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.

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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 🙂

 

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OFFLINE…..

I will be offline for a while, well at least until the 3rd party technician which the Apple Helpdesk has asked to come out and find out what’s wrong with my computer comes next week..

I spent ages screen sharing with the Apple Helpdesk technician last night and she couldn’t fix my problem and only made it worse by changing some general preferences and I can’t remember what she altered and how to reverse it this morning.  In fact, she was going to go home and doublecheck her own iMac computer and whether it had the same problem as me.

Might be a week or more offline..

Let’s just say…….I am not happy.

Has anyone else updated their iMac desktop to Mojave software in the last 3-4 weeks?  If so, do you have problems with version 10.14.5?

Quite by chance  late last night, I swapped my internet provider’s WiFi dongle back to the old 2012 Mac Pro laptop as I wanted to doublecheck which software version was on it.

I discovered my old Mac Pro laptop, which I updated to Mojave software over Easter, around the 23rd April,  has version 10.14.4 – the previous version of Mojave – and doesn’t have these problems.   But with only 4GB of memory, it is sadly, way too slow to make it viable for use on a daily basis.

 

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.

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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.

BLUEBERRY ‘NELLIE KELLY’ (Vaccinium x corymbusm x ashei x darrowi)

I noticed the flowers are starting to form on my Blueberry bush last week.  Seems so odd for the start of the 3rd month of Autumn.

Somehow I always associate new buds and flowers with Spring.

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I now have (most) of my images exported to my new iMac, but they are in one large folder, so I hope you’ll be patient while I sent up my whole image filing system again.  Seems to be about 10,000+ and while you may think this a large task, I know I’ll get it done sooner (rather than later) as I deleted 2154 in just a few hours on Monday.

The speed of this new computer is amazing!

I can’t find the Bird images I wanted to share today, so for the time being, I hope the Bird Lovers following my blog will have lots and lots of patience.

 

If you learn to enjoy waiting, you don’t have to wait to enjoy.

Kazuaki Tanahashi

COMPUTERS? Grrrrrrrr…….

The image below is from my old iPhoto library and shows one of the Spotted Turtle-doves which used to frequent my previous apartment balcony when I lived on the north-east side of Melbourne up til October 2016.

SPOTTED TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis)

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I will never understand computers.

This morning I started reading some of the blogs I follow via my usual email notification of a new post.

Some blogs asked me to ‘follow’ them again…… which was weird as I am already following them, (otherwise, how would I have received the email notification that they’d uploaded a new post overnight).

Some of the blogs allowed me to press the LIKE button (and some not).

Others which didn’t allow me to press the ‘like’ button, DID allow me to post a comment.

Some blogs I follow would allow me to do neither.

Not only have I got a new desktop computer and new 2019 software,  ‘Mojave’, but it seems to be a completely different version to that I’d uploaded on the old 2012 Mac Pro Laptop over Easter ……..and yet under the Apple symbol on the top left of the screen, both my old laptop and my new iMac desktop show the same software version number!

There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason  for the various software and screen changes, or intermittent WordPress variations I am now being exposed to, so this learning curve is getting steeper by the minute. Gosh, I’ve only had the new desktop computer about 36 hours.

Where I had to re-follow some of the blogs I’m already following, one FOLLOW worked and the others told me my email address was invalid and wouldn’t let me re-follow.

Duh!

So if you don’t see me on your blog site, I can assure you I’m back online and back to reading all your blogs.

Anyway, the new computer took only about 5 minutes to upload the old iPhoto library off the spare back-up hard drive (8000 images), so at least I’ve got some old images to share from 2010-2016.  Unfortunately, I didn’t bother backing -up the current photo library on that spare hard-drive, although I know it is still there on the old laptop.

I think I’ll go back to the Apple Store Helpdesk and ask them if they can transfer my current Photo library (about 6000+ images) to my new iMac.  My brain is turning to mush just thinking about it.

This new desktop computer is ‘talking’ a foreign language and it’s like being 5 years old and just starting primary school all over again.  I feel like I’m sitting on the wrong side of the fence peeping through a crack and being unable to climb over the fence height and actually live in the real world (I can see through the crack).

I’m sure some of you have had the same experience!  I had an old 1993 Windows desktop for about 4 years and then bought a new Mac Pro laptop in 2012, and now, I’ve gone back to a Desktop, so I’m not familiar with the screens and the new method of working.  

I’m used to scrolling with my left hand and now I have to scroll through the screens with my right hand, so every few minutes my left hand springs up in the air above my desk and flails through the air in a hopeless gesture.

I’m sure it would be quite funny to watch if you were in my lounge room.

Maybe I should just go for a walk down to the river and breathe some fresh air to clear my head.

 

NEW COMPUTER

Surprise, Surprise.

I have a new computer and it’s an iMac desktop.

My desk and chair are the wrong height to accommodate my back/neck/shoulder/wrist pain etc, so, tonight I am working with the keyboard on a box (which is on a little coffee table).

…..and the mouse, which I’m having trouble getting used to, is too low, so I’ll continue to be absent from the Blogosphere for several more days/weeks while I design a new ‘office’ and find some substitute furniture.

I haven’t transferred my Photo libraries and other files over from my old sluggish, painfully slow laptop yet.

It’s 7 years since I’ve used a desktop so it’s taking a while to re-arrange my brain too 😀

So, be patient fellow nature lovers, I will return……………………..one day.

It would take too long to catch up with the blogs I follow, so I’ll start afresh when I eventually get back online.

LOOKING FOR AUTUMN – PART II

I usually share this same series of Autumn images, made back in May 2014, every year, as they’re such a lovely display of Autumn colour.

Most of these trees would be English or European trees planted back in the early settlement of the area.

The hills overlooking the eastern suburbs of Melbourne are called The Dandenong Ranges and include several National Parks, many local and wholesale plant nurseries, small and large spectacular residential gardens and homes.  Small and large market gardens, particularly berry farmers, are located in and on the other side of these hills.

Much of the area was milled for building materials in the 1930s, but still provides lush fern forests and protected national parks in the current day.

My younger brother took me to this tiny park on the way home from a stay in the country specifically so I could photograph the Autumn colour.

I have to be honest and say I’m not familiar with any Australian indigenous trees which change colour in Autumn, but I’m sure there must be some.

EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus)

I had one of those Ahhhhhh moments yesterday.

I’d put some bird seed in the large pot plant saucer I’d bought to use as a bird bath (but no bird ever drank or splashed around in it), so occasionally I fill it with bird seed to entice the avian species to my balcony garden.

Of course, they make a terrible mess splitting the seeds from the husk and use the balcony floor and fence rail as a ‘public convenience’ and it takes me a couple of hours to sweep, wash & clean it all up.   I have just swept and tidied up awaiting a wash later this afternoon.  Regular balcony cleaning is mandatory, as, otherwise, my shoes collect the sticky bird droppings or seed husks and get carted indoors on the pale carpet (despite the door mat to wipe my shoes on).

I’ve always accepted the slight variations in feather patterns of the House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) as a normal avian thing.

But yesterday I realised I had a different Sparrow species visiting – the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus).  

There are actually 2 different sparrows species found in the south-east of the country, according to my Australian Bird Guide Book.  

Now, I’m not going to go back through the old posts to see if I’ve mixed the identification up, but I am going to convey the difference in this post.

THIS SHOT IS A PARTICULARLY GOOD ONE OF THE WHITE CHEEK PATCH WITHE THE BLACK SPOT IN THE CENTRE (of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow).

The sexes of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow are unlike the House Sparrows in that the male and female have similar plumage. The male and female of the House Sparrows are very different.  

The crown and nape of the Eurasian Tree Sparrows are a rich brown, with characteristic white cheek patch with a black central spot.  The forehead and bib are black with the rest of the underparts a pale grey-buff.  Back and wings are a richly mottled chestnut.

I don’t know how I haven’t noticed before now, or maybe I just never had Eurasian Tree Sparrows visiting before yesterday?  Who knows.

The flight feathers and notched tail are dark brown.  I tried to get a photo of the tail showing the notch, but the birds wouldn’t pose at the right angle for me.

I’m not sure which species this bird is. Perhaps it’s a juvenile House Sparrow as it clearly doesn’t have the white cheek patch of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow.  This shot has a faded look as it was made through the glass window.

THIS IS CLEARLY a Female HOUSE SPARROW showing the stripe running from the eye (and made through the opened sliding door, hence much clearer, or sharper, in focus).

The image below shows a male House Sparrow feeding 2 females (definitely NOT a Eurasian Tree Sparrow).

The weather is absolutely gorgeous at the moment.  Sunny blue skies with a lovely cool breeze over recent days or overcast skies and cool temperatures (today).  We’ve even had a bit of decent rainfall.

This is my kind of weather and definitely a favourite season (besides Spring).

The reality is that every season has its merits, but Autumn and Spring always seem to be pretty special here in Melbourne, Australia.  The intermittent cloud cover makes for some lovely sunsets in Autumn.

CALIFORNIA POPPY (Eschscholzia)

I don’t often put links to other websites on my nature blog, but if you’re a flower lover, you just have to swap over to Anne McKinnell ‘s blog to see her latest post.

My own Californian Poppy images look rather ordinary in comparison (below).

CALIFORNIA POPPY (Eschscholzia)

 

 

THEY’RE BAAAAAACK!

The Superb Fairy-Wrens are back this week.

In larger than usual numbers too.

I never seem to get tired of watching these Wrens.  They keep me entertained for hours and  when they’re visiting, I never seem to get any household chores or cooking done.

Female SUPERB FAIRY-WREN – THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST SHOTS I’VE TAKEN FOR QUITE SOME TIME. 

I counted 6 in my balcony garden the other day, but as I’ve mentioned before, they move so quickly, some days they’re impossible to photograph with the heavy long 150-500mm lens and DLSR.

Male SUPERB FAIRY-WREN.

All this week I can hear the wrens cheeping in the Japanese Maple growing next to my balcony fence and they are becoming more common than the House Sparrows 🙂   I don’t remember seeing any of these tiny wrens drinking from the bird bath though – only the Sparrows.

There’s been far less sound from the jack-hammer-like ‘rock splitter’ coming from the construction site over the road this week.  On Tuesday, the construction crew seemed to be pouring concrete most of the morning and were almost………. as ‘quiet as mice’. 😀

When I go out to pick up my new glasses which have arrived in-store, I’ll have a look at the top of the cliff and see  how progress is going on the site.

On another note, all, or at least most, of the Harlequin bugs and Cabbage Moth Caterpillars seem to have left the area. I didn’t get so many this past Summer.   I have pruned all the herbs of their ‘nibbled’ leaves for the umpteenth time and the new growth is starting to flesh out the bushes.  I feel as though I can finally leave the pest control hutch off the smaller plants and they can get some more sun.  After the previous year’s devastation of every single leaf on nearly every potted plant, I think the purchase of this pest control netted ‘hutch’ was well worth the money.

But I do have to be vigilant though.  I picked a whole lot of mint to use in cooking last Sunday and was just about to start chopping when I saw one leaf looked a bit curly.  I turned it over and what did I see – a lot of fine spun fibres and a caterpillar waiting to turn into a butterfly.

Phew!

I wonder what fresh caterpillar might taste like 😀

 

LOOKING FOR AUTUMN – PART I

I was ‘cruising’  through my archives last night looking for Autumn.

The image below, made in the nearby Pipemaker’s Park in Maribyrnong, is probably my all-time favourite image.

Made on the 13th April, 2017, mid-afternoon, it was one of those right time, right place images in which the brilliant Autumn afternoon sun back-lit some of the Autumn Leaves on this old arbor perfectly.

Colonial Garden, Pipemaker’s Park, Maribyrnong

I have literally hundreds of Autumn leaf images so here’s a select few.  I’ll include a few more in the next post.

SUPERB FAIRY-WREN (Malurus cyaneus) – Female

Silence is Golden 🙂

I don’t know who said that, but after the taxi dropped me home at 9.30am this morning, (after an overnight stay away), I couldn’t help but be struck by the silence.

It’s Saturday here in Melbourne and the usual weekend shoppers, zooming up my short steep road in their cars, were completely absent.

No walkers, joggers, cyclists or runners.

No mothers pushing prams or pushers up the steep footpath.

The unique sound of what I thought might be Currawongs filled the background.  (I have yet to share a photo of an Australian Currawong – I have a couple, but they’re not very good).

The wind had dropped and the forecast showers were absent.  It was sooooooo quiet, almost like the end of the earth, and I couldn’t help but be overjoyed at the absence of human sound.  If you’ve read my previous post you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I caught the lift upstairs to my apartment and after dropping my overnight bag on the floor, flung the sliding door open on to the balcony to let air into the stuffy room.

I heard tweets, chattering, birdsong and then a gentle whisper as a slight breeze sprung up.

The Fairy Wrens were back.

The birdsong was reminiscent of the lovely country sounds I first heard when I moved to the area in October, 2016.

SORRY ABOUT THE LOUSY SHOT, BUT I COULDN’T WAIT for a better one at that moment (in case the bird flew away quickly as they are want to do when I don’t have a camera handy)

Then one female Superb Fairy-wren dropped from the balcony fence down to the potted herbs and jumped from pot to pot and over to the bird/pest control netted hutch looking for seeds or some other tasty morsel.  She walked over the fine netting and I frantically looked for the camera case as I’d put all the cameras away yesterday and stored them in a different place (other than under my desk or beside my desk chair).

Then I spotted a male Superb Fairy-Wren scrambling around the pots under the bird control netted hutch.

So much for bird control 😀

I went out to lift the netting so it could get away as it seemed to have forgotten its entry point, then grabbed the plastic watering jug to give some of the potted plants a drink.  I hadn’t watered them before I left home late yesterday morning as it was supposed to rain this morning.

When I came back outdoors with the full watering pot, I heard frantic cheeping and a very frightened little wren.

It had jumped off the Marigold pot and got caught between the line of plastic pots and the glass fence.  It could obviously see the male wren on the Japanese Maple enjoying the sunshine through the glass, but couldn’t work out how to get through this clear (aka dirty) glass fence barrier.

I think this might have been the first time I had seen a distressed Fairy-wren outdoors at my current home.  I pulled all the plastic pots out so there was more room, but for some reason the tiny bird couldn’t work out what to do.

You hopeless little thing I thought to myself and very slowly bent down and tried to carefully catch it in my cupped hands.  This frightened it all the more.

I stood right back and silently waited.

Nope, it just could not work out why it couldn’t  ‘walk through glass’ 😀

Human intervention was obviously needed before the frantic little bird keeled over in exhaustion.

Finally,  I managed to catch the distressed little wren and slowly bring it up to the fence rail and release it.

It quickly flew to the male on the Maple tree and then the couple flew off to the other side of the road where they could rest in the thick hedge in the warm Autumn sunshine.

I feel like I’m in Heaven with the absence of construction workers and machinery noise.

Photo of a Male SUPERB FAIRY-WREN from the 26th March.

The gentle warmth of the sun was so pleasant after the long hot Summer, that I couldn’t help but think…..Thank God for Silence.

………..and the distant caw-caw of the local Ravens and the chatter of the nearby House Sparrows spread the beautiful sound of Autumn.

It’s only after incessant jarring noise (of the construction workers all week) that you truly appreciate the Silence in this unique apartment location.

I was back to my positive happy self and all was well with the world…..or at least my world.

 

……and so I asked Mr Google who had first said this phrase.

What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Silence is golden’?

As with many proverbs, the origin of this phrase is obscured by the mists of time. There are reports of versions of it dating back to Ancient Egypt. The first example of it in English is from the poet Thomas Carlyle, who translated the phrase from German in Sartor Resartus, 1831, in which a character expounds at length on the virtues of silence:

That fuller version – ‘speech is silver; silence is golden’, is still sometimes used, although the shorter form is now more common.

UGHHH!

I thought to post these House Swallow images from my archives today.  They were made mid November 2018.

I wish I could bury my head and ears in my ‘feathers’.

The Townhouse Construction site across the road is not only working overtime with the jackhammer-like attachment on their excavator til late in the afternoon on weekdays, they even worked last Saturday (to spoil my weekend bliss).

I suppose I’d better get used to it, but hopefully, the actual building construction will be less noisy than the excavation of the enormous bluestone rocks from the cliff face directly opposite my apartment.

When they were working at the top of the cliff, the sound seemed to float over the top of my building, but now, they seemed to have turned up the volume on the (orange excavator) rock-splitting task at the base of the cliff…..directly opposite my apartment balcony.

Oh well, I’m trying to think positive and just hope the actual building construction work might be a bit less noisy than the clearing & preparation.  I noticed when I went out this past Monday and Tuesday, there is a concrete ‘slab’ at the top and workmen are busy constructing a concrete block wall for the front of the building already.

How strange to build the apartment block at the same time as they are excavating. You can see the ‘wall’ at the top left quadrant of the 1st construction image above.

 

TAWNY FROGMOUTH (Podargus strigoides)

I’ve only seen a Frogmouth in the wild once.

When I saw this couple for the first time, I looked for them continually in the 20 months I lived in the inner north-east suburb of Abbotsford from 2015-2016.

Eventually, after the local Council? or Environment Agency?, who looked after the river and nature reserve on the other side of the river, went through clearing winter debris and rubbish from the river banks and water, I never saw them again.

I was surprised to read Frogmouths are not Owls and being rather ignorant of most Australian birds before I took up photography, was rather thrilled to see them high up on the cliff face below my apartment area.

HERE, THE ORIGINAL IMAGE HAS BEEN LIGHTENED CONSIDERABLY. I ALSO GAVE THE IMAGE A SMALL CROP ON ALL SIDES TO MAKE THE BIRDS APPEAR A LITTLE LARGER WITHIN THE FRAME.

I spent some time in the following days (after discovery), trying to photograph them and this image is about the best out of the series I took.  I was looking up at about a 90 degree angle and had the lens virtually resting on top of my glasses.  Certainly not the best bird image I’ve ever shot, but who’s complaining when you live in an urban area, (or inner suburb of a capital city) and bird life can be scarce in some locations, or seasons of the year.

This species of Australian Frogmouth is a large, strangely big-headed, well-camouflaged, nightjar-like bird with a tuft of bristles on its forehead.  I’ve lightened the image considerably in post processing, as the birds were in deep shade in the thick of the tree’s foliage.

The Frogmouth’s large beak opens to an enormous gape. and it usually perches upright and motionless like a broken branch, so can be hard to spot during the daytime.  The bird has a strange, rather persist ‘oom-oom-oom….’ sound and is active at dusk and after.

This is #45 from my archives of the 100+ bird species I have photographed over the last 8 years or so.  I think I have shared most of the better/best images, but I’ll continue to post some of the other 60 or so species photographed if I can find some decent shots.

SILVEREYE (Zosterops lateralis chloronotus)

Back to the archives………22nd February, 2011

I don’t think I’ve shared this image of a Silvereye before.  It’s the only photo of this bird I’ve got and I had to over-edit it to make the bird more visible.

SILVEREYE

Made just after I bought my first Canon DSLR camera and probably taken in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, as, at that time, I lived 5 minutes walk from the south-eastern gate.

The plumage varies considerably depending on whether it’s habitat is western Australia or down the south-eastern side of the country.  The plumage of the bird in the photo belongs to  the western race and yet I live in a south-eastern state.  Despite its variable colouring, it is still readily identifiable as Australia’s only small grey and olive-green bird with a bold white eye-ring.

When the berries were ripe on the enormous tree outside my lounge window (of the apartment I lived in at that time), there’d be literally dozens of these cute birds feeding and hopping from branch to branch.  I was never able to capture them in a photo due to the deep, dark foliage and the fact I was facing into the sun (from my vantage point on the building’s side path).

It took me a couple of years before I was able to identify these birds due to the deep shade of the tree.

Here’s a cropped version of the image, so you can see the bird a wee bit better.

SILVEREYE