HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

Sometimes I wonder if I grow herbs for myself, or for the birds.

The House Sparrows, (and Fairy-wrens), are particularly fond of  Mint, especially the young leaves.

(excuse the soft focus in some of the images below, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the fast-moving little birds as they jump from pot to pot in search of tasty titbits.  Other times, after a long ‘photoshoot’  my arms ache and I find it hard to hold the heavy long telephoto lens still enough).

I’d clean the lounge windows for some clearer shots too, but the forecast is for rain this afternoon so no point cleaning them today.

Advertisements

IT’S COMING……….

Spring is clearly on the horizon.

Check out the tiny buds on the Japanese Maple in front of my balcony.  They’ve actually been there about 2 weeks……..waiting, waiting (and more waiting).

It’ll be like New Year Firework displays when they do open.

It’s almost like they’re on Standby at the moment………waiting for Mother Nature to ignite  their little ‘buds’ and throw a colourful Spring party.

The water-logged soil in the plastic pots in my apartment balcony garden is warming up too.

The Cherry Blossom trees near the carpark of the local supermarket have more than buds.   Some of those trees have very tiny flowers on them already (I noticed last week).

One of the Broccoli ‘Bambino’ seedlings I bought last Autumn, and took nearly the whole Winter to start growing, is DEFINITELY a cabbage of some sort (not a Broccoli).  I mentioned this in another post.   I also mentioned this incorrect plant labelling to the sales staff at the local plant nursery last week.

I wonder if I can cut off the outer leaves right now and cook them (like I do Spinach and Kale)?

I think the Superb Fairy-wren in the shots below is ‘a new kid on the block’.   It was late afternoon and overcast when I made the 2 photos.

Or maybe the soft downy feathers being ruffled in the strong wind, just make it look like a juvenile and different to my ‘regulars’.

The other seedling is obviously a real Broccoli (below).

All my herbs and my blueberry bush now have either new leaves and branches, or 3-4″ growth on their current branch tips.

What a joy Spring is.

The Blueberry bush I had bought last year and pruned back at the end of Summer is looking very healthy despite the fact that it’s ‘pot-bound’.

I’ll have to buy a larger pot next outing.

I took out the soil PH test kit I’d bought last year and finally read the instructions.  Actually I think I bought this small soil testing kit 18 months ago and never opened the box.  LOL

I discovered, of the 4 pots of soil I tested over last Weekend, 2 were very acidic and 2 were far too alkaline (for best herb growing conditions).   Of course I’ll have to test all the herb pots now.  Since prices on the bottles of soil conditioners at the local plant nursery almost equalled the cost of 3-4 large bags of organic potting soil, I have decided to replace the soil  in many pots and buy some replacement fresh seedlings.

Starting over again is always fun.

My Oregano, Lemon Thyme and perennial Basil were looking rather sad anyway, so instead of giving them another ‘haircut’, or prune, which certainly would have rejuvenated them, they and their soil were thrown out.  I’ll buy some new plants and being early Spring in a couple of weeks, I can bet they’ll be bursting with new growth within days.

I’ll water in some liquid fertiliser for a few hardy herbs that I’m keeping and hope that will suffice.

Young tomato plants had just arrived at the local Plant nursery  last Thursday, but it’s still a bit too cold to be buying young Tomato plants and settling them into new homes (aka pots) and I’ll wait another 2 weeks before I make my veggie seedling purchases I think.

Bunnings Hardware Warehouse plant nursery
Plenty of herb and veggie seedlings to choose from.

Well, that’s what I’m telling you blog followers.   I think you and I both know I can’t wait to buy new seedlings for my Spring garden and I’ll be lucky to wait just one week to make my next visit to the local plant nursery (let alone two weeks when Spring will really be here)   😀

*********

On the computer front……..

Last Thursday I got fed up with running out of internet allowance, so I did some research and decided to stick with my current internet service provider and sign up to a 50GB ‘casual’ internet plan (since my old 15GB wasn’t enough for the new 27″ iMac).   I only had to pay out $22.38 to end the contract early (before the 30th August, 2019, end date).

The previous weekend, 2 days after the start of my new billing month and next internet allowance, I used up 85% of the whole month’s allowance in 2 days (playing with the old laptop computer) and mostly had to stay off the computer for several days.

Things had taken a sudden turn for the worse due to my computer play and I started rationing my online time.

Still have problems with my Photo section on the new iMac but hopefully that will disappear when Apple release the next new software update in Spring.   I know many Apple users don’t have the same problems as me.

The GOOD NEWS is……. it finally occurred to me that I have many of my old ‘lost’ images in the WordPress ‘Media Library’ (that I lost in the Apple photo libraries as part of my computer crash and ongoing problems etc).

 

Duh!  Now, why didn’t I think of that before?

 

I tried to export my WordPress Media libraries back to my Computer twice on Monday……….. through the option on the WordPress dashboard, but the ‘export’ kept crashing.   Too big a file I assume.   So I’ll have to put my problem solving hat on again and see if I can work out a way to transfer the WordPress media library back to my Apple computer library a few images at a time.

I don’t mind if I end up with 2 copies of a few images.

I think the option on the Dashboard was ‘copy All Media Library’, so maybe I can’t use this method.   It all sounded so incredibly simple.

Any suggestions gratefully received.

Unfortunately, they (the WordPress Media Library) are all re-sized to a smaller size for uploading on my blog page, so I won’t be able to recover their original size (I presume).

I think this will be the only way I can re-gain some of my good ‘lost’ images.

Apparently there’s a plug-in that can do this,  but reading the instructions was too much for my Brain Fog to cope with on Monday.   My brain was occupied with shopping and cooking for an overseas guest yesterday.

I’ll read the WordPress Dashboard again this coming weekend.

Anyway, with outdoor Spring gardening work to be done and a host of other non-computer tasks this coming week, I’ve been too busy to upload a new post this past week.

 

SUPERB FAIRY-WREN (Malurus cyaneus) – MALE

Last week I mentioned being able to distinguish 3 Superb Fairy-wrens now.

One of which was the male with the eclipse (non-breeding) feather pattern and colouring.   If  you  look  at  the  face  and  the  breast  below (31st  July),  you’ll  see  what  I  mean. Those tufts of white/fawn/greyish colour are quite noticeable, almost like a moustache and clipped beard or ‘beard’ of one feather.

2 days ago, either this male has gone into full breeding plumage, OR it’s a different bird.

See below.

Not an especially good photo but you can see the clear back, cap & cheek pale blue colour.

Yesterday, after I’d arrived home from my morning errand, the sun was out and I decided to spend some time in my balcony garden preparing for Spring planting.  After re-arranging my potted plants and cleaning up all the winter leaf litter in the corners (and tipping out a few totally pot-bound withered plants and depleted soil), I came indoors to turn the computer on and out of the corner of my eye saw what appeared to be 6-7 wrens in the garden.

It was almost like a party.

Obviously stirring up all the soil and pruning back some herbs to 1″stubble, must have opened up some tasty food for my avian friends.

I noticed that male in full breeding plumage was back again but could see no signs of the fluffy feathers between the blue, SO I think it is my one and only male……. ready to breed.

In one week, he’s ‘changed his clothes’ and put on his best head and chest colours to ‘attract the ladies’.

The sun was a bit too bright, but I managed to get a couple of shots in reasonable focus to share.

This second shot is a bit clearer, but the brilliant sunlight, reflecting off the rain clouds, spoilt the shot a bit and over-exposed the breast feathers.

After all that physical work and heavy pot moving, my right elbow and lower back is extremely sore this morning and it hurts to type, so a couple of days rest is required methinks.

Spring is only 3 weeks away now, so my list for new plant seedlings is getting longer by the day, but I only have room for ‘x’ number of pots and only have the time and energy to carry ‘x’ number of heavy watering cans once the seedlings are planted, so I’ll have to ‘prune’ down my Seedling Shopping List a bit.

After all the weeks of watching and waiting for last year’s experiment in growing Capsicums and ending up with only 6-7 fruit and broken branches from the nightly possum (?) visits, I think I’ll concentrate on tomatoes, baby spinach, more parsley (English curly & Italian flatleaf) and some fast-growing leafy greens – they seem to grow the best on this hot west-facing balcony garden of mine.

Some images from the last 2 Summers below………

I found 3 Harlequin bugs over-wintering in the Lemon Thyme yesterday, so I REALLY must find a solution to their infestation this year.

A SENSE OF PLACE

For the new followers benefit, I ‘copied’ a Real Estate Agent’s photos off the internet, but unfortunately can’t give credit to the Photographer as there was no name mentioned.

It is not my deliberate intention to steal someone’s photo per se, but I can’t get the same view with any of my cameras.   I’d say this photo was made about 2 years ago going by the height of the trees in front of my balcony.   As I live on the road side of the building, my apartment is in shade up until about 1.30 – 2.00pm (and then the sun rises over the building and hits my balcony as the sun sinks in the west) – cool mornings even on the very hottest summer day.   But an extraordinary amount of sun up to about 9.00pm (daylight savings time in mid summer).

This hot sun enables me to grow vegetables on my balcony as well as herbs.

BUT the offside of the location and building placement means the wind gusts are sometimes gale force blowing between the buildings in the cooler weather.

It’s a bit like a wind tunnel.

IN THIS SHOT YOU CAN SEE THE SKYSCRAPERS, OR OFFICE TOWERS/APARTMENTS OF MELBOURNE CITY IN THE DISTANCE ABOUT 10 kilometres away.

There are 5 apartment blocks or rows of townhouse in my housing estate.   My suburb and river valley, first explored in 1803 (before Melbourne was built around 1835), was once natural bushland and a lush hunting ground for the Australian Aboriginal people before white settlement.  I live on a hill that was used to quarry bluestone, on which most of Melbourne’s early buildings were made from.

Much of the residential area you see in these photos has been built in the last 20-30 years (on the upper right hand side of the frame).   Even though you can’t see it, the river valley has very steep sides and my building is built halfway up a steep hill – well above the old flood line of the river.

Looking for images for this post, I suddenly realise just how many images from the last 3 years I lost in my computer crash at Easter.  It’s quite odd how some photos were able to be transferred by me from the old Mac Pro laptop to my new desktop, and other photos taken on the same day, came up with a message that their format was incompatible (with the new Apple  iMac desktop).

I said at the time that losing 3000-4000 images really didn’t matter – they were only photos.   But…….why did I have to lose some of my best bird shots.

Anyway, the river is about 6-7 minutes walk from my ‘back gate’ and that large clump of trees on the upper left side of the image below, is part of Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.  You can faintly see a pond, but this is not accessible due to the thick undergrowth and 8 foot high water reeds surrounding it.

On the upper right of the frame are more scattered trees which line an artificial watercourse, or canal, which joins the river.   There is another pond which IS accessible and where I photograph many birds (near the upper right hand corner of the above image).

In fact there are about 5 naturally landscaped ponds in the area.

If you’ve read the previous post, you will know the Developers are half-way through construction of a new apartment building opposite my apartment.

BUT to my dismay, that large field on the lower left (in the image above), which is enormous & very steep and only has about 1/4 of the field showing in the cropped image above, has now got a planning application lodged with the local council to build a whole new apartment and housing estate (on it)……..approximately 250 houses and apartment dwellings I gather.

If I lived on the eastern side of my building, overlooking the nature reserve and river, my view (from another real estate agent’s website) would look something like the shot below.

This side of the building faces east and gets the sunrise.   It also has owls and kestrels and other larger birds landing on the balcony fences according to my neighbours.   I’ve never seen an owl myself.   And if I’ve seen a kestrel high in the sky, I wouldn’t have known what it looked like.

While there wouldn’t be any loss of the actual  council land, nature reserves and green belt which goes up and down the river (far out into the bay on the other side of the city), I really worry about the impact, more urban housing, car noise, new access roads and general residential noise would have on the bird life and many of the indigenous flora and fauna.

Sorry to say I’ve lost some of my favourite bird shots, but the selection below gives you an idea of the potential birds and nature reserve which might feel the impact of 2-3 years of construction noise and extra residential noise a new housing estate next to mine might entail.

The estate agent’s images don’t really show the current landscape very well.

My images below certainly do 🙂

Since I moved to the area in October 2016, you can well understand how lucky I felt to live in such a unique urban environment – half in the suburbs and half in the country – (well, sort-of half in the country).   I didn’t choose the location for it’s nature reserve.   I chose it because it’s hard to get affordable rental properties in Melbourne at the best of times (and my apartment application won over many other applicants).

……AND THEN THERE WERE 3

I’ve been offline a lot lately, partly because I’ve been keeping a low profile with health issues getting in the way, but also because of my limited internet with the new computer (gobbling up my limited internet allowance). Hopefully that will change after the 30th August when my current internet plan ends and I seek out an affordable larger internet package.

I’ve also been spending more time observing the tiny Superb Fairy-wrens each morning on my balcony in the hope of recognising the individuals.

Like all tiny wrens, they rarely stand still.

I got the stepladder out on Thursday and FINALLY cleaned the full height of the exterior window surface (which usually bring on a few days of rain LOL) and yesterday, washed the interior surfaces of the floor-to-ceiling lounge windows.  I do this nearly every week in summer, but not much in winter when the fierce gusty wind drives the rain straight against my lounge windows.

Most of the bird images below were made earlier in the week, before I cleaned the windows.

While we’ve had less rain this past week, its still a bit too cold to leave the sliding glass door wide open during the day.  I’ve also been a little reluctant to leave the door open because a Superb Fairy-wren was about to hop indoors the other day.

I raced to the sliding door, which was open about 6 inches for some fresh air, and promptly shut it.

I might have been able to catch that New Holland Honeyeater who stepped inside (image on the left) and onto the window sill, but there’s no way I could catch the fast-moving little wrens if they came into my lounge room.

I’ve had up to 6-7 wrens grazing on the soil I’ve been turning over ready for my Spring herb/veggie planting and now………I can finally recognise 3 ‘regulars’. I never tire of watching them.

These 3 are my main visitors at the moment.

There’s that ever-present tiny female with her beautiful reddish-brown eye ring which I’m pretty sure is the same wren I’ve seen for many days now.  She doesn’t seem to have grown much.   She looks like a juvenile to me, but her orange eye-ring and orange beak are quite clear (so maybe not a juvenile, but an adult?).

I was reading some more about these regular avian visitors and it seems that the young males and young females can look very similar with their uniformly brown bodies and pale fawn underneath.   Their beaks may look more of a slate grey when young.

Sometimes the tail is more blue and a bit shorter – apparently this denotes a juvenile male.

Before reading up on them, I had thought the tails were all the same length.

The third easily recognisable fairy-wren is this adult male (below) with its distinctive eclipse, (or non-breeding), blue plumage.   The adult male changes its upper feathers to bright blue when breeding.

This image is pretty good considering the dirty rain droplets on the glass.
But they turn around so quickly I end up with dozens of shots of their rear ends.

It took me over a hundred shots to get these few images in reasonable focus over 2 seperate days.   I can’t claim these are my best bird shots since I took up photography in early 2010, but they’re pretty good having been made through dirty glass windows.

There’s no consideration of background or composition on my part when photographing these fairy-wrens in my balcony garden.   They move too fast.  I just try to get the bird in focus, before they fly, (or jump), to the next potted plant.   Most shots are soft in focus.

I’m pretty sure this is the same tiny juvenile male. All birds visit this trough of Mint as the leaves seems to be a bit tastier and it hasn’t grown much over the winter. In fact, I nearly threw this mint plant out in the rubbish as despite it’s many stems, it’s failed to produce enough decent green leaves for culinary use.
I moved this mint plant to the south end of the balcony in the hope the winter sun might give it a burst of growth – I think I can see more new green leaves (than tiny brownish ones) now.

************

I haven’t given you a balcony garden update for a while as I haven’t been out to clean and tidy up the faded winter leaves or disappointing lack of growth in my winter leafy green veggies.  There’s clusters of spent herb leaves and many dead Japanese Maple leaves blown in from the young tree located in front of my balcony.

It’s completely leafless now, although I detect some faint little nobs on the spindly branches  which might denote potential Spring growth?

I really need to get out there and move the pots around and clean up.  I’ve discovered over many years of living in rental apartments, (which have a mandatory clause in the lease demanding ‘clean & tidy’ interior and exterior), that’s it better to clean the balcony tiles on a regular basis so the seepage stains from  the pots don’t build up to the stage where one has to use harsh chemicals to clean the large tiled surface.

In winter I have saucers under the pots, but in summer I remover the plastic saucers so they can drain more freely.   Herbs do not like wet soggy feet.

I’ve got 2 Tuscan kale (Tuscano Nero) but they have been slow to grow this winter and only started growing in the above image about 7-10 days ago.

A week ago, despite being only 2/3rds of the way through Winter here in Melbourne, the herbs, Tuscan kale and Broccoli (called Broccoli Bambino – a high yielding baby broccoli with a long harvest period), suddenly put on a growth spurt with many new leaves.

This broccoli seedling has lots of leaves, but no centre “10 cent sized floret” ??????

I’ve never grown this variety of miniature broccoli before and although it does take 12-14 weeks until harvest according to the plant label, it seems like months since I planted these 2 seedlings.  Despite the same plant label in both pots, the leaves on one plant look different to the other broccoli plant to me.

The plant label says to remove the first floret from the plant centre when it is the size of a ten cent piece along with the two leaves just below.   Side shoots will mature 6 weeks later. (see below). I did this on the plant below, but no sign of this early floret on the plant above.

In some ways the leaves of the plant above look a bit like outer cabbage leaves?

I have limited knowledge when it comes to vegetable gardening.

The Sorrel is still growing like wildfire (despite me continually chopping the leaves off).

This image was made in Summer, but it still looks like this in Autumn, Winter & Spring.

I should have just planted more baby spinach, instead of that Broccoli.

Image from my ‘Baby Bunting’ variety of spinach last year.

Now that leafy vegetable grows much faster and despite regular harvesting of the outer leaves, 4 small plants grew enough for many months.  I ate the last of that crop 3 months ago.

…..and my Asian climbing spinach (below) only provided a couple of meals before it went brown and seemed to get some kind of disease and died.

That pot is now empty.

It had looked so promising and tasted absolutely delicious – the texture almost like velvet.

ASIAN CLIMBING SPINACH

Oh well, better luck with some new varieties.

I must admit I get just as much fun trialling new veggie varieties for my balcony garden, buying seedlings and watching them grow (as eating them).

I have two other pots of Mint, (beside the long low trough which the wrens love grazing on), and they have been doing ‘just fine’.

The new Rosemary seedling I planted a few months ago, in which I have been cutting the tips off for cooking, has also suddenly started growing new leaves.

Has the soil suddenly got a bit warmer a month before Spring?  The day and night temperatures are still cold.   Being an amateur gardener and fairly new to vegetable growing, I can’t help but ask myself “why this sudden growth spurt”?

My herbs usually perk up closer to September.

************

………and my eyes have been drawn to the construction site opposite too.  The construction crew have picked up the pace and are now working on a Saturday (as well as longer hours on weekdays), although they’re not on site today.   I’m used to the noise, but not the loud cursing which I’m sure they don’t realise drifts straight across to my building.

Still, they have a long way to go before finishing the 3 story apartment block on that very steep, weirdly-shaped site.

I took the photo (below) at dusk last night, hence the limited light and street lights being on.  As I live lower down on the hill you can only really see the ground floor of this new building, but it is against a 30 foot high cliff and the building will eventually be 3 stories high and completely block my view of the sunset colours.

Sigh!

This new building will completely block that blue sky/cloud you can see in the image below (if you can imagine triple the height of that ground level partly constructed apartment floor you can see in the image).   Due to the steep sloping hill, my 1st floor apartment is much lower than the new construction site.

I think I will have to close down my Sunrise, Sunset (& clouds that come in between) blog.

These wonderful sunsets from my balcony will no longer be visible.

At least I still get a small view of the sunset to the right of that apartment building (on the main road) for the time being.

BUT, there is a planning permit submitted to the local council to build a large housing/apartment estate on that enormous open field between the row of trees and my building.

Sigh!

(I seem to do a lot of sighing lately).

Life is impermanent.

Life is ever-changing, hour by hour, day by day and year by year, as I grow older.

BUT I will miss some of that wonderful view.   I can’t deny it now that the reality is sinking in.

 

MARIBYRNONG WETLANDS POND

MARIBYRNONG WETLANDS POND WITH THE LARGE ISLAND AND TREES IN THE CENTRE – 31st May 2017

At the risk of getting too repetitious, my trip to the Maribyrnong Wetlands pond on Monday of this week revealed all the usual ducks and scenery, but I’m a great believer in ‘making hay while the sun shines’.

If it’s sunny in mid-winter, any outing is worth all that lovely fresh air and practice with photographing the local bird life.

THERE WERE SEVERAL PACIFIC BLACK DUCKS AND MOST SEEMED TO BE IN THE SHADE/PROTECTION OF THE WATER REEDS, 2 DUCKS SWAM IN MY DIRECTION (IN THE HOPE OF SOME FOOD PERHAPS?)

The bus from right outside my local shops and medical centre takes me straight down the steep river valley to a stop about 20 feet from the large pond next to the river walking path.

ONE (OF TWO) DUSKY MOORHENS SWAM BY SO FAST I NEARLY MISSED THE SHOT.

When I got off the bus on Monday, I was rather taken aback at the strength of the wind and was wishing I had my walking stick, (or even my shopping trolley), to anchor me to the ground (and I am no lightweight).   If it had been raining and I’d had an umbrella, no doubt the wind would have blown it inside out.

THIS IMAGE TAKEN ON THE RIVER SIDE OF THE POND SHOW THE WIND SENDING THE WATER REED LEAVES NEARLY HORIZONTAL.

There weren’t many birds visible on the water surface which was rather strange in many ways, as the local children’s playground is next door and I can well imagine families with young children ‘feeding the ducks’ at any time of the day (or season).

The wind gusts almost seemed gale-force at one stage (and bitterly cold despite the warm sun and blue sky), that I quite literally, photographed the ducks, walked around to the other side of the pond, where I nearly got blown over, back across the rocky causeway and across the road to catch the bus home again 😀

 

There’s some lovely succulents in the long broad garden strip next to the bus stop and being on a raised garden bed means I can photograph them without bending down low.

The bus wasn’t due for another 35 minutes according to the timetable on the lamp post, so I crossed back over the road and caught a bus heading the other way to the local Asian fresh food market to get some vegetables and fruit and then…………………home again 🙂

That must be about the quickest, shortest walk I’ve ever done 😀

Note: I’ve added a couple of images from 2018 & 2017 to show the area (one at the start of this post and one below that I shared not too long ago).   The trees and water reeds you see in the top half of the image below are actually on the island, so you’re only looking at the eastern side of the large pond.

In summer this portion of the pond you see below is nearly dried up and the ducks tend to go around to the road side of the pond to find some water to swim in.

Near one of the other ponds, shown in the map below, about 10 minutes walk from my home, you’re more likely to see the birds near the end of this post.

THE BROKEN LINE DENOTES MY OLD WALKING PATH (BEFORE MY HIP OSTEOARTHRITIS GOT TOO SEVERE TO WALK VERY FAR) AND THE UN-BROKEN LINE DENOTES THE BUS ROUTE I NOW TAKE TO VISIT THE MARIBYRNONG WETLANDS POND. AS YOU CAN SEE BY THE LETTER “H” (FOR HOME), I LIVE ON THE EDGE OF THE GREEN BELT (UP AND DOWN THE RIVER). I’VE LIVED NEXT TO RIVER, PARKLAND OR THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS FOR OVER 30 YEARS – HOW LUCKY AM I.

The large expanse of lake-like water between the main river and the housing estates is often quite empty of bird life, but sometimes I get lucky (with the shots below).

WHITE-FACED HERON AT THE NEAREST POND ABOUT 10 MINUTES WALK FROM MY ‘BACK GATE’

GALAH (Cacatua roseicapilia)

This year, every time I think about giving up Photography (due to deteriorating health, eyesight and being more housebound), I have a great hour or two outdoors and manage to capture some new images to share.

Yesterday was one such day.

I walked extra slowly to the local medical centre for my appointment and passed the small park, (which is merely a grassy area about the size of a soccer field), under brilliant blue winter skies and a smattering of fluffy white clouds rushing across the blue expanse.   The wind was actually very fierce indeed.

While brilliant warm early afternoon sunshine makes for a lovely walk for some folk in mid-winter, it is not necessarily great for the amateur photographer.   It’s almost impossible for me to see well through the viewfinder in that bright glare, but I did have my lightweight Sony ‘mirrorless’ camera in a bag over my shoulder ‘just in case‘ anyway.

Depending on the weather after my appointment, I had thought about catching a bus down to the river and a walk around the Maribyrnong Wetlands pond.  The bus stop is about 20 feet from the pond so it is one of the few wetlands, or nature reserves, really close to public transport (and my home).

To my delight, (and I had allowed a whole hour to do the 10 minute walk 😀 ), I spied 12-15 Galahs grazing on my side of the stretch of grass.   Last time I’d seen them in mid June, I didn’t have a camera with me.

 

This time I stood still for a while and gradually crept up to where they had their heads down, greedily pecking away at the low rich green grass surface.

Every time one of the richly coloured pink and grey birds lifted their head and casually glanced my way, I stood stock-still as a tree trunk.

I’m good at that.

I TRIED TO GET A SHOT OF THE FLOCK AS 2 MORE LANDED, BUT MISSED THE SHOT AND CHOPPED THEIR LANDING OFF IN THE UPPER LEFT OF THE IMAGE. DID I TELL YOU THE LIGHT WAS BRILLIANT AND I COULDN’T SEE THROUGH THE VIEWFINDER VERY WELL?

Then I’d take another step or two and stand perfectly still again. I eventually managed to get to about 10 feet away from their grazing patch.

Great flocks of Galahs are very common in the countryside in Australia and found even far inland where there are vast plains and low-lying scrub or desert.

ALL OF A SUDDEN, AND WITHOUT ANY WARNING THEY ALL TOOK OFF AND OF COURSE I MISSED THAT SHOT TOO.

They’re a large and very distinctive cockatoo with back and tail pale grey with darker wingtips, neck and underparts a striking pale pink.   In some light, it’s more a bright pink as you can see in my images.

The immature birds have a greyer breast.

Gregarious, often noisey and usually feeding territorially, their voice is a distinctive high-pitched ‘chee chee’ screech.

I think they’re beautiful and being an urban dweller in a suburb west of Melbourne city, I rarely see them in my area, just in that one spot on a small field of grass.   I love to watch them down on the ground or flying round in ever increasing circles looking for another patch to graze on when disturbed.

They may be common as mud in the countryside, but to me, they’re a Treat!

THE FLOCK LANDED ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FIELD AND I DECIDED TO JUST KEEP WALKING AS MY APPOINTMENT TIME HAD NEARLY ARRIVED AND I WOULD BE LATE IF I DETOURED FURTHER.

I’ll have to do another post (of the water birds at the pond) later as I have to go out for another appointment today, this time via taxi, but as it’s sunny at the moment (despite the forecast rain), I might just take the camera outdoors again……….‘just in case’ 🙂

A LITTLE RAY OF SUNSHINE

When you have lots of little niggling problems eating away your day, be it with friends, family, work colleagues……home, work place ……….or your computer, it’s easy to lose sight of the ‘big picture‘.

It’s easy to lose sight of the beauty in the ordinary everyday moments, living one’s life Mindfully and appreciating all the positive aspects of living in a marvellous space surrounding by a green belt up and down the river (of parks and nature reserves).   Living in the Moment and not in the past or the future is essential for us chronic pain and illness sufferers.

But if you’re a healthy normal individual it’s a practice worth cultivating too.

The last couple of months have drawn me away from Mindfulness and sucked me into negative thinking, something I vowed I would not do after being forced to quit full-time work in early 2010 and take early retirement.   I’m not naturally a bright, breezy sort of person.   I have to work at it.  I’m the quiet deep thinker who watches life from the sidelines these days.

When I’m with my bright happy extravert friends, I tend to become one (bright, or lively & with a wicked sense of humour).  When I’m with sombre, negative, critical souls, I tend to to take on their negative traits and my mood darkens.   When my computer misbehaves, I curse…….sometimes quite loudly, if the problem doesn’t resolve quickly.

A finger points at the moon, but the moon is not at the tip of the finger. Words points at the truth, but the truth is not in words.

— Huineng

Walking home from the local medical centre yesterday, after a morning of intermittent rain showers,  I was blessed by brilliant sunshine.   Each leaf in the local park sparkled with droplets of rain, and the air was really fresh and inviting.

My mood was immediately uplifted with the sheer beauty of the avenue of stark leafless cherry blossom trees facing a large landscaped area of Euphorbias and low-lying succulents and the rich green hedges.  The faint laughter of a couple of young children in the local playground, as their father watched on with the family dog, provided a light backdrop.

I was also blessed with a relatively pain-free hip and lower back day.  My chronic knee and ankle pain was totally absent – a rarity these days.

I noticed the bushes of Polygala near the supermarket were in full bloom and fortunately I had a camera in my shopping trolley.    I don’t usually take it outdoors if the whole day is forecast for rain showers all day.

MILKWORT (Polygala myrtifolia).

Such a lovely burst of colour amidst the dreary cold days of Winter.

Those colourful blooms were certainly a very welcome sight.  Polygala is a very hardy plant and I’ve seen it in the most unforgiving surroundings.  It flowers from the end of Winter right through Summer, with a few flowers hanging around in the Autumn.   Yesterday was mid-Winter, so in one way, I was surprised to see the generous mass of blooms.

But the succulents and drought-hardy plants in the urns outside the local cafes, pharmacy & medical centre were just as pretty.  Someone in the area must have a ‘green thumb’.

On the way home, by the time I got to the top of my short steep road, most of the light had started to fade under some new dark clouds which heralded a possible rain shower.

I started to walk a bit faster.   There is really no shelter in much of my area, totally opposite to where I lived on the south-east side of Melbourne 4 years ago.

Looking towards the dying sun produced a fair silhouette (which I deepened by increasing the ‘black point’ in the iMac’s simple photo editing section of the software).   It wasn’t really this dark, but I happen to like silhouettes.   The scene wan’t a stunning landscape,  merely an urban space near a row of townhouses.  I kept wishing I had my Sony ‘mirrorless’camera, which takes superb images when there is bright light and strong contrast in the scene.   The Sony ‘intelligent auto’ setting is unsurpassed by my Canon DSLRs.

But as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you on the day.

************

……now, that I’ve had 3-4 fellow WordPress bloggers upload a new post from a Domain.com address, I’ve had a chance to confirm that the resolution posted by the WordPress Moderator/Staff member in answer to my query, is really (embarrassingly) simple.

I couldn’t press the LIKE button on the homepage of Domain.com blogs merely because I had one wrong preference ticked in Safari.

How simple a resolution is that…..

For the technology-challenged like me who use an Apple computer, go to Safari >>>then Preferences

 

>>>>>>then to the Privacy tab……which was ticked under Website tracking (ticked box) Prevent cross-site tracking….

and un-tick it as shown below 😀

So problem #1 is solved…………. (for me anyway).

Hope it helps someone out there in the blogasphere too.

Now on to the next computer problem 😀

SUPERB FAIRY-WRENS (Malurus cyaneus)

They say Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining, but my day, which revolves around my computer in the mornings, seems to have been one long thunderstorm of niggling, annoying ‘flashes of lightening’.

A couple of weeks ago I vowed I wasn’t going to upload another post that didn’t have new photos or positive affirmations of some kind.

Well, I haven’t got any new good photos or positive things to say about my (new) iMac so I thought I’d better upload something…..well…..anything,  to let you know I’m still here.

The only joy in my day has been observing the avian visitors to my balcony garden and even they have been few and far between and hard to photograph on the dark wintery days in the poor light.

Note: Having just typed that sentence, the clouds have now cleared and the sun has put in a cheerful appearance LOL

The weather has been very cold, wet and filled with gusty strong winds in recent days, so even my potted garden has been neglected.  The wind-blown dead Maple leaves are starting to collect up against the balcony fence making for good spider habitats.

My new baby Broccolini and Tuscan Kale seedlings have been very slow to mature.   At the rate they’re growing, Winter will be over before I see the fruit of my plantings.   At least my Blueberry has had lots of flowers.   So that’s a ‘positive’.

I suspect most of the Fairy-Wrens are hunkering down in the thick green hedges (3) across the road.   The workmen on the apartment building construction crew next to the hedges  have even been working through the rain and on Saturdays, but I doubt they’ll finish before the end of this year.

I wonder if they’ve got room to put in some new green landscaping.   Now THAT, would be a bonus 🙂

If my photo library screens didn’t keep freezing (resulting in me having to log off to reboot the computer) so many times each morning, I would have had my new photo library finished by now.

But it’s not.

Having to re-log onto WordPress every time I want to type a comment on my  favourite blogs and other ‘hiccups’ have made blog reading less fun than it used to be too.   So if you haven’t seen me around your blog much, I DO still read your posts, just too weary to think of a suitable comment, or unable to press the LIKE button due to some glitch.   At the moment there are 14 WordPress blogs I can’t LIKE (or COMMENT) on.

So I’m thinking I’ll go into hibernation mode for the rest of Winter in the hope that Apple release the next software update in a few months time which might work miracles and ‘set my computer free’  

I figure if I stay off the computer most of the time, then I can at least get some other tasks done on the TO DO list.

Since most of the images (above) were shot through dirty dusty windows, here’s a better shot of the female Superb Fairy-wren from the 10th April (below) to remind you of what they look like on a sunny day through the open sliding door.

PELARGONIUM ‘Survivor’

 

PELARGONIUM ‘Survivor”

I love photographing dew or raindrops on flowers (or grass).   I always think it adds another dimension to an ordinary flower image.

The Pelargonium in this post is not in flower in my balcony garden at the moment, but it was such a cheerful sight as I looked through my archives this morning (for something to post other than computer problems), I couldn’t resist sharing the image again.

……and for those interested in flower photography, brightly coloured flowers photograph much better early early in the morning, late in the day or on an overcast day.   Slightly under-exposing the image helps too.

SUNRISE

In my previous apartment on the north-east side of Melbourne, I had an extraordinary view over the rooftops to the south (from my 3rd floor level).

 Long-time followers will remember some of those beautiful sunrise (and sunset) images, but I thought I might repost some of the sunrise images for the many new followers who have kindly ticked that FOLLOW box in recent months.

For some strange reason, I nearly always woke up at dawn back in those days, 2015/16, and was able to quickly get out of bed, go out on to my apartment balcony and take photos of the sunrise.  I often wondered if it was the Birds that woke me at this time of day, especially the Spotted Turtle-Doves which became so tame and frequented my bird seed bowl and bird bath on my balcony.

I was looking for some heron photos in my archives yesterday and I came across these images made in early 2016 and I was reminded of that special time in my life.

Another bonus of arising at that time and living in that location was that the hot-air balloons originated in a field not far from my apartment block.  Not sure exactly where that field was, I just know I got to see the balloons as they drifted across my side of Melbourne’s inner suburbs close up and perhaps they could even see me in my PJs at that time of morning (pointing a camera in their direction).

 

**************

I’ve deliberately stayed off blogging and uploading images in an attempt to reduce my online time until my current internet plan ends on 30th August (when I’ll update to a larger internet package and can use the internet more liberally, including blogging).  I have been reading some of the blogs I follow though.

Yesterday, I never did find the heron images I wanted to re-share, so I switched over to the Apple Mojave software forums and WordPress forums in my ongoing hunt for the elusive answers to some computer issues I continue to experience with the new iMac desktop.

I’ve also kept some records trying to find patterns of each problem.

  1.  I still have to log on to WordPress every morning, despite ticking the box – remember my Password or logon details.
  2. I still have to type in my website details and name on sites where I never had to do this before.  Wordpress seems to continually think I’m a new user and logged out,  OR that blogger’s website seems to think that.
  3. I’ve finally found a more interesting fact.  I cannot press the LIKE button on the front page of every WordPress blogger I follow who is using a name with…..  .com, .net, .photo etc ……….only those @wordpress.com.  If you are a wordpress blogger who has the same problem, you may not have noticed that every .com site you can’t register a LIKE.

The only way I can press the LIKE button on those .com sites is to press it on my gmail inbox first and then open the bloggers website via the link, to read it. (note: I can’t use the WordPress Reader as I get dizzy scrolling through.  I use my gmail inbox for email notifications of new blog posts).

See my gmail inbox new post notification in my gmail inbox.

 

This is the area where I have to press the LIKE button first (centre of screen below).  This gmail inbox page is the only place I can get the LIKE button to register (located in the centre of the photo below) for those using .com site names.

 

Then I open up the blogger’s new post in the actual website below…

 

……After reading it, I usually then go to the bottom of that new post to doublecheck my LIKE has registered.  My ‘eye’ gravatar is second from the left below, so I know it’s registered.

 

Another interesting observation is that in those bloggers with dozens or hundreds of ‘LIKES’, my gravatar seems to randomly appear halfway through,  or towards the right of the line (of LIKES), even though I’ve only just pressed it seconds before via my Gmail inbox.  Normally when you press the LIKE button on the new blog post front page (of a blog site) it appears first in the line (of LIKE gravatars).

Not a problem.  Just an observation.

I have another problem with my Photo library screen freezing and the only way I can fix it is to log off the computer and then back on again.  I have to do this many times in the one day.  My Photo library screen keeps going blank (white) too.  It seems to ‘time-out‘ or something after only about 20 minutes.  When I switch over to the Safari to use the web, there are no blank screens or frozen screens, only the Photo Library screen does that.

It’s very hard to register a bug or problem and ask for help on a forum when it happens intermittently.  I noticed many other users have intermittent problems too.

Anyway, I spent some time reading the latest forum, or question and answer,  on Apple’s latest software Mojave version 10.14.5.

There are still so many ‘bugs’ and problems some users are having with this software release.  All I can say is that I hope they fix them in the next software update 1o.14.6. (supposed to be released in September ?).

I couldn’t find my issues listed in the forums though.

It seems some users, at random, experience ‘bugs’ with the latest software release and some users do not.  There didn’t seem to be any ‘rhyme or reason’.

Another observation was that when I was in hospital last Thursday and most of Friday, my Data Usage continued to show during that time, despite me not being at home with the computer on.

Is this my auto back-up disc working in the background as it automatically does a back up every hour on the current day?

NOTE: I connected my old Mac Pro laptop yesterday and once again tried to transfer some of the missing heron images to my new iMac and it continues to give me a message saying these images are incompatible and can’t exported.  Yet, other images either side of those heron images, taken at the same time, of the same day, did get perfectly exported and appear on my new iMac.  (I used the ‘heron’ images merely as an example.  There are still hundreds of images I can’t export, despite the 9381 I did successfully transfer a few weeks ago).

This new computer is still a mystery to me.

I don’t think it’s a ‘dud’.  I think I’m one of those users who merely has problems.

I used to have an extraordinary amounts of computer problems in my working life and my immediate Boss and the whole I.T. department, (who supported the staff), could never figure out why some processes or screens worked for them and not for me, even when they stood behind me and watched my fingers and processing routine.

I am definitely not a computer ‘nerd’.

 

NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae)

I’d just turned on my computer and settled down to my morning coffee and Sunday morning scrambled eggs on toast, when I spotted a new bird out on the Japanese Maple in front of my balcony.  I could only see the outline on the bare-limbed young tree through several layers of dirty glass, but had a fair idea of what it might be due to the shape alone.

(Yes, I eat breakfast at my desk, always prepared for early morning avian sightings).

Unfortunately it flew away before I could drop the fork and pick up the camera with the long 150-500mm lens and turn it on.  I’d set up the 2 cameras (Canon DSLR and Sony ‘mirrorless’) last night with Shutter Priority and cleaned the lenses having ‘wasted’ half the day following the Superb Fairy-wrens around my balcony garden yesterday afternoon.

Thick fog surrounded my apartment building and the construction site over the road so it was an exceptionally chilly Winter morning.

Tomorrow is supposed to be colder and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear on the News that the low-laying hills surrounding the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne had got a thin dusting of snow.  My younger brother, who lives on the other side of these hills up in the country, is at a much higher altitude than me and would be sure to email me some photos if this weather phenomenon did occur.

I braved the full force of the chill and flung open my sliding glass door to my balcony, took the lens caps off both cameras and got prepared for the wait.

I’d been about to reply to overnight blog comments, but completely ignored the computer screen and sat watching for the slightest movement outdoors signally bird activity, instead.

I slowly lifted the piece of toast piled high with creamy eggs and a heavy covering of chopped English Parsley and started to open my mouth, when……..

…….all of a sudden, I got such a fright, (or, should I say….thrill 🙂 ), when a bird flew in the open doorway and nearly into my armchair by the window about 4 feet from my desk chair.

The bird crashed around indoors frantically trying to find the open doorway and freedom again.

$&#!  How could I catch it.  No way with my hands that’s for sure.

I’d caught a Spotted Turtle-Dove in my hands and released it when it got stuck under the glass balcony fence in my previous apartment, but those Doves were relatively calm since I’d been feeding them every day for months.  Towards the end of that tenancy, I could go out to the balcony fence and fill the seed and water bowls with the Doves sitting about 12-15 inches away from my hands (if I moved very, very slowly).

I’d also caught a tiny Fairy-wren in my hands when it got stuck between a flower pot and the glass fence in my current apartment and released it into the air only a year or so ago.

But this was a New Holland Honeyeater – wild, not used to close human proximity, and frantic, desperate for escape.  It was flying and crashing fiercely into the dusty lounge windows and flying so fast I thought it might hurt itself.

There was nothing I could think off on the spur of the moment, so I picked up the DSLR with the long 150-500mm.

$&#! I said again.

“Zoom back out, you idiot,” I said to myself.

I was too close.

I’d left the 150-500mm zoomed ready for Birds on my Balcony as approximate camera settings save time when these fast-moving birds land on the garden or balcony fence.

So I put the camera back on the desk and picked up the Sony a6000 with the shorter telephoto lens and blow me down if the lens didn’t jam.

I frantically pushed the shutter button, willing it to release, but the camera wouldn’t work.

I softly said a different expletive (as though a different swear word might magically unlock the ‘mirrorless’ camera 😀 ).

I rarely swear now I’m a little old(er) lady with greyish hair…… (as though my age and appearance might somehow preclude me from the uttering of such language).

Gosh, I only used to swear when I hurt myself, or the computer acted up in my working life,  but I admit to more than a few expletives since I’d bought my new iMac on the 3rd May this year.  You’ll understand if you’ve read my previous few posts.  This is meant to be a nature blog, not the saga of my current computer/internet issues.

Anyway, back to the story……

I picked up the Canon DSLR again and zoomed back out and managed to fire off a few shots, before the bird suddenly found the open doorway and flew away.

I had no idea if I’d got the Honeyeater in focus as the area was relatively dark at floor level this time of morning, (while the west-facing lounge room and balcony was in full shade on this frigid cold Sunday morning).

I quickly transferred the photos to the new 27″ iMac and carefully reviewed the multiple shots (as both cameras were set on continuous shooting).

I found 4 images that were good enough to share.

Here ’tis…………. (and not a word about my lousy internet troubles).

Do the long-term followers remember when I found 2 tiny New Holland Honeyeater chicks in December 2017 – one on my balcony fence and one on the Eucalyptus sapling between my balcony and the road?

Now, that……..really was a thrill, especially when I went out to attempt a photo of the chick on the fence railing from about 12 inches away and it opened its eyes and stared straight at my camera lens without the slightest fear at all.

******************

(and thanks to all those followers who’ve offered suggestions about my computer and internet problems – I’ll follow some of them up).

I’ve finally discovered the best way to deal with these pesky computer/internet issues.

Stop thinking about them and stop writing about them  😀

******************

A rare shot made in deep shade, which when lightened in post processing, revealed a NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) – FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE (behind my apartment building) –  17th December 2017

 

GOOD NEWS & BAD NEWS

17th June, 2019 – Maribyrnong Wetlands pond – PACIFIC BLACK DUCK (Anas superciliosa)

Actually, I lie.

There is no good news (on the computer front).

The Apple Technician came to my home on Thursday and spent ages going through my new iMac desktop computer – settings, preferences and operating system.  He also checked how large I was uploading my images and daily use (activity monitor).  He said my usage was miniscule compared to most internet users,  and in the last month, since buying the desktop on the 3rd May, could in no way account for the large internet usage  (and also compared to my normal usage in recent years on the old 2012 Mac Pro laptop).

The technician was brilliant and even set up my spare 2T drive as an auto back-up for me (as the proper Apple Time Machine back-up drive I bought some years ago wasn’t recognised by my new computer).

No wonder I couldn’t set up the Apple Time Machine myself – it would seem it was no longer compatible with my new iMac.

A SAD, BUT FREQUENT SIGHT, IN OUR WATERWAYS THESE DAYS

He suggested I ring my Internet Service provider (again!!!!) – Telstra – and ask if someone else was logging into my IP address (to account for the way I was losing my limited internet allowance).  I rang Telstra that night and they insisted I was the only person using that IP address and the connection and WiFi was ‘just fine‘ from their end.  Same answer as when I rang them a couple of times before.

The Apple Technician did untick ‘advertising’ and another ‘preference’ as I don’t use them, but left all the other settings exactly as I had aligned with my old 2012 Laptop (for the most).

LOOKS LIKE A YOUNG GREY TEAL (very much like a female Chestnut Teal but has a paler neck).

So……… I’ll just have to wait until my current internet plan finishes on the 30th August, 2019 and buy a new, much larger one.  All you working folk with wages/salaries may think this is the obvious choice, but when you live on a frugal pension as I do, any increase in regular monthly bills is frowned upon.

With no resolution in sight, I’ll just have to restrict my online time for the next 10 weeks or so.   It will be interesting to view the data usage for this long post tomorrow morning when I log in to my Service Provider’s website and check out ‘internet data usage’ on my account.  Hope it didn’t wipe out the next fortnight’s date allowance.

I saw a White-plumed Honeyeater ((Lichenostomus penicillatus) on my Japanese Maple tree on Thursday afternoon, but with my cameras tucked safely up in their soft pouch storage bags awaiting the Apple technician’s arrival, I could do nothing but admire this rarely seen honeyeater in my area.  

Apparently, they’re quite common, but I’ve only seen one once before near my local nature reserve and once down at Jawbone Conservation Reserve in the bayside suburb of Williamstown.

Since most of next week is going to be dry and sunny, time to do some maintenance in my Balcony Potted Garden perhaps.   I’m pleased to say we’ve had lots of rain in Melbourne for the start of Winter – just hope the farmers got some out in the country.

I ended up catching a bus down to the Maribyrnong wetlands pond (also known as Edgewater Wetlands or Bunyap Park) last Monday (instead of the local pond near Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my apartment building).

It was such a beautiful Winter day.

I took lots of photos of the bird life, although with the bright sun bouncing off the soft fluffy cloud cover, I couldn’t see much through the view finder, much less the LCD screen on the back of the camera(s)..  About 85% of myshots were blurred, heads or feet chopped off etc.

Of course some of those ducks swim very fast and constantly diving down to the pond floor searching for some tasty morsel to satisfy their appetite, so like the Fairy-wrens who fly around my balcony garden, you’ve got to be quick thinking and focused to catch them within the frame.

Didn’t stop me trying to photograph the birds – I figure if I took enough photos last Monday, there was sure to be a few ‘keepers’ through sheer good luck 😀

NOTE:  I was also misinformed when I bought my computer.  AppleCare, (for which I paid 3 years support), DO NOT SEND OUT technicians to your home for software issues, only hardware issues.  All software issues are dealt with over the phone or in-store.  I must have sounded pretty desperate on the phone for AppleCare to send a technician out to my home for my issues which have been keeping me frustrated and at times, verging on taking the $@%#& iMac back to the store for a full refund  😀   I’m exaggerating of course, my old Mac Pro laptop, with it’s slowed speed (since updating the software over Easter which made it seriously ill), would send me insane well before the new, fast-as-lightning iMac desktop (with ‘hiccups’). 

BTW the construction site opposite my building is abysmally slow with all the rain we’ve had.  It’s a real eyesore looking out my lounge window, but I guess it does make for jobs and income for the locals, so I just have to be patient (until it ends).  As I walked down my steep road from the bus stop on the main road, I couldn’t help staring at its ugly mess which spoils my view from my desk located in front of the windows of my lounge room.

 

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Winter

The dying Autumn leaves have mostly drifted down to the ground now and the Japanese Maple in front of my apartment balcony is revealing the tiny birds – House Sparrows and Superb Fairy-wrens that visit me each day.

They bring so much joy into my day now that I’m more housebound.

I put some seed on the balcony fence rail to tempt them this morning and was quickly rewarded by a number of House Sparrows peck-pecking and spitting out the husks.  The bag of canary seed I’m using up, isn’t much use to the tiny Fairy-wrens though.

One of my veggie troughs is almost bare and I ran a stick through its surface to allow more of the Winter rain to soak into the roots of the last baby Spinach plant in that container and to my surprise, the Fairy-wrens seem to find something tasty to graze on.  I can’t see what they’re eating, but they do seem to enjoy whatever it is.

********

I’ve resolved 3 problems on my new iMac, including the main one whereby my gmail and web browsing sites keep opening to a window I don’t want.  I might add this particular issue should have been easily resolved by the AppleCare Helpdesk who screen-shared with me last week.  Hmmmmm……….

The saga continues with the new computer gobbling up my limited internet allowance each month so I am continuing to keep off the internet for the most part.  Today, I’m making an exception, although I continue to monitor my internet data usage each morning to keep within my limits this month.  It cost an extra $40 last month and I fail to see why as I was mainly working offline on my Photo Library.

On Saturday I went to Apple Store with some photos I’d taken of my issues to explain my problems more fully and I was fortunate to have an exceptionally good staff member who gave me some answers, although I do await the home visit of a technician in the coming week (?) who has been booked by AppleCare Helpdesk over the phone.

While the Apple Store staff member did say photos take up more internet due to the exceptionally high resolution screen of the 2019 27″ iMac, I really can’t believe they take 2 1/2 months worth of extra internet each month.

I also went to the Telstra (my internet service provider) store in the same shopping centre and sought some advice on what affordable larger internet packages I might sign up with.  Unfortunately my current contract doesn’t end until the 30th August, 2019, so other than paying extra $$$ for every GB I go over my limit for the next couple of months, I can’t do much about that.  I will continue to reserve my internet use to mostly banking, checking emails and bill paying online with the occasional visit to a few blogs I follow.

I had a quick look at a few blogs I follow in WordPress this morning, but can’t press the LIKE button on some sites.  This is an old problem I had years ago and I can’t remember how I fixed it.  I also have to keep logging on to WordPress each day……and 500px……and National Geographic Shot of the Day (which I occasionally submit images to).

I have to admit this new computer is testing my patience, but with brilliant winter sun and glorious blue skies filling my view out my lounge window, methinks I should turn off that pesky computer and attempt a walk to the local pond.

NO NEED FOR AN UMBRELLA TODAY 🙂

 

AUTUMN LEAVES…………..

From the archives……

28th May, 2013

We’ve had rain every day (and often overnight) for about 10 days now and the forecast for next week  looks like it’s going to continue.

None of my cameras are waterproof and with the massive task of setting up a new Photo Library, it’s been a good time to work indoors.

Unlike when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens 4 years ago, where there were lots of sun shelters and a couple of restaurants, there is no shelter from the rain or strong winds walking along the river behind my current apartment block, so even light rain showers prohibit walking outdoors with a camera.

Not that I can complain about the inclement weather (it plunged down to 11C degrees the other day), we badly need our dams and water reservoirs filled after such a dry Summer here in Melbourne.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS SHOTS FROM early 2011

This week’s goal is to file 2011 images (and re-create their respective folders with names).  If you’ve read the last few posts you will know I have a new computer and have had trouble importing my Photo Library (and lost my whole image filing system).

With a very cold wet windy weather forecast for this week, I should make great headway stuck indoors (again 😀 ).

I came across these images (above) made in first few weeks in 2011.  I’d been using a small Canon ‘point and shoot‘ camera since taking up Photography as a hobby in May 2010 and became totally addicted to the art of Photography.

In December 2010 I bought my first Canon DSLR and 100mm macro lens intending to do flower photography, but soon found the brisk winds in Melbourne made it difficult, so I did lots of research and ended up buying a 18-200mm lens a couple of months later (and borrowed my SIL’s 55-250mm lens for a month also).

I experimented a lot.

After using full Auto for most of 2010, I never used Auto with the Canon DSLR.  I dove straight into Manual mode (although I had to use Auto Focus with such poor eyesight).  I had no idea about the ‘exposure triangle’ and how to use Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, but somehow I ended up with fairly good exposure all the same.

I’d also dug a ‘big hole’ in my $3000 photography budget.  A small $6000 inheritance is well and truly gone today – 2019.

Photography is not a cheap hobby.

To this day, I still think the 18-200mm lens is the perfect all round general lens (especially if you’re new to Photography and can only afford one lens).  Both 18-200mm lenses I bought for my Canon DSLR in 2011 and my Sony a6000 in 2015 have died and I have other lenses now.

 

I also became addicted to shallow DOF (Depth of Field or Bokeh or background blur).  

????? An Acacia (wattle) of some kind ?????

…..and started photographing leaves, seeds and tree bark.

The images in this post are a random collection of whatever I saw on my afternoon walks in the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens, (where I used to work opposite for 16 1/2 years so knew the area well).

I walked to wherever I could get to via public transport at that time.

Even Melbourne Zoo – but that’s another Story……..

 

SLOW WORK……..

WALKING PATH IN THE FIELD DOWN BY THE LOCAL RIVER – 2016 – JUST AFTER I MOVED TO THIS SUBURB AND APARTMENT BLOCK.

Re-creating my whole image library and folders is slow work, but at least I’ve got all my images in the one place on the new computer now.  Initially they seemed to be in one big lump, but after I logged off and on a few times, they miraculously appeared in date order (phew!).  Most of you will find it hard to believe it took about 7-8 tries.  In the end, I finally managed to get 9812 images (out of some 15,000+ showing on the spare 2T back-up disc) in place, 50-100 at a time.  I suppose if I’d made a special trip to the nearby shopping centre (mall), I could have bought a different cable and joined the laptop to the new desktop.

When you don’t have a car, you tend to think twice about going out for just one errand.

I imagined being able to do this transfer of images with the old computer next to the new computer wirelessly.  After all, the new computer seemed to copy my ‘favourites’ and other set-up tasks that way in-store when I bought it.    I spent a couple of hours with a ‘set-up’ technician in the store and it magically seemed to happen.

I’ve given Mr Google some serious and lengthy questions/research in recent days.  I find Mr Google a great source of information (as long as I word the question correctly 😀 )

I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND COMPUTERS AND THEIR LITTLE IDIOSYNCRASIES.  GOSH, IN 1985 I USED TO WRITE SMALL SIMPLE COMPUTER PROGRAMS (when I had spare time as a Human Resources Consultant) so I’m not a complete beginner when it comes to Computers.  I guess the problem lies in my having no interest in modern technology in retirement.  I haven’t kept up with the times (and have forgotten the past).

Now the task of re-creating the 895 +/- folders is in place, I should have no trouble at all making speedy headway in filing 9.000+ images..

Imagine a Public lending library with a pile of 10,000 books on the floor and rows of empty shelves.  I am picking up a few books at a time and laying them on the shelves in a filing system which has no labels or positions on any of its 30+ shelves.  I think that might be a good analogy.

BUT, I have looked in this library a zillion times in the past, so I can still picture in my mind where most of the ‘books’, (aka photos), are to be placed AND in which order (to make them readily accessible).

SILVER GULL DOWN AT THE LOCAL RIVER BOAT DOCK

At the same time, I am finding my way around new software and a new Mac desktop computer (after my small Mac Pro laptop combined with a 27″ Dell high resolution screen I used for 6+ years).  I’m having to learn new ways of doing the same task and not bothering to look at ‘the manual‘.

I’ve learned one thing and that is to use the control key (whereas in the past I used to right click on my old computer mouse).   Young technology educated folk might find this one very funny, but seriously, this old gal finds current computers worse than learning a new language.

THE SILLHOUETTE OF 2 RAVENS ON AN ELECTRICITY POST DOWN NEXT TO THE LOCAL RIVER

So in no particular order (or any subject), I plucked a few miscellaneous images from 2016 to share in this post today.

I found another image of that Frogmouth I photographed on the north-east side of Melbourne (below).  It looks fast asleep high up in the tree above me at the time of shooting.  It looks rather like a fluffy owl in this shot.  It wasn’t that far away from me, but I did have to look up almost vertically to photograph the bird.

I also found my first (good) image of the White-faced Heron only a few metres further upriver from the same Yarra River location (next to my previous apartment).

WHITE-FACED HERON (Egretta novaehollandiae)

Doing this Photo Library set-up again is like meeting ‘old friends’ with whom you’ve lost touch and suddenly bump into with an exclamation of surprise (and delight).

At the same time, yesterday, I finally managed to plant the seedlings I’d bought at the local hardware/plant nursery last Sunday.

Forgot to take a photo but here’s some of the garden in the Golden Hour the other night.  It’s looking quite lush and green due to recent rain showers and some liquid fertiliser.

 

It’s been raining on/off and rather windy during the week, so I was loathe to venture outdoors to do this simple task in my Balcony Garden.

MOVE CLOSER….

From the archives….

11th February, 2014

I don’t know whether its something to do with being extremely short-sighted, but I’ve always been a ‘details‘ person.

It’s a character trait that served me well in my old accounting job over the years and I haven’t changed since I had to take early retirement and took up Photography as a hobby in 2010.

As I go through my old photos, transferring them slowly to my new iMac computer in recent days, I’m amazed at how many shots I’ve taken showing the details of flowers, plants, leaves……………… and the ground.  The spare 2T hard drive I used as an intermediary had lots of old deleted images on it (as well as the 2 photo libraries I’d transferred there in recent days).

The image above was in a series I took  of the water course in Fern Gully (located in the centre of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne).

I spent a whole afternoon with the camera on a tripod testing out various shutter speeds to see which one I liked the best when shooting moving water.

It was so interesting experimenting and if you’re new to Nature Photography, I urge you to do the same.

Don’t copy someone else.

Find your own style and camera settings.  Experimenting is one of the quickest ways to learn how to use your camera, which settings make for good exposure and how to develop your own Photographic Vision.  Sure, tutorials and manuals are a great guide.  But personally, I think I learned more by experimenting and reviewing the results on a large screen.

I think I ended up with a shutter speed of 1/20 as my favourite to achieve a slight blur but still retain a sense of movement.  I’m not a big fan of those images in which the photographer has ended up with a ‘sea of foam’ which is so popular in seascapes and water falls etc

The same afternoon, I also took a few photos of this Australian Wood Duck couple in the shallow part of the main lake in the RBG.  The greyish bird in the background facing the other way is an Eurasian Coot.

I hope to be back to ‘normal’ blogging on my Nature Blog in about 7-10 days (if no more interruptions happen).

Last night  I had to type in my password to update Adobe and somehow a virus hopped on to my computer.  It was a ‘Smart Search’ browser virus.  It kept changing my Google Homepage and as it ‘greyed-out’ where you type in the homepage details in ‘Preferences’ on my iMac, I couldn’t get in to fix it.  When I logged on, it kept running a virus scan and telling me I had 217 problems, or faults, and I needed to pay the Virus folk to fix it.

Grrrrrr!

Anyway, the Apple Helpdesk quickly jumped in to screen share and after about half an hour we managed to get the virus in the Trash Bin and eradicate it.

AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK (Chenonetta jubata) – female juvenile

This young Australian Wood Duck caught my eye as I’m gradually re-creating my whole Photo Library and filing system (before exporting it to my new iMac desktop computer).

These medium-large ducks, with their long necks, are very common in the urban landscape, whether it be public parks and gardens, or near my local nature reserve (just behind my apartment building).    While I’ve shared this image before, never hurts to have another look.

The male has a brown head with substantial drooping crest, chestnut-speckled grey breast, grey body and black rump and a relatively small beak.

The female has distinctive white stripes above and below the eye as you can see in the juvenile’s head above.

***************

This blog is taking a break until I have either reviewed every image in my old photo library, deleted the worst and then transferred everything across to my new computer, OR I get outdoors to take some new images (not likely as I’ve been too busy).

I’m currently working on the photo library on my spare hard drive – which is in no particular order – date, location or image number.

They’re all mixed up.  Last month’s photo is next to a 2018 images and so on.

After various attempts and 3 different methods, I have found no easy, quick way to move my images from the old laptop to the new desktop without losing precious photos (or the old filing system with its various folder names).

Some of you may think reviewing thousands of images, one at a time is a ghastly laborious task, but once I made the decision to stop worrying about blogging and blog reading and just concentrate on the task, it’s become a rather strange, but relaxing meditation in Mindfulness.

I just concentrate on the image I’m looking at, make the decision to either keep or delete and neither worry about how many images I’ve done so far, nor how many I have to do in the future. Ten images or ten thousand images.  Makes no difference.

Just concentrating on one image makes everything doable.

The breeze is lovely and cool wafting in my open balcony door and the bird song fills the background (despite the construction crew on the building site across the road).

The Sparrows and Fairy-wrens continue to explore my potted plants which I find rather strange as there’s no bird seed scattered about and no fresh shoots to graze on.

Do they start each day thinking about past food offerings and visit my garden in Hope, or have they short-term memory problems like me and forget what they did, or didn’t find, yesterday?

The Autumn weather is absolutely glorious in Melbourne at the moment, but life has been busy with tradesmen arriving to make window alterations, so I have furniture moved and books piled high (out of their shelving) and health issues taking a dive downhill and 2 seperate visits to the local hospital in the last 10 days.   

Despite these interruptions, I have to say the warm sun, minimal traffic noise and soft Autumn breeze, makes every day a good day at the moment.