THE LOCAL POND

Recently, what with being more housebound and the stinking hot weather for most of the Summer, and even……now…..early Autumn, I’ve been feeling all blogged out.

Just when I feel like giving up blogging altogether, I see something new and get invigorated, uplifted and inspired all over again.

Last Saturday’s walk down to the local pond was one such day.

I walked down the short steep bit of road from my ‘back gate’ (aka the roller door entrance to the 1st level of car parking under my apartment building is what I call my ‘back gate’).

 

NO BIRDS TO BE SEEN ON THE POND AT ALL.   NOTE: THIS IS THE POND WHERE I SHOT MY HEADER and FOOTER IMAGES   BRIGHT SKY IS COMPLETELY OVER-EXPOSED FROM THIS ANGLE.

 

THEN I SPOTTED SOME MOVEMENT IN A TREE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE POND, lifted the 150-500mm lens and spotted a NOISY MINER (Manorina melanocephala)

All it took was the sighting of 2 Australian White Ibises (Threskiornis molucca)….or should I say ‘Ibis’ for plural?

  

I’ve never seen an Australian White Ibis around my local pond or river before.  I must say it was a real thrill.  While the birds were some distance away, it was almost the highlight of the whole Summer.

ROYAL SPOONBILL (Platalea regia)

(Actually the highlight was photographing the Royal Spoonbills down at Jawbone Conservation and Nature Reserve – left – on the 10th January, breaking a $1000+ camera lens and my wrist in a fall).  

GROUNDSEL (Senecio vulgaris L.)

My world is very small in enforced retirement.

I notice the smallest change in every leaf, insect and wind gust on my balcony.  Fortunately, I’ve always been drawn to the small details in life and in doing so, can usually appreciate the simple things that most people take for granted.

Last Saturday, it looked quite pleasant outdoors (although) 5 minutes into the walk through the ‘back gate’ and down the rest of my road to where a stony/asphalt path leads to 2 steps and then a gravel path, it turned out to be more than warm.

My 20 minute walk turned into 2 hours.  But I never can walk fast with a camera in hand.  I’m always stopping to look around.

In general, residential areas and open fields are looking so pale and parched this past Summer, you could be forgiven for thinking Mother Nature had sprayed the landscape with diluted bleach.

Unless, the grass is near a water source, it is so crisp and crunchy underfoot and the earth so hard, you almost feel as though you’re in a foreign county nearer the equator.  (ok, I’m exaggerating, but seriously, the grass is bone dry).

PURPLE SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio porphyrio) pecking at dry grass in a shady patch of a nearby tree.
PURPLE SWAMPHENs (Porphyrio porphyrio) might be finding a few more insects where the grass is a bit greener next to the Frogs Hollow water course surrounded by dry 7-8 foot high reeds.  I can’t get closer to these Swamphens than this (no matter how stealthily and cautiously I step).  The birds seem to sense me before they even see me

Australia does have hot Summers and cold Winters and being such a large continent, a wide variety of weather zones from temperate in the south and most coastal areas, to desert in the centre, to tropical rainforests in the north.  But in general, down south here in Melbourne and its surrounds, in the south-eastern state of Victoria, the weather/seasons are called Temperate.

I generally have to stay indoors on hot days and this past summer, I’ve been waiting for the Summer’s blistering heat and gusty winds to ‘settle down’ to Temperate!

I WALKED OVER THE CRUNCHY DRY GRASS TO WHERE THE CYCLING/WALKING PATH IS NEXT TO THE MARIBYRNONG RIVER (in the background).

Last Saturday I was taken aback at the dryness and lower-than-usual water level in the nearby ponds, river and lake-like expanse of water between the main river and the local housing estates in this river valley.

We’ve had a sprinkling of rain showers, but we need serious RAIN.  We need hours/days of heavy soaking rain which reaches deep down beyond the roots of even the largest old trees.  Every time there is a quick rain shower, the earth sends up a feeble few stalks of green which dry to a crisp within a day or two at the moment.

I noticed the 2 rocky low ’causeways’, which link where the ponds fill up and overflow into the large water catchment area, are dried up.

The pond in the current Header and Footer in my Nature Blog (which I change from time to time), has minimal water and even the water reeds and Bullrushes are crisping up to pale gold in the heat, as you can see in the Pacific Black Duck images below.

And they’ve got their roots in the water!

Even so, I did catch sight of a few birds last weekend, but it was definitely a thrill to see the 2 Australian White Ibis.

The Crested Pigeon with its beautiful markings, pale pink body and head crest are always easy to spot.  They’re usually on the ground.

CRESTED PIGEON (Ocyphaps lophotes)

……..and for those new to my Nature Blog, the images below are what are usually seen in the cooler months. Green, blue and birds galore.

But instead we get the images below on the walk home.  Dry grass and lacklustre scenes.

18 thoughts on “THE LOCAL POND

    1. Only a short walk, but I was thrilled to see the Ibis.

      No, no better for walking, Terry. But a cooler day this coming week might be worth another try. I really need the hip replacement, as it’s torture getting up from a chair, or certain other movements (but can’t proceed with my current health conditions and nerve damage in my legs residual from the spinal surgery). Sometimes, i manage to walk home from the local supermarket/medical centre and other times I have to get a taxi the 2 streets distance (literally what you’d call a 8-10 minute walk). Last time I went to the local Plant Nursery I could only stand for a short time (looking at plant seedlings and other supplies) and then had to get a taxi home – a 15minute walk home 2 years ago – now a taxi ride (and I have trouble lifting my right leg to get in the taxi too!). It varies. 2 weeks ago I couldn’t get out of the taxi when I went to visit my Father in his nursing home, so needed help from the driver. I’m resigned to being mainly housebound or transport via taxi/bus on ‘good’ days.

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    1. So you’ve had an extra dry Summer as well, Anne. With the extra chill and snow in the northern hemisphere and our extra dry summer, there’s no doubt in my mind that the planet’s weather is changing.

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    1. Thanks Lisa. I’m so lucky to live on the edge of a ‘green’ belt in the western suburbs. The convenience of urban living and the parks and woodland of the country on 2 sides.

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    1. Thanks Lonnie. You’re welcome. I’m so lucky to live near parks and nature reserve and hear that wonderful birdsong and see so many birds.
      Living on a farm, I guess you are used to the ‘birds’ 😀

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  1. Didn’t I smile at this: “My 20 minute walk turned into 2 hours. But I never can walk fast with a camera in hand. I’m always stopping to look around.” Sometimes when I go to my favorite refuge I’ll go all the way to the far end, and start from there. Otherwise, I miss thoe farther-away portions for entire seasons, because it’s always time to go home before I get there!

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    1. Great minds think alike, Linda. I’m just as fascinated by the grass varieties and ‘weeds’ as I am looking up in the trees for the birds 🙂

      When you really look at the fine details in nature, they are just sooooo interesting. The shape. The texture. The colour. The insects and all.

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  2. Great Ibis catch! I also dislike warm/hot weather. I count myself lucky to have finally landed where it generally doesn’t get too hot, but miserable during the occasional exceptions.

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    1. Thanks Gunta. I was so surprised to see them even though I’d seen these ibis in the nature reserve only a couple of miles away. The one single White-faced Heron is the only large bird I’ve really seen in my immediate area (I mean 10 mins walk by ‘immediate’).

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    1. It certainly was a thrill, Tanja. Pty it was so far away (and I’d forgotten how heavy that long lens was. I’ve been using it mainly with my elbows resting on my desk to photograph birds on my balcony).

      We’ve got intermittent rain forecast in the coming week. Tomorrow is a 70% chance, so that might be a good soaking for the ground.

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