SPRING

The weather is gorgeous today – cool, overcast, but filled with the sound of birdsong and the sun has just come out from behind the clouds as I type this post.

One of the upsides of this pandemic is that there have been fewer cars on the road and the sound of the birds is absolutely glorious at this time of year.

There are so many different cheeps and chirps in my area.   The best sound can often be a flock of ducks flying low over the apartment buildings in the mornings.   It more often occurs on a Sunday and I wonder if they know it’s the weekend and we are all sleeping in late.

Sometimes, it’s the sound of the Superb fair-wrens as they fly across my road and onto my balcony fence or nearby tree.

I can now hear a Spotted Turtle-dove calling(but can’t see it).

Perhaps you might enjoy hearing this YouTube of Australian bird sounds.  I hear a mixture of these sounds every morning and afternoon now that Spring is here.   All the more enchanting as I live in an urban area about 11kms from the centre of Melbourne.

I can definitely hear New Holland Honeyeaters today.

I can’t help but wonder what the birds think of this minimal human sound and reduction in polluting car fumes.   We don’t have much pollution in Melbourne and surrounding suburbs but the air quality is definitely improved since we’re all in Lockdown.

In the last month, I’ve been trying to make more effort to walk home from the local pharmacy/medical centre instead of catching taxis all the time.    My hip OA pain has improved somewhat so maybe the long months of rest and then return to warmer weather are having a positive effect.

There is this overwhelming desire for fresh air and the sights outside the 4 walls of my lounge room.   I’m sure many Melburnians are feeling the same.  I admit that mask-wearing, which fogs up my glasses, has been a deterrent for outdoor walking too.   Makes me wish I still wore contact lenses.  Some days, I get the bend on the plastic bar across the top of the mask bent just right on top of my nose and other days, no matter how I arrange the mask my glasses continually fog up and photography is impossible.  I’m sure all you spectacle wearers know what I mean.

At the top of my steep road, there’s a residential garden with some lovely roses in full bloom and I made the effort to ‘stop and smell the roses’ last week.

I could only reach about 4 roses blooms by leaning over the residential brick fence and was disappointed to find they didn’t have any perfume.   Obviously, I couldn’t get around the other side of the bushes to find the best angle for photography but still managed to get a couple of shots.

Hopefully, I’ll get outdoors again soon and capture some more.

I’ve made a couple of small forays into the Blogosphere, but am still keeping off the computer mouse as much as possible…… in general.  At least I can type a few sentences now without my shoulders hurting so much.

But, like most Melburnians, I am looking forward to better times in the near future.

SUNSETS

From the archives

30th January 2017 (and December 2016)

I’m a lover of Photography first, a nature lover second (and a gardener third   😀  ).

Whenever I see vivid colours in landscape (or seascape) images taken in the golden hour or sunset, I often guess that the photographer has exaggerated or over-saturated the colour in post-processing.   But I know from personal experience that brilliant colours in the sky, and the subjects it shines upon, can truly be a wondrous sight.

None more so than the image below.

It was taken at sunset while looking over my balcony fence and down a small sideroad to the left in my new(ish) housing estate in the western suburbs of Melbourne.   I’ve shared this image before today.

It’s even more impressive on my large 27″ screen.

A month before this, in December 2016, before the large apartment building was built on the cliff in front of my apartment, the horizon was just as beautiful with its ever-changing colour palette.

I no longer spend every evening sitting in my desk chair (or out on my apartment balcony) watching the sun go down as its mostly hidden from view.

I really dislike that new building.  I daresay, if and when, they plant some bushes or greenery in the (very) small pockets of earth that are scattered around it, it might be more interesting but in the meantime, I have to keep my block-out roller blinds half-shut to preserve some resemblance of privacy.

I hesitate to put curtains up because then I would miss seeing the birds on my balcony and they are such a joy in Lockdown.   The birdsong and sights remind me that despite the pandemic that has restricted our lifestyle, there is still much joy to be found near our own ‘back door’.

Apparently, there is a whole new genre of Birds in Backyards photography since the lockdown, so it’s good to hear some folk are making the most of their time indoors.

VISITORS

I was so engrossed in a new Netflix serial this afternoon, I nearly missed them.

It was only by chance I glanced sideways and saw them.

They had done nothing to herald their visit today except leave extra large bird poop on my apartment balcony fence over the last week.   Yesterday, I’d had enough and got an old shabby cloth and a bucket of hot soapy water to clean the balcony fence back to its dull, but clean,  black finish.

This afternoon I grabbed the closest camera and tried to get all 3 birds in the frame but no such luck.

Actually, there were 4 of them.   But they walked so fast I didn’t have to worry about light, focus, composition – just getting at least one of them in the frame.

Spotted Turtle-doves (Streptopelia chinensis) 

Not a single sound did they make – just briskly walked around the empty balcony floor looking for a tasty bite to eat.

Then, one by one, they flew up to the balcony railing and promptly walked along the broad edge and out of sight (along the next-door neighbour’s fence rail).

It was only after they left that I looked down at my lightweight Sony a6000 to discover it was set on Aperture Priority instead of the usual Shutter Priority setting (where I normally leave it at the end of each day I use it).

No wonder the shutter speed had a definite lag in the action  🙂

The image below was my favourite in the short photoshoot.   There’s something decidedly feminine about the head of this one.

NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER

Finally found how to get into the Classic WordPress Editor (after being off the blogasphere for several days).

A brief walk yesterday had me searching the Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise) flowers along the main road for a clear background and no other dying flowers in the scene.

Next moment a New Holland Honeyeater landed on a flower further along the path and while I missed the initial front-view, I caught this back view as the honeyeater reached down to sip some nectar(?).

Then it turned to face me……..

…..and quickly flew away.

****

I am continuing to keep off the Blogasphere and most emailing (unless really urgent), but couldn’t resist sharing some images made with my lightweight Sony a6000 while walking to the local medical centre yesterday.   (Yes, I was actually walking with this $%# hip OA).

Some Spring sightings shot on the way home are uploaded below.

It was overcast and the threat of rain loomed over me, but I still managed to enjoy the fresh air, Spring flowers and Birdsong.

********

I received the results of my left shoulder u/sound yesterday – finally – and that shoulder has a long partial-thickness tendon tear and chronic tendinitis (with a lot of old damage to be seen).

So both shoulders are $%#@!.   I mentioned the right shoulder had a full-thickness tear and inflammation a couple of weeks ago (and was really really painful).

This morning I seem to have some hours when my shoulders and sternum are not so painful so I’ll take the opportunity to share this not-so-good news.

I will not be answering comments, but do enjoy reading them.

Am not photo editing or doing anything much with my arms/shoulders at the moment (including 99% off blog reading), but can upload some images (without typing or giving you the story behind them), so will do if I capture any more with my lightweight camera.

On a lighter note, I dyed my hair pink over the weekend.

Something to put a smile on my face when I looked into the bathroom mirror in the morning 😀

AN UPDATE (for the regular followers)

NOISY MINER

Thanks for all your lovely messages Blogging Friends, but I’m not supposed to use my right shoulder so won’t reply to each of you (who kindly commented on my previous post).

Just got the U/S results for my right shoulder this afternoon……

To put it simply…..full thickness tear (supraspinatus), bursitis (subdeltoid), tendonitis (sternoclavicular joint) and now…….will be going for a cortisone injection and getting the other shoulder scanned (which still hurts from 3 weeks ago).  The right shoulder also showed evidence of an old ligament tear.   (now, which fall was that I wonder to myself???  😀  )

An interesting one was the “synovitis in the sternoclavicular joint” – my doctor had never seen any patient with that before.   It basically means that where my collarbone joins my sternum (in the centre of my chest) it hurts like hell  😀

Have to try and not use my right shoulder AT ALL.    Full Rest!   Duh!    No picking up that heavy Sigma 150-z500mm lens to photograph birds on my balcony for a while (and no more typing or clicking with the computer mouse).

That’s all Folks   🙂  🙂

MARIBYRNONG WETLANDS POND AS SEEN FROM THE ROAD

 

 

ABSENT FROM THE BLOGASPHERE

I will be off the Blogasphere for the immediate future and that includes reading and commenting on the blogs I follow.

My shoulder injury from 3 weeks ago, which I have been struggling with and which I had u/sounded at the local radiology centre last week, has just got dramatically worse (literally an hour ago) and typing is extremely painful.

 

 

 

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – female

It’s rare that I don’t take a photo (or two) every day.

As far as I’m concerned it really doesn’t matter if it’s a good shot or a not-so-good shot.  Its all practice and practice is well worth the effort in Lockdown.

I love the image below.   It was made yesterday when the sun cast a brilliant beam of light on my balcony fence rail and despite the ghostly band of white in the bottom half of the frame (which is actually where a louvred window overlaps the pane below), I think its the face and eye which appeals in this shot.

I’d sprinkled a long row of birdseed on the fence rail in the hope of attracting a few more birds to photograph.  In general, it’s only the House Sparrows that like to snack on it,  but I still get Superb Fairy-wrens flying down to the grey balcony floor tiles and wander around in the hope of something tasty to eat.

I followed one male Superb Fairy-wren around the Japanese Maple branches for a quite a while yesterday, but despite having washed the glass panes of the fence, couldn’t get a clear shot.

 

It’s still fun and entertaining.

********

Only 14 new COVID cases in Melbourne in the last 24 hours (and sadly 5 deaths – all in the aged care sector).

We’re well on the way to achieving the goal of 14 straight days of an average of <50 new daily cases in order to drop down a Stage in restrictions on Monday, September 28th.

Only 7 days, 7 hours, 40 minutes and 5 seconds to go – not that I’m counting mind you.  😀

 

WHAT BIRD IS THAT?

Identifying birds around my home location are not always easy.

Especially when you’ve only got blurred shots and no, (or not much), head and beak visible.

Yesterday, I photographed a new bird in the Japanese Maple in front of my balcony fence.  The  windows, through which I was viewing the bird, were dirty so the autofocus kept zooming in and out – one minute on the bird and a couple of seconds later the dusty raindrops on the window (or green foliage blowing in the breeze).

In the shot below, you can see what looks like a grey or dark blue back, so it’s definitely not a Silvereye which is olive-green.

I was just about to delete the blurred shots this afternoon thinking it was just another Silvereye, when I realized the back of the bird was grey or bluish-grey……and the beak was dark and too long for a Silvereye.

The mystery deepened with the faint splodges of yellow on the bird’s back below.   They were very faint.

I can see this bird’s outline fairly easy on my 27″ iMac, but if you have a small laptop or ipad, you probably can’t see anything much.

Then I managed to get the back half of the bird in better focus showing the rump as being pale whitish.

Then it moved almost upside-down showing more of white-greyish underparts.

I cropped the photo down so that only the bird showed.

I could see what looked like black bands on its neck (above).

The images were just too blurred.

With that downy-looking soft feathered rump, maybe it’s a chick or young bird?

I finally decided it was a young White-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus), a bird I’d seen last year but not close enough to get a sharply focused image.

The only image of a White-Plumed Honeyeater I could find just now is the one below – photographed from quite some distance away and the image cropped down a fair bit.   It was made at the Jawbone Conservation Reserve and Marine Sanctuary in Williamstown on the nearest coastal area to my home.    (I’ve been there 4 times since I moved to the western suburbs and am keen to go back in Summer……..one day……..when the lockdown is over perhaps).

WHITE-PLUMED HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus penicillatus) ???

But then I remembered the bird I photographed on my balcony fence in 2017.   I thought it was a Grey Thrush-Shrike but a follower suggested something different (I can’t remember what he suggested).

GREY SHRIKE-THRUSH (Colluricincla harmonica) on my blacony fence rail.

Keep your fingers crossed the bird comes back another day so I can correctly identify it.

In the meantime, the first thing after breakfast this morning, I cleaned the exterior glass on my lounge windows.

Then I opened the sliding door wide open and set ALL 3 cameras beside my desk with the lens caps off.

I kept glancing up to the Japanese Maple and listened intently as the Superb Fairy-wrens chirped away to each other.   I can do this for hours, but I was catching up on the latest TV news between each glance to the outdoors.

Finally at 2.20pm I saw it.

I tried in vain to get a clear shot –  rather unsuccessfully – but here it is.

A female Superb Fairy-wren singing her little heart away to any male in the area.

It wasn’t a clear view, but it was in much better focus than yesterday’s efforts.

On a sadder note, another couple of branches on the Japanese Maple have died (see upper right in the image below).

Below, you can see where the dead branch from last year was cut off.

The Body Corporate who administer this apartment  building called out a horticultural expert and he said that the heavy rains hadn’t drained away last year and this was what was killing it – water-logged due to insufficient drainage.

I noticed at the start of winter that not all the leaves dropped off in Autumn.   I didn’t realize those dead leaves clung to a dead branch.

The best way to capture moments is to pay attention.  This is how we cultivate mindfulness.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Hopefully, when I look back on this strict lockdown in Melbourne, I’ll remember the little moments that kept me entertained and gave me something to write about in the absence of nature walks.

NEW BIRD SIGHTING

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks with medical appointments, scans, tests, ordering online and the hundred and one other tasks when you have chronic pain & illness and don’t have a car to get around.

The current lockdown, curfew and having to keep within a 5km radius of your home in Melbourne only adds to the difficulties when you don’t have a car and have to rely on taxis to go anywhere.

The one good piece of news is that at the end of the month ‘elective surgery’ is going to open up again in our hospitals.   Despite a backlog of over 100,000 surgeries which have been on hold and will now take something like 6 months to clear, I have finally sourced a new orthopaedic surgeon and am cautiously optimistic that I might REALLY get to the stage of getting a hip replacement.   Even so, I have to pass a medical since I have a severe (inherited) heart condition and multiple other severe health issues.    Then there’s the……..well, I won’t bore you with the details, but daily life is getting to be really hard work – both physically and mentally – at the moment.

I’m totally fed up with this ever-increasing hip pain and I’ve watched so much TV or movies online that my eyes are getting ‘distinctly square’ (overseas followers might not know this expression from watching too much TV).

I live in one of the most picturesque urban areas in the western suburbs – including a nature reserve and river behind my apartment building (for the benefit of new followers), but without the ability to go for a lovely long walk, I’m restricted to indoors – mostly.

After I dismantled and re-homed most of my balcony garden a couple of months ago, I don’t get as many birds visiting my balcony.   Long-term followers will know how much that garden and its avian visitors meant to me over the last 4 years, especially in Spring.

Some images of the old balcony garden below (for the new followers).

ASIAN CLIMBING SPINACH (from the seeds my younger brother gave me).

A female Superb Fairy-wren standing on the rim of the veggie trough.

Part of the balcony herb & veggie garden Spring 2019

Heirloom tomatoes grownn for the first time.

Herbs, beans & leafy greens cut for today’s meals.

Apart from the stores and plant nursery being closed in the current 6 week lockdown in Melbourne,  there’s no point setting up a new Spring garden with the potential of  surgery and several weeks of recovery on the horizon.

It would cost a fair bit of money to start my garden all over again, although I’ve got all the plastic pots from last season and the plastic plant ID tags ready to purchase seedlings sometime in the future.

I have a list.   Gosh, I have an enormous ‘to do/buy’ list if it comes to that.

Although I did have my DSLR and long telephoto lens out of its pouch, I haven’t been holding out much hope of some avian visitors in the deep, dark shade of the eucalyptus tree.

One of the luckiest shots ever – A BABY GREY FANTAIL chick in the eucalyptus tree from 2 weeks ago.

The incredible sound of many chirping birds in its depths was almost deafening this morning, but with so many leaves, pretty hard to catch a bird in focus within the frame, for it’s a nature photographer that I am in retirement – the Grey Fantail above, caught by the lens was in a very lucky series of shots.

But the Japanese Maple on the left-hand side of the fence is bursting with new growth and a powerhouse of young buds and leaves for the bird-life in the area.   It’s also much less densely foliaged at the moment.

I was watching a YouTube online of some Willy Wagtails singing and a mother feeding it’s tiny offspring (which I’ll share next time I see a Willy Wagtail) when I noticed a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye.

I turned and saw the rear end of olive-green feathers and knew without a doubt I was looking at a new bird in my tree.

For ‘my’ tree it is as I am the tenant to benefit the most from its bird-attracting new foliage in Spring.

At first, I thought it might be a White-plumed Honeyeater which I’d seen a couple of times in past years, but there were more olive-green feathers on the bird (below) than a honeyeater.  The photo below actually looks like the rear or back of a Bell Miner.

I watched as the bird jumped from branch to branch between the bright green young leaves.

The #$@%! autofocus on the telephoto lens wouldn’t focus.

I’m actually fairly good at getting one focal point between branches and foliage after practising so much in recent years, but for some weird reason, it wouldn’t autofocus today.   My eyesight is too poor to use the manual focus ring on the DSLR/lens, but on autofocus, well, let’s just say I’ve had plenty of practice photographing the local birdlife.

I waited patiently for the bird to appear near the top of the tree where I’d have a clear view.

I knew that time would come as its the tiny new shoots that the birds like to graze on in Spring and those tiny leaves are in profusion at the top of the tree where the sun kisses the young branch tips.

Then the bird flew up to the top, turned so I could see its white eye-ring and I knew straight away it was a Silvereye (western race)  which doesn’t have the blue feathers of the eastern race – Zosterops lateralis chloronotus to be exact.

This is the first time in 4 years since I moved to the area that I’ve seen a Silvereye.

So I’m thrilled to share this shot with you today, as I can see by the fine downy feathers and small beak, it’s a young chick………very young-looking in the following shot.   I would say only days or a week old?

Every time I get a bit ‘down’ and dispirited in Lockdown, it’s the birds who uplift me with their presence and song.