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

IN THE PINK – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken any flower photos (except the flowers in my potted balcony garden), but there’s always plenty in my archives to fill the gap.

Most of the images below were made in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and I believe many of the Common and Botanical names are on the images (which helps if you’re a garden lover).  If you see an incorrect name, I would appreciate you letting me know in the comments section.

They were made with a variety of lenses from a 100mm f2.8 macro, to 50mm f1.4 to a borrowed 55-250mm (which takes a really sharp shot I notice) ……to my old favourite 18-200mm lens.

WE LOVE OUR GARDENS IN MELBOURNE

From the archives…….

Melbourne is known as the Garden capital (city) of Australia and while I don’t usually go out of my way to photograph people and families enjoying the Royal Botanic Gardens, people inevitably appear in my images at various times.  Especially Sundays and Public Holidays when the sun is out, the day is warm and picnic baskets (or rugs) beckon their owners outdoors.

This is a cropped portion of a larger image, but by sheer luck I was able to capture the outline of the girl’s face with the sun reflecting off the white pages of her book. The shot wouldn’t have been half as interesting without it.

I don’t think I’ve shared many of these images before, but they do reflect our love of Public Gardens as a time to read or bask in Solitude, or share with others on social occasions.

 

JACARANDA (Jacaranda mimosifolia) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives – 21st December, 2013

I remember the very moment I finished my ice-cream while sitting in the shade of this Jacaranda tree.  It is located near the gift shop and restaurant  on the eastern side of the Ornamental Lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

It was a very hot summer day in 2013.

I popped the last of the crisp ice-cream cone into my mouth, crumpled the paper serviette, wiped my sticky fingers, threw the waste in the rubbish bin and looked up to admire the beautiful mauve colour of the Jacaranda flowers over my head. I got my camera out of its bag and captured the blossom in two shots.

On another visit I passed a different Jacaranda tree on the green lawn next to the RBG’s perennial border.

Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifiolia)

Funny how a  photo captures a moment in time which sparks a memory many years later.

By the way, this is the Perennial Border – planted to flower at the height of Summer in  mid January, although the image below was made in December 2010 (pre DSLR days).  You can see another Jacaranda tree to the left of the old house.  This building serves as a function centre.  I’ve made many photos of this colourful border over the years, but the image below, with the lady walking briskly past, remains a favourite.

 

WHAT HAPPENED TO AUTUMN?………………

Forecast for the rest of Thursday

Summary
Max 13
Showers.
Possible rainfall: 3 to 8 mm
Chance of any rain: 90%

Melbourne area

Cloudy. Very high (90%) chance of showers. The chance of a thunderstorm. Possible hail. Winds west to northwesterly 20 to 30 km/h tending west to southwesterly during the day.

Sun protection not recommended, UV Index predicted to reach 2 [Low]

 

 

POPPY (Papaver) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives – 9th & 22nd November 2010

Another kind of Poppy.   I’m pretty sure these images were made in The Herb Garden, RBG – my favourite location in the whole of the Royal Botanic Gardens and frequented during Melbourne’s long, hot summers with its cool shady seating and fragrant patches of my favourite herbs.

I haven’t been back since I moved from the area about 3 years ago and now, with the constant road construction and tram diversions on the western perimeter due to the new underground rail link, unlikely to re-visit any time in the near future.

Once again, these images were made with a little Canon point & shoot camera, not the Canon DLSR which I acquitted a month later.

Made 9th November, 2010

and later on the 22nd November, 2010…….

CALIFORNIAN TREE POPPY (Romneya coulteri) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the Archives – 12th December, 2012

One of the first flowers I ever photographed in the Royal Botanic Gardens was a Californian Tree Poppy on the 6th January, 2011.  Not an especially good photo so I’m posting a later image from 2012 (below).

The petals are feather light and very fragile, so not a good flower to photograph on a windy day, or even when there is a faint breeze for that matter.

There are many other types of poppy growing in the RBG so maybe it’s timely to post a few (if I can find them).  I have a combination of about 14,000 well archived images with folder titles from my old software and about 4000 images from the newer El Capitan software that are mainly still in their date made folders.  

NATURE versus ARCHITECTURE versus MODERN TECHNOLOGY

When doing photography from my apartment balcony, I’ve always made great effort to avoid my building and surrounding apartment blocks and townhouses within the frame.

But that doesn’t mean I can always avoid them (or perhaps that I should avoid them ?).

I made some random images last Saturday night of the beautiful colour in the clouds at sunset, but haven’t had much of a chance to both download, or review them, until today due to my computer laptop problems.

While I review the sunset images for my Sunrise/Sunrise (and Clouds that come in Between) blog, here’s few random shots of the cloud colour……with buildings and……. street lights (which I can’t avoid in my road)  🙂

Today, I’ve got my cabling temporarily plugged directly into my laptop and a different solution to my Service Provider’s dongle which was broader than the previous (internet package) one from last year and has overlapped the USB and memory card slots either side of its connection since I acquired it early last September.

Today I have to keep pulling cables out when I want to download images or do any printing, but it is a small price to pay for the joy in having a computer that works super fast. Hopefully, yesterday’s Computer Technician home visit has finally resolved my intermittent computer problems.  Needless to say, I have my fingers crossed (if only in my mind), but I do have a 160 day ‘warranty’ on the work done, so that’s a blessing in itself.

I almost shed a tear last night in the joy of having this precious source of communication back to normal.  In fact, I probably will shed a tear when I manage to get to the shops to replace my faulty hardware AND everything on my desk is back to normal.  Only the chronically ill or housebound folk will completely understand what a fully operational computer is in the absence of a smart phone, iPad or other source of internet access.

We ICIs (Invisible Chronic Illness sufferers) need our computers.

Just about every aspect of my life seems to be run via a computer. Banking, bill paying, the day’s weather report, online supermarket shopping for home delivery (when my knee, hip or back hurts too much to even walk from the taxi rank through the shopping centre to the real supermarket) are just a few of the uses for me.  With family and friends either living too far away or simply doing lots of overseas and interstate travel and leading busy lives, email is my main source of communication and news.    I rarely use a phone at all.

I might not like this mandatory need for modern technology and I certainly have no interest in social media, but one has to be realistic in the face of health restrictions and physical limitations at this time in my Life and Health Journey.

This applies to many areas of my life.   Without a car, I can’t just walk to the shops to pick up some minor purchase or forgotten item on the shopping list.  Most people in Australia have cars due to the distance they travel each week/month/year and now that I’m retired I surely miss my old car which I sold in 2003.

At the current time I’m using taxis to get everywhere so try to do several errands in the one trip to justify use and save on cost.

I’m still hopeful of getting back to walking in Nature, but at least Living in Nature with a beautiful green space and bird life to observe straight in front of my desk is a blessing.

The sky is a rich blue and the weather superb today and I’ve seen and heard so many birds this morning.. One bird call I’ve never heard before and my curiosity is aroused.

What can it be, I ask myself.  I may be able to identify many common birds after 8 years of photography, but I’m not familiar with many bird calls.

I love the cool weather and clear skies that mark Autumn in Australia.

No birds have stayed on my balcony ledge long enough to photograph this morning, but still fun to watch.  So far, today’s avian visitors have been quite small so I presume they’re juveniles.

Here’s a few images from the past (of the birds that visit me).

Bird-watching in urban areas can be just as enjoyable as in the country or distant mountains..

LOOKS LIKE I GOT IT WRONG….

Well, looks like I got it wrong, folks.

The newly revealed left side of the apartment building at the top of the hill is not due West at all.

I thought the removal of the large mobile showroom and sales office, selling off the plan apartments (due to be built opposite mine) would be a revelation of stunning colour at sunset.

NOTE: Melbourne has gorgeous sunsets in Autumn.

Due West (and the dying sun) are definitely on the right hand side of the building (not the left).  The last 2-3 nights, the sun has reflected off the rain clouds with such brilliance, it’s  almost impossible to look in that direction.  It has reflected on the left hand side of my lounge window and into the apartment interior in such a way I’ve had to pull the block-out blinds down early.  It was probably a situation where experts warn about looking directly at the sun – it certainly blew my vision for about 5 minutes after I looked away and gave me quite a scare.

To give you an example, here’s a few images made to try & capture it.   I’ve inserted these images on this Nature Blog as they’re not really colourful enough to go on my Sunset, Sunrise Blog.  The sun was even brighter than my images, but I tried to capture the scene with the intelligent auto setting of my lightweight Sony a6000.  Normally this setting takes 3-4 images when there are extremes in contrast and automatically brackets them together giving surprising, and usually perfect, exposure straight out of the camera.

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

AN OBSERVATION……… AND A WEE BIT OF TRIVIA……..AND A SUNSET (OR TWO)

Not nature related, but an interesting observation from my home location in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

Last week I shared some images of the removal of the mobile office/showroom at the top of the cliff in front of my balcony.

The new horizon outline at dusk is much changed and I’m eagerly awaiting the first really spectacular Autumn sunset to share online.

I’ve joined 2 (rather mundane) images below, which I happened to notice fitted together by chance.  The left-hand skyline image was always there, but the right-hand image, with the silhouette of the grass in the middle and the left of the building, were completely hidden.

That is……….the whole of the scene, top to bottom, left to right, in the photo below was invisible.

I think where you can see the silhouette of some grass in the middle of the lower part of the frame is due west and as soon as we get a decent sunset, I’ll share it.

In the meantime, I been enjoying the somewhat ordinary sight of planes descending on their approach to Melbourne’s 2 airports – Tullamarine (international and interstate) and Essendon (the old airport now used for small 2 engine or local country planes).

Today, the sky is completely overcast and no planes in sight.

So while we wait, here’s a selection of sunsets from Country Victoria from the archives.

……..and some more images from the archives – made as I walked home down an inner suburban laneway after an afternoon in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

The first part of the laneway runs east-to-west.

 

The second part of the laneway runs north-to-south.

Yes, Autumn in Melbourne, Australia, is a great time of the year.

SWEET BASIL (Ocimum basilicum)

While I’ve had Sweet Basil growing on and off many times in the last 35 years, I’ve always used all the leaves in cooking before it flowers.

My 2 current plants were decimated by caterpillars this past summer and I was all set to throw them in the rubbish bin, but decided to cut all the damaged leaves off (about 97% of the plants) and amazingly, they have recovered and I now have 2 flower heads.

This is the first time in my life, I’ve actually seen Basil flowers outside one of my Herb books.

SWEET BASIL (note: the white smears behind the flower are bird poop on the corrugated wall – I should have moved around a bit to avoid capturing the white smear behind the white flower)

I think I’ve mentioned in a prior post that my balcony garden seems to have a sort of micro-climate (despite the frequent strong, or gale-force, winds that race down my steep short road).

I’ve grown many plants that haven’t survived in other balcony gardens in previous apartments.

BUT……………this past summer has been the worst ever for pests.  It seems as though the bugs and caterpillars like the micro-climate too 😀  This is the first time I’ve ever had dozens of Harlequin Bugs on my herbs and flowers.

Normally it’s the Caterpillars that leave their mark.

For a good example, count how many ‘pillars I picked off plants (in my first balcony garden when I lived near the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne).

This was just one morning’s 20 minute search.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND MORE PRACTICE

Even when I’m not doing any photography for my blog, I practice from my desk chair most mornings after reading my emails.

To catch a bird on my balcony in my current apartment is getting easier as time goes by, but that doesn’t mean I always get the eye in sharp focus (which is what makes a good bird photo), or the light is good on any given day.

I make hundreds and hundreds of blurred shots.  Some are downright funny.  Others are just plain awful, but I persevere.

When I get a good shot…….of even the most common bird on my balcony……I feel a real sense of achievement.

Sometimes I get lucky, but in general, the only way to improve your bird photography is practice, practice and more practice.  The faster and smaller the moving bird, the more challenging it becomes.

I spent a bit more time practicing on House Sparrows yesterday. (I finally got all the household chores up to date and a couple of other indoor projects finished 🙂  Hurray!).

It was a good day and the light just right, and despite sharing dozens of House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) images before, here’s some more.

RED-TAILED BLACK COCKATOO (Calyptorhynchus banksii)

From the archives – 2012 – 2015

Australia has some spectacularly coloured Cockatoos and Parrots.

But this post is not about them.

It’s about a dark Cockatoo of a rather dull colour, but none the less interesting.  The speckled yellow dots are of the female by the way.  The male is sooty black but with red panels at the base of its tail.  The females also have a strikingly white beak.  It looks a bit of a dirty dull colour in the above image, but that might be the light on the day of shooting.

The Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii) is large  and very common inland and to the north of the country.  I’ve only seen it in The Great Aviary at Melbourne Zoo, but it still fascinates me when you view it front-on as, to put it impolitely, it looks like a hagged old crone with no teeth from fairy stories.  (Did I mention I have vivid imagination?).

Very territorial and often gregarious, it issues a metallic trumpeting ‘kreee’ sound.

Here’s a few more images I’ve made over several zoo visits…..made with different cameras and lenses.

PIED IMPERIAL PIGEON (Ducula bicolour)

From the archives – mainly 2015.

The Pied Imperial Pigeon, (Ducula bicolour), is not an Australian bird species but I’ve got so many images from the Zoo’s Great Aviary, that I figure it deserves a mention on my Nature Blog.

Is this an old(er) fat female who’s just been to the hairdresser for a trendy cut OR a young obese male with premature balding?

It’s a relatively large, plump, (as you’ll see in the second photo above), pied species of pigeon and normally found in forest, woodland, scrub and now – some of the mangroves in the far north of Australia, especially the Gulf of Carpentaria.

In the dry season these pigeons fly back to South East Asia – Thailand,  Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

One of my images shows one of the pigeons tipped over a tree branch and you can see the black bars under the tail, so I’ve included that shot in this post (below lower left).

They are migratory coastal birds and that’s one of the reasons why they’re now found in northern Australia in the wet season, when the monsoon rains result in an abundance of forest fruits like the bright orange fruit of the Carpentaria Palm.

Feel free to do a Google search if you want to know more about them.  Mr Google told me the above as I didn’t know much about them, except that I had some good close-ups.

I love this bird, but then, I love any bird that stands still (for me to photograph)  😀

As is often the case, there seems to be different names for this bird, including different scientific names.

Pied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula bicolor)

 

RADJAH SHELDUCK (Tadorna radjah)

From the archives – 2012, 13 & 2015

The other Australian shelduck is called the Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna rajah) and personally, I like it’s feather pattern/colour more than the Australian Shelduck in the previous post.  I notice the name on the image below is slightly different to the other images in my archives, but no matter.

Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah rufitergum)
In this image I’m standing on the raised boardwalk about 15 feet over the large pond near the rainforest end.

It has beautiful rich dark brown back feathers whose colour intensity changes with the sunlight (or shade).  It has a comparatively long neck and smaller head (than the Australian Shelduck).  Very pale pink legs and feet carry its, mostly, white body, although its white underwing does have a broad green speculum on the inner half.

While my earlier images of this bird weren’t that good, one of my last photography outings to Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary in 2015 scored some better shots.  The Shelduck was standing on the boardwalk fence about 5 feet away from where I was standing on the swaying section of the boardwalk bridge.

I do remember having trouble taking advantage of the close proximity of the bird, as young children kept screaming and running over the moveable section next to me (despite the signs at the entrance asking children not to run or shout), sending me swaying with the heavy DSLR.

Then the bird flew over my head and stood on the other side of me (but still close).  It turned a bit away from me though.  Not so much of a side view.

By the way, don’t dismiss Zoo photography if you’re new to Photography.  If you’re like me, don’t have a car, or the health, to get outdoors to the country or mountains, a Zoo is a great place to practice holding your camera still (for hand-held shots), and in the case of Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary, a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon – I used to love it.

Note: we have 3 zoos in Melbourne – the others being Healesville Sanctuary in the country (where my youngest niece is a volunteer), and Werribee Park’s Open Range Zoo to the south of my suburb.  I can get a train to Werribee easily enough, but not sure about the Open Range Zoo area – maybe there are some shuttle buses from the train station?  I believe there is a shuttle bus that leaves from the National Gallery of Victoria at around 9.30am for a full day trip.  I think the bus costs Aus$35 for a full day trip (which might also include the historic Werribee Park Mansion next door).  The Rose Gardens are extensive, but I’ve only see them after a storm ……..once…….and the roses were slightly deficient in petals and colour 😦

By the way, I did get caught out once when I went to the Zoo specifically to spend the whole afternoon in the Aviary on a hot summer’s day and it was closed for maintenance.

For those who have just started following my nature blog, here’s a series of images of the Aviary interior so you can see how large it is.  It has 3 zones – one end being rainforest (where the swaying high-up bridge is and the stream starts from a tiny pool and waterfall), and the other end temperate rainforest around a large pond.  There’s several feeding stations close to the raised boardwalk along your pathway and around 4.00pm (?) you can get some great close-ups of the avian inhabitants at those seed bowls.

If you’re visiting Melbourne with your family and would like to see all 3 Zoos, paying for a full membership would probably be cheaper than a family ‘day pass’ to each zoo.  Do check out their website (and if the Great Aviary on is your ‘must see’ list, phone ahead to ensure it is not closed on the day).

The Zoo is open 365 days per year.

While much of the zoo has been re-landscaped and new enclosures built, I’m pretty sure that they won’t have changed the Aviary since I visited 3 years ago.  They have excellent breeding programs and exchange animals with other zoos around the world to ensure rare breeds do not die out to extinction.

(and the baby lemurs and monkeys are sooooo cute).

In winter, if it’s cold, many of the birds are high up near the roof trying to get some sun and it can be hard to see them, although sometimes you get lucky if you have a long lens and a sunny winter day – examples of a White-faced Heron below.

If you’d like some more images from the Zoo, let me know in the comments section.  It might be timely to delve more into the flower section of my archives.

Today, Wednesday and Thursday look promising for outdoor photography excursions, but my pain levels don’t allow me much walking these days.

Otherwise, ‘From the archives’ will continue on this blog for the time being.  I hope long-time followers are enjoying the ‘repeats’ or ‘re-views’.

AUSTRALIAN SHELDUCK (Tadorna tadornoides)

From the archives – 2012 & 2013

Australian Shelduck

We have 2 Shelducks, (that I know of), in Australia and both are easy to identify being large, almost goose-like, in size.    The Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) has distinctive chestnut and blackish plumage with the head and neck dark green – in fact, the head looks black to me.  The female has white patches around the eye, with the male’s head being all black and I’ve always found it hard to photograph the male with the eye showing.

The images in this post were made in the Japanese Garden at Melbourne Zoo and I’ve usually been lucky enough to see these Shelducks in the shade of a weeping cherry (?) and quite close to the walking path for photography purposes.  The path winds through the beautifully landscaped garden with square tile ‘stepping stones’ over a stream.  There’s a bamboo cane low fence along the path to keep visitors off the grass, but you can still see several bird species up close, especially the shelducks, who like the shady tree in summer.

Note: this area is not enclosed, or the birds in cages, but I notice they’ve all got leg tags.  There are various bird species that wander around the zoo and I presume they love the free food on offer.  The finches are in cages or enclosures quite apart from the many other open areas (beside The Great Aviary).

BLACK-NECKED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus)

From the archives – Mostly 2012

Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynshus asiaticus)

This stork is enormous at 130cm  (just over 4 feet) and you can never mistake the identification.  Its wings, neck and head seem to change colour depending on the sunlight.  It has very long legs and it wasn’t until I saw this stork on the land that I had any sense of just how long those reddish coloured feet were.

The neck is a gorgeous iridescent purple and I would love to see it in the wild, but have to be content with my view of these birds in The Great Aviary at Melbourne Zoo.  Twice I’ve seen a pair in an amazing dance/mating/fight, (or whatever it was), at the Zoo.

Now that……………………..is truly a magnificent sight.

I’ve got dozens of photos of this Stork, although many are not very sharp in focus.  I made them mostly in the first year or two of owning a DSLR and didn’t know much about Shutter speed and Aperture at that stage.  I should have had both settings much higher, although bright sunlight tends to make the white feathers over-exposed anyway.  I should have adjusted the white balance also.  Of course I could also have shot all those early images on full AUTO 😀

BLACK-NECKED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus)

SUPERB or SPLENDID FAIRY-WREN (Malurus cyanerus OR Malurus splendens) – male?

I was glued to the computer screen reading Steve McCurry’s latest blog post this morning when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye.

It had been raining overnight and the forecast had said a 60% chance of further rain, (albeit in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne – I currently live in the west), so I had my floor-to-ceiling glass lounge sliding door closed (to my balcony garden).

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I slowly turned to the left and saw a tiny Fairy-wren hop all around my potted garden and then sit on the bamboo cane of my Sugar pea climbing frame.

%$@&!! (I said to myself).

I had re-arranged my bookcases yesterday and put all my cameras away, in the camera bag or soft pouches, in the bedroom.  At the last minute, late last night (before going to bed),  I brought the bags out of the bedroom and put them back next to my desk chair, but didn’t take the long telephoto out of its zip-carrying case as I hadn’t seen any birds up close for about 10-14 days (?).  I assumed my ‘at home‘ bird photography had finished for the season and I’d actually have to go for a walk to get any bird shots.

When I saw the 1st wren, I very slowly bent to one side and unzipped the bag with my left hand and lifted the heavy DSLR and long telephoto lens out and prayed the wren wouldn’t move.

It did (and I missed the shot).

Next thing a female Splendid Fairy-wren jumped down on to the ground and ate a Cabbage-moth Caterpillar as it slowly crawled its way blindly across the paving tiles looking for, or sensing, some greenery.  Then the wren flew up to the edge of the Capsicum plant and then proceeded to inspect every other space in and around the potted plants and herbs.

The male did the same.

“Well done, you dear little wren” I said to myself.  The ‘pillars’ had decimated my garden in the last couple of weeks and the Harlequin Bugs had sucked most of the leaf colour out of some plant leaves.

I was beside myself with excitement as, while I often see these tiny wrens across the road, or on the walking path down to the nearby Maribyrnong River, I’d only seen them up close on my balcony about 3 times in the last 18 months.

And they had mostly been female.

I did get a fairly decent shot of a female in a tree once.

And I did see a male last November sitting on an empty plant container.

With the sliding door closed, the window frames and reflections of my lounge chair muddled the scene.

%$@&!! (I said again).

I couldn’t hold the heavy lens steady in my lethargic half-awake state.

Although set on Shutter-priority, the shutter speed was far too slow for the deep shade of the pots under the overcast sky and a fast-moving tiny wren.  When I say fast-moving, I mean hopping every couple of seconds.

I slowly lowered the camera so as not to cause a sudden movement and changed the camera settings, but the deep shade due to the closely arranged pots and overcast sky, did nothing to improve my confidence in capturing any photos of the wrens.

I also changed the setting from single shot to continuous shooting.  That was the best my brain could manage in its morning state.   

I tried a 3rd shot and managed to get the tiny male(?) in focus.

Success!

But what species was it?  It certainly didn’t have the blue head of a male Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens).  I looked up my Australian Bird Guide Book, but it only showed the male in its bright all-over-blue breeding colours.  My wren was very tiny and looked very young.  It had a few flecks of pale blue on its head.

Could it be a Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)?

I am not a morning person (for those new to my nature blog)  🙂

Maybe I’d been calling all the male wrens I’d photographed, Splendid (Fairy-wrens), when they were Superb (Fairy-wrens).  Google images were no help as there were many called Superb Fairy-wrens when they didn’t have the dark chest of that species. Google Images can be a great help finding bird or flower names, but many amateur photographers fail to notice the tiny differences between some species and there are many incorrect ID’s.  In fact, I’d picked up a totally incorrect bird name in the Australian Photography magazine last year.  I think the editors hadn’t checked the photographer’s ID and caption.  The Bird name was not even remotely close to the bird species – totally different feather colour, beak and body shape/size.

Here’s another image of a male wren I’d photographed near Dight’s Falls on the north-eastern side of Melbourne.

Well, whatever the species, this morning I saw a male and female wren in my garden and that put a warm glow in my ‘photography’ heart and a smile on my face (and stopped me swearing at the Auto Spellcheck).

I noticed through a gap in the Japanese Maple in front of my balcony a tiny wren on the other side of the road (centre of the frame below), but my 150-500mm lens doesn’t reach that far, especially with a hand-held shot, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

And for those new to my nature blog and there have been quite a few recently – thank you for following – here is the scene from my desk where I sit and read/answer my emails and do any photo reviewing or ‘tweaking’ in the morning natural light.  I usually photograph in the direction of the left hand side of my balcony as that’s where you can see the tall trees and hedges on the other side of the road.

If I look straight ahead you can see there a vacant block on the cliff face where they are going to build another apartment block in the near future (to my dismay).

 

So while I live in a newish housing estate built about half way up a steep hill, my 1st floor apartment just happens to be opposite a gap in the 3 large buildings and townhouses where the developers have planted rows of trees and 2 different hedging plants.  That greenery plus my balcony herb, flower and (sometimes) vegetable garden makes it a very green space indeed.

I am exceptionally lucky in this location.

Looking for Autumn…………….

In the second half of my walk yesterday I spent a short time in Pipemaker’s Park.

I was looking for signs of Autumn colour, but Autumn had barely announced its coming and the sun kept going in and out behind the clouds, which means you can miss the colour of the vine leaves as they change from bright orange to dull brown.

The Dog Roses were lovely though.

The Olive tree was completely bare of fruit, but the massive fig tree had literally hundreds of immature fruit – shame I don’t like figs, as it would be a feast when they’re ripe.  I might add figs are very expensive to buy in the fruit/veg shop, market stalls or supermarkets here in Melbourne.  If someone were to pick them all off this tree and sell them to donate funds towards the park upkeep and restoration, it would be a very fine thing indeed.  The Park Ranger told me the ripening olives disappear almost overnight, so some local obviously takes the time to harvest, process and brine them.

Which reminds me that when I was small, our family would always have a large box of dried figs and glase fruits amongst our Christmas fare.   They were a real treat. Blackberries, which are quite expensive in the shops these days, were picked by the bucketful for free in the bushland near our home and we had bottled blackberries, blackberry jam and blackberry sponge puddings all through the year (as my Mother always bottled and made preserves, chutneys and sauces from the excess of our summer vegetable garden and fruit trees, AND the annual blackberry picking we did with another family near our home).

But back to Pipemakers Park………….

And just to give you an idea of what I was looking for, here’s a few images from Autumn 2017, including my favourite photo (which looks just as good in B & W I might add – good light and shade in the shot).  I think I was about 5-6 weeks too early yesterday.

Photo made about 4.00pm in the afternoon when the sun starts to sink behind the cliff face and car parking area at the top of the frame.

PACIFIC GULL (Larus pacificus) – Port Melbourne Beach

From the archives – 2nd June 2013.

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

Today has dawned lovely and cool with a scattering of fluffy clouds drifting across the soft blue sky and it’s strangely quiet for a Monday morning on the Bird ‘front’ (still).

The cliff face opposite my apartment building is humming with the faint sound of a bulldozer somewhere around – perhaps at the top?  Last Friday, I had a good look at the new wood paling fence on the main road which now sports an enormous billboard with a photo of the proposed new apartment building.

There’s no doubt they’re about to start construction work soon.

I have mixed feelings about all this (as I mentioned in a previous post).

Being more housebound in the last 18 months, my Room with a View and Balcony Garden plays a major role in keeping my spirits up and filling my indoor hours with a Green View.

I am thankful to have the Nature Reserve and parkland behind my building.

RED-BROWED FINCH on the fence line of Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.

I tell myself each morning, over the last month or so, to remain positive – change is inevitable.  Self Talk can be helpful at times like this.

Life is impermanent and one should make the best of what is, not what was, or what might be (in the future).

Saturday night’s sunset (which will appear on my Sunset/Sunrise photo blog when I get around to reviewing the 40 odd images I made), shows what will disappear.  The new apartment building will start from the left of the image frame below.

The whole image below will be wiped out – literally.

Or, here is a broader view (and a later image of Saturday night’s sunset when the sky had changed to pinks and purples below).  The new apartment building will block approximately 5/8ths of the right hand side of the image below, starting from the left side of that bush in the middle of the silhouette.  Keep in mind that I am looking up a steep hill, not across a flat landscape.

Maybe I’ll have to change to Portrait sized images of the sunset (instead of Landscape sized images of the cloud colour 🙂 ).

There’s always a light at the end of a tunnel.  It’s all in the Mind and how you look at the world.

Time to have breakfast, dress and go outdoors for a walk.

After all, I am Living in Nature and that’s the only certainty in my urban environment.

2017 IN REVIEW

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some of my favourite images from 2017 – in no particular order or subject matter.  Some of them are good shots and others are just reminders of a particularly enjoyable Photography walk outdoors.

I’ve been too unwell to do much Photography lately, in fact not much better than last year, so enjoy this series until (hopefully) I’m back outdoors more.  At least the weather is mostly much cooler, although yesterday the winds were gale force around my area and too windy to water my balcony garden until quite late in the day.  The wind dries out my potted plants regardless of the moisture retaining mixture I’ve added to the potting soil, so watering each night is a necessity…….most of the year, surprisingly.

In fact, the weather has been too wild to go out much via public transport.  Of course if I owned a car, I’d go out for a drive or up the country regardless of the weather 🙂

I still have to catch a close-up shot of the white Royal Spoonbill water birds at Jawbone Conservation Reserve which I could only photograph from a distance (with the shorter telephoto lens I had with me) on my last visit.  So I’m looking for a nice cool afternoon, with minimal wind, to make the trip down to the coast.  It’s only a 2 bus trip, but these 2 particular bus routes don’t run as often as some of the others near my home, and not that much on the weekends either.

….and finally one last photo from the day I spent photographing this lovely Chinese Temple on the banks of the Maribyrnong River in the next suburb (to the south of my home location).

The HEAVENLY QUEEN TEMPLE is a temple to the Chinese sea-goddess Mazu, the deified form of the 10th-century Fujianese girl Lin Moniang, located in Footscray, a neighborhood of Maribyrnong in Melbourne, Australia.

PS If you see some funny spelling or typos, it’s that stupid AutoCorrect which drives me crazy as it keeps turning bird and flower names into common words.  I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time re-reading everything I type a zillion times.  I’m sure you all have the same problem so you know what I mean.

JAWBONE CONSERVATION RESERVE & MARINE SANCTUARY, WILLIAMSTOWN – Part 2

For details of yesterday’s Photography excursion to Jawbone Conservation Reserve, see Part 1 in the previous post.

A juvenile Silver Gull (identifiable by its dark beak, leg colour and brown flecks on its wings) stands waiting to greet me at the end of my walk.  An adult Silver Gull is mostly white with an orange beak.

Thank goodness I walked over to the Bus Stop and checked the timetable.  If I stayed until sunset, I would have had only 1 bus scheduled at around 9.00pm.  The other option would have been to find a house number and street sign and call a taxi.

The aim was to finish the rest of the trail right up to where it ends with a main road, check out where the birds were and do some bird photography.

Despite the severe wind gusts and rather mundane uninteresting nature of the walk over the 2 small islands at the northern end the lake system, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the white Royal Spoonbills and other distant birds.

More importantly, it was great to get outdoors in the sea air and walk that distance after months of being pretty much housebound and mostly taking taxis to get anywhere.

2017 wasn’t a good year health wise, but the Cardiologist’s report and increased medication earlier this week proved that (hopefully), I’m now able to do longer walks in Nature…….outside Melbourne’s stinking hot humid Summer days of course.

February is usually Melbourne’s hottest month, although the bush fire season can go way past Summer.

Living in Nature is one of the most healing balms I could imagine and if you’re a Melburnian and enjoy walking and bird watching, I can highly recommend this coastal walk near Williamstown beach.

Just check the wind speed factor before you leave home AND TAKE SOME BINOCULARS (to see the bird life).

A SUNSET’S NEVER OVER UNTIL THE SKY TURNS BLACK

Earlier this evening, 3 times I came back inside and put the lens cap on the camera, sat on my swivel desk chair to face the TV and 3 times I took it off and went back outdoors to capture some more colour.

Beginning to end lasted 31 minutes (well, from when I realised Melbourne was in for a spectacular sunset tonight and stepped outdoors on to my balcony with my DSLR).

I’ll look at the 69 images I shot tomorrow morning to decide what to share on my Sunrise/Sunset Blog, but in the meantime…….

This is the view from my lounge room on the second-last step indoors.

……and this is when I knew it was finally over.

Stay tuned if you follow my Sunrise, Sunset (and clouds that come in between) Blog.

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]

THE GOLDEN HOUR – MARIBYRNONG RIVER

I only had time for a very quick walk last night (and my absence meant the balcony garden didn’t get much of a watering).  Sometimes the watering chore becomes rather tedious when late afternoon/early evening is the best time for a walk.

Setting off from home at 7.45pm Daylight Savings Time meant that I captured the Golden Hour for the first half of my walk downriver.  In fact, it was like Peak Hour on the river walking/cycling/running track with many people waiting for the cooler end of the day to go out.

(Today has dawned much cooler which is just as well for my garden – might be good for another short walk tonight before the next heat wave hits Melbourne on Friday).

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.

 

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).