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

From the Archives – 12th December 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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).

 

LUCKY SHOT!

I’d just made my morning coffee, sat down at my desk and opened my email when I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye.

A tiny female Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendent) had landed on the netting covering my tomato plants.  This time I had the DSLR set on Aperture Priority and Auto ISO and was well prepared with the telephoto zoomed out to approximately what I would want for a bird on my balcony.

So it was lens cap off as fast as lightening and action……..

I think it must be a young bird, as not only has it downy soft feathers and small frame, but it crashed into my bedroom window twice before flying away to the other side of the road.  An experienced adult would know not to fly into a window.  (and since its been raining heavily, I imagine most of the windows have dusty spots on them).

I’ve woken up to perfect weather and scarcely a breath of wind.

Let’s hope I get out the front door today.

Yesterday, the power went off and I waited and waited (to make breakfast) and finally ended up having a cold shower and staying home.   All I could do for some time was read a book, as I didn’t know when the power would come back on.  Even though I have a kettle on my modern gas stovetop, it turned out one needs power to spark the gas ignition.  And I didn’t have a box of matches as I’d given all of them to my brother years ago.

So………where will I go today?  Out with the camera OR to the market to get some much-needed food for the Christmas week?

A WINDLESS DAY (or nearly windless day), IN MELBOURNE IS NOT TO BE ‘SNEEZED AT’.

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.

FRECKLED DUCK (Stictonetta naevosa) – The Great Aviary, Melbourne Zoo

Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa)

The Freckled Duck has to be one of the most drab and ordinary waterfowl around and to be honest, one that I’ve photographed a few times but hesitant to share online.

But I guess birds can’t all have dazzling plumage merely to make them interesting or Photogenic.

Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa)

I did read somewhere or other that it is rarely seen in the wild, but I suspect that’s more to do with their ability to blend into their surroundings as much as reduced numbers.  Apparently, it is often mistaken for other breeds and shot by hunters during the duck-shooting season here in Australia.

It’s beak is characteristically wedge-shaped, slightly upturned at the tip and the male becomes bright red over the base when breeding.

But I was glad I’d photographed it in the end as its fanned tail helped me identify a Musk Duck down at St Kilda beach one day (which looks very nondescript and similar).

Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa)

 

 

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  🙂

BUFF-BANDED RAIL (Gallirallus philippensis) – MELBOURNE ZOO

Having recently retrieved an old back-up file, I have loads more bird images in my archives and I was thinking last night that maybe I should share some more of them.

I’ve always re-shared my favourite images – usually herons – but perhaps you might enjoy some of the ‘not shared before‘ bird species.

The shots I consider pretty ordinary.

Not close enough to the bird, or the light was poor, or I could only get a shot of their rear end as they were in a tree over my head and ‘bottoms’ were all I could see.

I kept this image of the bottom of a Satin Bower Bird as I like the feather pattern, but seriously, one of these days I’m going to get bird poop on my camera lens or glasses.

The images I made some years ago of the Buff-banded Rail fall into this category.  I lightened the exposure of a few shots last night in pp and its a bit easier to see this bird within the frame.   I always thought I’d go back and re-shoot this species, but of course after 3 years zoo membership and about 100+ visits, I let my Zoo membership lapse, thinking to go on to photographing landscapes, or more street photography, (which hasn’t happened I might add, well not much anyway).

During many hot summer days I’d go to the zoo 3 times a week as the temperate rainforest landscaping of Melbourne’s main zoo, (we have 3 zoos), offered me much relief from the heat.  Sometimes I’d go and spent the whole afternoon in the Great Aviary until the loud speaker system indicated it was 15 minutes to closing time, then there was always a mad scramble to get to the back entrance/exit which linked with the city-bound tram line.

I rarely used the front entrance of the zoo.

So here’s some photos (as well as some of the Great Aviary so you know the area I’m talking about and can gain an appreciation of the massive size of this structure).  There’s a water course running through which ends up in a pond when many of the storks or other large birds do their mating dance.  I’ve been lucky enough to see several courtships.

This is about the best out of all the shots.  I lightened the exposure last night so you can see the colour and feather pattern a bit more easily.

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This is a series of Aviary shots I made over several visits and show how large it is.  The long space is broken up into 3 climate zones, although you can’t see much at the far end which is very thick rainforest.  Some images may look similar, but they have actually been made from opposite ends of the boardwalk.

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Some days you get lucky and other days the birds are high up near the roof basking in the winter sunshine leaving only a silhouette to shoot, OR hiding in the shadows of the long  boardwalk in the heat of Melbourne’s long humid summer.

Some birds, like the finches, are housed in smaller cages in another area of the zoo, although since it’s a couple of years since I’ve visited, they may have been re-housed in newer viewing areas constructed more recently.

One afternoon I went specifically to visit the Aviary and it was closed for renovation, so if you’re visiting Melbourne, always best to check their website or ring first if you want to visit a specific area.

Melbourne Zoo is open 365 days per year and one year, I even went on Christmas Day.  Best not to go during Melbourne’s school holidays though – the crowd makes it difficult to get close to many of the animal viewing windows or cages.  I’ve gone with young family members a couple of times, but to be honest I’d rather visit on my own so I can spend long periods practicing photography on the bird, animal or reptile exhibit I particularly like.

As to photography, well, Melbourne Zoo is where I learnt how to photograph through tiny wire, thick foliage and hold my first DSLR very, very still.  It’s a great photography learning experience.  You do need to change your DSLR focus points from the usual 9 to 1 to get through 1/4″ wire though.

You need to have the bird (or animal) a certain distance behind the wire and your own position a certain distance from the cage wire.  Maybe I need to go back to the zoo for a ‘refresher’ course, as some of my bird shots are a bit wobbly these days.  I can’t get shots between tiny cage wire with my Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ camera though, only my Canon DLSR.

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No doubt many of the zoo’s exhibits and some of the landscaping have changed since I was there a couple of years ago.

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.

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

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

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

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

ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Brugmansia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I THNK ‘GEORGE’ IS GEORGINA!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

From the archives 29th October 2013.

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

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

They are so pretty when growing in a great mass.

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

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.

A QUICK WALK……..THERE & BACK

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

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

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

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

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

COMMON STARLING – juvenile – (Sturnus vulgaris)

Soon after I posted the mystery bird image yesterday and we concluded it was a Grey Shrike-thrush, another new bird landed on my balcony rail.

UPDATE (12th Nov) – It appears that this is a juvenile Common Starling.

Very similar to the Grey Shrike-Thrush but plainer and more brown (depending on the white balance of my camera of course).  I managed to get 2 clear shots with the Sony ‘mirrorless’ and quickly dropped the camera and picked up the heavy Canon DSLR & 150-500mm lens, but couldn’t hold it as steady and the 2 images I shot, before it flew off,  weren’t as sharply focused (below).

As the bird stayed such a short time, no more shots were to be had and neither new bird was seen again yesterday.  As with many once-off bird shots, there is no time to compose or get the ideal angle or even, camera setting.

 

“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.

 

GREY SHRIKE-THRUSH (Colluricincla harmonica)

In regards to the new bird mentioned in the previous post, John from Paolsoren, mentioned a Grey Shrike-thrush as a possibility.

I think he may be right and its just that I can’t see the true colour of my mystery avian visitor due to the bright sunlight on my balcony.

Here’s the only image I’ve got of that particular Shrike-Thrush (made over near Dights Falls in Abbotsford) where I lived prior to this current apartment.

The image above was sharp enough to crop it down to……

…….and here’s yesterday’s image again….

What bird is that?

A new bird,  (to me), landed on my balcony rail about an hour ago and this time……….I managed to get a quick shot (before it flew away) – obviously a good bird spotting day to stay at home in this lovely warm Spring sunshine.

I’ve pored over my Bird Guide book and a pdf of local birds trying to identify it.

It was facing into the bright sunlight coming from the upper western sky, so the head and neck were slightly over-exposed (which I tried to remedy with increasing the mid-tones in editing).

From this angle, the long beak looked straight (which suggests its not a honeyeater, which has a curved beak).  Otherwise it looks a bit like a faded version of a Brown Honeyeater in my Guide book which is normally found in western, northern and north-eastern Australia.

Any Bird-lovers out there in Melbourne who could ID it and let me know in the comments section would be greatly appreciated.  Keep in mind that the straight beak could merely be the angle of the shot.  I can’t see any neck markings or eye details so that makes identification hard.  It was about the size of a starling or honeyeater, greyish with olive? wing feathers.

Thrill of the Year

I’d just sat down at my desk with my morning coffee to read my emails when………. I was surprised to see a Red Wattlebird (Anthochaere carunculata) land on the old trolley table I use for potting on my balcony.  It landed on the right hand curved handle in the lower right edge of image below.

FOR THE BENEFIT OF NEW FOLLOWERS…..My desk sits in front of my apartment floor-to-ceiling windows.  I like watching the House Sparrows land on my balcony or drink from my bird bath, let alone keep an eye on my flowers and herbs growing in pots.  It’s like sitting in a garden every day when I’m at home.  I’d only brought the blue trolley indoors yesterday to wash all the shelves and remove the spider webs and dead leaves that had accumulated over Winter. I also have trees growing in front of my balcony and on the other side of the road.

My west-facing balcony is in shadow in the mornings up until midday, or early afternoon, depending on the season. Regular followers can see how tall my tomato plants are in the top left of the image. You might also notice my pink daisy and blue Bacopa (centre of image) are STILL flowering (since I planted them in November 2016). This means they’re been in flower every day for 370 days.  I had to prune the daisy right back to half its size though.  It had some broken branches from the fierce winds that roar down my road and over my balcony railing.

This was about 2 feet from the back of my computer screen.  I’ve never seen one around the apartments in my road before, let alone land on my balcony.

And I’m sure you know what I’m going to say…….

I put my cameras away last night after I arrived home from a dental appointment in Melbourne’s CBD.

I missed the Shot of the Year this morning!

But, I certainly got the Thrill of the Year 🙂

A Red Wattlebird has distinctive reddish/pink ‘wattles’, (or earrings I like to call them), and yellow belly, whereas a Little Wattlebird is plain.

Here’s an image I took in June last year when I lived on the north-east side of Melbourne to show you which bird I’m talking about.

They’re quite a large bird compared to my regular visiting House Sparrows.

Needless to say, I’ve just got my camera out of its bag and put it back on my desk and set it on Shutter Priority (just in case the Wattlebird comes back) 🙂

Here’s another shot, (with a branch in the way, so not considered a ‘good’ shot), taken in Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my apartment block.

When I started this blog and named it Living in Nature,  it was because, by sheer good luck, my last 3 apartment rentals have had balconies to grow herbs and flowers and I’ve lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens to the south-east of Melbourne city, the Yarra River walking trails  to the north-east, or now, next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and 400 hectares of parkland along the nearby Maribyrnong River.

If you’ve got to live in a city or urban area, I must be one of the luckiest people around.

Affordable rental properties are extremely hard to find in Melbourne and the inner suburbs.

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.