ROUNDED NOON FLOWERS or PIGFACE (Disphyma crassifolium subspecies. clavellatum)

Browsing through my archives last night, I came across the images I took at Newells Paddock Nature and Conservation Reserve, located about 4 kms (2.3 miles) along the river path, around this time in 2017.

Photo below was actually made on 26th March 2017 and is a great view of this remarkable area.

Photo taken in summer of NEWELLS PADDOCK NATURE RESERVE main pond. Melbourne city in the far upper right background.

You can read a little more of the history behind this wetlands and conservation area here.

ROUNDED NOON-FLOWER (Disphyma crassifolium ssp clavellatum)

It’s Rounded Noon Flower season now as I noticed a tiny patch at the opposite end of my apartment building last Wednesday (left).

In the meantime, here’s a few images made in 2017 to remind long-time followers of the stunning display of Pigface (or Rounded Noon Flowers) below.  These fowers have various names so you might know them by a different one.

I’m hoping to go back again this year to photograph more of the bird life, but since it’s a bit far from the bus stop, it might have to be a taxi journey there and back, as I can’t walk as far as I used to pre hip osteoarthritis.    I’d rather use my limited walking range to walk around the wetlands and reserve, than waste it on walking from the bus stop through ordinary residential areas to actually get there.

I did walk home along the river path back when I first moved to this western suburb of Melbourne to live in 2016, so I know by the walking trail signposts exactly how far it is.

Not far for normal healthy fit people to walk, but nowadays, too far for me.

In the meantime, here’s a sample of that stunning splash of colour on the ground at Newells Paddock.

ROUNDED NOON-FLOWER (Disphyma crassifolium ssp clavellatum)
ROUNDED NOON-FLOWER (Disphyma crassifolium ssp clavellatum)
ROUNDED NOON-FLOWER (Disphyma crassifolium ssp clavellatum)

This area is also where I was so engrossed with the camera up to my eye, I didn’t notice a White-faced Heron walk up to about 10 feet away from where I was standing.

A SENSE OF PLACE

For the new followers benefit, I ‘copied’ a Real Estate Agent’s photos off the internet, but unfortunately can’t give credit to the Photographer as there was no name mentioned.

It is not my deliberate intention to steal someone’s photo per se, but I can’t get the same view with any of my cameras.   I’d say this photo was made about 2 years ago going by the height of the trees in front of my balcony.   As I live on the road side of the building, my apartment is in shade up until about 1.30 – 2.00pm (and then the sun rises over the building and hits my balcony as the sun sinks in the west) – cool mornings even on the very hottest summer day.   But an extraordinary amount of sun up to about 9.00pm (daylight savings time in mid summer).

This hot sun enables me to grow vegetables on my balcony as well as herbs.

BUT the offside of the location and building placement means the wind gusts are sometimes gale force blowing between the buildings in the cooler weather.

It’s a bit like a wind tunnel.

IN THIS SHOT YOU CAN SEE THE SKYSCRAPERS, OR OFFICE TOWERS/APARTMENTS OF MELBOURNE CITY IN THE DISTANCE ABOUT 10 kilometres away.

There are 5 apartment blocks or rows of townhouse in my housing estate.   My suburb and river valley, first explored in 1803 (before Melbourne was built around 1835), was once natural bushland and a lush hunting ground for the Australian Aboriginal people before white settlement.  I live on a hill that was used to quarry bluestone, on which most of Melbourne’s early buildings were made from.

Much of the residential area you see in these photos has been built in the last 20-30 years (on the upper right hand side of the frame).   Even though you can’t see it, the river valley has very steep sides and my building is built halfway up a steep hill – well above the old flood line of the river.

Looking for images for this post, I suddenly realise just how many images from the last 3 years I lost in my computer crash at Easter.  It’s quite odd how some photos were able to be transferred by me from the old Mac Pro laptop to my new desktop, and other photos taken on the same day, came up with a message that their format was incompatible (with the new Apple  iMac desktop).

I said at the time that losing 3000-4000 images really didn’t matter – they were only photos.   But…….why did I have to lose some of my best bird shots.

Anyway, the river is about 6-7 minutes walk from my ‘back gate’ and that large clump of trees on the upper left side of the image below, is part of Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.  You can faintly see a pond, but this is not accessible due to the thick undergrowth and 8 foot high water reeds surrounding it.

On the upper right of the frame are more scattered trees which line an artificial watercourse, or canal, which joins the river.   There is another pond which IS accessible and where I photograph many birds (near the upper right hand corner of the above image).

In fact there are about 5 naturally landscaped ponds in the area.

If you’ve read the previous post, you will know the Developers are half-way through construction of a new apartment building opposite my apartment.

BUT to my dismay, that large field on the lower left (in the image above), which is enormous & very steep and only has about 1/4 of the field showing in the cropped image above, has now got a planning application lodged with the local council to build a whole new apartment and housing estate (on it)……..approximately 250 houses and apartment dwellings I gather.

If I lived on the eastern side of my building, overlooking the nature reserve and river, my view (from another real estate agent’s website) would look something like the shot below.

This side of the building faces east and gets the sunrise.   It also has owls and kestrels and other larger birds landing on the balcony fences according to my neighbours.   I’ve never seen an owl myself.   And if I’ve seen a kestrel high in the sky, I wouldn’t have known what it looked like.

While there wouldn’t be any loss of the actual  council land, nature reserves and green belt which goes up and down the river (far out into the bay on the other side of the city), I really worry about the impact, more urban housing, car noise, new access roads and general residential noise would have on the bird life and many of the indigenous flora and fauna.

Sorry to say I’ve lost some of my favourite bird shots, but the selection below gives you an idea of the potential birds and nature reserve which might feel the impact of 2-3 years of construction noise and extra residential noise a new housing estate next to mine might entail.

The estate agent’s images don’t really show the current landscape very well.

My images below certainly do 🙂

Since I moved to the area in October 2016, you can well understand how lucky I felt to live in such a unique urban environment – half in the suburbs and half in the country – (well, sort-of half in the country).   I didn’t choose the location for it’s nature reserve.   I chose it because it’s hard to get affordable rental properties in Melbourne at the best of times (and my apartment application won over many other applicants).

GOOD NEWS & BAD NEWS

17th June, 2019 – Maribyrnong Wetlands pond – PACIFIC BLACK DUCK (Anas superciliosa)

Actually, I lie.

There is no good news (on the computer front).

The Apple Technician came to my home on Thursday and spent ages going through my new iMac desktop computer – settings, preferences and operating system.  He also checked how large I was uploading my images and daily use (activity monitor).  He said my usage was miniscule compared to most internet users,  and in the last month, since buying the desktop on the 3rd May, could in no way account for the large internet usage  (and also compared to my normal usage in recent years on the old 2012 Mac Pro laptop).

The technician was brilliant and even set up my spare 2T drive as an auto back-up for me (as the proper Apple Time Machine back-up drive I bought some years ago wasn’t recognised by my new computer).

No wonder I couldn’t set up the Apple Time Machine myself – it would seem it was no longer compatible with my new iMac.

A SAD, BUT FREQUENT SIGHT, IN OUR WATERWAYS THESE DAYS

He suggested I ring my Internet Service provider (again!!!!) – Telstra – and ask if someone else was logging into my IP address (to account for the way I was losing my limited internet allowance).  I rang Telstra that night and they insisted I was the only person using that IP address and the connection and WiFi was ‘just fine‘ from their end.  Same answer as when I rang them a couple of times before.

The Apple Technician did untick ‘advertising’ and another ‘preference’ as I don’t use them, but left all the other settings exactly as I had aligned with my old 2012 Laptop (for the most).

LOOKS LIKE A YOUNG GREY TEAL (very much like a female Chestnut Teal but has a paler neck).

So……… I’ll just have to wait until my current internet plan finishes on the 30th August, 2019 and buy a new, much larger one.  All you working folk with wages/salaries may think this is the obvious choice, but when you live on a frugal pension as I do, any increase in regular monthly bills is frowned upon.

With no resolution in sight, I’ll just have to restrict my online time for the next 10 weeks or so.   It will be interesting to view the data usage for this long post tomorrow morning when I log in to my Service Provider’s website and check out ‘internet data usage’ on my account.  Hope it didn’t wipe out the next fortnight’s date allowance.

I saw a White-plumed Honeyeater ((Lichenostomus penicillatus) on my Japanese Maple tree on Thursday afternoon, but with my cameras tucked safely up in their soft pouch storage bags awaiting the Apple technician’s arrival, I could do nothing but admire this rarely seen honeyeater in my area.  

Apparently, they’re quite common, but I’ve only seen one once before near my local nature reserve and once down at Jawbone Conservation Reserve in the bayside suburb of Williamstown.

Since most of next week is going to be dry and sunny, time to do some maintenance in my Balcony Potted Garden perhaps.   I’m pleased to say we’ve had lots of rain in Melbourne for the start of Winter – just hope the farmers got some out in the country.

I ended up catching a bus down to the Maribyrnong wetlands pond (also known as Edgewater Wetlands or Bunyap Park) last Monday (instead of the local pond near Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my apartment building).

It was such a beautiful Winter day.

I took lots of photos of the bird life, although with the bright sun bouncing off the soft fluffy cloud cover, I couldn’t see much through the view finder, much less the LCD screen on the back of the camera(s)..  About 85% of myshots were blurred, heads or feet chopped off etc.

Of course some of those ducks swim very fast and constantly diving down to the pond floor searching for some tasty morsel to satisfy their appetite, so like the Fairy-wrens who fly around my balcony garden, you’ve got to be quick thinking and focused to catch them within the frame.

Didn’t stop me trying to photograph the birds – I figure if I took enough photos last Monday, there was sure to be a few ‘keepers’ through sheer good luck 😀

NOTE:  I was also misinformed when I bought my computer.  AppleCare, (for which I paid 3 years support), DO NOT SEND OUT technicians to your home for software issues, only hardware issues.  All software issues are dealt with over the phone or in-store.  I must have sounded pretty desperate on the phone for AppleCare to send a technician out to my home for my issues which have been keeping me frustrated and at times, verging on taking the $@%#& iMac back to the store for a full refund  😀   I’m exaggerating of course, my old Mac Pro laptop, with it’s slowed speed (since updating the software over Easter which made it seriously ill), would send me insane well before the new, fast-as-lightning iMac desktop (with ‘hiccups’). 

BTW the construction site opposite my building is abysmally slow with all the rain we’ve had.  It’s a real eyesore looking out my lounge window, but I guess it does make for jobs and income for the locals, so I just have to be patient (until it ends).  As I walked down my steep road from the bus stop on the main road, I couldn’t help staring at its ugly mess which spoils my view from my desk located in front of the windows of my lounge room.

 

Birds, birds & more Birds – Jawbone Flora & Fauna Conservation Reserve, Williamstown

After walking the restored Paisley-Challis Wetlands a couple of weeks ago (see previous post), I kept walking along the asphalt path (through the start of Jawbone Flora & Fauna Conservation Reserve) which winds its way over 2 islands in the middle of the lake system near the residential area (shown by the continuous line in the map below).

It then extends through the grassed area between the residential housing and the restored salt marsh and lakes, right down to a car park (and Bus Stop to take me on the first stage of my journey home).

Initially, I was only going to look for the Royal Spoonbills (Platalea regia), first sighted back in February, 2018.  I wanted a better photo than the one I took with my shorter telephoto lens.

Royal Spoonbills – 1st February, 2018

Disappointingly, there weren’t standing in the shallow water near a mound of water reeds where I I’d seen them last year, so I walked a little further and finally spied them, partially obscured by the tall grass right next to me, which were way too high to get a clear shot, so I kept walking,

…….and finally spied them in a better location.

Further away than I’d hoped, but on this day, I had my longer 150-500mm lens.  No tripod, but there were several fences along the way on which I hoped to steady the heavy long lens.

So, finally, here’s the shot.

ROYAL SPOONBILL (Platalea regia)

I was happy.  These water birds weren’t as close as I would have liked, but the image was certainly ‘good enough’

As my hip/back pain was relatively low on this day I decided to keep walking.

Despite my wire shopping trolley front wheels (containing all 3 camera and lenses) catching on a piece of broken old footpath, flipping over, taking me with it and shattering the filter and glass of my long 150-500mm telephoto lens, I had a lovely long walk and was thrilled to see (literally) hundreds of Black Swans, 2 types of Cormorants, numerous Australian Pelicans and other water birds.  There’s still a painful lump on my shin today, but my fractured wrist seems much improved.

For me, it was a superb afternoon’s walk and well worth the journey to this western side of Port Phillip Bay (on which Melbourne was first settled and built around 1835).

Here’s a rather blurred shot below – I only took one shot and must have not held the camera steady.  It does give you some idea of the number of wild birds at low tide on the distant foreshore.  As well as the huge number of Black Swans with their elegant long necks and red beaks, a fellow photographer I met, showed me his images of Cape Barren Geese which had over-wintered in the area, Black-winged Stilts and a host of other water birds whose names escape me now.

I’d never heard of most of the birds the other photographer reeled off, much less seen them.

I did manage to get some shots of the swans and cormorants closer to the walking path though.

I must visit again…….. checking the tide levels first, in an effort to reach this area so I can walk over the sand.  Of course, next visit might mean the scores of birds have left the area 🙂

I was amazed, thrilled and just……soooooo excited to witness such an enormous number.   I had to be content to finish my walk, talking images along the way with my Sony a6000 and 55-210 lens, or my Canon DLSR and 17-50mm lens.


BTW As I had to go through the city last Monday, I stopped in at the city camera store repair department and after a lengthy discussion with 2 of the Technicians, decided to spend the $88 inspection fee and have my long telephoto lens sent off to Sigma (or wherever they send it) and get a quote for what it might cost to put new glass in the lens……….assuming it can be done.  It was actually only the top 2 layers of glass that fell out and were damaged (together with the UV filter).  The technicians said the lens barrel and remaining glass was in excellent condition and it would be a pity not to at least send it off for an assessment (and possible quote).  Sigma don’t make this 150-500 lens any more, only the newer one of 150-600mm which is about $1600 – way over any $$$ that I could afford at the moment.

Here’s a few more images (below) which show the area and some of the bird life.  I had to be content with staying on the asphalt walking path as I had my old wheeled wire shopping trolley with all my gear, water bottle, lunch, backpack etc.  Not something that I could take over rough ground, rocks or sand, but handy to use as a sort of ‘walking stick’ with my (now) constant hip pain, something I’ll just have to get used to, now my total hip replacement surgery, booked for the 22nd February, has had to be cancelled due to ‘pre-existing’ conditions.

Hope you enjoy my walk……

After a couple of really stinking hot humid days in Melbourne, (Thursday topped out at 42.3C and Friday 45.2C, which is about 115F), I’ve got new herb seedlings to plant and a host of Balcony Garden chores to keep me amused for a couple of days.

So what’s on my 2019 ‘bucket list’?

Nor much.

I like to live my life Mindfully in enforced retirement, just concentrating on the current day and taking time to ‘Smell the Roses’.  The cool change came through Melbourne late yesterday afternoon, so the constant birdsong is ringing in my ears this morning and my tiny blue ceramic bird bath is  a constant source of bird life, mainly the House Sparrows and occasionally,  Superb Fairy-wrens, as they go about their day.

 

I’ve better go outdoors and fill up the water.  It’s nearly evaporated again.