THE ‘TO DO’ LIST

Somewhere in my ‘to do’ list was……. go to the hardware/gardening centre (to get more shade cloth, longer bamboo stakes, more mint & parsley plants ……and so on.

This errand has now gone to the top of THE ‘TO DO’ LIST.

I inspected the tomato plants just now.  It’s lovely and cool while my balcony remains in shadow each morning and my favourite time of day to check out the garden and refill the bird bath.  I have got two tomatoes with sunburn – the one and only ripe one and another one which is still green.

Many leaves have been eaten by caterpillars, (but not the fruit), and many branches now broken in the strong gusty winds and storms Melbourne’s had.  And I am writing to the author of one of my herbals to tell them Sage & Rosemary plants DO NOT deter Cabbage Moth Caterpillars 😀

The bundles of larger tomatoes seem to hang on the lowest flimsiest branches.  It was only 2 days ago that I had one blushing tomato (besides the burnt red one) and now……………I’ve got about 8.

I only had some short bamboo stakes left over from last Summer and they were totally useless in our recent storms and gale force winds.

It’s amazing how quickly Tomatoes ripen once the first fruit changes colour.

I’ve just put the last couple of metres of shade cloth I had over the tomato fruit as best I could (in preparation for this afternoon’s sun).  I stapled it in a ‘droopy sun hat’ shape, but I really need about 4 metres and some much taller bamboo stakes to create a little ‘house’ for the plants and fruit until they all ripen.

So my ‘to do’ list has been re-arranged.  I’ll have to go out today.

Being extremely fair, I’ve never liked the hot summers in Melbourne anyway, and after a very brief attempt to get a bit of colour on my arms & legs in my twenties, I gave up and accepted that I would have snowy white skin for the rest of my life.

Me aged about 2 (?) with my snowy fair hair.

Even aged 19-20, I wore mascara  every day to coat my white eyelashes and lashings of make-up to cover my deathly pale face, so you can well imagine how quickly I get sunburnt now I’m old(er).

You’ve only got to look at the first sunburn in the summer after I took up photography as a hobby to appreciate my reticence about going outdoors in the summer.

50+ sunblock doesn’t do much for me.  I even take it outdoors on a walk and re-apply it after a couple of hours.

So just when you fellow Melburnians are thinking what a lovely sunny day for a walk, I am double-checking the actual temperature and timing of the highest UV rays.

My theory is that there’s a hole in the ozone layer over Melbourne (and we have the worst number/cases of skin cancer in the world anyway).  That ‘hole’ allows the very worst intensity of the sun’s rays to hit my apartment in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

The Ozone hole used to be over my old apartment next to the Royal Botanic Gardens for some 20+  years but when I moved house, the HOLE decided to follow me 😀

Did I mention Spring and Autumn are my favourite times of the year 🙂

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ROSE-CROWNED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus regina) – MELBOURNE ZOO

We have several beautiful Doves and Pigeons in Australia, but I’ve only seen 6-7 in the wild.

Back in 2014, I photographed one that normally lives in the northern warmer states in woodland, forest and scrubby parkland with fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, and its a beauty.  Initially I saw it in the humidity of the Butterfly House at Melbourne Zoo, but it was not until many zoo visits later that I saw it in its own large enclosure and found out its name.

The Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove is medium-sized and spectacularly coloured.  The female is slightly less so, but they do have a loud distinctive cooing sound.  I wish I could see one in the wild because although we have large, well landscaped enclosures at Melbourne Zoo, it’s not really the same thing.  Actually, we have many wild birds, large and small, that are wild in the Zoo, no doubt attracted to the regular feeding times.

BIRD LIFE

It feels like eons since I’ve done any photography, but the reality is that I’ve been working my way through the ‘to do‘ list…….the chores that I’ve been meaning to do since I moved to the area 14 months ago, but have been procrastinating about every morning.

Yesterday I took a break and spent most of the afternoon watching the bird life in front of my apartment balcony.  I can spend quite literally, hours and hours, totally absorbed in the antics of the House Sparrows, European Goldfinches and Splendid Fairy-Wrens, let alone the birds whose names I don’t know.  They’ve been quite a few of the lovely blue male Splendid Fairy-wrens around recently.  Not so many of the females, although admittedly the plain light brown colour makes the females harder to spot.

This image below, made on the 10th November, is the only time they’ve landed on my balcony and close enough to photograph has been this male.

I watch them criss-cross my narrow road flitting from tree to tree and hedge to hedge.  Sometimes I hear the House Sparrows repetitiously tweeting for an hour or so  in the Eucalyptus sapling in front of my balcony, but now the tree is lush with young leaves I can’t see even a silhouette of any bird life among the swaying branches.

Not sure if the House Sparrow is calling to a mate or a juvenile calling for its breakfast.

I have noted that the most of the sparrows that drink from my bird-bath are quite young and slender in recent days, so I suspect they are mainly young adults or juveniles from this past Spring’s hatchlings.

This morning it was the fluid ‘tu-leep’, or drawn-out ‘Twee-eet’  of the European Goldfinches that caught my ear.  They have a very metallic, but attractive song, but with the strong wind today, I had little hope of catching them in a photo.

This was the best I could do this morning (with them bouncing up and down on the gusty wind-swept branches).


They weren’t interested in looking towards me where I am sitting at my desk.

Here’s a better shot of the European Goldfinch standing quite still from the 10th November.  It must have been one of those rare windless days in November for me to catch that shot.

I re-filled the bird bath with chilled water out of the fridge this morning in the hope of getting the birds to cool down with a splash around the bird bath in this 37c degree (about 100F) heat today.

I caught one very young female landing on my balcony fence, then do a strange tap-tapping on the metal with its beak and quickly fly away.  I’ve often seen this beak-tapping and not sure why they do it?  Is it to sharpen or blunt their little beaks?  It is to ‘gulp’ or help swallow food?  Is it a signal to other sparrows in the area?  I really should ask Mr Google one day.

I caught sight of a male House Sparrow landing on the fence a short time ago, but it didn’t even bother flying down to the bird bath.  I wondered if there were some larger avian predators around as my balcony remains in the shade until about 1-2.00pm on this west-facing side of the building and a good cool space to stand still for a rest.

They often do it.

Stand quite still…….. surveying the surrounding foliage and hedges, I mean.

But the sparrows, unlike the Spotted Turtle-doves around my previous apartment on the north-east side of Melbourne, just seem to have a quick drink and then fly away this morning.

I miss those Spotted Turtle-doves on the north-east side of Melbourne where I used to live.  I made friends with 2-3 doves and they’d let me slowly move up to about 6″ away from them to refill the seed bowl.  Here’s a re-cap of some of them (below).

ON THE FARM – COUNTRY VICTORIA

I’m all ‘blogged out’ at the moment (and with too many things on the ‘to do’ list), blogging and photography are taking a back seat and will do for some weeks.

So the images in this post are from my archives again, (with apologies to the long-time followers who’ve seen them all before).

 

 

SPRING & SUMMER (without the rain) in Melbourne

Normally, Spring and Summer in Melbourne is a great time of year to spend in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

I’m an expert on the subject having walked around its many paths something like 8-10,000 times over a 30 years period, but mainly since I lived and worked next to the Gardens for over 16 years and walked through, or around the 38 hectare site, 3 times per day (most of the year -even in the rain sometimes).

I’ve woken up to rain again this morning here in Frogs Hollow, but I thought you might like to see what people do on their weekend or public holidays when it’s not raining around this time of year in the RBG.

Actually, these images are from various times of the year to be honest.

These images are made with various cameras and lenses and exposures.

  1. Feeding the ducks

2. Snuggling up close with a couple of friends – I think this might have been in winter actually.

3. Watching the world go by with a friend or……. just….on your own.

4. Enjoying the shade on the Oak Lawn.

5. Reading the Sunday paper at the north-western lower end of the gardens.

6. This looks like winter, but the sun is still out down at the south-eastern end of the large Ornamental Lake.

7.  The Herb Garden – which used to be one of my favourite places to sit on a hot summer’s day, reading a book and taking in the wonderful perfume of all those different herbs.  The 3-4 seats are not shown in the image below, but 2 of them are in complete shade all day and with the constant breeze, can be very cool mid-summer.

8.  Sun-baking on a Sunday afternoon.

9.  Just taking in the view with a friend.

10.  Having a family picnic on Melbourne Cup Day (horse race on the first Tuesday in November each year, when we have a public holiday).  I was on a tram on Cup Day this year and heard a tourist say…..”Fancy having a public holiday to watch a horse race.”

11.  Snuggling up to a loved one.

12. Another public holiday picnic on the Oak Lawn.  This area is in very dark shade most days so it looks like I’ve lightened the exposure for this shot.

13.  Families enjoying the view from high up on the south-western hill overlooking the large Ornamental Lake on Cup Day in November.

14.  Lying on one of many jetties listening to the Bell Minors sing their distinctive song in this part of the Gardens.  4.30pm is the best time of day to walk through here and you’re sure to get some bird photos on the lower tree branches

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15. Late Sunday afternoon.

16.  ……and finally, one of the first images I shot of the Perennial Border ‘groomed’ to be at its best in early January of each year.

If you’re a tourist in Melbourne at the moment, I’m really sorry it’s been raining too much to go outdoors this past weekend.

WE NORMALLY DO HAVE SUNNY DAYS AT THIS TIME OF YEAR  🙂

RAIN, RAIN & MORE RAIN

NOTE: I started this post about 22 hours ago and then, drip, drip, drip, splat, splat, splat.  Water started coming from one of the ceiling downlights(?) right over my head.  I got such a ‘shock’ I had what some might term an anxiety attack, but those who know I have severe obstructive HCM would know my heart rate escalated into overdrive.  Chest pain and all the usual symptoms of stress, or over activity (beyond what my ‘old ticker’ can handle).

I raced for an old towel and large plastic bowl, flipped the nearby power switch off and pulled out the power board plug and removed every bit of computer equipment and cables to one side.

(A bit later, I remembered to move all my cameras to the back of the room).

I went downstairs to the foyer as I couldn’t remember the correct phone number, called the Body Corporate manager, (who called an electrician).  Si. told me to turn all the power off and wait for the electrician.

St. the electrician, phoned and arrived about an hour later.  He’d come from a country town I think.  In the meantime, I took my pm heart meds early (which keeps my heart beating evenly and slowly), a valium, slapped an emergency BP patch on the back of my hand and took some Bach Rescue Remedy (a homeopathic type shock or stress treatment), in that order.  I may have a  feeble ticker, but my Brain does still work……….. (most of the time).

I am so used to leading a simple, relatively stress-free, life in early retirement, I couldn’t even handle the potential “drowning’ of my computer & associated printers/scanner etc.

The electrician told me to leave all the power off and not turn on the ceilings lights for next 24 hours (assuming the rain would eventually stop anyway).  It would dry out and someone would contact me some time over the next week to assess the damage.  S. said how lucky I was that it was not worse as he’d been to one house where the lounge ceiling collapsed with the massive deluge of  water collecting over the central old-fashioned ceiling light.

Apparently, a few ceilings came down yesterday……… and several streets were flooded.

My main room ceiling has 7 recessed lights and I’d only replaced 6 globes in them when they all died a month or two ago.  The one that leaked was the one that hadn’t had the globe replaced by sheer co-incidence.

I ended up reading a few chapters of my favourite book by the light of a tiny camping lantern.  I’d originally bought this lantern as the power in this apartment block had gone off several times in the year I’d lived here, and I was fed up trying to clean my teeth and wash my face by the light of my mobile phone and a tiny torch.  Needless to say, since I bought the  bright USB charged lantern, the Body Corporate (building caretakers) had finally found an old-fashioned electrician who solved the continual black-outs and I’ve never had to use the little lantern.

……………until last night.

Anyway, the dripping lulled me to sleep……..eventually.  I had emptied the large plastic bowl before I went to bed and hoped it wouldn’t overflow during the night.

Back to last night’s post……

It started raining Thursday and hasn’t stopped (and it will rain for some days according to the recent news flash).

I stood close to the windows late yesterday (i.e. Friday) watching several flocks of birds flying overhead – an unusual occurrence in the one afternoon.  A row of Crows (or Ravens ?) were all sitting on the roof of the apartment building at the top of my hill, but by the time I got the camera out, there were only 2 left.

I wondered if all the birds flying was one of those things you read about when unusual extreme weather patterns are forecast?

The heavy rain never seemed to stop, but I wasn’t in the least concerned for myself as I live in a modern apartment block which probably had 101 building codes all in perfect order when constructed around 2013.

At least all the trees along my street are getting a good deep watering and I don’t have to water my own potted garden.

“Victorians have been warned to expect an “unprecedented” deluge today with severe thunderstorm and flood warnings across the region. A severe weather warning remains in place for heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and flash flooding in much of the state including Melbourne”.

“Up to 120mm could fall in the border town of Albury-Wodonga. There is a flood warning for Melbourne’s Yarra River with fears it could burst its banks”.

Storms brew over Australia’s east coast. Picture: Alex CoppelSource:News Corp Australia

Note: Photo credit Alex Coppel

Most Melburnians have spent the last couple of days holed up indoors.  I’ve been indoors for much longer – hot & humid to start the past week with the air-conditioning on full bore and now………….it’s been predicted that we’ll have more rain in the first 3 days of December that what is normal for the whole month (or even…….Summer season).

“(He) warns there will be massive flooding around the city”.

“If you wake up tomorrow and think this isn’t going to happen, you just have to wait a while,” W. said. “They didn’t think the Titanic would sink, but it did.”

Talk about drama in the Media 😀

I could help a little smile creeping across my face when I read it on the computer news.

I’d received 3 text messages already warning everyone about the wild weather and not to venture outdoors if they could possibly help it, (AND NOT TO GO NEAR FLOODED ROADS, CREEKS OR RIVERS).

I wondered if the low-lying field in Frogs Hollow would fill with water?

I couldn’t decide what flower images to share out of my archives, so you got none at all in the last day or so.

(don’t ask me what torrential non-stop rain has got to do with blog image decision-making) 🙂

I had so many photos uploaded trying to decide which one to post, that I couldn’t make any decision AT ALL !

Then I decided to just see what I could photograph between heavy rain pelting down 99% of the day yesterday and came up with a chive flower from my balcony potted herbs.

Of course I could always share another shot of my green tomatoes………

Or an image of the rain spots on my mini Polygala (which I’d moved to rest in front of my window).

I stood at the window and watched a sheet of water running down my road, but I couldn’t get a good picture of it.  My camera didn’t want to focus on the road.  It was more interested in focusing on the raindrops on the window.

I watched it for a while, but it drained adequately away down the new storm-water drains.

I do feel for some of the country towns which are already experiencing some flooding and some areas have had the most rainfall for the start of Summer (since records began in 1888).

Interestingly enough, I’ve always lived in the highest parts of Melbourne’s inner suburbs, but I have to say I’m now glad that the local council recently spent about 5 days constructing new storm water drains and cutting up my road, (which annoyed me with all the jackhammering etc).  I live halfway down a steep little hill and I’d wondered at the time about the jackhammering and the necessity for half-road closure at the time.  Actually, every time a car runs over the new grating located every 50 feet on the road, it’s so loud it sometimes floods out the noise of the tweeting from the young birds nearby.

I’m getting used to it now though.

I can’t open my large door or lounge windows as the rain comes in so here’s the best image I could capture earlier this evening (i.e. dusk last night).

It got dark pretty early tonight

…..I had to go to my bedroom window to check on the tomato, blueberry and capsicum plants – this window is tucked into a corner which gets almost no rain on the glass.

The plants didn’t look that wet to be honest.  I used a different camera which could handle the light better.

They looked ‘happy as larry’.

But to cheer us all up on the south-east coast of Australia, here’s a few flower images to brighten the skies (from my archives).

NOTE:   I was just about to hit the ‘preview’ button when the water started dripping on my head and keyboard last night and I immediately switched everything off hoping the autosave had worked.

It did.

(I missed the TV news tonight, but I don’t think we had any baby Titanics going under) 🙂

NYMPHAEA LAKE – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

There’s some lovely examples of Crepe Myrtle trees in the Royal Botanic Gardens.  I photographed this one 16th March, 2012 next to Nymphaea Lake (the smaller of the 2 lakes in our Royal Botanic Gardens).

As the gardeners had placed a wooden bench under its shady branches in summer, it was a great place to sit and read (or watch the bird life) on a hot summer’s day.

At the height of its summer flowering, it would spread right over Nymphaea Lake and offer some deep shade for the ducks, (or even Cormorants, Black Swans, Pacific Black Ducks, Dusky Moorhens, Purple Swamphens or Chestnut Teals), who frequented the area.

Reflections of the Crepe Myrtle hanging over Nymphaea Lake.
Australian Wood Duck (female on L, male on R)

WATER LILY (Nymphaea)

Today, at 35 degrees, is far to hot for me outdoors in my current home as there is little shade along much of the Maribyrnong River near Frogs Hollow where I live.

The small lake was quite close to the south-eastern entrance of the Gardens and a brisk 5 minute walk to the Garden entrance gate (from my front door) and another 2-3 minutes to walk down to the Lake.

WATER LILY (Nymphaea)

Occasionally, I would even take my tripod over to this area to get some sharper focus on the Water Lily flowers.

It was a bit windy in this area, but then, its windy everywhere in Melbourne in my experience. I used to walk along the nearby path on the way to work back in my working days (BC = Before Camera) and on the southern side I would occasionally see what looked like a water-rat of some kind, sitting on some flattened leaves on its hind legs daintily nibbling some food it had foraged.

The first time I saw it, I was so enchanted and amazed, that I felt like I was in a Beatrix Potter storybook.  I’d never seen one of these little water creatures before (or since).

Eventually with the start of the Wetlands Project, many of the old reeds disappeared to be replaced by man-made islands and new reed beds.  In fact, with the success of the various Wetlands created in the Botanic Gardens, the bird life and turtles nesting have almost disappeared among the high water reeds and grassy banks.  Good for the bird life, but a shame for me as an enthusiastic new bird photographer.

The rocks on the southern edge of this small lake were the best places to find Dragonflies around February each year too.  In fact, the 3 images below are among my first attempts at photographing a Dragonfly.

ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Brugmansia) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

Angel’s Trumpet flowers have to be one of the hardest flowers to photograph.  I think its one of those species that you have to share several photos from different angles to appreciate their lush, tropical appearance.

They come from the Andes which explains their love of cool winters.  The flower sizes vary, but to say they’re 12-14″ long would be a good guess.

Best to try photographing them after the bud starts to open as they deteriorate quickly once fully mature and rain marks the petals, (so not after a recent rainfall).  Well, this is my experience of them anyway.  Most the trees grow in the shade or semi-shade in the RBG.

ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Brugmansia)

They come in several colours as my early images from 2010 & 2011 show.

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I figure since I’m stuck at home at the moment, I’ll share some of my very early images from when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens from 2000-1015.  Some good, some not-so-good.

But always interesting to see the vast array of plant species among the 55,000 plants on this 38 hectare site.  Many of these images portray flowers that have now been replaced with more drought tolerant species.

AFRICAN BLUE LILY (Agapanthus) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

I’ve had great enjoyment from reviewing some of my very old images in recent days.  Some of them I can’t even remember taking 🙂

Most of the Agapanthus images below were made with my old 100mm Macro lens in the first 3 weeks of owning a DSLR back in Jan/Feb 2011.  I traded it in when I bought the Sony a6000 in early 2015 as I wasn’t using it much.

I didn’t have the slightest clue how to use a DSLR and macro lens in those days, but I do remember I didn’t have the camera set on Auto.  I’d already used the Auto setting on my little Canon a3000 point & shoot for 7 months, so I started using my first Canon DSLR on manual I think.  I do remember keeping the ISO on 800 all the time as it always seemed to handle the bright sun as well as the shade.  I think I let the camera choose the shutter speed.  I daresay I had the aperture on 2.8 also as I didn’t know what DOF (depth of field) was either.

I had absolutely no idea about the exposure triangle and the what ISO, shutter speed and aperture were all about.

These flowers looked so bright on the screen last night, I de-saturated the colour slightly, but I daresay the original colour was very bright at the time of shooting 6 years ago.

 

I THNK ‘GEORGE’ IS GEORGINA!

Last week I mentioned the incessant tweeting by George the House Sparrow on the young Eucalyptus next to my apartment balcony.

I shared the photo (below) at the time, as I can usually see the bird over the top of my computer screen…..(computer is black blur in the lower half of the image frame).  The crown colour of the bird does suggest a male.

This morning, I can’t see the bird but can hear tiny little tweets (as well as the incessant loud tweeting from an adult).

I do believe ‘George’, or the incessant sound, is from  Georgina AND her eggs have hatched overnight.

This image was made in early September (before I washed the outside of my windows).

I might have to put out some bird seed on the balcony as I did last year (below).

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Unfortunately the bush is thick with new growth and I can’t see a thing, but presume there’s a nest hidden in the foliage.  I wish I could share the little ones, but the foliage IS a complete screen.

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All tweeting has just stopped so I presume lunch (its 12.40pm) has just been served.

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On another subject, it truly is amazing what you can see if you look through the window long enough.   I spent quite some time watching this butterfly move from daisy to daisy drinking in pollen (I presume), yesterday.   This is the same daisy that I planted on 4th November last year and has flowered every day since.  I dead-head it regularly to encourage new flowers to form.  The flowers have faded from bright pink to a wishy-washy pale pink in the bright Spring sunlight, but they’re still going strong.  I’ve also had to cut several branches off as they broke in the strong winds we get in this area.

An early photo of that lovely pink daisy.

There’s never ‘nothing going on‘ in my road.  It’s a hive of activity with finches, wrens and sparrows crisscrossing the road from hedge to hedge.

I suspect most of the nests are on the thicker taller trees on the opposite side of the road, but my 150-500mm lens doesn’t quite reach far enough.

I’ve seen crows, ravens, blackbirds, magpie larks, ordinary magpies, grey shrike-thrushes and other birds, whose names I do not know, as well.

Two or three times on a Sunday morning, I’ve heard a flock of ducks quacking as they fly overhead too, but I was way too late to catch them with a camera.

Even the sky was worth watching for a while last night.  Low cloud cover was very dark, but in between each racing puff of dark grey cloud you could see the sun reflecting off higher cloud cover.  I watch the sun setting nearly every night, but I don’t think I’ve seen quite this effect before.

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WARATAH (Telopea) – Melbourne Zoo Landscaping

From the Archives – 15th October 2013.

Waratahs are evergreen shrubs or trees that are densely foliated and the large red flowers are among Australia’s best known wildflowers.

The one in this post was photographed at Melbourne Zoo near the enormous lion enclosure.

This particular enclosure is/was? massive, (might have changed since I was there a couple of years ago), and has a high fenced boardwalk going over the top, so no matter where the lions are (outdoors), you get a great view of them.

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I’ve even managed to photograph the animals through the tough chain wire fence.  If you do enough photography practice getting one focal point through tiny wire netting and cages, I can assure you it’s relatively easy.

WATER BUTTONS, BUTTONWEEDS (Cotula sp. aff. turbinata) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives 29th October 2013.

When I was last at Newell’s Paddock Nature Reserve and Conservation area in the western suburb of Footscray, I saw a tiny patch of Water Buttons next to the large pond.  My one shot was completely out of focus when I reviewed it at home, (although you may remember the ‘101’ pink Rounded Noon-flower images did turn out well).

So here’s an example of what they looked like (made from my time living next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne).

They are so pretty when growing in a great mass.

Since I’ve retrieved an old file off my back-up disc which contains about 14,000 images, I’ve now got a larger selection to share when I’m house-bound and not outdoors walking and doing Photography.

HAVE I GOT A ‘GREEN THUMB’ ?

Perhaps not, but  I have got some green tomatoes on the 3 “Patio” Tomato plants on my west-facing apartment balcony.

I couldn’t count them all, but I figure I’ve got somewhere between 50 -60 fruit at the moment.

I just hope they don’t all ripen at once !  😮

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……and it looks like I’ve got some baby Capsicums too.  I’ve never grown Capsicums (red peppers) before, so I’m not quite sure what their babies look like.

It’s been hot, humid and sticky in Melbourne in the last couple of weeks, with more than a few thunderstorms threatening (depending on what suburb you live in), although I did miss the flooded streets in Melbourne one day last week.

I’ve been mostly housebound (hence no new photos).

The thunderstorm you have when you’re not having a Thunderstorm!

I’d just finished watering the potted plants on my balcony tonight when the skies suddenly got darker and a thunderstorm threatened the western suburbs (of Melbourne).

7.45pm 24th November 2017

7.48pm 24th November 2017

Five minutes later, the sky colour changed to mauve and plum colours.

7.53pm 24th November 2017

My windows got a few rain drops and the ground was damp, but that’s about all that happened earlier tonight.

Maybe it’ll rain overnight? 🙂

The cool change is coming Sunday I think.

A QUICK WALK……..THERE & BACK

Ominous clouds threatened the skies with a thunderstorm when I set off for a quick walk down to the river, a little way downstream, round the nearest pond and back home again late yesterday.

Am I the only person who takes 2 hours to do a 15-20 minute walk?

Despite the slight breeze it was still humid and muggy, made worse by my long trench coat (with hood).  I had to get the umbrella out a couple of times, but the rain only sprinkled a few drops onto my camera lens.  Enough to put it in its bag, only to bring it out again 2 minutes later.  I’d left my lens cloth at home too, so a handkerchief from my coat pocket had to suffice.

Poor light, but as usual I, took a hundred and one photos of nothing much in particular.

Rain again today, but there still may be time for a ‘quick’ walk 🙂

COMMON STARLING – juvenile – (Sturnus vulgaris)

Soon after I posted the mystery bird image yesterday and we concluded it was a Grey Shrike-thrush, another new bird landed on my balcony rail.

UPDATE (12th Nov) – It appears that this is a juvenile Common Starling.

Very similar to the Grey Shrike-Thrush but plainer and more brown (depending on the white balance of my camera of course).  I managed to get 2 clear shots with the Sony ‘mirrorless’ and quickly dropped the camera and picked up the heavy Canon DSLR & 150-500mm lens, but couldn’t hold it as steady and the 2 images I shot, before it flew off,  weren’t as sharply focused (below).

As the bird stayed such a short time, no more shots were to be had and neither new bird was seen again yesterday.  As with many once-off bird shots, there is no time to compose or get the ideal angle or even, camera setting.

 

“Put a sock in it, George”

I love listening to the Birds singing.

I love to hear the Joy in their Hearts.

I love to see them drinking from my bird bath.

George, the House Sparrow, clearly visible above the blur of my computer screen.

But if George (the male House Sparrow), doesn’t put a sock in his mouth and stop his incessant tweeting this morning, I’m going to throw a sock at him.

(Just joking.  Now the intercom repairman has left, I’m going for a walk).

A young female House Sparrow – Georgina, perhaps?

Georgina, the female House Sparrow, after drinking from my water dish, flies over the balcony fence and drops down to the apartment below mine to peck at their succulents.

……as to George.

If he thinks I can’t see him hiding in the young Eucalyptus next to my balcony, he’s very much mistaken.

The images below are a good example of how changing the 9 focus points in my Canon DSLR to 1  point and carefully pointing it through the breeze-shifting foliage can photograph a bird on autofocus, where my Sony a6000 on the S (small) Flexible Spot can’t (do this).

When I was in the city centre on Wednesday, I had to drop in to the Camera Store to buy another rubber eyepiece for my Sony a6000 (which I lost last week).  I mentioned this ‘failing‘ to the Staff member and he was surprised that I couldn’t get a bird in focus with my Sony ‘mirrorless’ on S (small)- Flexible Spot through very thick foliage.  I explained to him that the Flexible Spot setting was a small square (not a dot like a DSLR) and the edge of the square kept autofocusing on the surrounding leaves, not the bird’s face.  He suggested I try manually focusing, but I explained that I can’t see enough with my thick glasses and had to rely on Autofocus for photography 🙂

I should have given the Sales Assistant (an expert photographer, as are all the Sales Assistants in Michaels Camera Store) an example.

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Some more daily happenings in my balcony potted garden……..

I’ve had babies……..from both my 3 tomato plants and my single blueberry bush.  Looks like Santa is bringing me home-grown tomatoes for Christmas and some home-grown blueberries to have for breakfast.  There are actually dozens of tiny thumb-nail sized tomatoes on the 3 plants – hope they don’t all ripen at once 🙂

My brother warned me last Summer about all the birds eating them, but I had no trouble from the Avian species at all.

A clump out of the many on the Blueberry bush.

After a Winter of toadstools growing in the potting soil and all the leaves going yellow with black spots (which I kept pulling off the plant), my pink geranium has lots of new leaves and a lovely display of fresh flowers.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say my Guardian, (read Gardening), Angel is looking over my balcony garden, as I’ve never really had a ‘green thumb’ per se, just followed the Water, Sun, Food …….and lots of TLC (Tender Loving Care) way of growing potted plants on an urban balcony.

The Blue Bacopa was looking a little ‘battle-weary’ from the strong winds so I put it back on the ground, instead of higher up, and the flowers have freshened up.  So it’s been in bloom 375 days in a row, now.  (so has the pink daisy).  I know I’ve mentioned the flower bloom longevity a few posts ago, but its true.  These couple of flowering plants have bloomed for the longest I’ve ever known any plant to.  A horticultural friend of my brother said she had never been able to grow a Becopa plant!

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PS.  Now I’m REALLY, REALLY excited (but now, will I ever get out the door for a walk?).

A male Splendid Fairy-Wren just visited my balcony garden.  I managed to grab my Sony a6000 and fire off 2 shots before it flew away.