COMMON BLACKBIRD (Turdus merula)

A Blackbird landed on my balcony fence this morning.

I was too slow in extending my arm to the far left to pick up a camera on my desk and the bird flew away almost immediately anyway.  I wondered if it could see the arm movement behind the glass window, but hoped it would drop in for a seed ‘snack’ sometime soon.

A short time later it did.  (keep in mind my balcony is in deep shade in the blue hour of the morning).

This time I was ready with the lens cap off and a rough Shutter Priority setting on the camera ready and waiting.

The setting was not quite right for the dark morning shade, so the exposure had to be lightened in post processing and a little more definition to try and make the bird stand out through the (now dirty) glass.  (Sorry about the reflections on the windows etc but at least the Blackbird stood still long enough so I didn’t have to chase it around every plant pot in vain attempts at trying to capture it in focus).

BIT HARD TO SEE, BUT THE BLACKBIRD IS IN THE CENTRE REAR OF THE SPINACH PLANTS.

I don’t know why I bothered washing the windows earlier in the week – it only makes it rain in the following day(s).  Handy in the hot, dry summer in Melbourne, but not conducive to clear bird photography from my desk chair.

HERE THE THIN WHITE LINE IS WHERE THE LOUNGE WINDOW TURNS AT A RIGHT ANGLE AND RUNS BACK TOWARDS THE BEDROOM WINDOW. When it comes to Birds on my Balcony, you’ve got to photograph the birds when they stand still – there’s no time or space to allow for great compositions and changing the camera settings.

The Common Blackbird (Turdus merl) is a medium-large thrush and the adult male very distinctive, being jet-black with an orange-yellow beak and eye-ring.  The female and immature are dark brown, paler and rufous on underparts, with brownish-yellow beak.

I know it’s just a common bird, but every avian visitor to my apartment balcony garden is welcome.

They are the greatest fun to watch wherever they go.

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…..and for the newer followers who might be interested in stories of early Australian History.

This (true) story is about a Blackbird.

My maternal ancestors were whaling Captains, (and farmers), prominent in the early whaling history of Hobart, the capital of Australia’s island state of Tasmania.  (My paternal ancestors were cartage contractors carrying goods to the central Victorian goldfields after gold was discovered in 1851.  They also owned stables in one of Melbourne’s southern suburbs as shown below).

An extract from Captain Richard Copping’s diary below, (which is one of the most fascinating memoirs I’ve read from the era).  Some of the spelling is merely the English of the day and the fact that Richard ran away to sea as a small boy and obviously educated himself to some extent, I presume.

We left Dartmouth on the first of December with a fresh north wind and left old England behind.  I had, besides my passengers, a valuable blood horse bought at a great price from Lord Clifton, one the famous Alarin colts, 16 months old and one that made a name for himself in Tasmania and Victoria.  Everyone that knows anything about racing will remember Panic.

(note: The colt Panic, ran 2nd in the 1865 Melbourne Cup.  The Melbourne Cup is held on the first Tuesday in November and is one of the most famous horse races in the world. In 2018, Cup Day is on 6th November.  We have a public holiday on the first Tuesday in November every year.  Just as you can never miss my birthday – it’s on the 26th January – Australia Day, and I’m very pleased they have a public holiday just for me 🙂 ).

I had no one with him, so I took one of the sailors to look after him.  There was also a fine cow, belonging to one of the passengers who also had spaniels, fowls etc.  Our ship was quite a menagerie, a Mr. Dodery of Longford, the gentleman aluded to above, a most genial shipmate and myself superintended this valuable acquisition to the stock of poor despised Tasmania.

We had the usual run out, some ninety-six days, handed all our stock pheasants, fowls, partridges, dogs, cow and horse and severall small birds with the exception of two silver pheasants out of twelve gold and silver, and five partridges out of eight.

The day we arrived I had a blackbird for a Mr. Hamilton; I met him on the wharf and told him to go on board and get it as the ship was out in the river.  He went on board and going around the cabin table, the steward was down the lazaret and the hatch off, when down went Mr. Hamilton and broke his thigh which caused his death.

So much for a blackbird.

(note: one can only assume medical expertise was limited for a man to die from a broken thigh, but early colonial settlers have died from much less).

Of course my vivid imagination can only wonder – was this blackbird, a non-indigenous species, the very first blackbird in Australia?  Who knows.  I saw a (non-indigenous) fox once – in the back lane I used when walking to the Royal Botanic Gardens when I lived on that south-east side of Melbourne.  No doubt that fox was a descendent of the early English settler’s cargo too.