ROOM WITH A VIEW

I cannot stress enough how important a Room With a View (of Nature) is in my life.

On Tuesday, a blue male Splendid Fairy-wren landed on the top of the pink Polygala bush to the left of my large computer screen (top right of the image below).  There was no way I was going to move, as my DSLR and long 150-500mm lens was set up beside me (for photographing birds in the blue bird bath or the bush behind it) and the wrong focal length to capture the scene.

The wren was approximately 3 feet from my head.

You may well wonder how anyone can get such a thrill  in these repetitive encounters with ‘the local bird life’, but I do.

Except for when I didn’t water it for a couple of days and all the flowers dropped off, the blue Bacopa, (photographed this morning), has now bloomed continuously for about 436 days since the 4th November 2016. After giving it extra water, the flowers came back within a couple of days. Not joking. It went from green foliage to flowers in a really short time. The flowers now cover the round green plastic pot which I’ve placed on top of a tall terracotta-coloured plastic pot filled with soil, so I drench the plant with water which sinks from the top pot to the bottom one and if the plant is extra thirsty, it has two moist pots to draw from.

I watch the House Sparrows fly down for a refreshing mouthful of water a dozen times a day and never get tired of the same scene.  I’ve deliberately arranged my flowering plants to offer the very best view I can see (without moving my head while seated at my desk).

If you know anyone housebound, bed bound or in hospital for any length of time, do try to ensure they have some flowers, a flowering plant or a favourite book of their chosen hobby or interest, with pictures (?) to look at (assuming they can sit up or move).  Even a beautiful card reminding of your friendship with each other.  I’m not a fan of ‘Get Well‘ cards (but maybe that is because I rarely get better, I just acquire more chronic health conditions as the years go by 🙂  I know from my own hospital surgery stays that sometimes the most exciting aspect of any stay can simply be…….when’s the lunch or dinner trolley coming around?  I usually take my Mac Pro Laptop, recharge cord, my book of amusing short stories and a magazine or two anyway, so have plenty to read.

Seriously, being stuck indoors can be a long day for most  (normally active) people.

**********

Today dawned with another beautiful picture-perfect blue sky.

I opened the sliding door to my balcony to inspect the garden and was (unusually) hit with a blast of hot air.  Normally, the air, even from a forecast hot day, is cool in the shade of the morning until the sun comes over the building and settles across my outdoor scene.

I inspected the long row of Eucalyptus saplings along the front of this building.

No Grey Shrike-Thrushes, (or any other local avian visiter for that matter), to be seen.  The wind was probably too gusty to photograph one in the deep shade of the foliage anyway.

As you can see by this image, my trees and hedges are in shade and the other side of the road is in brilliant sunlight and totally over-exposed in images capturing the 2 extremes of light and shade.

The Eucalyptus to the right of my balcony has grown above the level of the balcony rail about 3 1/2  feet since I moved here 16 months ago.  I wonder how tall they really will grow (assuming I’ve identified the species correctly) – supposed to be 30 foot high I believe.

I notice every little detail (as well as the changing of the seasons).

When I alighted from the bus on the main road after my city dental appointment yesterday, I was touched by the scene of all the young Crepe Myrtles trees in full bloom.  They are nearly all a deep rich pinkish-red (except for the occasional pale pink one which must have had a wrong plant label when the local council planted them).

Can you imagine these young trees when they reach their full maturity, in flower, (shown in the right hand side of the image below).

The scene will be absolutely spectacular.

I didn’t take a close-up, as I was eager to get home and the strong wind would have made it hard to photograph a flower sprig anyway.

I did stop to take a photo of the Red-flowering Eucalyptus half-way down my steep little road though.

I saw a sudden movement while standing looking at the glorious array of bright red flowers.

I waited for the bird to show its face.  It must have been watching me (watching it) from the tree’s dark shady centre, as, when I slowly tried to edge around to capture a photo of it, (whatever it was), it flew off.

I must say its nice to have my new replacement glasses which I picked up late Tuesday.  Now I can see a bit better, I have no excuse for not to get back to putting my Mother’s family history research on to the computer (which will slow down my blogging again).

********

I think if it’s still too hot to go out tomorrow, as forecast, this blog might have a Zoo archives review again.  Here’s a few Meekat images to tempt you.

Advertisements

COCKS COMB CORAL TREE (Erythrina crista-galli) – ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE

From the Archives – 12th December 2012

The Cocks Comb Coral Tree appears with slightly different names in my Plant Encyclopaedias, so if you know it by a different name, don’t be surprised.

Coral tree (Erythrina crista-galli)
Coral tree (Erythrina crista-galli)

I came across one particular plant down near Fern Gully in the centre of the Royal Botanic Gardens which was covered, (well, at least 30-35 birds), in Rainbow Lorikeets when the flowers were fully open in the Summer.

What a raucous noise they made.  It was such an amazing sight to see so much colour.

This image was made on the day that there were 30-35 Rainbow Lorikeets on the one bush.

Further down the same path, but next to the large Ornamental Lake there was another bush right next to the asphalt path and I photographed 3-4 more Rainbow Lorikeets up close – not in the least disturbed by my proximity.  As it was very bright sunlight, I just had to wait until the birds climbed under the bush to avoid over-exposed shots.

ILLAWARRA FLAME TREE (Brachychiton acerifolius) – ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE

From the Archives – 15th December 2012

I just came across the Illawarra Flame Tree in my archives and realised that it would be in bloom at the moment and right through to the end of February (at least) since my last image had a February date on it).

 

CACTI & SUCCULENTS – GUILFOYLE’S VOLCANO – ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE

The hot weather yesterday reminded me of the many visits I’ve made to the cacti & succulent area called Guilfoyle’s Volcano in the highest corner of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

5 minutes walk from door to door made it my main thoroughfare on the way to all the older sections of the Royal Botanic Gardens down by the large Ornamental Lake.  I say ‘down’ because there are some very steep hills in this 38 hectare site.

I wove my way up, down and all around the Royal Botanic Gardens some days and on others, frequented the areas where arbors and gazebos were available to shelter from the burning Summer sun OR rain showers and incessant wind in Winter.

Personally, I’m not keen on cacti and succulents, but after discovering how difficult flower photography was back in 2010 when I first took up the hobby, the solid unmoving mass of cacti was a draw card for the simple reason that they were easier to photograph (than the soft delicate English cottage plants waving in the constant wind in the area).

I had a dedicated 100mm Macro lens back then too.  I traded that in when I bought the Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ in early 2015, as I hadn’t used it much after I found new locations and subjects for photography.

Guilfoyle’s Volcano is not a real volcano, simply a water storage area atop a small hill at the highest end of the RBG.

Since I’ve returned all the Cacti & Succulent books and encyclopaedias to my SIL 2-3 years ago, it would take me too long to add names to these images by looking up each one on the internet, but if you’re interested, I’m sure Mr Google will supply them for you.

“Guilfoyle’s Volcano was built in 1876 and was used to store water for the Gardens. After lying idle for 60 years, it is now restored as part of a significant landscape development project called Working Wetlands. 

This spectacular and historic water reservoir has commanding views of the city, and its striking landscape design showcases low-water use plants. Boardwalks and viewing platforms give visitors the opportunity to explore this long-hidden, but remarkable, feature of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

Guilfoyle’s Volcano is in the south-east corner of the Gardens, easily accessible via C Gate (enter via Anderson Street) and D Gate (enter via Birdwood Avenue).”

Actually 2-3 of these images from my archives are from the Arid Garden near ‘Guilfoyle’s Volcano’, but are still drought-tolerant and suit Melbourne’s hot summers.

Some of the images below you may have seen before, but as I’ve done little photography in 2017, there’s not many new images to share these days, so my archives will have to suffice.

RAIN, RAIN & MORE RAIN

NOTE: I started this post about 22 hours ago and then, drip, drip, drip, splat, splat, splat.  Water started coming from one of the ceiling downlights(?) right over my head.  I got such a ‘shock’ I had what some might term an anxiety attack, but those who know I have severe obstructive HCM would know my heart rate escalated into overdrive.  Chest pain and all the usual symptoms of stress, or over activity (beyond what my ‘old ticker’ can handle).

I raced for an old towel and large plastic bowl, flipped the nearby power switch off and pulled out the power board plug and removed every bit of computer equipment and cables to one side.

(A bit later, I remembered to move all my cameras to the back of the room).

I went downstairs to the foyer as I couldn’t remember the correct phone number, called the Body Corporate manager, (who called an electrician).  Si. told me to turn all the power off and wait for the electrician.

St. the electrician, phoned and arrived about an hour later.  He’d come from a country town I think.  In the meantime, I took my pm heart meds early (which keeps my heart beating evenly and slowly), a valium, slapped an emergency BP patch on the back of my hand and took some Bach Rescue Remedy (a homeopathic type shock or stress treatment), in that order.  I may have a  feeble ticker, but my Brain does still work……….. (most of the time).

I am so used to leading a simple, relatively stress-free, life in early retirement, I couldn’t even handle the potential “drowning’ of my computer & associated printers/scanner etc.

The electrician told me to leave all the power off and not turn on the ceilings lights for next 24 hours (assuming the rain would eventually stop anyway).  It would dry out and someone would contact me some time over the next week to assess the damage.  S. said how lucky I was that it was not worse as he’d been to one house where the lounge ceiling collapsed with the massive deluge of  water collecting over the central old-fashioned ceiling light.

Apparently, a few ceilings came down yesterday……… and several streets were flooded.

My main room ceiling has 7 recessed lights and I’d only replaced 6 globes in them when they all died a month or two ago.  The one that leaked was the one that hadn’t had the globe replaced by sheer co-incidence.

I ended up reading a few chapters of my favourite book by the light of a tiny camping lantern.  I’d originally bought this lantern as the power in this apartment block had gone off several times in the year I’d lived here, and I was fed up trying to clean my teeth and wash my face by the light of my mobile phone and a tiny torch.  Needless to say, since I bought the  bright USB charged lantern, the Body Corporate (building caretakers) had finally found an old-fashioned electrician who solved the continual black-outs and I’ve never had to use the little lantern.

……………until last night.

Anyway, the dripping lulled me to sleep……..eventually.  I had emptied the large plastic bowl before I went to bed and hoped it wouldn’t overflow during the night.

Back to last night’s post……

It started raining Thursday and hasn’t stopped (and it will rain for some days according to the recent news flash).

I stood close to the windows late yesterday (i.e. Friday) watching several flocks of birds flying overhead – an unusual occurrence in the one afternoon.  A row of Crows (or Ravens ?) were all sitting on the roof of the apartment building at the top of my hill, but by the time I got the camera out, there were only 2 left.

I wondered if all the birds flying was one of those things you read about when unusual extreme weather patterns are forecast?

The heavy rain never seemed to stop, but I wasn’t in the least concerned for myself as I live in a modern apartment block which probably had 101 building codes all in perfect order when constructed around 2013.

At least all the trees along my street are getting a good deep watering and I don’t have to water my own potted garden.

“Victorians have been warned to expect an “unprecedented” deluge today with severe thunderstorm and flood warnings across the region. A severe weather warning remains in place for heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and flash flooding in much of the state including Melbourne”.

“Up to 120mm could fall in the border town of Albury-Wodonga. There is a flood warning for Melbourne’s Yarra River with fears it could burst its banks”.

Storms brew over Australia’s east coast. Picture: Alex CoppelSource:News Corp Australia

Note: Photo credit Alex Coppel

Most Melburnians have spent the last couple of days holed up indoors.  I’ve been indoors for much longer – hot & humid to start the past week with the air-conditioning on full bore and now………….it’s been predicted that we’ll have more rain in the first 3 days of December that what is normal for the whole month (or even…….Summer season).

“(He) warns there will be massive flooding around the city”.

“If you wake up tomorrow and think this isn’t going to happen, you just have to wait a while,” W. said. “They didn’t think the Titanic would sink, but it did.”

Talk about drama in the Media 😀

I could help a little smile creeping across my face when I read it on the computer news.

I’d received 3 text messages already warning everyone about the wild weather and not to venture outdoors if they could possibly help it, (AND NOT TO GO NEAR FLOODED ROADS, CREEKS OR RIVERS).

I wondered if the low-lying field in Frogs Hollow would fill with water?

I couldn’t decide what flower images to share out of my archives, so you got none at all in the last day or so.

(don’t ask me what torrential non-stop rain has got to do with blog image decision-making) 🙂

I had so many photos uploaded trying to decide which one to post, that I couldn’t make any decision AT ALL !

Then I decided to just see what I could photograph between heavy rain pelting down 99% of the day yesterday and came up with a chive flower from my balcony potted herbs.

Of course I could always share another shot of my green tomatoes………

Or an image of the rain spots on my mini Polygala (which I’d moved to rest in front of my window).

I stood at the window and watched a sheet of water running down my road, but I couldn’t get a good picture of it.  My camera didn’t want to focus on the road.  It was more interested in focusing on the raindrops on the window.

I watched it for a while, but it drained adequately away down the new storm-water drains.

I do feel for some of the country towns which are already experiencing some flooding and some areas have had the most rainfall for the start of Summer (since records began in 1888).

Interestingly enough, I’ve always lived in the highest parts of Melbourne’s inner suburbs, but I have to say I’m now glad that the local council recently spent about 5 days constructing new storm water drains and cutting up my road, (which annoyed me with all the jackhammering etc).  I live halfway down a steep little hill and I’d wondered at the time about the jackhammering and the necessity for half-road closure at the time.  Actually, every time a car runs over the new grating located every 50 feet on the road, it’s so loud it sometimes floods out the noise of the tweeting from the young birds nearby.

I’m getting used to it now though.

I can’t open my large door or lounge windows as the rain comes in so here’s the best image I could capture earlier this evening (i.e. dusk last night).

It got dark pretty early tonight

…..I had to go to my bedroom window to check on the tomato, blueberry and capsicum plants – this window is tucked into a corner which gets almost no rain on the glass.

The plants didn’t look that wet to be honest.  I used a different camera which could handle the light better.

They looked ‘happy as larry’.

But to cheer us all up on the south-east coast of Australia, here’s a few flower images to brighten the skies (from my archives).

NOTE:   I was just about to hit the ‘preview’ button when the water started dripping on my head and keyboard last night and I immediately switched everything off hoping the autosave had worked.

It did.

(I missed the TV news tonight, but I don’t think we had any baby Titanics going under) 🙂

NYMPHAEA LAKE – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

There’s some lovely examples of Crepe Myrtle trees in the Royal Botanic Gardens.  I photographed this one 16th March, 2012 next to Nymphaea Lake (the smaller of the 2 lakes in our Royal Botanic Gardens).

As the gardeners had placed a wooden bench under its shady branches in summer, it was a great place to sit and read (or watch the bird life) on a hot summer’s day.

At the height of its summer flowering, it would spread right over Nymphaea Lake and offer some deep shade for the ducks, (or even Cormorants, Black Swans, Pacific Black Ducks, Dusky Moorhens, Purple Swamphens or Chestnut Teals), who frequented the area.

Reflections of the Crepe Myrtle hanging over Nymphaea Lake.
Australian Wood Duck (female on L, male on R)

WATER LILY (Nymphaea)

Today, at 35 degrees, is far to hot for me outdoors in my current home as there is little shade along much of the Maribyrnong River near Frogs Hollow where I live.

The small lake was quite close to the south-eastern entrance of the Gardens and a brisk 5 minute walk to the Garden entrance gate (from my front door) and another 2-3 minutes to walk down to the Lake.

WATER LILY (Nymphaea)

Occasionally, I would even take my tripod over to this area to get some sharper focus on the Water Lily flowers.

It was a bit windy in this area, but then, its windy everywhere in Melbourne in my experience. I used to walk along the nearby path on the way to work back in my working days (BC = Before Camera) and on the southern side I would occasionally see what looked like a water-rat of some kind, sitting on some flattened leaves on its hind legs daintily nibbling some food it had foraged.

The first time I saw it, I was so enchanted and amazed, that I felt like I was in a Beatrix Potter storybook.  I’d never seen one of these little water creatures before (or since).

Eventually with the start of the Wetlands Project, many of the old reeds disappeared to be replaced by man-made islands and new reed beds.  In fact, with the success of the various Wetlands created in the Botanic Gardens, the bird life and turtles nesting have almost disappeared among the high water reeds and grassy banks.  Good for the bird life, but a shame for me as an enthusiastic new bird photographer.

The rocks on the southern edge of this small lake were the best places to find Dragonflies around February each year too.  In fact, the 3 images below are among my first attempts at photographing a Dragonfly.

ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Brugmansia) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

Angel’s Trumpet flowers have to be one of the hardest flowers to photograph.  I think its one of those species that you have to share several photos from different angles to appreciate their lush, tropical appearance.

They come from the Andes which explains their love of cool winters.  The flower sizes vary, but to say they’re 12-14″ long would be a good guess.

Best to try photographing them after the bud starts to open as they deteriorate quickly once fully mature and rain marks the petals, (so not after a recent rainfall).  Well, this is my experience of them anyway.  Most the trees grow in the shade or semi-shade in the RBG.

ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Brugmansia)

They come in several colours as my early images from 2010 & 2011 show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I figure since I’m stuck at home at the moment, I’ll share some of my very early images from when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens from 2000-1015.  Some good, some not-so-good.

But always interesting to see the vast array of plant species among the 55,000 plants on this 38 hectare site.  Many of these images portray flowers that have now been replaced with more drought tolerant species.

AFRICAN BLUE LILY (Agapanthus) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

I’ve had great enjoyment from reviewing some of my very old images in recent days.  Some of them I can’t even remember taking 🙂

Most of the Agapanthus images below were made with my old 100mm Macro lens in the first 3 weeks of owning a DSLR back in Jan/Feb 2011.  I traded it in when I bought the Sony a6000 in early 2015 as I wasn’t using it much.

I didn’t have the slightest clue how to use a DSLR and macro lens in those days, but I do remember I didn’t have the camera set on Auto.  I’d already used the Auto setting on my little Canon a3000 point & shoot for 7 months, so I started using my first Canon DSLR on manual I think.  I do remember keeping the ISO on 800 all the time as it always seemed to handle the bright sun as well as the shade.  I think I let the camera choose the shutter speed.  I daresay I had the aperture on 2.8 also as I didn’t know what DOF (depth of field) was either.

I had absolutely no idea about the exposure triangle and the what ISO, shutter speed and aperture were all about.

These flowers looked so bright on the screen last night, I de-saturated the colour slightly, but I daresay the original colour was very bright at the time of shooting 6 years ago.

 

I THNK ‘GEORGE’ IS GEORGINA!

Last week I mentioned the incessant tweeting by George the House Sparrow on the young Eucalyptus next to my apartment balcony.

I shared the photo (below) at the time, as I can usually see the bird over the top of my computer screen…..(computer is black blur in the lower half of the image frame).  The crown colour of the bird does suggest a male.

This morning, I can’t see the bird but can hear tiny little tweets (as well as the incessant loud tweeting from an adult).

I do believe ‘George’, or the incessant sound, is from  Georgina AND her eggs have hatched overnight.

This image was made in early September (before I washed the outside of my windows).

I might have to put out some bird seed on the balcony as I did last year (below).

>

>

Unfortunately the bush is thick with new growth and I can’t see a thing, but presume there’s a nest hidden in the foliage.  I wish I could share the little ones, but the foliage IS a complete screen.

>

>

>

All tweeting has just stopped so I presume lunch (its 12.40pm) has just been served.

>

>

On another subject, it truly is amazing what you can see if you look through the window long enough.   I spent quite some time watching this butterfly move from daisy to daisy drinking in pollen (I presume), yesterday.   This is the same daisy that I planted on 4th November last year and has flowered every day since.  I dead-head it regularly to encourage new flowers to form.  The flowers have faded from bright pink to a wishy-washy pale pink in the bright Spring sunlight, but they’re still going strong.  I’ve also had to cut several branches off as they broke in the strong winds we get in this area.

An early photo of that lovely pink daisy.

There’s never ‘nothing going on‘ in my road.  It’s a hive of activity with finches, wrens and sparrows crisscrossing the road from hedge to hedge.

I suspect most of the nests are on the thicker taller trees on the opposite side of the road, but my 150-500mm lens doesn’t quite reach far enough.

I’ve seen crows, ravens, blackbirds, magpie larks, ordinary magpies, grey shrike-thrushes and other birds, whose names I do not know, as well.

Two or three times on a Sunday morning, I’ve heard a flock of ducks quacking as they fly overhead too, but I was way too late to catch them with a camera.

Even the sky was worth watching for a while last night.  Low cloud cover was very dark, but in between each racing puff of dark grey cloud you could see the sun reflecting off higher cloud cover.  I watch the sun setting nearly every night, but I don’t think I’ve seen quite this effect before.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

WARATAH (Telopea) – Melbourne Zoo Landscaping

From the Archives – 15th October 2013.

Waratahs are evergreen shrubs or trees that are densely foliated and the large red flowers are among Australia’s best known wildflowers.

The one in this post was photographed at Melbourne Zoo near the enormous lion enclosure.

This particular enclosure is/was? massive, (might have changed since I was there a couple of years ago), and has a high fenced boardwalk going over the top, so no matter where the lions are (outdoors), you get a great view of them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve even managed to photograph the animals through the tough chain wire fence.  If you do enough photography practice getting one focal point through tiny wire netting and cages, I can assure you it’s relatively easy.

WATER BUTTONS, BUTTONWEEDS (Cotula sp. aff. turbinata) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives 29th October 2013.

When I was last at Newell’s Paddock Nature Reserve and Conservation area in the western suburb of Footscray, I saw a tiny patch of Water Buttons next to the large pond.  My one shot was completely out of focus when I reviewed it at home, (although you may remember the ‘101’ pink Rounded Noon-flower images did turn out well).

So here’s an example of what they looked like (made from my time living next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne).

They are so pretty when growing in a great mass.

Since I’ve retrieved an old file off my back-up disc which contains about 14,000 images, I’ve now got a larger selection to share when I’m house-bound and not outdoors walking and doing Photography.

A QUICK WALK……..THERE & BACK

Ominous clouds threatened the skies with a thunderstorm when I set off for a quick walk down to the river, a little way downstream, round the nearest pond and back home again late yesterday.

Am I the only person who takes 2 hours to do a 15-20 minute walk?

Despite the slight breeze it was still humid and muggy, made worse by my long trench coat (with hood).  I had to get the umbrella out a couple of times, but the rain only sprinkled a few drops onto my camera lens.  Enough to put it in its bag, only to bring it out again 2 minutes later.  I’d left my lens cloth at home too, so a handkerchief from my coat pocket had to suffice.

Poor light, but as usual I, took a hundred and one photos of nothing much in particular.

Rain again today, but there still may be time for a ‘quick’ walk 🙂

“Put a sock in it, George”

I love listening to the Birds singing.

I love to hear the Joy in their Hearts.

I love to see them drinking from my bird bath.

George, the House Sparrow, clearly visible above the blur of my computer screen.

But if George (the male House Sparrow), doesn’t put a sock in his mouth and stop his incessant tweeting this morning, I’m going to throw a sock at him.

(Just joking.  Now the intercom repairman has left, I’m going for a walk).

A young female House Sparrow – Georgina, perhaps?

Georgina, the female House Sparrow, after drinking from my water dish, flies over the balcony fence and drops down to the apartment below mine to peck at their succulents.

……as to George.

If he thinks I can’t see him hiding in the young Eucalyptus next to my balcony, he’s very much mistaken.

The images below are a good example of how changing the 9 focus points in my Canon DSLR to 1  point and carefully pointing it through the breeze-shifting foliage can photograph a bird on autofocus, where my Sony a6000 on the S (small) Flexible Spot can’t (do this).

When I was in the city centre on Wednesday, I had to drop in to the Camera Store to buy another rubber eyepiece for my Sony a6000 (which I lost last week).  I mentioned this ‘failing‘ to the Staff member and he was surprised that I couldn’t get a bird in focus with my Sony ‘mirrorless’ on S (small)- Flexible Spot through very thick foliage.  I explained to him that the Flexible Spot setting was a small square (not a dot like a DSLR) and the edge of the square kept autofocusing on the surrounding leaves, not the bird’s face.  He suggested I try manually focusing, but I explained that I can’t see enough with my thick glasses and had to rely on Autofocus for photography 🙂

I should have given the Sales Assistant (an expert photographer, as are all the Sales Assistants in Michaels Camera Store) an example.

***********

Some more daily happenings in my balcony potted garden……..

I’ve had babies……..from both my 3 tomato plants and my single blueberry bush.  Looks like Santa is bringing me home-grown tomatoes for Christmas and some home-grown blueberries to have for breakfast.  There are actually dozens of tiny thumb-nail sized tomatoes on the 3 plants – hope they don’t all ripen at once 🙂

My brother warned me last Summer about all the birds eating them, but I had no trouble from the Avian species at all.

A clump out of the many on the Blueberry bush.

After a Winter of toadstools growing in the potting soil and all the leaves going yellow with black spots (which I kept pulling off the plant), my pink geranium has lots of new leaves and a lovely display of fresh flowers.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say my Guardian, (read Gardening), Angel is looking over my balcony garden, as I’ve never really had a ‘green thumb’ per se, just followed the Water, Sun, Food …….and lots of TLC (Tender Loving Care) way of growing potted plants on an urban balcony.

The Blue Bacopa was looking a little ‘battle-weary’ from the strong winds so I put it back on the ground, instead of higher up, and the flowers have freshened up.  So it’s been in bloom 375 days in a row, now.  (so has the pink daisy).  I know I’ve mentioned the flower bloom longevity a few posts ago, but its true.  These couple of flowering plants have bloomed for the longest I’ve ever known any plant to.  A horticultural friend of my brother said she had never been able to grow a Becopa plant!

******************

PS.  Now I’m REALLY, REALLY excited (but now, will I ever get out the door for a walk?).

A male Splendid Fairy-Wren just visited my balcony garden.  I managed to grab my Sony a6000 and fire off 2 shots before it flew away.

 

Spring in Footscray Park

The second half of my walk last week, (after Newells Paddock Nature Reserve and the pink Rounded Noon-flowers), was through part of Footscray Park.  I walked from the back riverside entrance uphill to the front entrance in order to catch a bus home.

Wikipedia says……..Footscray Park is one of the largest and most intact examples of an Edwardian park in Australia. The 15-hectare park is located on the south bank of the Maribyrnong River in Footscrayin Victoria. It is classified as a heritage place on the Victorian Heritage Register for its aesthetic, horticultural and social significance to the State of Victoria and was the first gardens to be placed on the register. The park is noted for its botanical collection, ornamental ponds and garden structures.

The display of Peruvian Lilies near the front entrance was quite striking.

Last week there were many flowers that had wilted, (Rhododendrons in particular), OR were still in bud, so another visit is needed I think.  Next weekend, and maybe the following weekend, should be about right.  Many of the flowers need some more time to mature.  We’ve had strong winds and a few harsh storms so maybe that why the fragile Rhododendron flowers looked so forlorn.  I saw a pale soft pink one and a bright pink one that had survived.

There were only 2 very young Canna lily flowers just starting to open last week.

The colourful display of Alstroemeria, or Peruvian lilies, near the front gates seemed to last much longer.  They flower from Spring through Summer to Autumn.  I’ve never been there in Winter so I don’t know if they flower then. Being low ground cover, they would have survived the wind and storms far better too.

I had the use of a Sony 35mm f1.8 prime lens for a couple of weeks last Autumn and to be honest, I felt my flower images were far better at that time.  Perhaps it was the overcast skies in Autumn.  Bright summer sun is usually unkind to most red, yellow or white flower petals.

I always say it’s the Photographer than makes the images, but when it comes to flower photography, good light (preferably slightly overcast in Australia as our Summer sun is too bright when I go for my nature walks early afternoon) AND a good sharp prime lens makes a big difference (as you can see in the older images below).

In general I prefer to get up close and just capture a few flowers within the frame, instead of a whole bush, but occasionally, photographing the leaves and whole bush can make identification easier.  In these days of digital photography it’s probably better to make a 7-8 images of each flower from all angles and chose a favourite image to share on reviewing the day’s shooting.

There’s a lovely small pond down in the lower part of Footscray Park surrounded by thick shrubs, near the Maribyrnong River, which certainly needs many more visits to try and work out how to photograph it.  I didn’t visit it last week as I was heading for the bus stop via the Park, not spending the whole afternoon in the Park.

It’s hard to access with the surrounding foliage blocking some of the pond bank when I first saw it last Autumn.

I couldn’t get close enough to the water lilies at the time so used my long telephoto 150-500 lens to get a close up of a water lily flower.  I didn’t have a tripod on the day either.  It would be interesting to see if there are any pink water lilies in this small pond or just pale lemon (as seen below).

Did I tell you about the Noon-flowers?

While we’re on the subject of Noon-flowers, I figured I may as well go to Newells Paddock (as well as the Jawbone Nature Reserve walk a few days previously), to see if the squishy bed of succulents I had walked over on previous visits in Winter was the same as the bright pink Rounded Noon-flower I have photographed on my walks along the Maribyrnong River.

You can read the background behind Newells Paddock Nature Reserve here and its worth reading about as well as viewing the second image in the link, to gain an appreciation of what a unique area it has become.  The article is not too long.  The Friends of Newells Paddock, with the help of the local council, are ensuring the return to wetlands and nature reserve continues as an ongoing project by the planting of hundreds of indigenous trees and plants.  

Yesterday it was truly magical and I’m not sure that the ‘101’ photos I took do it justice.  In fact I was so moved by the beauty of the scene, I literally had tears in my eyes.

Last night I tried to reduce the number of images down, but in the end I still have about 25 to share.

When I entered the picnic area, I walked over to the trees and found one or two Noon-flowers in an enormous carpet of green succulents and wondered if it would be a ‘no-show’ and a wasted trip.

This tiny area looked gloomy and rather forbidding on such a cloudy day with poor light in general (for photography).  Looks like a large tree has fallen in a storm (below).  No doubt the council will clean this area up soon.

After walking through this tree area, I was taken aback to see not  a little, but a sea of pink sprinkled between patches of green and other native grasses.

After taking about a hundred photos, I walked to the back entrance connecting with the river path and the sun came out.  There was no way I was going to go back and re-photograph the flowers in the improved light conditions.  As it was, I hated walking over the flower patches and squashing them in the first place.

A few more images to share in another post……..not Rounded Noon-flowers.

ROUNDED NOON-FLOWER (Disphyma crassifolium)

Further to my previous post on my visit to the Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve and Lakes system yesterday, I’ve found my original photo of the Signage at the entrance to the Jawbone Arboretum (which I didn’t enter yesterday).  In the bottom left-hand corner it shows an image of the pink Rounded Noon-flower in bloom.

This was the plant that I was hoping to photograph yesterday.  You can see it very faintly by the pink patch on the left hand side of this image (below).  The lake is between where I was standing and the patch nearer to the sea.

This image (below) made on my very first visit to the area some months ago, suggests that I should have gone into the Arboretum area again and I would have found all that brownish-green succulent would now be covered in a sea of pink flowers?

Just to remind you of the Rounded Noon-flower which I found in many small patches along the Maribyrnong River last week, here’s an example (below).

AUSTRAL PIGFACE or ROUNDED NOON-FLOWER (Disphyma crassifolium)

 

 

 

Another shade of Red

I passed this gorgeous red flowering bush near the end of my walk yesterday.

I haven’t got the slightest clue what it is, but I love the way the flower splits into feathery fronds.  It looks like an Australian native, but I’m only guessing, as many of the plants in the formal landscaping on the western side of the Maribyrnong River are native grasses, so I imagine that the flowering bushes are too.

If anyone knows what it is, please let me know in the comments section so I can update this post.

BOTTLEBRUSH (Callistemon)

A lovely specimen of red Bottlebrush was growing opposite the front door of the local Pharmacy yesterday.   I wished I’d taken the time to walk off the boardwalk to the other side where the light was better, but my long river walk and then bus trip up the steep hills had left me wanting to make only a quick stop before the supermarket and then, the walk along the main road home.

I must say it was a beautiful patch of colour in a (mainly) overcast day.

Changing of the Seasons

Sometimes when I walk along the Maribyrnong River path, I think I’ll never find something new to photograph and share online.

At a glance one might think that there’s never anything much happening, (compared to the many other locations I photographed when living on the south-eastern side of Melbourne city 3 years ago).

Yesterday was hot, (as is today), but my walk revealed plenty of new sights with the changing of the Seasons.  It’s the small details that I seem to notice most.  So when you cast your eyes over some ordinary green space in a residential area, it’s worth walking slowly and looking down towards your feet every now and then.

While I can no longer bend down low, or kneel to photograph ground cover up close, I managed to do well enough by using a telephoto lens and standing a bit further back and zooming in close.

POLYGALA (Polygala myrtifolia x oppositifolia ‘Poly Ball” ) – my balcony garden

The Polygala I’m growing on my apartment balcony is in full bloom at the moment and I can make a close-up photo with my 150-500mm lens by leaning my elbows on my desk.   Very handy and saves carrying the heavy weight outdoors.

(this is not the first time I have shot a good flower close-up with a long telephoto lens which goes to show it doesn’t always have to be a short or a macro lens for close-ups).

and just to give you an idea of how lovely my view is from my desk at the moment……….

The two rows of trees on the upper right of the frame hides tiny birds like Splendid Fairy-wrens, New Holland Honeyeaters, House Sparrows and tiny finches (I think they’re finches – I don’t know their names).

On my side of the road next to the footpath there is also a row of similar trees, but I can’t see them while sitting at my desk.

Can’t complain about not living on the rear of my apartment block overlooking Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and the Maribyrnong River when I’ve got a view like this.

RED-FLOWERING GUM (Corymbia ficifolia) – beside the Maribyrnong River

I’d barely walked past Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve on to the Maribyrnong river path when I spotted this Red-flowering Gum in the middle of a calf-high grass field this afternoon.  I believe its Corymbia ficifolia (originally called Eucalyptus ficifolia).

Feel free to correct me in the comments section if I’m wrong.  I know nothing about indigenous flora.

If it is this species, the one I saw was a baby at about 7-8 foot high, as it can grown up to 10 metres (or about 30+ feet).  It was gorgeous, even from some distance away when I made this first photo with my long 150-500mm lens.

With the same camera lens, I got a bit closer, but there were so many flowers, I couldn’t isolate one particular one.  I suppose I could have cut off some surrounding foliage, but that’s not my thing to do when walking in nature.

I prefer to see images of the real plant with no disturbance of its natural habitat if possible.

This red-flowering eucalypt is often used as a street plant in residential areas due to the profusion of flowers, but this specimen was definitely the most colourful I’d ever seen.

I stretched what is essentially a 30 minute walk to Maribyrnong Wetlands into a 2 hour stroll, (slower than snail pace), in the Spring sunshine.  But was glad of my light windproof jacket as the breeze was cool, despite the heat of the sun.

Some more images of that beautiful Wisteria in Pipemakers Park

I think this might be Wisteria ‘Caroline’ (Japanese Wisteria), but I am only guessing.

I had a dream the other night

When all was quiet and still

I dreamt of flowing masses

Wisteria on my window sill

Nature blessed my tranquil hours 

With curling, tangled vines

She sent the fragrant blossoms o’er

To fill the long dark hours.

Next morning I awoke refreshed

With lingering visions from the past

Of last week’s images photographed

From within Pipemakers Park.

AUSTRAL INDIGO (Indigofera australis) – Pipemakers Park, Maribyrnong

Success!

(well, sort of).

I’ve tried to photograph this gorgeous small pink native flower half a dozen times, but the fine straggly branches bend and sway in the slightest breeze.  I finally identified its correct name from a fellow blogger’s site the other week though.

Austral Indigo is a slender shrub of the Pea family found in all states of Australia, varying in size, habit and colour.  I’ve seen this flower in the north-western end of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and it was obviously pruned and more compact than the straggly 3-4 bushes in Pipemakers Park near my home.  As its name suggests, the leaves can also be used as a dye.

I’ve tried high shutter speeds, high ISO (well, up to 800), apertures from 3.5 right up to 11.0, but being in mostly shade this is the best I can do so it seems.

NOTE: Bruising and swelling has gone down on my injured thumb, but the more I ‘cup’ or ‘curve’ it, the more it hurts, but at least I can use my homeopathic Arnica Cream more now it’s not in a ridiculous cast and swathed in bandages up to my elbow.  Seriously, the herb Arnica, is the best thing since ‘sliced bread’ when it comes to injuries, sprains, bruises etc.  It also helps with pain.  

The 2nd (more senior?) emergency physician I saw the other day said the cast was definitely ‘overkill’ and they took it off and re-Xrayed my thumb and all other digits.  As an aside, apparently I have quite a large bony ossicle on/near my second thumb joint right where I hold my cameras and this is now hurting more than the upper bone which was directly hit.   In turn my wrist is also ‘playing up.’  

Grrrrr! 

I can’t use scissors or computer mouse easily, but can type for about 20 mins and then it gets sore.  

So I’ll press on with blogging regardless…………….albeit at a much slower pace.  I seem to remember when I broke a small (non-weight bearing) bone in my elbow, the head of the fracture clinic at the local hospital said light use encourages blood flow and helps with healing in these small hairline fractures, (or something like that).

I think it’ll be some time before I can use my heavy long ‘birding’ 150-500mm lens, but I’ve been having a bit of trouble holding the weight before now anyway.  It doesn’t take much to set off a new series of pain locations for days/weeks/months, (or even years), when you have Fibromyalgia.

WISTERIA (Robinia) – PIPEMAKERS PARK

The Wisteria growing over the small rotunda and an arbour in Pipemakers Park is almost as breathtaking as the yellow Lady Banks rose I shared in another post this week.

The only way to get a good view is to shoot facing into the sun, roughly facing North, as there’s too many other trees, plants and bushes forming distractions from the other side.  This is not ideal for any photograph in general, but I suppose I might do better on an overcast day.

But Tuesday of this week was sunny and you can’t tell the Sun to go away after so many inclement days for the first month of Spring.

Besides I need more sun for my freshly planted Tomatoes on my apartment balcony 🙂

Here’s an image made on the 21st August to give you a comparison.

The Wisteria in the Royal Botanic Gardens near the lake restaurant is all mauve/purple, whereas the petals of each flower in Pipemakers Park are whitish with a mauve/purple tip.

TASMAN FLAX-LILY or TASMANIAN FLAX-LILY (Dianella tasmanica)

Yesterday I found my very first Tasman Flax-Lily in this suburb.  It was beside the pond (located between Pipemakers Park and Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve).

TASMAN FLAX-LILY or TASMANIAN FLAX-LILY (Dianella tasmanica)

These tiny blue flowers, appearing in Spring and Summer, are followed by bright violet globular berries.  I’m not sure which is prettier, the flower or the berry.  But I do know they’re a delicate little flower and quite hard to photograph in the ever-present wind we seem to experience in Melbourne and surrounds.

Dianella tasmanica was first described in 1858 by eminent English botanist and explorer Joseph Dalton Hooker. I first saw the plant in the Royal Botanic Gardens and thought that it was just a weed of some type, but apparently many people grow them in residential gardens.

They are found in the wild from southern New South Wales, through my state of Victoria and down south in the island state of Tasmania on the south-eastern side of Australia.

I’ve only seen the one plant in the year I’ve lived in this western suburb of Maribyrnong, but hope to see some more in the coming days.

 

LADY BANKS’ ROSE (Rosa banksiae ‘lutea’ ) – PIPEMAKERS PARK

This vine-covered arbor was just stunning in Pipemakers Park.

UPDATE: Thanks to Susan in the comments section who kindly identified this beautiful climbing rose for me.  I’ve now updated the heading and my own photo library.

This vigorous climber also comes in white – Rosa banksiae ‘alba’.

TASK #1 – Balcony Garden

Spring never ceases to amaze me.

One day there are buds on the branches, then the tiny feathery fronds of foliage appear and next minute………………..a young tree full of leaves a couple of weeks later.

My little friend Mr House Sparrow and I looked over the scene today and agreed…..Spring really is the best time of the year.

I beckoned him to come down to look over the last couple of days of hard work I’d put in.  (Not really days per se, afternoons are about as much as I can manage when it comes to re-potting and bending over with a bad back).

A quick drink and then he turned around to see what he could see.
Mr House Sparrow agreed that the sore lower back I earned from my Spring gardening work on my apartment balcony was well worth the effort.  He surveyed my finished and re-configured garden late this afternoon.

Note: none of these plants need staking, but with our ongoing fierce winds in Melbourne in the past few months, I figure I may as well put the bamboo stakes in now and tie the trunks loosely just in case of another gale.

 

THERE’S A BIRD IN THERE – Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve

ORIGINAL IMAGE MADE OVER THE FENCE LINE ON THE EDGE OF FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE

I took a random shot of some movement in the deep shade of a tree in Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve on the way home this afternoon.  I’d been over to Pipemakers Park to do an hour of ‘lazy’ weeding in the ruined garden and was absolutely exhausted.  Note: Lazy weeding means standing up in front of a waist high concrete pipe which has weeds growing in it and where I don’t have to bend.

I’VE BEEN WORKING ON WEEDING THE WAIST-HIGH PIPES WHICH HAVE TREES GROWING FROM THE CENTRE shown on the far left and far right of this image’s frame.. 

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I cropped down the first image in this post by about 85% and lightened the shadows and found a New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae).  Not bad for a random shot where you can’t see the bird clearly.

Over at Pipemakers Park, the Tuesday morning volunteering Gardening Group have made some amazing progress with weeding, planting some hardy Lavenders and Salvias and mulching.  Unfortunately, I noticed a couple of small Lavender bushes and a succulent had been stolen from the Herb Garden area (in the centre of the image below).  What a shame.

But there’s still a lot to be done.

Spring! Spring! SPRING!!!!!

Yes, I thought the Title would get your attention.

Today was a perfect Spring day and after my last feeble walking effort down in Williamstown and Jawbone Arboretum, and exhaustion later that evening, I decided to stick close to home base.   I made do with a mini walk outdoors and thought I’d see how I felt.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that at the present time, I actually feel UNFIT! (note the capital letters 🙂 )………..for the first time in years.  I always have to walk slowly, but I used to walk for 3-5 hours a few years ago.  Now I seem to be restricted to short walks of 1-2 hours only.

So a quick walk around the perimeter of Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve, across a grass-covered area where the Red-rumped Parrots and Splendid Fairy-wrens graze, and then, Pipemakers Park.

The sun was glorious and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute outdoors.  In fact I only came home from the Historic garden ruins early (10 min brisk walk if one takes the short cut), because my water bottle was empty and my hands filthy from pulling a few weeds in one of the outer garden beds.  I only had my lightweight Sony a6000 camera and 55-210 lens, no gardening tools or hand wipes.

I almost…….got……hot 🙂

And wouldn’t you know it – I saw so many birds.  The variety of bird song was amazing, so I guess the avian life made the best of the Spring day also.  I did see some Red-browed Finches, but without a long telephoto lens, I just had to restrict myself to photographing flowers for the most, (or trying to – it was still a wee bit windy and I take better flower shots with my Canon DSLR to be honest).

The Tuesday morning gardening group have done a massive amount of work, but there’s still a lot more to be done.  After a chat with an old acquaintance from previous walks in the area and a few quick flower shots, I couldn’t resist pulling a few weeds……..which grew into quite a sizeable pile.  I didn’t have my hand gardening tools, or a rubbish bag, so left the weed pile for the Park Ranger and Tuesday Morning Volunteer Gardening group to dispose of.  I took a few more shots and then came home as I was so thirsty (and no matter how much you squeeze an empty drink bottle, it’s impossible to produce a single drop 🙂 )

NOTE: I could have looked up all these flower names in my Plant Encyclopaedias but I decided a guess would do for tonight.  Gone are the days living near the Royal Botanic Gardens when I wouldn’t dare upload a flower image without an accurate identification – Common & Botanical name.

WILLIAMSTOWN – Part 2 – JAWBONE BAY & CONSERVATION RESERVE

……..continuing from Part 1 in the previous post.

If you’ve read Part 1, you’ll remember that I walked right to the end of the Esplanade towards the west and thought I might fall into the sea as there seemed to be no fence or way forward……..unless I could walk on water I might add.

Then I saw the top half of a walker coming out from behind the rock retaining wall on my right.

Of course if I’d thought of taking my crumpled map out of my pocket, I would have seen that the esplanade turned at a right angle 🙂

Just around the corner, I was delighted to see a tiny boatyard with small fishing boats intermittently tied up between several board walks behind a chain wire fence.

I looked down in front of the chain wire fence, but could only see a channel of water with a few seaweed-covered rough boulders scattered here and there.

Having spent some time in the UK in the mid to late 1970s, I had a sudden mental picture of some of the picturesque fishing villages I’d visited on the southern coast and got kind of excited at the prospect of some fishing boat images right here in Williamstown.

One of the few sorrows of my current life, in early retirement, is not having a car to travel along some of my state’s spectacular coastline and possibly, the occasional quaint fishing town or boatyard to do some photography.  I’d been to one once when on a few days holiday with a friend and the boats and quay were restored as it might have been in the early days of the 19th century, no less.

Anyway, last Sunday, I walked slowly down the chain wire fence trying to see a way in, but the only entrance was through what looked like a ‘clubhouse’ or boat repair shed.

Obviously, PRIVATE PROPERTY – no through path.

So I followed the cycling/walking path round the corner and onwards past a small inlet.  According to a Google map this was Jawbone Bay & the start of the Marine Sanctuary and it looked like low tide on Sunday.

I was facing straight into the brilliant sunlight and most of the houses and low-lying coastal scrub was just a silhouette (so the above shot has had the shadows lightened to reveal some detail).

The tiny bay, (or inlet), was covered in sparkling stars from the reflected sun on the rippling water surface and really quite enchanting.  The wind had dropped a little and walking was really pleasant under the blue Spring skies with just a smattering of whispy cloud cover creeping in from the horizon.

I heard a weird sound and looked up to see 2 gyrocopters (?) with broad ballooning parachutes spread over them.

Then I looked across the low-lying scrubby salt-resistant landscape across patches of yellow Oxalis and some other yellow weed which I couldn’t identify.  It wasn’t Wild Radish, but something similar.

I walked down a narrow path towards the water.

Definitely low tide, but with cameras and other gear in a wheeled bag and what amounted to tennis shoes on my feet, (not my normal lace-up leather walking shoes), I couldn’t walk across any of the wet sand, or to peek in the shallows looking for crabs and other water creatures.

I’d deliberately brought my short 17-50 f2.8 lens and Canon DSLR in case I came across some rock pools.  I also had my Canon 50mm f1.4 lens which is the only remaining lens from my early Photography days some years ago which had the right-sized polarizing filter to photograph through water.  Now I’ve sold and traded a few lenses, I need to reassess the filters lying in their dust-free containers.

So I continued onwards stopping every now and then to admire the low-lying landscape and brilliant patches of green, yellow and other multicoloured low-lying plants.

I photographed a few other weeds, but the images weren’t particularly good so they got deleted.

I couldn’t help but be envious of the surrounding houses and their picturesque views over Port Phillip Bay.  If anyone had a glass-windowed loft and was high enough up with a ‘widows walk’ and/or telescope, they would be able to see all the shipping, leisure boats and yachts coming in and out of Port Phillip Bay.

Imagine living in the house below.

I am descended from the early Whaling Captains that plied their trade in the southern oceans and called Hobart, in the southern island state of Tasmania, home.  I can well imagine the wives watching and waiting in those early 1800s for all the months these whalers were at sea.  Some of my Ancestors ship’s instruments are in the Maritime Museum in Hobart, the capital of  Tasmania.

My Mother (now deceased), so my 91 year old Father now, has a copy of the original Whaling Captain’s diary in which my G/G/Grandfather’s brother ran away to sea at the age of 13 and worked his way up to the rank of Captain.  It’s a fascinating story and one day I’ll borrow it back and make another attempt to put the diary on computer.  My eyesight is poor even with prescription glasses.  I’m never really 100% sure whether my images have sharp focus when reviewing them on my 27″ computer monitor.  Don’t ask me how I take photos.  After some 80,000 images made over 7 years, I’ve just learned to guess, or compensate, with what I can’t see clearly through the viewfinder.

My G/G/Grandfather was hit on the head with a whaling spike and died in his fifties off New Zealand, so my G/Grandfather was brought up by the older brother who was a well-known whaling Captain.

Anyway, as I gazed up at this spectacular house with what appeared to be a third floor with 360 degree viewing windows in Williamstown, I immediately thought of my ancestors’ wives.

Waiting and looking out to sea each night for months on end.

Watching and waiting.

Waiting and watching.

Anyway, there were no spectacular seascapes to photograph on Sunday, but the stroll in the winding gravel path towards the Jawbone Arboretum entrance was thoroughly enjoyable all the same.

So all in all, it was a very enjoyable walk and the warm sun did its very best to break the effect of the brisk sea breeze that sent my jacket flapping and needled its way under my thin shirt.

Next visit, in warmer weather, will be to explore the Range Lakes system shown on the map at the top of this post………preferably with the long 150-500 telephoto lens to do some bird photography.

A SIMPLE LIFE

For those of you who have followed this blog for some time, you will know I lead a simple life in retirement (from full-time office work).  I eat, sleep and do what most people would consider ‘a lazy life of nothing much in particular.’  The truth of the matter is that my life is filled with Mindful attention to every small detail, especially Nature.

From my desk each morning, I notice each new leaf or avian visitor to my apartment balcony garden.  I hear the many calls of nature from the variety of bird life in the area to the whistling and howling of the wind in the treetops (let alone down my steep laneway and through my balcony garden).

The occasional Magpie or Crow flies overhead scattering the House Sparrows, Honeyeaters and tiny Finches which call this area home.

A dog is barking endlessly up on the main street.  Being the weekend, I hear an occasional car in the background, but it’s the wind and bird life which is prominent.

Living next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve is a precious gift, let alone the nearby parkland and Maribyrnong River, which winds its way gently through the remaining suburbs out into Port Phillip Bay, with Melbourne city at its northern tip.

A lone aeroplane flies over my airspace heading towards Melbourne’s main airport which is located only a few miles away.  It’s not loud and intrusive, merely a faint back ground noise (if you choose to listen for its passing).

About 15 minutes ago, the wind dropped and there was not a leaf stirring.  The Sage has grown about 5 inches in the last 2 weeks.  It seems like yesterday it had died down to ragged brown remnants and looked almost dead.  The various Mint bushes, which I’d cut down to 1/2″ stubble at the beginning of winter have grown about 6″ in 7 days.

Seriously – the growth rate in the last 7-14 days is mind-blowing with all this rain and intermittent sunshine (struggling to gain a space in the sky).

The Cherry blossom trees may not have their full load of flowers on the main street, but they’re well on the way now.

My English parsley which I’d thinned out by half, has grown back it’s 50% haircut and is so lush and green that it begs to be cut and eaten at nearly every meal.

Image made through the rain yesterday from my warm lounge interior, hence the bookcase reflection. I don’t have a polarizing lens for my Sony a6000 (which would reduce this).

I think it timely to have some more images from my archives from around this time of Spring, over a period of several years……mainly when I lived on the south-eastern side of the city next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

In between rain showers yesterday I went out to stake and tie up the Rosemary which the strong gusty, (read gale force), wind had almost split in half.

Did I tell you Melbourne has had very strong winds recently 🙂

………and it doesn’t take much to get me excited.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is more than a little promising, but since the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) is often wrong and Melbourne’s weather is predictably UNpredictable, dare I get my hopes up for a Nature Walk tomorrow.  I think I’ll double-check the walking/photography weather 1st thing before I set out.

Sunday 10 September

Summary
Min 6
Max 17
Partly cloudy.
Possible rainfall:    0 mm
Chance of any rain:    0%

Melbourne area

Partly cloudy. Light winds.

NEARLY HERE

Spring is nearly here and the Cherry Blossom trees on the small piece of parkland on the nearby main road gave me more than a mere hint of it’s coming last week.  This tiny avenue of Cherry Blossom trees will be really quite spectacular soon.

Their bare limbs are dotted with tiny pink buds with white petals peeping out.

There is a small oval of green grass that will become a grazing pasture for the Galahs soon too.  You may remember these images I made when I first moved to the western suburbs 11 months ago.  I’ve seen these colourful, (and very common), Galahs a few times now, but never in the vast numbers that I saw that 1st week after moving in early October 2016.

These 2 images were made with the old Sony 18-200mm lens that only felt like auto focusing intermittently (after its devastating fall in June 2015) and eventually got retired to its original box in the camera drawer.  I do miss it, but I kept getting blurred shots just when a new bird happened to fly by, and my usual patience got tested far too often and became more of a curse.

Weird day today.

Very chilly outdoors, but not a breath of wind at the moment.  How unusual to see all the leaves and flowers on my balcony potted herbs perfectly still.

It’s actually a bit creepy.  

Like the ‘calm before the storm’ and poor light for photography

I’m waiting for a good sunny day to go back to  Jawbone Conservation Reserve  in Williamstown on the western side of Port Phillip Bay – of which, Melbourne is located at the northern end.  I’ve found a bus route that goes right down to the car park by a small rocky outcrop between the ordinary sandy beach and the Conservation Area.  I caught the bus down there last Saturday and came back to my starting point without even getting off the bus.

I explained to the bus driver that I was just going for the ride to see where the bus went 🙂

There’s a crack in the sky at the top of the hill at the moment, but otherwise it looks very bleak outdoors indeed.

Will it, or won’t it (rain)?

I’ve been on the phone part of the morning and my internet service provider not only gave me a free ‘top-up’of internet allowance, but offered me a cheaper plan with 2 extra GBs.  We’ll see how 10GBs pans out (compared to the old 8GB plan which is no longer available – I was way past my 24 month plan and paying just month-to-month since it ended in March 2016).

WATTLE (Acacia)

Wattle (Acacia) is in bloom everywhere at the moment and while there are 1350 species world-wide, at least 1000 varieties are indigenous to Australia.  No wonder the Golden Wattle is Australia’s national flower.

There are also pale cream flowering  varieties like the one below which was located close to the pond in Pipemakers Park.

On the way to, and from, Pipemakers Park on Monday, I passed many trees and several varieties.  I left home after a morning of rain showers so it was still overcast walking along the river path (which meant I should have changed the White Balance on my camera, but completely forgot).  On the way home, I took the shortcut through the picnic area which leads directly to the western path (and then gravel access road), around Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.

On the way home, the sun was out, but the nature reserve had pockets of deep shade which form as the sun goes down behind the hill (on which my apartment block is built). So while I had plenty of time, now that the shortest day of Winter is past, the light can fade very quickly after about 5.00pm.