JUST ANOTHER SUNSET IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

To see some more of last night’s sunset, drop over to my other blog Sunrise, Sunset (and clouds that come in between).

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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.

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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).

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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.

THE DAY OF THE WIND

It’s after 4.00pm on a gorgeous blue sky cool day and all I can hear is the Wind (from  my desk chair).

It is buffeting the flimsy branches of the young Japanese Maple and Eucalyptus saplings in front of my apartment balcony in all directions.  At times it is whistling throughout the building and I’m wondering whether I should put the draft stoppers under my front door again (like I do in winter).

Where is the birdsong today?

Perhaps it is Resting in Silence.

The last couple of days the rain has fallen steadily , but softly, most of the waking hours.

It did pound down with menace for a short time yesterday afternoon and then just as suddenly as it started, it stopped, and all I could hear were the gentle droplets on my balcony fence rail.

I tried to catch some droplets of rain in a photo, but for some weird reason my camera wouldn’t autofocus and I had to be content with sitting and watching.  It was very soothing and peaceful just watching.

Almost like a meditation in nature (despite the humidity necessitating the  air-conditioner).

Today, it is cool and the breeze winding its way through my lounge louvre windows is refreshing and downright heavenly after the heat and humidity of recent days.

Methinks this little female House Sparrow (below) has had too much to eat.  It is looking decidedly fat! (but then I am no longer trim, taunt & terrific looking as in my youth, so I shouldn’t criticise I suppose).

Yesterday I had only one visitor to the blue bird bath swinging wildly in the wind.  The ceramic shallow dish was just like a small boat riding the waves of a storm at sea.  Perhaps the House Sparrows found the swinging bowl disconcerting.

This afternoon the bird bath is gently swaying and I’ve had 2 female House Sparrows drop in for several drinks to quench their thirst and then fly up to the balcony rail tap-tapping their beaks on the hard metal surface.  I presume they do this to sharpen their beaks or something.

But still no birdsong.

When the washing machine finishes its current cycle it will be a perfect time to go outdoors for a walk.  But at 20 degrees C (about 68F), it will definitely be a ‘short coat’ walk.  I’ve got 3 appointments (or deliveries) over the next 3 days, so best make the most of the cooler weather in today’s remaining hours.

Then it’s back to 39 degrees C (or 102F) on Thursday.  Quite weird, our summer in Melbourne,  so far.  Blistering heat one day and cool, verging on cold, the next.  But then the world news reveals freakish snow storms and mudslides taking lives in the Northern Hemisphere, so perhaps not unusual to find weird weather patterns in Melbourne, DownUnder, too.

MELBOURNE ZOO – The Mandrills

2011, 12, 13 & for a short time, 2014, Melbourne Zoo was one of my favourite Photography destinations.  Trying to get a single focal point through tiny 3/8″ (yes, 3/8″) wire in some of the cages proved to be the best way to practice holding my (then) new Canon DLSR & heavy lenses perfectly still in the early years of my Photography hobby.

Primates and Meerkats were my favoured subjects (until I moved on to bird photography) and I went to Melbourne’s main zoo in North Melbourne over 100 times.  The (mainly) temperate rainforest landscaping at that time,  proved to be heavenly on a hot summer’s day and sometimes I could go as often as 3 times a week to escape the blisteringly hot sun and  humidity in Melbourne mid-summer.   The single entrance fees were not cheap, but you only have to visit 3 times in any one year to make an annual membership worthwhile, so I certainly got my money’s worth going something like 40+ times in the first year alone.

In fact, (and this is no exaggeration), there was one Spider monkey who I visited so often, who eventually came to recognise me and would come bounding up to the glass near the top of the large enclosure and put his hand out to ‘touch’ mine through the glass.  I spent ages photographing and cultivating a unique relationship with it (and the Black-capped Capuchins).

But I also had some great opportunities for close-up shots in late November 2011 and January 2012 of the Mandrills.

I never seemed to see them up close in the following years.

Outside School Holidays was the best for photography, but I’m a pretty patient person and also enjoyed watching the delight on the faces of small children, noses pressed up to the glass, squealing with excitement.  There can be no better place to take children to create an understanding of animal behaviour and appreciating the great job zoos do in breeding and increasing nearly extinct or endangered species (as well as gaining a close-up view of Australia’s indigenous birds, reptiles, animals and insects).

Melbourne Zoo is so much fun, is not too large and has great interactive and walk-through enclosures to get up close to birds, insects and animals.  There are also private sessions to ‘Meet and Greet’ some of the animals with their Keepers.

 

A Break in Proceedings (and glasses)

My glasses snapped in half last Friday and I’m using a pair of glasses from about 5 years ago which give me a headache, or should I say make my constant headaches worse (as they seem to be a bit too small, of all things – maybe my head is getting too big 😀 ).

That, together with new BP meds prescribed on Friday (which are working like a miracle) and my continuing swollen ankles (which means I still can’t wear socks and lace-up walking shoes contribute to keeping me mostly indoors).

I’ve decided to reduce my blog reading to mainly the blogs with minimal writing and mostly photos, so please don’t be offended if I’ve stopped following you (and you’re a writer).

Besides, at 42C (about 108F) yesterday, it’s starting to feel like summer, so it’s indoors and  air-con for most of the afternoon and evening a few days each week.  Cool change overnight dropped the temps about 20 degrees, so hopefully the 140 odd bush, or grass, fires in my state are under better control this morning.  A lovely cool breeze coming in the window over my desk is making me think, it might be worth going for a short walk this afternoon, albeit in soft loafer shoes (not lace-up walking shoes).

My balcony garden survived surprisingly well yesterday, but I did give the potted plants a good soaking on Friday night (in anticipation of yesterday’s heat wave).

Hopefully my eye test and ordering new glasses on Tuesday won’t hold up my computer work for too long.

But then the network & gmail keeps dropping out so it’s back to the Apple Store Tech Support desk on Tuesday too.  Grrrr!   At least the Optician and the Apple Store are near each other in the nearby large shopping centre (or Mall as you call them in the U.S.).

Ok. now, since bad luck runs in 3s, have I had my run?

Hope so.

The photo (below) must be one of the luckiest shots I’ve ever made.  In October 2013, I could see a white blob high up in an enormous old tree in the Royal Botanic Gardens here in Melbourne.   It was made from a very long distance away and it was only a shaft of sunlight that highlighted the spot as the rest of the tree was in shade.  I took a lucky guess and aimed towards the top of the white blob and you can well imagine my surprise when I downloaded the afternoon’s shooting and discovered that it was a Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaefuineae) in surprisingly good focus.

….and another series to keep you amused (below).  Most of these Koala shots were made in January of 2013 at Melbourne Zoo.

I’ve seen Koalas in the wild, but never on the ground before this particular zoo outing (below).  Another lucky…… right time, right place.

koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

I’m a great believer in that all things in life happen for a reason.

Maybe a lesson to be learned.

Maybe a chance to be move on from a difficult relationship or situation.

Maybe the Photography Angel is looking over my shoulder on a particular day’s Nature Walk.

Maybe I need to stop procrastinating and JUST DO IT.

And maybe that visit to the Optician for an eye test I kept putting off since I moved 16 months ago should have been attended to earlier 🙂  That’s the trouble with moving house.  You have to find all new service providers.

……… and locations for Photography.

RED-TAILED BLACK-COCKATOO (Calyptorhynchus banksii) – The Great Aviary, Melbourne Zoo

From the Archives……..

We have some beautiful Lorikeets, Cockatoos, Corellas and Parrots in Australia.

I’ve seen several in the wild, but I’ve only seen the Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoo in the Great Aviary at Melbourne Zoo.  The small yellow spots on its head and white beak indicate it’s a female.

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii)

 

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).

 

MAGICAL !

After last night’s storms, it was sheer magic to watch the sun go down tonight.  I couldn’t resist sharing these images on this Nature blog (as well as my Sunrise, Sunset & Clouds that come in-between blog).

It even lit up my lounge room and desk area (note: the tomatoes ripening on the end of the bookcase 🙂  I’ve eaten 4 so far, but they seem to be ripening at just the right rate for my lunch or dinner each day ).



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.

PATIENCE

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

Kazuaki Tanahashi

I have an extraordinary amount of patience.

I can spend hours sitting at my desk, staring at the bird bath or surrounding trees.  Far more time than I can possibly stand still outdoors on a nature walk.

But, I can only hold my breathe (and heavy telephoto lens) for so long.

This morning, I’ve been staring at the tree in front of my balcony for quite some time waiting for the birds to visit.  Yesterday the House Sparrows visited the bird bath most of the day as I kept filling it with chilled water from the fridge.

The sparrows seemed to stay longer and take more drinks of water when I do this on a hot day.  I think they really do appreciate the cooler water (but that could be my imagination).  The little female House Sparrow below certainly did, although as soon as I put the DSLR down to ease the ache in my shoulders and neck, it flew away – no doubt startled by the sudden movement.

This tree (below) is thick with foliage, but I’m determined to catch a photo of a bird in the midst, especially now that the tiny flowers are starting to open.

I saw a wren drop down to a branch and it bounced up and down as though on a trampoline.  No chance of a shot through that dirty window either.

I slowly rose up from my desk chair (regretting my choice of a bright blue rather noticable shirt today).   I managed to pick up the DSLR & long lens and move sideways inch by inch to the open sliding door.

The wren moved up to the top of the tree.

This would be about 10 feet from my standing position.

I silently sent it a little message for it to look up and stop hiding…..

I sent another message for it to stand still (as there was almost no breeze on this hot, humid overcast day).

…..and then, success.

I silently thanked the little female Splendid Fairy-wren as it flew away.

By the way, the flowers you can see in the image above, are the first to open on this particular young Eucalyptus, so in the days to come, I might get many more avian visitors looking for some nectar.

The bees will certainly be in the area.

Midday and time to close all the windows and sliding door and turn the air-conditioning on – little rivulets of perspiration are pouring down my forehead and nose and my glasses are slipping off  🙂

THE ‘TO DO’ LIST

Somewhere in my ‘to do’ list was……. go to the hardware/gardening centre (to get more shade cloth, longer bamboo stakes, more mint & parsley plants ……and so on.

This errand has now gone to the top of THE ‘TO DO’ LIST.

I inspected the tomato plants just now.  It’s lovely and cool while my balcony remains in shadow each morning and my favourite time of day to check out the garden and refill the bird bath.  I have got two tomatoes with sunburn – the one and only ripe one and another one which is still green.

Many leaves have been eaten by caterpillars, (but not the fruit), and many branches now broken in the strong gusty winds and storms Melbourne’s had.  And I am writing to the author of one of my herbals to tell them Sage & Rosemary plants DO NOT deter Cabbage Moth Caterpillars 😀

The bundles of larger tomatoes seem to hang on the lowest flimsiest branches.  It was only 2 days ago that I had one blushing tomato (besides the burnt red one) and now……………I’ve got about 8.

I only had some short bamboo stakes left over from last Summer and they were totally useless in our recent storms and gale force winds.

It’s amazing how quickly Tomatoes ripen once the first fruit changes colour.

I’ve just put the last couple of metres of shade cloth I had over the tomato fruit as best I could (in preparation for this afternoon’s sun).  I stapled it in a ‘droopy sun hat’ shape, but I really need about 4 metres and some much taller bamboo stakes to create a little ‘house’ for the plants and fruit until they all ripen.

So my ‘to do’ list has been re-arranged.  I’ll have to go out today.

Being extremely fair, I’ve never liked the hot summers in Melbourne anyway, and after a very brief attempt to get a bit of colour on my arms & legs in my twenties, I gave up and accepted that I would have snowy white skin for the rest of my life.

Me aged about 2 (?) with my snowy fair hair.

Even aged 19-20, I wore mascara  every day to coat my white eyelashes and lashings of make-up to cover my deathly pale face, so you can well imagine how quickly I get sunburnt now I’m old(er).

You’ve only got to look at the first sunburn in the summer after I took up photography as a hobby to appreciate my reticence about going outdoors in the summer.

50+ sunblock doesn’t do much for me.  I even take it outdoors on a walk and re-apply it after a couple of hours.

So just when you fellow Melburnians are thinking what a lovely sunny day for a walk, I am double-checking the actual temperature and timing of the highest UV rays.

My theory is that there’s a hole in the ozone layer over Melbourne (and we have the worst number/cases of skin cancer in the world anyway).  That ‘hole’ allows the very worst intensity of the sun’s rays to hit my apartment in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

The Ozone hole used to be over my old apartment next to the Royal Botanic Gardens for some 20+  years but when I moved house, the HOLE decided to follow me 😀

Did I mention Spring and Autumn are my favourite times of the year 🙂

ROSE-CROWNED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus regina) – MELBOURNE ZOO

We have several beautiful Doves and Pigeons in Australia, but I’ve only seen 6-7 in the wild.

Back in 2014, I photographed one that normally lives in the northern warmer states in woodland, forest and scrubby parkland with fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, and its a beauty.  Initially I saw it in the humidity of the Butterfly House at Melbourne Zoo, but it was not until many zoo visits later that I saw it in its own large enclosure and found out its name.

The Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove is medium-sized and spectacularly coloured.  The female is slightly less so, but they do have a loud distinctive cooing sound.  I wish I could see one in the wild because although we have large, well landscaped enclosures at Melbourne Zoo, it’s not really the same thing.  Actually, we have many wild birds, large and small, that are wild in the Zoo, no doubt attracted to the regular feeding times.

BIRD LIFE

It feels like eons since I’ve done any photography, but the reality is that I’ve been working my way through the ‘to do‘ list…….the chores that I’ve been meaning to do since I moved to the area 14 months ago, but have been procrastinating about every morning.

Yesterday I took a break and spent most of the afternoon watching the bird life in front of my apartment balcony.  I can spend quite literally, hours and hours, totally absorbed in the antics of the House Sparrows, European Goldfinches and Splendid Fairy-Wrens, let alone the birds whose names I don’t know.  They’ve been quite a few of the lovely blue male Splendid Fairy-wrens around recently.  Not so many of the females, although admittedly the plain light brown colour makes the females harder to spot.

This image below, made on the 10th November, is the only time they’ve landed on my balcony and close enough to photograph has been this male.

I watch them criss-cross my narrow road flitting from tree to tree and hedge to hedge.  Sometimes I hear the House Sparrows repetitiously tweeting for an hour or so  in the Eucalyptus sapling in front of my balcony, but now the tree is lush with young leaves I can’t see even a silhouette of any bird life among the swaying branches.

Not sure if the House Sparrow is calling to a mate or a juvenile calling for its breakfast.

I have noted that the most of the sparrows that drink from my bird-bath are quite young and slender in recent days, so I suspect they are mainly young adults or juveniles from this past Spring’s hatchlings.

This morning it was the fluid ‘tu-leep’, or drawn-out ‘Twee-eet’  of the European Goldfinches that caught my ear.  They have a very metallic, but attractive song, but with the strong wind today, I had little hope of catching them in a photo.

This was the best I could do this morning (with them bouncing up and down on the gusty wind-swept branches).


They weren’t interested in looking towards me where I am sitting at my desk.

Here’s a better shot of the European Goldfinch standing quite still from the 10th November.  It must have been one of those rare windless days in November for me to catch that shot.

I re-filled the bird bath with chilled water out of the fridge this morning in the hope of getting the birds to cool down with a splash around the bird bath in this 37c degree (about 100F) heat today.

I caught one very young female landing on my balcony fence, then do a strange tap-tapping on the metal with its beak and quickly fly away.  I’ve often seen this beak-tapping and not sure why they do it?  Is it to sharpen or blunt their little beaks?  It is to ‘gulp’ or help swallow food?  Is it a signal to other sparrows in the area?  I really should ask Mr Google one day.

I caught sight of a male House Sparrow landing on the fence a short time ago, but it didn’t even bother flying down to the bird bath.  I wondered if there were some larger avian predators around as my balcony remains in the shade until about 1-2.00pm on this west-facing side of the building and a good cool space to stand still for a rest.

They often do it.

Stand quite still…….. surveying the surrounding foliage and hedges, I mean.

But the sparrows, unlike the Spotted Turtle-doves around my previous apartment on the north-east side of Melbourne, just seem to have a quick drink and then fly away this morning.

I miss those Spotted Turtle-doves on the north-east side of Melbourne where I used to live.  I made friends with 2-3 doves and they’d let me slowly move up to about 6″ away from them to refill the seed bowl.  Here’s a re-cap of some of them (below).

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).

 

 

SPRING & SUMMER (without the rain) in Melbourne

Normally, Spring and Summer in Melbourne is a great time of year to spend in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

I’m an expert on the subject having walked around its many paths something like 8-10,000 times over a 30 years period, but mainly since I lived and worked next to the Gardens for over 16 years and walked through, or around the 38 hectare site, 3 times per day (most of the year -even in the rain sometimes).

I’ve woken up to rain again this morning here in Frogs Hollow, but I thought you might like to see what people do on their weekend or public holidays when it’s not raining around this time of year in the RBG.

Actually, these images are from various times of the year to be honest.

These images are made with various cameras and lenses and exposures.

  1. Feeding the ducks

2. Snuggling up close with a couple of friends – I think this might have been in winter actually.

3. Watching the world go by with a friend or……. just….on your own.

4. Enjoying the shade on the Oak Lawn.

5. Reading the Sunday paper at the north-western lower end of the gardens.

6. This looks like winter, but the sun is still out down at the south-eastern end of the large Ornamental Lake.

7.  The Herb Garden – which used to be one of my favourite places to sit on a hot summer’s day, reading a book and taking in the wonderful perfume of all those different herbs.  The 3-4 seats are not shown in the image below, but 2 of them are in complete shade all day and with the constant breeze, can be very cool mid-summer.

8.  Sun-baking on a Sunday afternoon.

9.  Just taking in the view with a friend.

10.  Having a family picnic on Melbourne Cup Day (horse race on the first Tuesday in November each year, when we have a public holiday).  I was on a tram on Cup Day this year and heard a tourist say…..”Fancy having a public holiday to watch a horse race.”

11.  Snuggling up to a loved one.

12. Another public holiday picnic on the Oak Lawn.  This area is in very dark shade most days so it looks like I’ve lightened the exposure for this shot.

13.  Families enjoying the view from high up on the south-western hill overlooking the large Ornamental Lake on Cup Day in November.

14.  Lying on one of many jetties listening to the Bell Minors sing their distinctive song in this part of the Gardens.  4.30pm is the best time of day to walk through here and you’re sure to get some bird photos on the lower tree branches

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15. Late Sunday afternoon.

16.  ……and finally, one of the first images I shot of the Perennial Border ‘groomed’ to be at its best in early January of each year.

If you’re a tourist in Melbourne at the moment, I’m really sorry it’s been raining too much to go outdoors this past weekend.

WE NORMALLY DO HAVE SUNNY DAYS AT THIS TIME OF YEAR  🙂

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.

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).

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 !  😮

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……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).

The thunderstorm you have when you’re not having a Thunderstorm!

I’d just finished watering the potted plants on my balcony tonight when the skies suddenly got darker and a thunderstorm threatened the western suburbs (of Melbourne).

7.45pm 24th November 2017

7.48pm 24th November 2017

Five minutes later, the sky colour changed to mauve and plum colours.

7.53pm 24th November 2017

My windows got a few rain drops and the ground was damp, but that’s about all that happened earlier tonight.

Maybe it’ll rain overnight? 🙂

The cool change is coming Sunday I think.

“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.

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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!

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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).

WHITE-FACED HERON (Egretta novaehollandiae) – Newells Paddock Nature Reserve & Conservation Area

Although I didn’t have my long 150-500mm lens on my nature walk in Newells Paddock Nature Reserve last week, a White-Faced Heron stepped from behind a small seedling protective plastic ‘tent’ very close to me as I walked along the high path overlooking the main pond area.  The rise in the path is next to the fenced-off verge near the train line.

I love watching these Herons and often see one near my home (next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve).  I’ve even managed to photograph one of these beautiful soft blue/grey herons with a lizard (or goanna) in its mouth twice. Once next to the river 10 minutes walk from my apartment and once down at Jawbone Arboretum, Nature reserve and Marine Sanctuary in Williamstown.

White -Faced Heron at Jawbone Arboretum, Williamstown

Last Thursday, I managed to very, very slowly step towards this heron until I was about 15 feet away before the bird flew off as a runner came up the path behind me and frightened it.

The Heron watched me out of the corner of its eye as I moved closer to it, but seemed relatively passive and calm until the noise and movement of the runner (on her regular exercise route).

Here’s a better shot of this bird which I made when I lived on the north-east side of Melbourne next to the Yarra River (below).  Sometimes an overcast day with plenty of light is better than a sunny day for bird photography.

….and fishing in Pipemakers Park pond late one afternoon (about 10 mins walk from my current home).

and down on the Maribyrnong River (below).

….and even……in The Great Aviary at Melbourne Zoo some years ago (below)

Before I saw these soft blue/grey herons in the western suburbs, Nankeen Night Herons with their soft grey/blue caps and salmon pink feathers used to be my favourite and most often observed Heron.

Of course there are other herons in Australia, including the Pied Heron (below).

But the White-faced Heron is fast becoming my favourite on this side of Melbourne.

I must say Herons are a lot easier to photograph as they’re out in the open (compared to smaller native birds in the tree tops these days).

Hence the numerous images in my photo library 🙂

More images from Newells Paddock Nature Reserve

As I’d planned on photographing flowers yesterday, I didn’t take my heavy long telephoto lens to do any bird photography…….and consequently missed out on some great bird shots.

The following image of a New Holland Honeyeater would have been quite a good shot if I’d had the 150-500 lens with me.

A couple of images (below) show all the landscaping and planting in the newer Conservation area near the train line made by either the local Council OR The Friends of Newells Paddock.

When complete, far into the future, this Nature Reserve will be an oasis amidst the inner western urban area of Melbourne.  Even now, its worth walking through.

This Conservation area will also join up with the whole 400+ hectares of green belt along the Maribyrnong River right up to where I live next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and further on.

I love the way Melbourne and its suburbs are restoring the original wetlands and bush areas back to what it was before white settlement in the early 1800s in the many wastelands or empty residential blocks.

You may see lots of apartment building construction sites along the many rivers, but they are balanced with green spaces wherever possible.

I did photograph some of the grasses in the area and then (for the first time) walked up the raised area via the proper gravel path to see over the multitude of aqua/green plastic tents protecting newly planted young seedlings.

Normally I cut straight across the area near the pond to photograph the water birds.

The ominous looking clouds passed by quickly and the sun came out just as I exited the back entrance to the Reserve to walk along the river path.

After I walked out the back entrance, I used the Maribyrnong River walking/cycling path to get to Footscray Park and a multitude of Spring flowers, but that will be another post (when I get around to reviewing and choosing some images from the many I shot yesterday afternoon).

 

 

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)

 

 

 

JAWBONE FLORA AND FAUNA RESERVE (and Marine Sanctuary) – WILLIAMSTOWN

Yesterday was one of those days when you’re not quite sure if its going to be bright/sunny, rain, storm or just plain…..windy (like it is 360 days of the year in Melbourne).

Actually, the wind wasn’t too bad at all.

I even captured an Australian Pelican in flight – a first for me.
A distant Australian Pelican spreads its wings

I set off around midday with only one Canon DSLR & short (17-50mm) lens for potential flower photography and my Sony ‘mirrorless’ and 55-210mm lens for some ‘close-up’ bird photography.

After seeing some of those gorgeous pink/mauve coloured flowers along the Maribyrnong River last week, I was sure to see a bed of these succulent flowers in the Flora reserve on yesterday’s walk (I thought).

The heavy long ‘birding’ telephoto 150-500mm lens stayed at home.

I had this idea of doing the full coastal walk from the bus stop near Williamstown beach (lower right hand corner of the map) right up to the Koroit Creek (upper left hand corner of the map), along the Lakes system on the coast.  I planned to walk right next to the lake bank wherever possible, maybe explore the Flora on the strip of land between the Lakes System and Port Phillip Bay and then cut down a side residential road to where I hoped to pick up a bus (#415) back to the regular bus route (#472) heading towards home.

The dotted line marks my route along yesterday’s walk. Not that far as the crow flies, but as I stop regularly to take photos, the walk lengthens in duration accordingly

As it turned out, overcast conditions and ominous cloud cover spread over the sky about 75% along the walk and I decided to call it quits for the day (and finish the coastal walk another time).  I’m thinking that now I know the #415 bus goes all the way along the main road (top of map), next visit I’ll start from the top left point, heading south-east down to Williamstown beach (and hot Fish-n-Chips afternoon tea) and  have the sun behind me for better images ……(I hope).

Two-thirds of the way along yesterday’s walk, when I wanted to cross over to the reserve area between the lakes and Port Phillip Bay, I was brought to an abrupt (and disappointing) halt due to a locked chain-wire gate and fencing.

So I ended up just walking along the lake bank (with most of the flora and bird-life out of range).

Here you can see 3 Pied (or Little Pied) Cormorants on rocks at the edge of the island in one of the lakes. Far into the distance you can see the industrial area of Altona.
This was the closest I got to bird life with a group of Silver Gulls washing their feathers on the lake bank.
As you can see from this image, I didn’t have a hope of capturing much of the bird life on the islands due to the distance (and no long telephoto lens).

Still, it was a very enjoyable afternoon and a fine break from putting my Mother’s 30 years of family history research on to the computer.

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At the moment, I’m slowly working my way through transferring the whaling diary of my Great Great Grandfather’s brother (which is absolutely fascinating), on to the computer.  But its slow work as the Auto Spell-check keeps changing the words I’m typing into modern spelling OR, a completely un-related word, (when the auto spell-check can’t understand the old fashioned term).  I’ve only typed 6 pages (out of 57 foolscap-sized ones and set up a private Website for family so far) and can see I’ll have to re-read my typing many times to ensure I have captured  the original story with all its quirky expressions and old-fashioned manner of speech.

I’m sure you can appreciate how my new(ish) Hobby of transferring this work to computer is going to take some time over the next year.  Inserting maps, photos and images of the 1800s which my Mother collected will also add to the task.  One lever arch file 3″ thick with notes, research and typing will take me quite some time to transcribe.

But, I’m sure it will be worth it, when the whole family and extended family has the opportunity to read My Mother’s Story (which she spent 30 years researching and writing).

 

RED WATTLEBIRD (Anthochaera carunculata) – Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve

The image below was a lucky shot on yesterday’s walk.  Most of the birds I saw – cormorants, grebes, ducks and moorhens were too far away for my Sony ‘mirrorless’.  I didn’t take my long 150-500 lens with me as I was going to the Pharmacy and Supermarket (the long route).

I didn’t go in to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve, but made the image (above) from the gravel path which goes from my apartment block down to the river.  With the sky overcast, there wasn’t that much light looking north-west and to he honest, I’m surprised the bird shot came out at all.

I am standing on the 6-7 foot high raised gravel path looking over the chain-wire fence into Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve in this shot (above).  As you can see by the sky and water colour, there was not a lot of light for photography.  Lovely cool wind and from time to time, the sun peeped from behind the cloud cover as though it was afraid to come out in full (to make my walk too hot).

I’ve missed some lovely sunny days recently as I had stayed home to start my new project – putting my Mother’s family history research onto the computer for family and extended family to read.  I’ve been meaning to start this project for about 3-4 years and finally………..got it going.  It’ll be a new hobby for the days I’m stuck at home through either, inclement weather, or, when my back pain levels keep me housebound.

Just got to take regular breaks at the moment, as continually hitting the space bar on my keyboard with my injured thumb inevitably makes it sore after a while.

Yesterday, it was not supposed to rain until evening, but I was chased by ominous looking cloud cover as I slowly walked down-river (towards the south?).

I saw lots of lovely pink flowers on the succulents that grow next to the rocky river banks in this area, so I’m keen to go back to Newells Paddock Nature Reserve (located further down-river) on the next sunny day to see if the whole pond surrounds are covered in pink flowers.

I can’t quite remember if the ground cover at Newells Paddock was the same succulent that is growing along my area of the Maribyrnong River though.

Here’s a repeat of the Newells Paddock Nature Reserve and Conservationa Area to remind you of which Nature Reserve I’m referring to.  All that bright green colour in the images below are spongy succulents  The whole half of the second- last image (with the dead tree trunk) is 2-3″ deep.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful sight if it was all in flower 🙂

Rain most of today according to the forecast so it looks like a stay-at-home 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.