EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra)

Eurasian Coots are ‘common as mud’ in Australia.

You can usually find them in large fresh water lakes, reservoirs and floods, but they can also congregate near swamps, sewage farms and occasionally…….sheltered seas.

Their large dumpy bodies, with sooty black wings and tail, are quite distinctive with only a rich brown eye to relieve the overall body colour.

This poor Coot (below) was stuck on a rock trying to dislodge a piece of fishing line from its beak and gullet near the edge of the river on the north-east side of Melbourne.  Eventually a couple of other walkers and I managed to catch the bird and remove the plastic line and it swam happily on its way, but it was hard to catch I must say.

Nether the walkers, nor I, had a smart phone with internet access, so we couldn’t ring for the local Wildlife Rescue service to come and relieve the Coot of its irritating plastic line.  It does make me cross when I come across birds in distress, due to the thoughtless acts of fishermen and campers.

The bird’s beak and frontal shield is white, so in general, you can’t mistake the identification.

It dives frequently and has a distinctive metallic ‘kyok’ and other twanging sounds.

One day I came across a nest right next to the bank of the Ornamental Lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens and was lucky enough to catch a couple of chicks take their first swim.

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TREE or SHRUBBY GERMANDER (Teucrium fruticans)

Shrubby  Germander (Teucrium fruticans), also known as Tree germander is a bushy, evergreen shrub with oval to lance-shaped, grey-green leaves, to 3/4″ long, with white-woolly underneath.

It’s native to the western and central areas of the Mediterraneun, not Australia, but I find it a lovely plant and almost wish I had one in my balcony garden, although it does like a bit of shelter and I fear it would quickly go downhill in my windy home location.  But with all the successes I’ve had in my small west-facing garden, you never know – it might just grow beautifully 🙂

The whorls of pale blue/mauve flowers are very pretty (even if they don’t have the brilliant colour of some of the flowers in my previous post).

They make an excellent hedge, and do best in moist, well-drained soil and full sun.  They make a nice clipped low hedge in a herb garden and may be cut to within 2″ of ground level in the Spring to maintain a nice compact growth habit.

The images in this post were not made in the Royal Botanic Gardens, (surprise, surprise), but against a wall in the riverside walking path near the Collingwood Children’s Garden in the inner Melbourne north-east suburb of Abbotsford,  where I lived briefly before moving to the western suburb where I currently reside.

ROCK DOVE (Columba livia)

With reference to a comment on a prior post about 2 Rock Doves which used to stand on the warehouse roof (opposite my previous apartment on the 3rd floor) with their feathers fluffed up in Winter – “Tweedledum & Tweedledee” (as I called them), well, I can’t find the image at the present time.  I’ll post it if I do Peggy.

This brings me to the subject of Rock Doves (Columba livia).  Often called Rock Pigeons, depending on their size and Bird Guide Book (or Web site) you are searching through.

These common, mainly town birds, are variable in colour from pinkish through browns to near-black, but typically grey, sometimes chequered darker on their wings and often with an iridescent sheen.

I’ve seen and photographed so many different colours when I first started Bird photography, I wondered if I was photographing lots of different bird species.

In the blue hour, they look very blue as you’ll see in the images in this post.

My Abbotsford apartment location from April 2015 to September 2016 – Biro shows my regular walking routes

They used to fly over the rooftops of Abbotsford Convent (below – images taken from my balcony).

I lived in the inner north-east suburb of Abbotsford for 16 months (map left showing my usual hiking trail 3-4 times a week).

They would appear gold in the Golden Hour as they flew in ever decreasing circles and finally landed on the Convent Roof to roost for the night.

NOT SURE WHICH OF THESE 2 IMAGES IS THE BETTER FOCUS – so you get both.

If I leaned over my 3rd floor balcony fence I could see the parkland on the other side of the Yarra River in the Golden hour. My complex of 5 apartment blocks, around a landscaped inner courtyard, was built on a 30-40 cliff next to the Yarra River and walking/cycling paths.

I lived with a clear 180 degree view of the sky and the early morning hot air balloons would appear very close.

My current apartment location next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and the Maribyrnong River about 5-6 mins walk away. There is something like 400 hectares of parkland and green belt up and down this river for many miles until this main river spills out on to Port Phillip Bay (on which the capital city of Melbourne is built).

Not sure I’ve ever seen Rock Doves here, where I live next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and the Maribyrnong River in the Western suburbs of Melbourne  (map on the right).

For those new to my Nature Blog, since returning from living and travelling in the U.K. and Europe in 1976, 1978-1979, I’ve nearly always lived next to Melbourne’s parks, gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens or Nature Reserves  (or at least 5 mins walk or a short tram/bus ride away).

If you have to live in the city or urban areas, I must be one of the luckiest people in the world because, quite by chance, I’ve lived in rental properties, in the loveliest locations, especially now that I’ve taken up Photography in 2010 in retirement.

NOTE: for new followers, I started my blog afresh and cleared out my archives to set up a better collection of bird & flower images with an INDEX showing bird names.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, (depends on how you view life and blogging), long-time followers will have seen many of these images before.

There should end up being about 120 Australian (or Zoo aviary) Bird species and hundreds of flower images (as well at the walks in Nature Reserves and the progress of my Balcony Garden) by the end of this year, as I slowly go through my archives weeding out the bad shots and only keeping the better/good shots.