AUSTRALIAN RAVEN (Corvus coronoides)

I’ve finally unpacked everything and got 97% of my possessions back in place after my apartment move on Monday this week.

(I seem to have more possessions than 2 weeks ago ¬†ūüėÄ ¬† but that’s impossible, merely that I’ve done a bit of re-arranging in this move to try and eradicate so much bending and/or twisting in daily activities for my degenerative spinal condition and right hip OA).

Anyway, this means I’ve found my photographic field guide¬†Birds of Australia¬†by Jim Flegg. ¬†

By the way, if you live in Australia and are interested in Bird Photography, I can highly recommend this relatively small, (well, about 8″ & 6″), book to help you identify any Australian Birds you’re keen to put ‘name to face.’

Most of the images in this guide are very clear in both colour and bird shape, sometimes the eye colour being the only thing to help you identify between 2 or 3 similar birds. ¬† Jim Flegg has inserted a small map of Australia with shaded blue areas of where the bird species is usually found for each one and a very concise description of the bird, the differences between male and female, its call and whether it’s common or rare etc.

AUSTRALIAN RAVEN (Corvus coronoides)

I believe the couple of photos I made of a large black bird last week in the local children’s playground have now been identified correctly, (although please let me know in the comments section if you believe I’ve got the name wrong).

There are 6 species of Raven or Crow in Australia, with the 3 Currawongs adding to an easy-to-mistake identification.

First I cast aside any bird photo that didn’t fall into my state of Victoria, then dismissed the ones with dark eyes and carefully read the description to reveal the name¬†Australian Raven¬†(Corvus coronoides).

I think Jim’s description finally clinched it.

47-56cm Large, familiar, and the largest Australia Crow.  Entirely glossy black, with an oily sheen in sunlight.  Throat feathers of adult bushy and bristly, especially during calling, when body is characteristically held horizontal.  (yes, this description definitely looked like the bird on the right side of my photo).  Eye white in adult.   Beak long, strong and black, with slightly convex ridge to upper mandible.

Immature duller with brown eye.  Mated pairs characteristically sedentary, roaming flocks of non-breeders small, not cohesive as in very similar Little Raven.

And so on………

This identification was a hard one for me as I’m not good at judging bird size from any distance and 8 (out of the 9) birds in the book have white eyes.

101 SILVER GULLS

Last week I got up close & personal with lots of Seagulls.  Not quite 101, but there were lots of them.

I love watching seagulls.

I make no excuse for buying several lots of hot fish n chips down next to the pier to warm up in the brisk winter wind and then, when the excess got cold, threw them to the many gulls on the sand to bring them closer to my camera lens.

There’s something about the smell of the sea air and the screech of gulls that makes for a holiday atmosphere (despite the virus restrictions).

On the first short walk of the week, the sun continued to tease me.   One minute coming out and warming the temperature up to quite a comfortable level and then, next minute, going behind the clouds and the temperature dropping suddenly to a distinct chill.

I CAUGHT THE EYE OF THIS GULL STANDING PERFECTLY STILL ON THE PIER FENCE.
IT FLEW DOWN TO THE OLD SEA WALL AND STOOD FACING THE OTHER WAY AND I SILENTLY SEND A MESSAGE ASKING IT TO TURN AROUND AND POSE.
IT HALF TURNED AS THOUGH TO SAY “ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?”
I SILENTLY ASKED THE BIRD TO STAND UP A BIT STRAIGHTER AND IT DID!
BUT THE GULL WASN’T OVERLY KEEN ON STANDING STILL FOR LONG. THE SUN WAS NOT VERY BRIGHT AT THIS TIME OF THE AFTERNOON.
IT PAUSED ONCE OR TWICE STARING OFF INTO THE DISTANCE WHILE ITS COMPANIONS STEADILY WALKED ALONG THE SEA WALL.
ANOTHER SEAGULL STOOD ON THE RAIN-POCKED SAND AND ASKED FOR A PHOTO SO I OBLIGED.
THEN IT TOO FLEW UP TO THE SEA WALL AND PONDERED ITS NEXT STEP. ¬†CAN YOU SEE THE TINY BIT OF BROWN ON ITS WING FEATHERS? THAT’S THE LAST OF ITS JUVENILE BROWN WING FEATHERS SOON TO DISAPPEAR.
A ROCK PIGEON FLEW UP ONTO THE WALL AND PROMPTLY CHASED IT AWAY, ACTUALLY, TOWARDS MY CAMERA.
THEN THEY BOTH TURNED AND STEADILY WALKED AFTER THEIR AVIAN COMPANIONS.
LOOKS LIKE THE OTHER GULLS ARE WAITING FOR THESE 2 TO CATCH UP WITH THEM.
THEN THEY ALL FLEW AWAY LEAVING THE OLD BARE WALL QUIET (UNTIL I THREW SOME MORE COLD CHIPS TOWARDS THE DISTANT BIRDS).

The sun had gone behind the clouds so I decided to head for home – only 5 minutes walk away.

Gosh, it must be truly lovely to live near the beach in the summer when there is no waiting for the sun to shine and the screech of gulls is joined by the shrieks and laughter of children and their families.

I wonder what the summer of 2020/2021 will bring this year (in times of so much uncertainty DownUnder)?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK (and some more of last week’s story)

it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world

Mary Oliver

You’re probably thinking I’ve gone on holiday, but no, here I am, back in my old apartment next to the Maribyrnong River and Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.

Yesterday, this tiny female House Sparrow (above) reminded me of how lucky we are in Australia and how lucky I am to be content with the simple things in life.

2 apartment moves in 10 days was not easy for someone like me with a  heart condition, severe pain and other chronic health issues.   But I did it and it now seems like a distant dream (except for the packaging littering my lounge floor Рthe removalist company picked up the empty boxes yesterday).

My move to a south-western beachside suburb of Melbourne was a complete disaster healthwise and amidst a complete lockdown of suburban Melbourne due to a large cluster of COVID cases in several high-rise apartment blocks, I did some phoning and emailing and was lucky enough to just be able to move back into my old apartment block.

I had to move out of the new beachside ground floor apartment as quickly as possible.

 

Out of focus, but I like the shot anyway

It would have been almost impossible (without a car) and the current lockdown conditions to look elsewhere anyway.

I was welcomed back ‘with open arms’ by both the property agent and the landlord.¬† When I moved back in on Monday of this week, different tenants/friends I saw were so thrilled I was back. ¬†Seems my occasional chats in this building had endeared me to more than one person. ¬† I never realised how much I would be missed when ¬†I moved out which was a big surprise. ¬†A heart-warming spot in the day on Monday amidst the busyness of the removalists going back and forth making the pile of boxes higher and higher in my tiny studio-style modern apartment.

The first evening in my new seaside apartment, amidst a mound of boxes, I sat at my desk with 2 heaters on high, a coat…….and a woollen blanket around my knees. ¬† I have never, ever experienced such mind and body numbingly cold interior conditions.

Even waking up on the Swiss-Austrian border in 1976 with my tent covered in snow was ‘a walk in the park’¬†compared to the icy chill that pervaded my bones right to the core that first night (and the subsequent nights last week).

The musty smell in the 2 carpeted bedrooms, which the property agent had said would disappear once the long-empty apartment was thoroughly aired, made breathing difficult at night (for me). ¬† I have MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity)¬†among my long list of chronic health conditions and am allergic to mould (and damp?). ¬†I suspect the carpets, having been steam cleaned weeks before, had not dried properly in the midst of Melbourne’s cold winter nights.

I had opened all 3 doors and the rusty, stiff window chains the best I could, but the smell never really left in the whole 8 days I was there.

I need fresh air to be truly alive. ¬† I need to feel like I’m Living in Nature now I’m more housebound.

By the second night, my heartbeat seemed weak and erratic. ¬†(I also have intermittent SVT – Supraventricular Tachycardia – which can be a weird sensation when the heart starts beating very fast. ¬† It was diagnosed in 2007 & again in 2009, but seemed to resolve itself without drugs or a procedure to ‘zap’ the faulty electrical function in the heart muscle.

It reared its head last October when I was admitted to the Cardiology ward for 6 days with a mild heart attack, but again resolved itself naturally.   The fluttering sensation in my chest feels a little weird, but not as scary as a serious ongoing dramatically fast heartbeat experienced by some sufferers which requires treatment.

The tap water, of which I normally drink quite a lot, tasted disgusting and a faint chemical smell wafted to my overly sensitive nose each time I filled the water glass.   The lighting in the apartment, which I had expected to be fixed before my move-in, was obviously going to be a problem (even when it was fixed).

I need light.

I need warmth to help cushion my chronic pain and other symptoms.

There were other issues with the seaside apartment of course. ¬† I don’t make hasty decisions in retirement, especially not decisions that cost $$$. ¬† Last week was the most expensive ‘holiday‘ I’ve ever taken ¬† ūüėÄ ¬† My bank account is still grumbling to itself every time I check the balance each morning.

Besides, I missed the birdsong which I wake to every morning here.   And,  I would have got obscenely fat on the wonderful hot fish n chips in which I indulged last week.

Why does hot fish n chips taste much better down the seaside?

I go with the flow and live my life Mindfully each day. ¬† Enjoying the simple things and ‘stopping to smell the roses’, if not every day, then certainly each week at some time or other.

But my health comes first (in retirement). ¬† I can’t afford to get chilled in Winter (or over-heated in Summer) with a serious heart condition, which was upgraded from mild to severe last October.

So I’m now back online with 101 seagull images to share – well not quite 101, but I did take a lot of photos of them in the 3 wonderful short walks I did last week. ¬† They had to be short walks due to pain levels, but they were definitely ‘sweet’.

Oh, it was glorious to live beside the sea.   The smell of the sea air outdoors was a heady balm to my senses.   The screeching of the seagulls as they dived in when I threw my rapidly cooling chips in the air was really a delight. Twice, they even lined up on the old weathered pier edging waiting to pounce each time I lifted my arm.

But now I’m back home. ¬† There are still all the issues that made me leave this riverside multi-story building, but I’ll just have to overcome them and make this tiny apartment ‘work’.

The beachside apartment never felt like home.   It felt like an empty freezing cold concrete shell to me (that just happened to reside in a fantastic location near the sea and 3 nature reserves).   Anyway, at least I now know how to get there in the summer via a (long?) 2-bus trip if I wish to.

I have some ongoing health issues to investigate, but I’ll be back online more regularly soon.

I’ll leave you with some wonderful images of a mural that was visible down a tiny side lane in the main shopping area. ¬† I only had one camera over my shoulder – the Sony a6000 with its 55-210mm kit lens, so couldn’t fit the whole mural into the one shot.

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

There is a point at which everything becomes simple
and there is no longer any question of choice,
because all you have staked will be lost if you look back.
Life’s point of no return.

Dag Hammarskjold

Sorry, I’ve neglected my nature blog for a couple of weeks, but I’ve been very busy offline (furniture repairs and restoration) and hunting for a new (ground floor) apartment. ¬†This post is for Linda (who was looking for a few pink water lilies recently).

Enjoy……..

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower
 Albert Camus
Despite the gusty wind and overcast day yesterday, I couldn’t help but admire the Japanese Maple leaves tossing around above my balcony fence. ¬†Thank goodness the dead branch is on the other side of the tree next to the road and I can barely see it from my desk chair.
I sat and watched the leaves in lazy silence as I ate my lunch at my desk. ¬† Who could resist getting the camera out and making a few images. ¬† For a change, I didn’t actually worry whether the results were in focus or not. ¬† I just enjoyed the tangle of colour as the wind picked up speed, died down, and then picked up and raced faster than ever down my steep cliffside short road.
The Fairy-wrens and House Sparrows are out in great numbers today and I’m hoping the sun will stay out and give me an opportunity to get out in the fresh air. ¬† Hard to believe Winter is on the horizon and the last 3 months of Autumn have flown by in a haze of TV News and mostly deserted streets.
I feel as though I’ve missed Autumn altogether this year.
I came across this sunset captured in early Autumn Р3rd March 2018 BC (before construction across the road) as I looked back to see what was happening the same time in previous years.
It never ceases to amaze me how one minute the sunset is gold and orange and next minute……..pink, mauve, blue or purple…….in the same night.
SUNSET up on the clifftop opposite my apartment balcony – 3rd March, 2018

 

GRAPE HYACINTH (Muscari armeniacum)

GRAPE HYACINTH (Muscari armeniacum)

I first saw this tiny blue flowering plant on a corner flower bed in a residential garden on my route to my office back in my working life.   (I worked across the road from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne for the benefit of new followers).  I loved its delicate tiny blue flowers and used to look for it each Spring.

When I bought a camera and took up Photography as a hobby in May 2010 after taking early retirement, it was one of the early flower images I was pleased to capture.

The image above date back to 22nd August 2012 and after reading about it this morning I delayed my offline tasks and decided to share it.

***********

As an aside, I spent ages over the weekend making a copy of a couple of seascapes and converting that copy to Black & White for my other blog. ¬† I must have spent an hour editing them and creating what looked like a pen & wash type of image. ¬† I also re-edited a whole series of images made down at St Kilda Beach and Boat Marina in July 2012, but after a software update in the last couple of days, they’ve completely disappeared – the copies and the edits.

I did the same for a scene showing a Father and 2 children walking along St Kilda pier. ¬†That is……making a copy of the colour image first and then converting it to Black & White and editing the copy (leaving the original in colour).

Now, the colour version has completely disappeared so I’m left with a B & W version that won’t reset back to colour since the software update.

Actually, none of my B & W images will revert back to colour since I bought a new computer and had the latest software installed last year.   After buying an Apple Mac Pro back in 2012 I used to always be able to revert images or retain editing after software updates.

Has anyone else done an Apple Catalina software update in the last couple of days and found images changed or disappeared? ¬† The photo library which I’ve had trouble with since I bought a new desktop computer and updated to Catalina software in May 2019 drives me crazy anyway. ¬† The worst problem is the images freezing within minutes of opening the library each morning and the only way to resolve it to log off and reboot the computer…….sometimes many times in the one morning. ¬† There is nothing wrong with the rest of my Catalina software. ¬† Only my photo library and ability to edit images. ¬†It’s version 10.15.4

 

# A PHOTO A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY – Day 45

……and here ends the theme of a photo a day from my archives¬†(while in lockdown).

So what’s next you may well ask. ¬†Probably some more photography, but not necessarily sharing every day. ¬†I might even set up a new website as I quite enjoy changing themes and layouts and I have some new B & W images to upload to my old B & W site which I haven’t used in nearly 12 months.

I have some offline tasks to do also. ¬† I’ve finished rejuvenating my TV table and now about to start on my dining table which got damaged in the apartment move 3 1/2 years ago and I’ve never found the time to repair the surface.

Tomorrow, some of our restrictions in my state of Victoria, Australia, are being eased and we enter a new stage of restrictions – a little looser than the last 3 months, but still keeping up social distancing and encouraged to work from home if it suits. Hopefully, some shops will re-open as I have a long shopping list.

From the archives

8th July 2012

SILVER GULL (Larus novaehollandiae)