From the archives

September 2012

Normally, Melbourne would be preparing for the Royal Melbourne Show at this time of year, but it’s cancelled in 2020 (of course).     It’s a great family day filled with the pungent smell of doughnuts, hotdogs and other takeaway food.   The rides and merry-go-rounds cater for the young and old.  The show bags – filled with commercial samples, comics, lollies and such, are usually something to be collected in number (according to how deep one’s purse) and carried home to be treasured and played with for days after the visit by the young at heart.

When we were young, it was always a treat to sample the chocolates, liquorice and boiled sweets and toffees as we usually only ate healthy home-grown food.

Back in the early days of my photography hobby in 2012, I took the afternoon to wander around and look at some of the exhibits – after all, I’m still a child at heart.

I unashamedly have copied these details from Wikipedia……

The Royal Melbourne Show is an agricultural show held at Melbourne Showgrounds every September. It is organised by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and has been running since 1848.[1] Each year Royal Melbourne Show attracts attendances of up to half a million people.

The traditional purpose is the display of rural industry, including livestock and produce with its associated competitions and awards however, the show also features amusement rides and a sideshow alley, as well as the peculiarly Australian tradition of ‘Showbags‘, carry bags containing samples of goodies produced by various commercial enterprises.

A prominent feature during showtime is the many rides including a permanent wooden Mad Mouse roller coaster which resided at the grounds until 2001, owned by Wittingslow Amusements. A permanent chairlift also resided on site until 2005. The site has its own railway station, used during special events located on the Flemington Racecourse line. The Thursday of the show was once observed as the Show Day public holiday in Melbourne; this holiday was abandoned in 1994.[2]

While the Royal Show is the main show in Victoria, many cities and towns in regional Victoria host smaller shows, such as the Royal Geelong Show, Bendigo Show, Ballarat Show, Warragul Show, Whittlesea Show and the Shepparton Show.

There was no show in 1915, 1940 to 1945 nor 2020 (of course).

You can read more about the competitions and other details here.   Its permanent location is actually within walking distance of where I currently live but over the other side of the river.   It would be a rather circuitous route via car or taxi as there’s no road crossing the river in this immediate area.

So here’s a few random photos from the baby animal area and some of the craft exhibitions.

I took many more photos at the showgrounds that year, but they disappeared in last year’s laptop crash and attempted photo library transfer to the new desktop.

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

female House Sparrow

House Sparrows are as common as mud, but that doesn’t take away the pleasure of observing their habits and trying to photograph them from the comfort of my desk chair.

They’re fascinating.

Sitting at my desk with intermittent glances out the lounge windows gives me a ‘birdseye view’.

I got fed up with my sore neck and headaches this week so put my new(ish) 27″ iMac back down on a box atop a low table behind my desk again this week and discovered that with the screen 5-6″ lower, I was able to observe the Sparrows (and sometimes the Superb Fairy-wrens) in the nearby Eucalyptus tree over the top of my iMac screen.

The fixed stand on the iMac (desktop) is one of the few daily and rather trivial annoyances that have entered my life since my crashed Mac Pro laptop and Dell high resolution 27″ screen left my life mid-May 2019.

The Dell screen could be moved up, down and even turned portrait size (as well as the usual landscape view).   i could tilt it any old way.  I had it connected to my 13″ Mac Pro on my desk and with the slight colour tone differences could correct any colour saturation that looked a wee bit off on either screen.   The Mac Pro laptop had a slightly richer colour.

(note: in the series below the window was dirty from recent rains so the images are a bit faded).

A couple of days ago, a male House Sparrow seemed to be actually enjoying bouncing up and down on a small branch.   For once I could clearly see through the thick foliage.

If I didn’t know better, I might suggest the bird was bouncing up and down on the branch in the brisk winter wind for the sheer fun of it.

Seriously.   The bird stayed on the branch for quite some time.

Took me a while to focus over the top of my (lowered) computer screen and through the louvred window panes on that side of the room.

NOTE: I have reduced the shadows, increased the contrast and ‘black point’ in photo editing so you could see the bird more clearly, otherwise, the bird’s outline would have been almost invisible.

You will notice this male Sparrow has a beautiful soft thick grey winter coat of breast feathers and in the cold winter morning the bird has also fluffed up its feathers to retain some warmth.

Here’s example of a couple of Spotted Turtle-doves in Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my apartment building in winter 2017 below. Note how they’ve fluffed up their winter coat in order to retain some warmth.


Back to the story……….

One other day this week, the sun came out and several sparrows came to play and splash around in my (temporary) birdbath.

Actually, it’s not temporary.

A large plastic plant saucer atop an even larger empty plant pot makes a wonderful birdbath.   It’s higher up so I can take photos more clearly through the windows.  Since the water is quite deep, I have put 2 small metal water bowls in the centre so the birds have a sturdy bowl rim to stand on and bend over when quenching their thirst.

The Avian species on my balcony needs some good ergonomics just as much as me with my desk chair height  😀

One day, when the stores open again, I might buy a real birdbath.   The blue ceramic one has broken twice over the last few years necessitating 2 trips to the local Bunnings Hardware Warehouse with its attached plant nursery.    It’s only 15 minutes walk away but closed for 6 weeks at the moment.   I usually book a taxi to go there (and back home) as I always buy too much.

For the newer followers who have just joined me, this series (below) gives you an idea of where I buy my herb and veggie seedlings each Spring.   Bunnings is the name of a larger Hardware warehouse chain of stores and they must have millions of products indoors, let alone the large outdoor plant nursery.

The House Sparrows play and splash around and make great entertainment value in this current ‘lockdown’ in Melbourne.

If you’re a bird photographer.  Even an amateur like me.   Don’t dismiss the fun in observing these common little birds that frequent our urban landscape in the absence of more exotic species.

I’ve taken so few photos in recent weeks, I actually leave my cameras packed away in their soft pouches most days.

I saw a grey Fantail land on my balcony fence this week and missed the shot due to having no camera ready and waiting.

Just to share what a Grey Fantail looks like, here are the images made last year when I spotted one in my Japanese Maple.