since I planted the seedling some time last year (?).  It has grown so well on my west-facing apartment balcony and was a delight to see every morning when I got up and sat down at my desk (which is facing the window and balcony garden).  A few weeks ago I give all my herbs and flowers a fairly aggressive haircut, especially the mint and Bacopa which was almost trailing on the ground from the top of the 10 inch pot.

The nursery label, which I’ve kept, says it has an abundance of flowers from Spring to Summer, so I fully expected it to lie a little dormant through Autumn, especially now that Winter in Melbourne is approaching.

Within days of the haircut, (about 8″ off the long tresses and a crew cut on top), it started flowering again and my image, made yesterday, shows a healthy show of colour once again.

I’m now wondering if it will flower all winter…..miracles do happen in my potted garden from time to time.

(and my 3 pots of Mint, which I use a lot in salads in summer, cut down to about 1″ stubble, is almost 5-6″ high in each pot again).

SHADES OF PINK

 

Grevillea ‘Little Drummer Boy’

 

FUNGHI

The images below were made on the 25th May, 2014, when my younger brother kindly drove me to a field up on the Dandenong Ranges (the range of hills overlooking the eastern suburbs of Melbourne), where he’d seen this field of funghi only days earlier.

 

SHADES OF GREEN

From the Archives……over the last 7 years.

Just how many (mainly) green photos can you shoot when you’re Living in Nature – I seem to have hundreds.  Here’s a small selection.

THERE & BACK

Quick walk there and back late this afternoon.

THERE & BACK IS…….. TO THE RIVER & BACK (about 7-8 minutes, but I always take an hour).  Had to hurry tonight as the sun was threatening to go behind the hill……and my elbow (slipped, whacked last Friday and x-rayed a few days ago) didn’t want to carry any weight.  Neither did my neck or lumbar spine.  Methinks I’ll have to find another hobby 🙂

Yesterday was the 17th May, seven years to the day since I bought a little Canon point & shoot camera and took up photography.

 

This image is cropped about 65% of the original and I was handholding my heavy telephoto lens and DSLR, despite the weight..

I’m forever wanting more (than I can get) in nature photography in the western suburbs of Melbourne.  I admit it’s one of the few frustrations in life these days. I currently live in one of the most absorbing and fascinating green belts along the Maribyrnong River and yet………..even with a long telephoto lens……….usually handheld –  I can never seem to get close enough to the bird life.

I really enjoy the challenge of bird photography.

The spotting of a previously unseen species.

The identification of it from my Photographic Field Guide – Birds of Australia – by Jim Flegg (which is an excellent guide if you’re in to bird photography in Australia).

The observation of the individuals and how they interact with each other is fascinating.  The Willy Wagtail, such a relatively small bird, taunting and attacking several enormous crows is an interesting example.  Willy Wagtails seem to be very territorial and become aggressive warriors if other birds fly near their nests.

Or the numerous Noisy Miners on the ground, on posts or in trees.  I see them everywhere here in the Western Suburbs.

Last Friday’s trip to Newell’s Paddock Nature reserve and the wetlands area was a prime example.  It was only my second visit since I moved to the area about 7 months ago.  And walking over the squishy carpet of succulents in and around the main pond, I couldn’t get as close as I would like.

A bright shaft of Autumn sunlight lit up a ball of whitish-grey ‘fluff” on some tall grass at the edge of the island in the main pond last week.

It was a hand-held shot using my 150-500mm lens (despite the lower back and neck pain I’m currently experiencing).

I just couldn’t identify it on my newish large 27″ Dell screen at home.

I cropped the image down considerably and stared at the tiny ball of fluff on the computer screen for ages.   Didn’t help that I hadn’t used a tripod and the image was a little soft in focus.

I’d never seen any bird quite like it.

Finally, the other night, I decided it was a very, very young – maybe only a few days old (?) – Silvereye (Zosterops laterals).

Here’s an image I made in the Royal Botanic Gardens in late February 2011, a couple of months after I bought my first DSLR.

Silvereye – Zosterops lateralis

…..and here’s a cropped version of the same image.

Silvereye – Zosterops lateralis

These birds are incredibly hard to spot in heavy foliage.   In fact, its usually the eye between the foliage you see first.

I’ve finally decided that the ball of fluff on the island in the Newell’s Paddock Wetlands pond is this same bird.  It’s the faint white circle around the eye of the fluffy ball that’s given me the clue.

I know these tiny shy birds are seen regularly in Newell’s Paddock via a pdf on Birds in Newell’s Paddock I came across by sheer chance on the Internet (which I’ve now bookmarked).

What do you think?

Last Friday, I finally got back to doing a long walk.

The forecast cloud cover faded just after I caught the bus to Footscray Park and the cool wind picked up as I walked through the formal entrance down the steep pathway towards the Maribyrnong River.   When the sun came from behind the clouds, the downhill trek became a real treat.  I love walking in Autumn and Spring with a cool wind on my face.

I made some lovely shots of the flowers in the Park and surprisingly, there were some stunning Autumn flowers out in full bloom, but getting down low to photograph the ground cover Peruvian Lilies (or Alstroemeria) was a real pain.  I bent down low and used the tilt screen of the Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ but the sun reflected off the LCD screen so it was really hit or miss whether I got the low-down shots in focus.

I then kept walking quite some way along the Maribyrnong River to Newell’s Paddock, entering the Wetlands from the rear riverside gate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was one of those days when the river held hundreds of sparkling ‘stars’ of sunlight as though there was a path of diamonds across the water surface.  Really pretty and made up for the lack of interesting landscape either side of the river in this green belt along the river.

There was a real change of colour to be seen in most of my photos of Newell’s Paddock, from various shades of green a few weeks ago, to tinges of Autumn orange and russet throughout the grasses and succulent ground cover in the conservation area of Newell’s Paddock Wetlands.  The golden rays of the sun made some of my images look like they’d been photoshopped, but no, the warm colours were definitely for real.  I’m pretty sure I had the White Balance on Auto also.

But my favourite shot of the day was looking over the fence at the most eastern pond and surrounding greenery (below).  I stood there for ages just enjoying the view of this green oasis in the middle of suburbia.  How lucky we are in Melbourne’s inner suburbs to have such wonderful parks and gardens amidst the residential housing estates.

 

OFFLINE FOR A WHILE…..

I will be offline for a while (due to back/shoulder/neck pain).

 

Surfing through my archives makes me think I took my best bird photos in 2013.

Is it because I could get up closer to the bird life in the Royal Botanic Gardens and Melbourne Zoo?

I think some of my best bird shots were of the Nankeen Night Heron.

It’s still my favourite Australian bird.

I remember the day in the Botanic Gardens when I first saw it and thought I’d captured a shot of a rare bird.  Of course as time went by, I realised it was as common as mud in the Botanic Gardens.  You just had to pick the right time of day, season and location……..and it did help to use a tripod as they were mainly on the islands in the middle of the large Ornamental Lake.

The shots in this post were made at Melbourne Zoo and I used the wooden post of the viewing platform as a tripod.  They were not caged or in the large Aviary.  They lived on the enormous island in the middle of an area I used to call Pelican’s ‘Lagoon’ (as that was where the Australian Pelicans and Cormorants used to gather to be fed at 4.00pm each afternoon by the Zoo Staff).

If you’re a bird photographer, do you think your best bird shots were of your favourite bird species, or do you think the best shots were…… right time, right place and proximity to the bird?

AUTUMN ISN’T ALWAYS FINE

The week following the previous post’s images (from my archives) wasn’t fine at all.

The 17th May 2013 down at St Kilda beach, one of Melbourne’s closest bayside beaches, was freezing cold and a very brisk wind indeed.

A Pacific Gull basks in a ray of sunlight to warm up.

Halfway along St Kilda’s long pier, the waves crashing on the rocky outcrop below look as though they’d be very cold indeed.

At the end of St Kilda pier, I sit in the windless side of the iconic Kiosk looking over the boat marina to the city in the distance.

Looks like rain over the city.

WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybridus)

The city skyline is bathed in sunlight after the rain clouds blew away.

The St Kilda Pavilion is an historic kiosk located at the end of St Kilda Pier built in 1904, originally known as Parer’s Pavilion and later renamed Kirby’s Kiosk but locally known as St Kilda Kiosk. Burnt down in 2003 and later rebuilt to its present form. Excellent Fish’n’Chips

Must have been high tide this day, as the ramp leading down to the sand was almost covered in water.