IRIS – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives – January 2011

Personally, I think Irises are one of the hardest flowers to photograph.  It took me many test shots in the Iris bed in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne before I achieved anything remotely satisfying to my eye.

With the old Iris bed being in an open area exposed to Melbourne’s almost constant windy weather, many of my images are not as sharp as I would like, but back in early 2011, I didn’t know anything about ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed.

This wonderful flower bed, with many different varieties and hybrids,  was dug up and re-lanscaped several years ago, so I am lucky to still have a few images from the old back-up disc I resurrected.

Some are good shots and some not-so-good, but the colours are amazing.

As I roam through my archives looking for flower images to share, time and time again, on re-checking which lens I was using, it turns out to be the 55-250mm (although I have got some nice images made with the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro of course), so I assume it must have been a good lens.  It was surprisingly sharp for a telephoto.

……..and a few more images – made with different lenses at various times over the years.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A BIT LIKE AUTUMN

In between rain showers yesterday, I managed to catch the Japanese Maple (?) leaf colour in front of my apartment balcony.  It’s a beautiful young tree and good hiding place for small birds in hot weather.

I rarely see any birds on the bare limbs in Winter though.

 

AUTUMN LIGHT

I love the late afternoon Autumn Light in Melbourne.  I was in the inner northern Suburb of Carlton on Tuesday and I had an hour to kill, so sat out in the sun near the local library, A large number of University students sat outdoors at long benches with Apple computers propped up side by side just like an outdoor classroom.

The sun was glorious, but cooled down suddenly when it dipped behind the tall buildings surrounding Melbourne University.

The Black & White version can be seen on my other blog here

THERE’S A CATERPILLAR IN MY GARDEN……….

Post started a couple of weeks ago……

There’s a caterpillar in my garden

and I don’t know what to do.

Should I find a toxic pesticide

or hit it with my shoe?

*

When I saw it on the baby leaf,

I tried hard to grab & ‘quash it.

But the pesky little bugger (note: I don’t normally swear online, only in my garden)

dropped down in to a narrow slit.

*

Now I can’t find any sign

but know it’s in there hiding.

Should I stick around, for a while,

or pretend I’m not really minding.

I know the Cabbage Moth Caterpillar

is on my Tuscan Kale

‘Cause there’s holes and nibbled leaves

and the stalk is deathly pale.

*

If I accidentally ate the slimy squashy thing,

I guess I’d really never know.

‘Cause I chew each mouthful many times

as my Mamma taught me so.

*

I stop and ponder a minute more

but realise nothing matters.

Except to get that pesky ‘pillar off

before it gets much fatter.

*

Maybe I’ll just leave it for a while

and photograph another pest that’s easier to see.

The Harlequin bug on my plastic pot

is running wild and free.

I’d use a Herbal pesticide (we pronounce the ‘H’ in Australia, so it’s ‘a’ not ‘an’)

but can’t remember how to make it.

Maybe it’s on my DVD or in my Gardening Book?

Detergent? Garlic? Chilli? Shake it?

*

There’s a caterpillar in my garden,

but maybe now its gone.

Should I go out and have another look,

or forget it ever was?

*

I really can’t bear the thought,

of my one and only plant

of Tuscan Kale (Brassica oleracea sp.)

dis..a..pearing off the planet.

Tuscan Kale (and friends) BC………….Before Caterpillar

The label says it’s SuperFood

which I need as much as he.

Assuming that the ‘pillar

is a boy (and not a she).

*

Decision made, I go back outdoors

into the hot and blazing sun.

Can’t find a thing on any leaf

so the ‘pillar’s  on the run.

*

I come back indoors and shut the roller blind,

pretending I really don’t give a damn.

Fresh herbs for lunch, but definitely not the Kale,

Lunch is only Tomato…..Parsley….. Eggs & Ham.

PS.  Ok, so there was no ham in my omelette, but nothing else rhymed 🙂 🙂 🙂

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

It’s now 2 weeks later

and I really needs some hints.

The ‘pillar holes are everywhere

especially Basil, Sage and Mint.

*

The Bok Choi has a different bug

that leaves creepy crawly lines.

I’ve forgotten what that pest is called

just know that pest is mine.

*

Today’s luncheon omelette was made with

eggs, onion, herbs and Kale.

But be assured the Kale was bought

at last week’s Queen Vic. Market sale.

*

My easy grow Snow Pea seedlings

are finally climbing up.

With fine green threads around the frames

that I’ve made from Bamboo ‘stucks’.

(I never said I could spell).

*

My Italian and English Parsley

are among the very hardy Herbs,

that are free from creepy crawly critters

and don’t require rhyming words.

*

I better upload this WordPress post

before it gets too long

And followers go to sleep,

or break out in raucous song.

*

Perhaps I’ll ask Mr Google

what to use on all those pests.

And finally stop this tedious post

and put the matter to rest.

*

PS I almost forget to mention

my second crop of fruit.

Green Capsicum babes are growing

from the end of green-leafed shoots.

PPS  The Broccoli Patio Baby Bunching

is growing soft leafy greens.

It produces small sweet tasting delicate heads,

of veg. I’ve actually never seen.

PPPS.  I forgot to mention the flowering

of the Rosemarinus officinalis plant.

At least that is free from pests –

‘Pillars, bugs, slugs, worms and ants.

THE END (phew!)

 

 

Hope that keeps you amused until the next WordPress Post.

 

SHEER BLISS………….

Sheer Bliss is a lovely cool day with lots of rain (so I don’t have to water my balcony garden).

Note:  the UV Index is extreme from 9.20am to 5.30pm (in the weather forecast below) though.

I woke several times during the night to the sound of rain softly falling, but my bedroom was still a little too warm for comfort.  Yesterday, I managed to get home from my appointment on the other side of the city just as a few drops of rain started to fall (and it rained the rest of the afternoon), but rivulets of perspiration were running dow my face from the humidity (as much as the heat).

Today is Sheer Bliss –  (I think I already told you that) 🙂

Some folk might even call the day ‘cold’.

The rest of the week is going to be in the low 20s C also.

From my archives 2nd August 2010

Forecast for the rest of Tuesday

Summary
Max 20
Morning rain.
Possible rainfall: 10 to 20 mm
Chance of any rain: 95%

Melbourne area

Cloudy morning. Very high (95%) chance of rain, contracting east and clearing during the morning. Slight (20%) chance of a shower during the afternoon and evening with partly cloudy conditions. Winds southerly 25 to 40 km/h.

Fire Danger – High

Sun protection recommended from 9:20 am to 5:30 pm, UV Index predicted to reach 12 [Extreme]

WAITING……….

If you learn to enjoy waiting, you don’t have to wait to enjoy.

Kazuaki Tanahashi

The Birdsong is back and I’ve sat enjoying the cool breeze wafting through my apartment via the open sliding door and louvre windows……watching the birds on the other side of my road.  

It’s a real stretch for my 150-500mm lens to capture a bird on the other side of the road, but the shot of the male Splendid Fairy-wren below was pretty good for a hand-held shot.

I could spend all day watching…..waiting…..observing Nature in all its beauty, but this morning I am eager to go to the Opticians to pick up my new glasses.  The ones I’ve worn for the last 10 days since the current pair broke in half, are just not good enough to read blogs or do much on the computer.

Staying at home from 10.30am -2.30pm while the Property Agents inspect all the apartments they manage can be a nuisance too,  as you never know when they’ll turn up in the 4 hours time slot, so I try to make that time a special occasion to see how many birds I can spot from my desk chair.

You know that old saying ‘a watched kettle never boils’. Well, I have a new version.  ‘A waited-for doorbell never rings’ 🙂

Of course I’ve already done my ‘garden’ round to see if the Capsicums are starting to change colour, but no, they’re still green and in recent weeks I’ve knocked two baby capsicums off already.  Their stem attachment must be very fragile.  This variety is supposed to change from green to purple to red in about 3 weeks after they mature, but I suspect the extremes in temperature and unseasonal storms and weather patterns have upset their growing cycle.

I was standing on the balcony watching the foliage through the telephoto lens when I spotted a dark shape in the Eucalyptus sapling to the right side of my balcony fence.

The wind, while not as gusty as the last couple of days, was still enough to toss the dark shape, branches and leaves around, so I took several photos trying to get the waving outline of the bird in focus.

 

And then……………………success!

It was a Grey Shrike-thrush and I was lucky enough to capture the bird’s head in reasonable focus before it flew away as I moved forward and tried to get a bit closer to the bush.

Waiting….. is a time for being still, focused and taking time to chill out and relax.

I am so lucky to have this time to myself to do what I love best – observing Nature and practising Photography.

Life is so good when we appreciate the simple things and the simple pleasures they bring into our lives.

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.

AFTER THE STORM WAS OVER

It was hot, humid and downright unpleasant today – 37C (or 100F), hotter than yesterday……….. and when the cool change arrived at about 5.00pm, it was most welcome.

The TV news spoke of storms and gale force winds to the north of Melbourne, but I saw only a few large spots of rain on the balcony.

Then the sky went dark, the heavens opened and the heavy rain began.

After the storm was over, I was thankful not to have to water my garden 🙂

I made a closer inspection of the garden and was pleased to see a few new babies – capsicums I believe.

Maybe a few blueberries.

…..and I’ve already eaten 4 luscious red tomatoes off my plants.

ON THE FARM – COUNTRY VICTORIA

I’m all ‘blogged out’ at the moment (and with too many things on the ‘to do’ list), blogging and photography are taking a back seat and will do for some weeks.

So the images in this post are from my archives again, (with apologies to the long-time followers who’ve seen them all before).

 

 

HAVE I GOT A ‘GREEN THUMB’ ?

Perhaps not, but  I have got some green tomatoes on the 3 “Patio” Tomato plants on my west-facing apartment balcony.

I couldn’t count them all, but I figure I’ve got somewhere between 50 -60 fruit at the moment.

I just hope they don’t all ripen at once !  😮

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

……and it looks like I’ve got some baby Capsicums too.  I’ve never grown Capsicums (red peppers) before, so I’m not quite sure what their babies look like.

It’s been hot, humid and sticky in Melbourne in the last couple of weeks, with more than a few thunderstorms threatening (depending on what suburb you live in), although I did miss the flooded streets in Melbourne one day last week.

I’ve been mostly housebound (hence no new photos).

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.

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.

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.

AUTUMN – The Dandenong Ranges (test run #2 with iMovie)

I’m like a toddler with a new toy – can’t leave iMovie alone now I’ve worked out how to use it over the weekend, but I really need to go out and shoot some new images/subject matter for Test Run #3.

Here’s test run #2……….made after I arrived home from some errands in the city centre this afternoon.

I was so engrossed in re-arranging some old images to try and fit the music I chose for this test run, I nearly forgot to cook dinner tonight 🙂

(I can’t work out why some images are static and some fade.  Hmmmmm.  Back to ‘the drawing board’.  I’ll work it out in the end.  This is another ‘hit’ or ‘miss’ effort as I can’t seem to alter the speed or change the transition of each image the way I would like.  Well, at least I’ve successfully passed the Beginner’s Class in iMovie). 

Enjoy……..and I recommend you switch to FULL SCREEN (located down in the bottom right hand corner of the slide show screen)

 

ABBOTSFORD

I think I mentioned to a commenter/new follower recently that I had deleted most of the 4000 images I made when living in Abbotsford on the north-east side of Melbourne (including all the corresponding WordPress posts to make room on this blog and reduce my massive Photo Library on my Mac Pro laptop).  I did keep all the sunrise/sunset images and about 30 other images of the walking trail to Dights Falls and the Collingwood Children’s farm (located next to the Yarra River).

BUT (silly me with the intermittent Brain Fog all us Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferers have to live with), forgot that there are about 3300 images still in my WordPress Media Library.

So for the benefit of a new follower, Angus, who is now living in Abbotsford, here’s a few images from along the river and from my south-facing 3rd floor apartment balcony from May 2015 – October 2016.

I used to wash my floor-to-ceiling windows every week, ever in winter, so I could photograph the sky colours as they changed from dusk to sunset (and sometimes even dawn if I woke up early enough).   Every night I could sit at my desk (placed to face the windows) and watch the sky change colour and then disappear into night.

……and while my current 1st floor apartment is located on the western side of a building half-way down a steep hill next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve in the western suburb of Maribyrnong, I can still see the occasional sunset high up on the hilltop.

 

A PERFECT WINTER DAY

Yesterday, like several other days recently, the weather has been superb for walking (when I actually get out the door that is).

Today dawned just the same.

Blue Sky and Sunshine all throughout the Day.

Barely a cloud in sight and a brisk chill in the air, (actually it went down to 4 degrees Celsius during the night in Melbourne – quite chilly).

Unfortunately my brain is not complying with my body these days, (literally), and I can never make up my mind where to go, so while I dither around, the clock moves on to mid-afternoon and then, with the shortest day in the southern hemisphere looming on the horizon, it is too late to set off.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting early Dementia or something, but I’m hoping its just the severe headaches I’ve experienced in the last 4 months (for which I now have extra, extra strong prescription analgesics).  I went through 5 months of severe headaches 7 years ago when I was still working full-time so I’m hoping its just another phase.   I find I’m typing some weird sentences too.  So if you’ve noticed some unusual spelling or funny sentences on my blog (or commenting on your blog), ignore it.  They are not typos, they are brain hiccups 🙂

Yesterday I had to go to the local chemist/pharmacy and the hardware shop, but I couldn’t resist the call of the river and local bird life.  Even the short 6-7 minute walk from my back door down to the river is a delight as the dew droplets sparkle in the shade of Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve next to the gravel pathway.

I saw so many birds in both the trees and on the pathway. No Willy Wagtails for a change, but certainly many of the common Spotted Turtle-doves, Magpies, Wrens, Noisy Miners, Crows, Blackbirds and a few feathered new friends whose names I don’t know.  Can be hard to see the details as looking into the Sun towards the north over Frogs Hollow from this path makes mostly silhouettes.  Someone has cut down several trees and laid them across part of the small area of grass between my ‘back gate’ and the gravel car-width pathway.

I was rather mystified initially, but after seeing all the Splendid Fairy Wrens hopping around, under and on the branches I wondered if the local council, (or whoever looks after this area), was deliberately creating a haven for insect and little critters or tiny birds?  There were about a dozen wrens hopping around and I muttered to myself, regretting leaving the heavy long telephoto 150-500mm birding lens at home.  I only had the Sony 55-210 lens and my short Canon 17-50mm  ‘landscaping’ lens in my shopping trolley (leaving room for my shopping later in the afternoon), so couldn’t get a good shot of these tiny birds to share.  These were 2-3 hopping along the gravel path too, but they moved quickly as I approached them, so no photos there either.

Or maybe they’re (the trees, not the birds) lying in wait for the landscaping ‘chipper’ truck to cart them away for mulch making.

It seemed like everyone was outdoors…….. walking, cycling, playing golf on the other side of the river, Canoeing/rowing/boating down the river, or whatever mode of transport kept them in the warmth of the sun, in my case…..legs of course.  Not that much wind either.  For a change, I can’t complain about Melbourne’s predictably unpredictable weather forecasts.

This is the same walk I do regularly every couple of weeks or so now, but there always seems to be something different to see (depending on the weather).

No ducks on the little ponds I passed, but there were many Little Pied Cormorants basking in the sun as I walked  down the peninsular of land, over the tiny footbridge on to the island, then another footbridge back on to the long strip of land.  My destination was the rocky causeway heralding Maribyrnong Wetlands (Bunyap Park or Edgewater Wetlands depending on which side of the grass and pond you’re on 🙂 ).

I can’t help a little smile creeping over my face at the 3 signs with different names, every time I walk around the pond (with its reed covered island in the middle).

Is there an invisible ‘fence line’ which divides the pond into 3 distinct wetlands?

Or, maybe it’s administered by 3 different local councils?

Whatever the case, I find the signage highly amusing each time I pass.

I cross this causeway or walk around the pond to get to the bus stop on the other side of the nearby road (faintly seen in the upper right of the image below).  I might add there’s lots of water in this particular stretch of wetland, whereas it was almost completely dried up last Summer.

Then, having just missed a bus according to the timetable on the nearby post, I sat in the sun on a residential garden brick wall lapping up the sun’s warmth while waiting for the next mode of transport to appear.   This particular bus route only runs 3 times over a 2 hour period, weekday or weekend, so there can be a long 40 minute wait at worst scenario – but yesterday I only had to sit for about 25 minutes.  If I wasn’t going to the shops and hardware store, I would have walked back home again.

I’m lucky to have a tram and 2 different bus routes going down my nearby main road, but I love this particular bus route as it goes via the long scenic route, Footscray Gardens, a few streets away from Newells Paddock Wetlands and Nature Reserve, and then on to the next suburb (and a train station).  I have yet to explore one of the trains that pass through this particular station up to the countryside in Central Victoria.  It will mean getting up very early and close attention to the timetables for a whole day trip and getting back home methinks.

The Autumn leaves on the boardwalk outside the chemist shop reminded me of how much Autumn colour I’d missed capturing with my camera this year.  I was stuck indoors (for the most).  And since I’ve reduced my photo library down to a bare 2000+, there’s not much to share from my archives (that you haven’t already seen).  To be honest, this lack of images to share, is also supposed to force me outdoors if I want to keep this my 3 WordPress Photo blogs going much longer.


A FEW MORE IMAGES FROM YESTERDAY’S WALK

Yesterday, after I left the River & Cormorants, (mentioned in the previous post), I headed to the late 19th C garden ruins in Pipemakers Park.


It was a short walk and I was hoping for some wintery scenes for a blog post.

A Willy Wagtail sits on a drinking fountain near the semi-shade of the Pipemakers Park pond.
Note the bottom half of a Spotted Turtle-Dove in the top left of the frame, which I never saw at the time of shooting.

Soon after arrival, a Kindred Spirit came up to chat (and return the lens cap I had dropped further down the path – phew 🙂 ).

Turns out he used to do the photography on overseas travel trips with his journalist Wife many moons ago and we had much to talk about……. like…..Photography, photography, photography, the Light, the Light, more light and the many overseas places he had visited – many I’d never seen on my own overseas travels back in the mid to late 1970s.

There’s nothing I like to talk about more than Photography, Nature and overseas Travel, especially if it’s to some far-flung destination off the usual tourist route.  And if its to an isolated destination like northern Europe, Alaska or the Far East all the better as far as I’m concerned.   If I haven’t been to it, I’m sure to have read about it or have a book/dvd or nature documentary at home, so I usually try to prolong these little interesting chats on my walks as long as possible.  I must have been an explorer in a previous life as I certainly haven’t had the opportunity to travel to some of these remote locations in my current life.   In fact, these days, in enforced early retirement, I spend much time in solitary bliss and at home.

Eventually I ended the conversation with wanting to catch the light.

I turned around and found the wintery shadows had grown long from the ruins & trees and I only had a short time before I’d have to set off for home or get caught in the dark – not something to do, as the Kindred Spirit warned me, (just as a couple had warned me some weeks ago down on the River at dusk).

So I ended up with just a few photos of nothing much in particular.

 

Duck Day – Queens Park, Moonee Ponds

Saturday was a Duck Day.

I’ve been mostly housebound in recent times and somehow never got over to the Royal Botanic Gardens to photograph Autumn.

I caught a tram over to Queens Park for a couple of hours on Saturday, but the light was lousy, I couldn’t hold the camera still for long and the wind blew the few flowers around too much to get sharp focus.  Out of a couple of hundred shots, I only kept about 40 images and these were mostly under-exposed.

Looking towards the sun (due to being on that side of the lake) left my skies totally blown out and mostly white and the bird life in silhouette.  I tried to fix them to no avail in post processing yesterday.  I tried lightening the shadows in the image below, but my meagre editing skills are not sufficient to replace the sky (without reloading Lightroom or Photoshop).  I have the discs in my drawer from my old desktop computer days pre 2012 and there IS a Mac disc in there somewhere, but I don’t have the sight or patience to do that degree of editing.  I only tweak the contrast, erase the annoying spots  and do some minor cropping etc in the El Capitan photo software usually.

In the end I tried to take photos where the sky wasn’t in the frame.  Easy when photographing the birds (only) actually.

I was amazed at how many ducks were on the lake.  There must have been at least 60-70 Pacific Black Ducks, either on the lake bank or in the murky looking water.  Occasionally they’d all take flight and it looked like the 2 groups were changing places – land or lake – backwards and forwards.  They didn’t seem to fly far.  It was very enjoyable watching them all take flight though.

Dozens of Eurasian Coots (charcoal black with white beaks), a young Australian Pelican, what looked like a Mallard, some Grey Teals (I think) and some Chestnut Teals also enjoyed the lake.  I chased a Little Pied Cormorant part way around the lake rim in an effort to catch it with a fish in its mouth, but only ended up with some blurred images of it with, what looked like a Yabbie, or some other sort of crustacean.  The 4 blurred images below were the best out of about 40 attempts.  The water on its back looks to be in better focus that its head.  Even setting the DLSR on continuous shooting didn’t score me a focused shot of its head (or the Yabbie), but it was a lot of fun trying.  I suppose I might have put the ISO on Auto in the low light conditions.  Ehrrr , but I didn’t think of it at the time.

I only caught a shot of this Pelican swimming away in the distance.  It had a different  coloured beak and feather pattern to the usual Australian Pelican and I wondered if it was a juvenile.

A man with a little point & shoot camera came up to chat and told me he’d never seen a Pelican on the lake before.  He did tell me he’d seen some (of my favourite) Nankeen Night Herons in the past though, so I’ll have to go in my archives and check the dates of my old Nankeen Night Heron images and see if they were from a certain date/week/month of the year.   There was one cormorant on the small island warming its feather for a while, but when it turned to profile so I could see its face, it closed its wings.

This shot below was one of the best of the day and I wasn’t sure, but wondered if it could be a young Grey Teal.  Female Pacific Black Ducks, female Chestnut Teals and Grey Teals look pretty similar to me, but my Guide Book says Grey Teals have red eyes and dark metallic looking legs with a softer brown feather colour.  If any follower knows for sure, let me know in the comment section.

I made another shot of the lovely mosaic near the cafe/kiosk which turned out much much better than that made on my first visit to this 22 hectare park.

Queens Park is mostly lawn and a few avenues of old trees with a couple of playgrounds for the children.  It doesn’t have the numerous flower beds like the Royal Botanic Gardens on the south-east side of Melbourne.   Only a few trees had Autumn Colour, but the children seemed to like playing with the leaves anyway.

The man I was chatting to next to the lake remarked that he’d never seen so many seagulls washing themselves before.  I couldn’t get a well focused shot of them flapping and washing themselves, but did get several of them standing still on or near the island in the lake.  I gave his observation some thought and agreed.  I’ve never seen seagulls flapping and washing themselves down the beach either.  Sure they do a lot of flapping and splashing, but this lot of seagulls actually looked to be washing themselves.  Shame I couldn’t capture a shot of the action.

 

 

Pacific Black Duck with a sleepy male Australian Wood Duck in the background on the island.

And lastly I saw this lone male Australian Wood Duck on the island a bit later on when it was standing, but it seemed to have something wrong with its wing.  Perhaps it was a juvenile moulting its soft downy feathers (which do tend to leave the bone/frame a bit bare), but the rest of the duck looked like an adult.  I have several images of young Australian Wood Ducks moulting and growing their adult feathers so am quite familiar with the ‘scruffy’ look of juveniles.

As to Health News…….The MRIs from a few weeks ago show a slipped disc in my neck and severe disc disease, 6 slipped discs in my lumbar spine and with the vertebrae eroding away (not osteoarthritis), I’m not sure how long my photography hobby will continue.  It’s getting harder to bend, kneel or twist & turn lately.  This disc condition  will not improve with exercise or physio due to the poor condition of the vertebrae.  In several spots there is almost no disc left at all, so you can well imagine how stiff and inflexible I’m becoming.  I often wonder if the Sheuermann’s disease had been picked up as a teenager, whether treatment could have made a difference.  Most teenagers afflicted with Scheuermann’s grow out of it in 2-3 years, but those that that don’t, (aka me), have a lot of back pain and scoliosis later in life.  This is made worse by the Fibromyalgia pain condition I’ve had since 1980.  In the meantime, blog following and blogging is being reduced more & more this year.

I must admit I seem to be taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps backwards in the last year or so.

 

SHADES OF GREEN

From the Archives……over the last 7 years.

Just how many (mainly) green photos can you shoot when you’re Living in Nature – I seem to have hundreds.  Here’s a small selection.

THERE & BACK

Quick walk there and back late this afternoon.

THERE & BACK IS…….. TO THE RIVER & BACK (about 7-8 minutes, but I always take an hour).  Had to hurry tonight as the sun was threatening to go behind the hill……and my elbow (slipped, whacked last Friday and x-rayed a few days ago) didn’t want to carry any weight.  Neither did my neck or lumbar spine.  Methinks I’ll have to find another hobby 🙂

Yesterday was the 17th May, seven years to the day since I bought a little Canon point & shoot camera and took up photography.

 

NEWELL’S PADDOCK WETLANDS RESERVE & FOOTSCRAY PARK

Last Friday, I finally got back to doing a long walk.

The forecast cloud cover faded just after I caught the bus to Footscray Park and the cool wind picked up as I walked through the formal entrance down the steep pathway towards the Maribyrnong River.   When the sun came from behind the clouds, the downhill trek became a real treat.  I love walking in Autumn and Spring with a cool wind on my face.

I made some lovely shots of the flowers in the Park and surprisingly, there were some stunning Autumn flowers out in full bloom, but getting down low to photograph the ground cover Peruvian Lilies (or Alstroemeria) was a real pain.  I bent down low and used the tilt screen of the Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ but the sun reflected off the LCD screen so it was really hit or miss whether I got the low-down shots in focus.

I then kept walking quite some way along the Maribyrnong River to Newell’s Paddock, entering the Wetlands from the rear riverside gate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was one of those days when the river held hundreds of sparkling ‘stars’ of sunlight as though there was a path of diamonds across the water surface.  Really pretty and made up for the lack of interesting landscape either side of the river in this green belt along the river.

There was a real change of colour to be seen in most of my photos of Newell’s Paddock, from various shades of green a few weeks ago, to tinges of Autumn orange and russet throughout the grasses and succulent ground cover in the conservation area of Newell’s Paddock Wetlands.  The golden rays of the sun made some of my images look like they’d been photoshopped, but no, the warm colours were definitely for real.  I’m pretty sure I had the White Balance on Auto also.

But my favourite shot of the day was looking over the fence at the most eastern pond and surrounding greenery (below).  I stood there for ages just enjoying the view of this green oasis in the middle of suburbia.  How lucky we are in Melbourne’s inner suburbs to have such wonderful parks and gardens amidst the residential housing estates.

 

LOOKING FOR AUTUMN

Since I moved from the south-eastern side of Melbourne where I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens, I’ve been planning a trip back to the RBG to capture some more images of Autumn.

Going through my archives this morning, I came across the photos I shot on the 6th May 2013.

Seems like early to mid-May is the best week to go.

Here’s a few old images to whet your appetite.

And RBG images wouldn’t be complete without a shot of my favourite bird photography subject – the Nankeen Night Heron – captured on this same Autumn day.

(for those interested, this shot was made after scrambling down a steep slippery slope of wet rotting Autumn leaves under a large tree and nearly falling into the lake.  While quite funny at the time, I’m glad I saved myself in time as I would have had to walk home in a muddy, wet pair of jeans, but more importantly, I would have missed this favourite shot of the Heron.  This half-sunken tree the heron is standing on is hidden from the regular walking path and I liked to claim it as my secret spot to see birds up close).

But while one can get  close, one false move and the bird(s) fly away.

Of course there are flowers in bloom in Autumn – here’s a few.

Hebe
Climbing Foxglove (if my memory serves me right).
Cobra lily (Arisarum vulgare)
Indian Shot Plant (Canna)

 

A PERFECT AUTUMN DAY

Yesterday was a perfect Autumn Day on my side of the Maribyrnong River.

Blue sky and sunshine all throughout the day.  The weather forecast had mentioned fog in the early morning, but of course I arise too late to catch that.

Only the occasional light fluffy cloud wafted around on the cool breeze, which makes for a delightful day to spend outdoors.

Mid morning, I’d been sitting at the computer reading a Master Plan made in 2015 by my local Council and was dismayed to see that a walking path through the Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and a ‘lookout platform‘ over the small lake had a LOW priority (amidst the 50 items on their agenda).

When I finally finished reading my emails and got dressed I headed outdoors to check whether the deluge of rain and wild weather we’d had in Melbourne a few days ago had filled the lake in Pipemakers Park.  It had been dried up with only a small puddle left on the eastern edge a couple of weeks ago.

I headed down the wide gravel walking path to the river and could see the Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve lake was as full as usual from my raised position looking over the Reserve chain-wire fence.  I noticed that the path I had extended, (from Andy the grass cutter’s wide tractor made path), had well and truly filled in with thick undergrowth over the Summer months.

My path was now totally invisible in the foreground of the image below.

Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve was lushly covered and a rich green from recent rainfall.  Actually the Reserve from this side always looks green, just more of a vivid green depending on the light and time of day.  Late in the day it looks more of a golden-green as the Sun sinks behind the hill-top.

Soon, perhaps even now (?), the weather would have cooled enough to send the snakes back to their beds, and I might attempt to walk  a short distance into this Reserve in the near future.  You may remember that I’d seen signs warning of snakes in the area in the warmer weather and had left this thickly wooded reserve well alone for some months.

When I was nearly to the river I turned left to walk the eastern perimeter path of the Reserve which runs in line with the river cycling/walking path.  The normally low-mown grass was about 6-8 inches high.   Andy, (the grass-cutter), quite clearly hadn’t been around for a couple of weeks and the rain had already started to green-up Summer’s remains.

This eastern perimeter of the Reserve had the remnants of high dead grass and trees in general, but looked surprisingly green underfoot.  Doesn’t take long for Mother Nature to send a green cloak across the ground after a decent rainfall.

As I walked further ‘up-river’ the grass got higher and I very nearly twisted an ankle in an grass-covered hole.   I do so hope Andy will ride his tractor over this perimeter path again soon.   Can’t have accident-prone me adding to my high number of falls in old(er) age.  (note: the reason I have more falls than most humans is that I tend to walk everywhere, instead of driving a car like most Aussies – well that’s my theory anyway 🙂 Secondly, I have a bad habit of walking backwards or sideways with the camera against my eye and don’t watch where I’m going 🙂 Thirdly, I take after my Father’s side of the family and………you get the drift). 

I crossed over to Pipemakers Park and walked down to, what was, the dried up lake.

I looked over to the sculptured tree trunk in the middle.  All 5 ponds/lakes in this area have a bare-limbed tree trunk sculpture in their midst, which is rather attractive as a landscape element in the middle of the 6-8 foot high water reeds.

I was pleased to see the pond was nearly full of water again, but as always, tall grass and reeds hid most of the water surface.   I didn’t see any water birds, but could certainly hear the sounds of the Australian bush orchestra playing a full rehearsal.

Frogs croaking made the perfect back-drop to the main Bird Symphony.

This is the first time in the 6 months I’ve lived here that I’ve heard frog sounds in this particular part of the park.

Then up the winding path through the landscaped area to Pipemakers Park and the ruins of the Colonial garden, to see if the vine over the concrete arbor had changed colour.

It had.


 Then a brief walk around the Colonial garden ruins.

Someone had obviously started clearing out the dead grass beds and raked some of the pathways.  Many olive trees were full of green or black fruit.

The dozens of beautiful mosaics dotting the paths and garden ruins needed a good sweep to make them photo-worthy though.  I made some photos of the mosaics last year, but they weren’t that clear on the day.

I wondered if there was a Volunteering day that had brought locals in to do some maintenance and restoration of these early 19th century worker’s gardens.

I’d love to see the herb and rose garden restored and I’d certainly be willing to help in some way.  I notice the raised Rose Garden beds are high enough so I wouldn’t have to bend over much.

Note to self……must do a Google search or drop in to the nearby information office to ask about this.  I keep running this mental note through my foggy brain, but keep forgetting (as I get distracted and side-lined easily in my daily routine).  My short-term memory is like a sieve anyway.  I suppose there’s nothing to stop me going over and doing some weeding or sweeping regardless of who is doing maintenance.  If there’s one thing I’m really good at, it’s gardening maintenance.  I can’t do heavy digging or gardening, but many hands make light work – my dextrous hands could be just the bonus this old garden needs.

I left the area to walk over the short grass back down-river where I interrupted some Red-rumped Parrots (Psephotus haematonotus) feeding on grass seed.  I only had my Sony a6000 with it’s 55-210mm lens with me (as it was a bad back-pain day and I couldn’t carry a DSLR & ‘birding’ long lens), but my shots were good enough to crop down a little to make the birds larger in the frame.

The 3 colourful birds are the males and lit up by a shaft of light, is the plainer olive-green female.

The Parrots scattered as I slowly advanced towards them.

I had my usual black attire and rubber-soled walking shoes, so I usually get mistaken for a tree if I walk slowly enough.  Seems Red-rumped Parrots can see through my disguise though.

Next minute they flew up to the tree branches and my shot of them among the deep shade was sharp enough to crop down and lighten the shadows revealing the yellow underside of one bird below.

Then on I walked back past the ‘hidden’ lake and on past Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve…… down-river.