Looks like a Salvia……..Footscray Park

The flower looks like a Salvia and the leaves look like a Salvia (Sage), so it must be a Salvia I think 🙂  Can’t remember all the flowers I photographed last Thursday, but I mustn’t have been able to get close to this flower bed (for me to not get a close-up of a single flower).

Advertisements

Spring in Footscray Park

The second half of my walk last week, (after Newells Paddock Nature Reserve and the pink Rounded Noon-flowers), was through part of Footscray Park.  I walked from the back riverside entrance uphill to the front entrance in order to catch a bus home.

Wikipedia says……..Footscray Park is one of the largest and most intact examples of an Edwardian park in Australia. The 15-hectare park is located on the south bank of the Maribyrnong River in Footscrayin Victoria. It is classified as a heritage place on the Victorian Heritage Register for its aesthetic, horticultural and social significance to the State of Victoria and was the first gardens to be placed on the register. The park is noted for its botanical collection, ornamental ponds and garden structures.

The display of Peruvian Lilies near the front entrance was quite striking.

Last week there were many flowers that had wilted, (Rhododendrons in particular), OR were still in bud, so another visit is needed I think.  Next weekend, and maybe the following weekend, should be about right.  Many of the flowers need some more time to mature.  We’ve had strong winds and a few harsh storms so maybe that why the fragile Rhododendron flowers looked so forlorn.  I saw a pale soft pink one and a bright pink one that had survived.

There were only 2 very young Canna lily flowers just starting to open last week.

The colourful display of Alstroemeria, or Peruvian lilies, near the front gates seemed to last much longer.  They flower from Spring through Summer to Autumn.  I’ve never been there in Winter so I don’t know if they flower then. Being low ground cover, they would have survived the wind and storms far better too.

I had the use of a Sony 35mm f1.8 prime lens for a couple of weeks last Autumn and to be honest, I felt my flower images were far better at that time.  Perhaps it was the overcast skies in Autumn.  Bright summer sun is usually unkind to most red, yellow or white flower petals.

I always say it’s the Photographer than makes the images, but when it comes to flower photography, good light (preferably slightly overcast in Australia as our Summer sun is too bright when I go for my nature walks early afternoon) AND a good sharp prime lens makes a big difference (as you can see in the older images below).

In general I prefer to get up close and just capture a few flowers within the frame, instead of a whole bush, but occasionally, photographing the leaves and whole bush can make identification easier.  In these days of digital photography it’s probably better to make a 7-8 images of each flower from all angles and chose a favourite image to share on reviewing the day’s shooting.

There’s a lovely small pond down in the lower part of Footscray Park surrounded by thick shrubs, near the Maribyrnong River, which certainly needs many more visits to try and work out how to photograph it.  I didn’t visit it last week as I was heading for the bus stop via the Park, not spending the whole afternoon in the Park.

It’s hard to access with the surrounding foliage blocking some of the pond bank when I first saw it last Autumn.

I couldn’t get close enough to the water lilies at the time so used my long telephoto 150-500 lens to get a close up of a water lily flower.  I didn’t have a tripod on the day either.  It would be interesting to see if there are any pink water lilies in this small pond or just pale lemon (as seen below).

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

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

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

White -Faced Heron at Jawbone Arboretum, Williamstown

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

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

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

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

and down on the Maribyrnong River (below).

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

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

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

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

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

Hence the numerous images in my photo library 🙂

More images from Newells Paddock Nature Reserve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Did I tell you about the Noon-flowers?

While we’re on the subject of Noon-flowers, I figured I may as well go to Newells Paddock (as well as the Jawbone Nature Reserve walk a few days previously), to see if the squishy bed of succulents I had walked over on previous visits in Winter was the same as the bright pink Rounded Noon-flower I have photographed on my walks along the Maribyrnong River.

You can read the background behind Newells Paddock Nature Reserve here and its worth reading about as well as viewing the second image in the link, to gain an appreciation of what a unique area it has become.  The article is not too long.  The Friends of Newells Paddock, with the help of the local council, are ensuring the return to wetlands and nature reserve continues as an ongoing project by the planting of hundreds of indigenous trees and plants.  

Yesterday it was truly magical and I’m not sure that the ‘101’ photos I took do it justice.  In fact I was so moved by the beauty of the scene, I literally had tears in my eyes.

Last night I tried to reduce the number of images down, but in the end I still have about 25 to share.

When I entered the picnic area, I walked over to the trees and found one or two Noon-flowers in an enormous carpet of green succulents and wondered if it would be a ‘no-show’ and a wasted trip.

This tiny area looked gloomy and rather forbidding on such a cloudy day with poor light in general (for photography).  Looks like a large tree has fallen in a storm (below).  No doubt the council will clean this area up soon.

After walking through this tree area, I was taken aback to see not  a little, but a sea of pink sprinkled between patches of green and other native grasses.

After taking about a hundred photos, I walked to the back entrance connecting with the river path and the sun came out.  There was no way I was going to go back and re-photograph the flowers in the improved light conditions.  As it was, I hated walking over the flower patches and squashing them in the first place.

A few more images to share in another post……..not Rounded Noon-flowers.

ROUNDED NOON-FLOWER (Disphyma crassifolium)

Further to my previous post on my visit to the Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve and Lakes system yesterday, I’ve found my original photo of the Signage at the entrance to the Jawbone Arboretum (which I didn’t enter yesterday).  In the bottom left-hand corner it shows an image of the pink Rounded Noon-flower in bloom.

This was the plant that I was hoping to photograph yesterday.  You can see it very faintly by the pink patch on the left hand side of this image (below).  The lake is between where I was standing and the patch nearer to the sea.

This image (below) made on my very first visit to the area some months ago, suggests that I should have gone into the Arboretum area again and I would have found all that brownish-green succulent would now be covered in a sea of pink flowers?

Just to remind you of the Rounded Noon-flower which I found in many small patches along the Maribyrnong River last week, here’s an example (below).

AUSTRAL PIGFACE or ROUNDED NOON-FLOWER (Disphyma crassifolium)

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Another shade of Red

I passed this gorgeous red flowering bush near the end of my walk yesterday.

I haven’t got the slightest clue what it is, but I love the way the flower splits into feathery fronds.  It looks like an Australian native, but I’m only guessing, as many of the plants in the formal landscaping on the western side of the Maribyrnong River are native grasses, so I imagine that the flowering bushes are too.

If anyone knows what it is, please let me know in the comments section so I can update this post.

BOTTLEBRUSH (Callistemon)

A lovely specimen of red Bottlebrush was growing opposite the front door of the local Pharmacy yesterday.   I wished I’d taken the time to walk off the boardwalk to the other side where the light was better, but my long river walk and then bus trip up the steep hills had left me wanting to make only a quick stop before the supermarket and then, the walk along the main road home.

I must say it was a beautiful patch of colour in a (mainly) overcast day.

RED WATTLEBIRD (Anthochaera carunculata) – Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changing of the Seasons

Sometimes when I walk along the Maribyrnong River path, I think I’ll never find something new to photograph and share online.

At a glance one might think that there’s never anything much happening, (compared to the many other locations I photographed when living on the south-eastern side of Melbourne city 3 years ago).

Yesterday was hot, (as is today), but my walk revealed plenty of new sights with the changing of the Seasons.  It’s the small details that I seem to notice most.  So when you cast your eyes over some ordinary green space in a residential area, it’s worth walking slowly and looking down towards your feet every now and then.

While I can no longer bend down low, or kneel to photograph ground cover up close, I managed to do well enough by using a telephoto lens and standing a bit further back and zooming in close.

POLYGALA (Polygala myrtifolia x oppositifolia ‘Poly Ball” ) – my balcony garden

The Polygala I’m growing on my apartment balcony is in full bloom at the moment and I can make a close-up photo with my 150-500mm lens by leaning my elbows on my desk.   Very handy and saves carrying the heavy weight outdoors.

(this is not the first time I have shot a good flower close-up with a long telephoto lens which goes to show it doesn’t always have to be a short or a macro lens for close-ups).

and just to give you an idea of how lovely my view is from my desk at the moment……….

The two rows of trees on the upper right of the frame hides tiny birds like Splendid Fairy-wrens, New Holland Honeyeaters, House Sparrows and tiny finches (I think they’re finches – I don’t know their names).

On my side of the road next to the footpath there is also a row of similar trees, but I can’t see them while sitting at my desk.

Can’t complain about not living on the rear of my apartment block overlooking Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and the Maribyrnong River when I’ve got a view like this.

MARIBYRNONG WETLANDS

“When you live in the moment, you are always on time” 

Dave Rauschkolb

Plenty of bird life and water in the Maribyrnong Wetlands yesterday – mainly seagulls enjoying a bath and a good feather wash.

A couple of Pacific Black Ducks and what I think was a young Grey Teal paddled in and out of the water reeds too.

I have a bit of trouble identifying Grey Teals from female Chestnut Teals from a distance, but my Bird Guide says the Grey Teals have lighter neck feathers and a slate grey beak, compared to the female Chestnut Teals, (which are also slightly larger).  I did see a male Chestnut Teal with its glossy green head and russet brown chest feathers, but it was too far away to photograph.

This particular section of water dries up completely by the end of the summer, whereas the pond on the other side of the island has plenty of water all through the hot months.

The best way to time my walk is so that I end up at the deep Maribyrnong Wetlands Pond (or Bunyap Park pond – name varies on the signposts) at the golden hour – it really is a pretty place to watch the bird life with the dying sun reflecting off the water as you can see by the images below which I made back in June.

The Ducks below are Khaki Campbell Ducks.

Had to believe this is all on a causeway of land connected to an ordinary residential road with a row of townhouses on the other side.  The images below were made in Winter.

If one looks to the right of the images above (not shown), one can see the residential area (below) and in the centre of the frame, the bus stop where I usually catch a bus most of the way home so I can stop at the local pharmacy.  I’d much rather walk the long way along the scenic river path, than the short 10 minute walk to the shops along the busy, mostly boring main road.

(Probably full of petrol fumes and traffic noise too).

Even when I had a car pre November 2003, I always took the long scenic route going anywhere in my daily life.

Now, with no car, I still follow the same routine.

RED-FLOWERING GUM (Corymbia ficifolia) – beside the Maribyrnong River

I’d barely walked past Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve on to the Maribyrnong river path when I spotted this Red-flowering Gum in the middle of a calf-high grass field this afternoon.  I believe its Corymbia ficifolia (originally called Eucalyptus ficifolia).

Feel free to correct me in the comments section if I’m wrong.  I know nothing about indigenous flora.

If it is this species, the one I saw was a baby at about 7-8 foot high, as it can grown up to 10 metres (or about 30+ feet).  It was gorgeous, even from some distance away when I made this first photo with my long 150-500mm lens.

With the same camera lens, I got a bit closer, but there were so many flowers, I couldn’t isolate one particular one.  I suppose I could have cut off some surrounding foliage, but that’s not my thing to do when walking in nature.

I prefer to see images of the real plant with no disturbance of its natural habitat if possible.

This red-flowering eucalypt is often used as a street plant in residential areas due to the profusion of flowers, but this specimen was definitely the most colourful I’d ever seen.

I stretched what is essentially a 30 minute walk to Maribyrnong Wetlands into a 2 hour stroll, (slower than snail pace), in the Spring sunshine.  But was glad of my light windproof jacket as the breeze was cool, despite the heat of the sun.

Some more images of that beautiful Wisteria in Pipemakers Park

I think this might be Wisteria ‘Caroline’ (Japanese Wisteria), but I am only guessing.

I had a dream the other night

When all was quiet and still

I dreamt of flowing masses

Wisteria on my window sill

Nature blessed my tranquil hours 

With curling, tangled vines

She sent the fragrant blossoms o’er

To fill the long dark hours.

Next morning I awoke refreshed

With lingering visions from the past

Of last week’s images photographed

From within Pipemakers Park.

AUSTRAL INDIGO (Indigofera australis) – Pipemakers Park, Maribyrnong

Success!

(well, sort of).

I’ve tried to photograph this gorgeous small pink native flower half a dozen times, but the fine straggly branches bend and sway in the slightest breeze.  I finally identified its correct name from a fellow blogger’s site the other week though.

Austral Indigo is a slender shrub of the Pea family found in all states of Australia, varying in size, habit and colour.  I’ve seen this flower in the north-western end of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and it was obviously pruned and more compact than the straggly 3-4 bushes in Pipemakers Park near my home.  As its name suggests, the leaves can also be used as a dye.

I’ve tried high shutter speeds, high ISO (well, up to 800), apertures from 3.5 right up to 11.0, but being in mostly shade this is the best I can do so it seems.

NOTE: Bruising and swelling has gone down on my injured thumb, but the more I ‘cup’ or ‘curve’ it, the more it hurts, but at least I can use my homeopathic Arnica Cream more now it’s not in a ridiculous cast and swathed in bandages up to my elbow.  Seriously, the herb Arnica, is the best thing since ‘sliced bread’ when it comes to injuries, sprains, bruises etc.  It also helps with pain.  

The 2nd (more senior?) emergency physician I saw the other day said the cast was definitely ‘overkill’ and they took it off and re-Xrayed my thumb and all other digits.  As an aside, apparently I have quite a large bony ossicle on/near my second thumb joint right where I hold my cameras and this is now hurting more than the upper bone which was directly hit.   In turn my wrist is also ‘playing up.’  

Grrrrr! 

I can’t use scissors or computer mouse easily, but can type for about 20 mins and then it gets sore.  

So I’ll press on with blogging regardless…………….albeit at a much slower pace.  I seem to remember when I broke a small (non-weight bearing) bone in my elbow, the head of the fracture clinic at the local hospital said light use encourages blood flow and helps with healing in these small hairline fractures, (or something like that).

I think it’ll be some time before I can use my heavy long ‘birding’ 150-500mm lens, but I’ve been having a bit of trouble holding the weight before now anyway.  It doesn’t take much to set off a new series of pain locations for days/weeks/months, (or even years), when you have Fibromyalgia.

WISTERIA (Robinia) – PIPEMAKERS PARK

The Wisteria growing over the small rotunda and an arbour in Pipemakers Park is almost as breathtaking as the yellow Lady Banks rose I shared in another post this week.

The only way to get a good view is to shoot facing into the sun, roughly facing North, as there’s too many other trees, plants and bushes forming distractions from the other side.  This is not ideal for any photograph in general, but I suppose I might do better on an overcast day.

But Tuesday of this week was sunny and you can’t tell the Sun to go away after so many inclement days for the first month of Spring.

Besides I need more sun for my freshly planted Tomatoes on my apartment balcony 🙂

Here’s an image made on the 21st August to give you a comparison.

The Wisteria in the Royal Botanic Gardens near the lake restaurant is all mauve/purple, whereas the petals of each flower in Pipemakers Park are whitish with a mauve/purple tip.

AUSTRALASIAN GREBE (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae)

I often see Grebes in the centre of the Maribyrnong River near my home.  I might add, this river is fairly wide so I need the birds to swim over to my side of the river to be easily identified.

Unfortunately, even with my 150-500mm lens I can never get close enough to really make them large within a photo frame to share online, but I still photograph them as I love the challenge of trying to get them in focus in a hand-held shot with this heavy lens.

2 days ago, I spotted an Australasian Grebe in the pond near Pipemakers Park, whereas the Grebes in the centre of the river have been Hoary-headed Grebes (Poliocephalus poliocephalus).  There is also the Great Crested Grebe but I’ve never seen one of these.

I might have done better if I’d had a tripod for the shot below as the bird was fairly stationary enjoying the late afternoon sunshine for quite some time before it dived underwater.

Note: I had the same problem when I lived and photographed these small, dumpy-looking birds in/near the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.  

This is the best shot I’ve made showing the bird’s feather colouring (so far)

I still live in hope that one day I’ll get a close-up.  In the meantime here’s a small selection of my attempts so far in my western suburb of Maribyrnong.

These Grebes, (and there 3 different ones in Australia that I know of), are one example of how hard Bird Photography can be, as the small birds dive frequently and I’ve ended up with more images of rippling water and no bird, than many other species I’ve photographed over the years.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

TASMAN FLAX-LILY or TASMANIAN FLAX-LILY (Dianella tasmanica)

Yesterday I found my very first Tasman Flax-Lily in this suburb.  It was beside the pond (located between Pipemakers Park and Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve).

TASMAN FLAX-LILY or TASMANIAN FLAX-LILY (Dianella tasmanica)

These tiny blue flowers, appearing in Spring and Summer, are followed by bright violet globular berries.  I’m not sure which is prettier, the flower or the berry.  But I do know they’re a delicate little flower and quite hard to photograph in the ever-present wind we seem to experience in Melbourne and surrounds.

Dianella tasmanica was first described in 1858 by eminent English botanist and explorer Joseph Dalton Hooker. I first saw the plant in the Royal Botanic Gardens and thought that it was just a weed of some type, but apparently many people grow them in residential gardens.

They are found in the wild from southern New South Wales, through my state of Victoria and down south in the island state of Tasmania on the south-eastern side of Australia.

I’ve only seen the one plant in the year I’ve lived in this western suburb of Maribyrnong, but hope to see some more in the coming days.

 

RED-RUMPED PARROT (Psephotus haematonotus) – male – Pipemakers Park

I was so busy observing a couple of these male parrots yesterday, hoping they would hop out into the sun (that moment when the sun reflects in a bird’s eye making a good photo), I didn’t realise several birds were gradually working their way towards my back.

Over the years, I have learned to move very slowly and wear black, or very dark, colours when out on a bird Photography field trip, so as I turned (to walk up to the Pipemakers Park historic garden), I was able to catch a couple of males from about 7-8 feet away.

I never did catch a shot of this species with the spot of sunlight on their eye yesterday.

For the first time ever, the males were on their own, grazing in the flat newly mown field between Pipemakers Park and Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.  I’ve only ever seen couples grazing – with the plainer olive-coloured female being a little harder to see in this location.  They were only grazing in the deep shade of some Eucalyptus trees so I’ve lightened these images so you can see them a bit better.

I naturally assume the females were at home sitting on nests?

…..and for those new to my Nature Blog, here’s a couple of old images made when I lived on the north-eastern side of Melbourne in Abbotsford (next to the Yarra River).

Different light and different camera as you can see. I seem to remember they were grazing in the sun on this particular day, not shade.

Female RED-RUMPED PARROT
male RED-RUMPED PARROT

…..and the first time I ever saw these lovely Parrots was in the Royal Botanic Gardens in 2012 – in the shade of a few old trees on the western side of the large Ornamental Lake.

Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus)

There are actually 5-6 Australian Parrots that are fairly similar in feather colour, but this Red-rumped variety have a lovely warbling song – unusual for parrots.

LADY BANKS’ ROSE (Rosa banksiae ‘lutea’ ) – PIPEMAKERS PARK

This vine-covered arbor was just stunning in Pipemakers Park.

UPDATE: Thanks to Susan in the comments section who kindly identified this beautiful climbing rose for me.  I’ve now updated the heading and my own photo library.

This vigorous climber also comes in white – Rosa banksiae ‘alba’.

TASK #1 – Balcony Garden

Spring never ceases to amaze me.

One day there are buds on the branches, then the tiny feathery fronds of foliage appear and next minute………………..a young tree full of leaves a couple of weeks later.

My little friend Mr House Sparrow and I looked over the scene today and agreed…..Spring really is the best time of the year.

I beckoned him to come down to look over the last couple of days of hard work I’d put in.  (Not really days per se, afternoons are about as much as I can manage when it comes to re-potting and bending over with a bad back).

A quick drink and then he turned around to see what he could see.
Mr House Sparrow agreed that the sore lower back I earned from my Spring gardening work on my apartment balcony was well worth the effort.  He surveyed my finished and re-configured garden late this afternoon.

Note: none of these plants need staking, but with our ongoing fierce winds in Melbourne in the past few months, I figure I may as well put the bamboo stakes in now and tie the trunks loosely just in case of another gale.

 

I’m A.W.O.L. at the moment

It’s that ‘paperwork’ time of year for me and I have to empty & re-pot some of my balcony potted herbs/plants to make way for 3 new tomato and 1 new capsicum plant(s) I bought last Sunday.  I’ve never grown Capsicums before, so we’ll see how they like this hot, west-facing balcony this summer.

…….and clean all the bird poop off the balcony fence and floor surfaces.

So blogging and blog following will be intermittent.

In the meantime……

When I moved to this apartment building a year ago, the young tree in front of my apartment balcony had bare twigs for the top 12-15″.  The other week I caught the culprit stripping the new tiny shoots (again) this year!

THERE’S A BIRD IN THERE – Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve

ORIGINAL IMAGE MADE OVER THE FENCE LINE ON THE EDGE OF FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE

I took a random shot of some movement in the deep shade of a tree in Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve on the way home this afternoon.  I’d been over to Pipemakers Park to do an hour of ‘lazy’ weeding in the ruined garden and was absolutely exhausted.  Note: Lazy weeding means standing up in front of a waist high concrete pipe which has weeds growing in it and where I don’t have to bend.

I’VE BEEN WORKING ON WEEDING THE WAIST-HIGH PIPES WHICH HAVE TREES GROWING FROM THE CENTRE shown on the far left and far right of this image’s frame.. 

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I cropped down the first image in this post by about 85% and lightened the shadows and found a New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae).  Not bad for a random shot where you can’t see the bird clearly.

Over at Pipemakers Park, the Tuesday morning volunteering Gardening Group have made some amazing progress with weeding, planting some hardy Lavenders and Salvias and mulching.  Unfortunately, I noticed a couple of small Lavender bushes and a succulent had been stolen from the Herb Garden area (in the centre of the image below).  What a shame.

But there’s still a lot to be done.

Spring! Spring! SPRING!!!!!

Yes, I thought the Title would get your attention.

Today was a perfect Spring day and after my last feeble walking effort down in Williamstown and Jawbone Arboretum, and exhaustion later that evening, I decided to stick close to home base.   I made do with a mini walk outdoors and thought I’d see how I felt.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that at the present time, I actually feel UNFIT! (note the capital letters 🙂 )………..for the first time in years.  I always have to walk slowly, but I used to walk for 3-5 hours a few years ago.  Now I seem to be restricted to short walks of 1-2 hours only.

So a quick walk around the perimeter of Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve, across a grass-covered area where the Red-rumped Parrots and Splendid Fairy-wrens graze, and then, Pipemakers Park.

The sun was glorious and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute outdoors.  In fact I only came home from the Historic garden ruins early (10 min brisk walk if one takes the short cut), because my water bottle was empty and my hands filthy from pulling a few weeds in one of the outer garden beds.  I only had my lightweight Sony a6000 camera and 55-210 lens, no gardening tools or hand wipes.

I almost…….got……hot 🙂

And wouldn’t you know it – I saw so many birds.  The variety of bird song was amazing, so I guess the avian life made the best of the Spring day also.  I did see some Red-browed Finches, but without a long telephoto lens, I just had to restrict myself to photographing flowers for the most, (or trying to – it was still a wee bit windy and I take better flower shots with my Canon DSLR to be honest).

The Tuesday morning gardening group have done a massive amount of work, but there’s still a lot more to be done.  After a chat with an old acquaintance from previous walks in the area and a few quick flower shots, I couldn’t resist pulling a few weeds……..which grew into quite a sizeable pile.  I didn’t have my hand gardening tools, or a rubbish bag, so left the weed pile for the Park Ranger and Tuesday Morning Volunteer Gardening group to dispose of.  I took a few more shots and then came home as I was so thirsty (and no matter how much you squeeze an empty drink bottle, it’s impossible to produce a single drop 🙂 )

NOTE: I could have looked up all these flower names in my Plant Encyclopaedias but I decided a guess would do for tonight.  Gone are the days living near the Royal Botanic Gardens when I wouldn’t dare upload a flower image without an accurate identification – Common & Botanical name.

BACK TO WINTER

After my lovely walk last Sunday, its been pretty much back to the gusty, cold winds and the overcast skies of Winter this week.  I had to go through the city centre on Tuesday to another medical appointment (via taxi this time), but generally, its been too cold (for me) to go outdoors.

My life is based on health and weather.  These 2 subjects shape my Photography Life.

This morning I scanned next week’s forecast and can see Sunday and Wednesday have good forecasts, with Tuesday and Thursday minimal rain, so looks like some more good walking/photography weather might, JUST MIGHT, be a possibility.

It’s the infinite possibilities that make each day in retirement a joy.  You just never know how a day is going to ‘pan out’.  I love the Freedom of (early) retirement and while I sometimes complain about a bad pain day, the reality is, at least I can do nothing on that day and take in a good DVD documentary or book or just watch the House Sparrows on my balcony fence. (or the %#$@! household chores), with a good cup of herbal tea by my side.

Even watching the rat on my side fence (or birdseed stand) in my old ground floor apartment next to the Royal Botanic Gardens had some entertainment value for me.

Of course there was Peter the Possum that kept me entertained around Midnight every night back in those days living on the south-east side of Melbourne and became the subject of many a Google Blog post back in 2010 when I first bought a small point and shoot camera.

Peter the Possum – a regular visitor to my side fence about 4 feet from my balcony.

In the meantime I’d like to share these amazing cloud formations from late last Sunday afternoon (after I arrived home).  While I don’t get the spectacular 180 degree views of the sky as I did in my previous apartment on the north-east side of Melbourne, I still sometimes get some interesting cloud cover.  I’ve learned to appreciate Nature in all it’s forms – good, bad and downright ugly and clouds that float by are a favourite subject of mine as they are never the same.

WILLIAMSTOWN – Part 2 – JAWBONE BAY & CONSERVATION RESERVE

……..continuing from Part 1 in the previous post.

If you’ve read Part 1, you’ll remember that I walked right to the end of the Esplanade towards the west and thought I might fall into the sea as there seemed to be no fence or way forward……..unless I could walk on water I might add.

Then I saw the top half of a walker coming out from behind the rock retaining wall on my right.

Of course if I’d thought of taking my crumpled map out of my pocket, I would have seen that the esplanade turned at a right angle 🙂

Just around the corner, I was delighted to see a tiny boatyard with small fishing boats intermittently tied up between several board walks behind a chain wire fence.

I looked down in front of the chain wire fence, but could only see a channel of water with a few seaweed-covered rough boulders scattered here and there.

Having spent some time in the UK in the mid to late 1970s, I had a sudden mental picture of some of the picturesque fishing villages I’d visited on the southern coast and got kind of excited at the prospect of some fishing boat images right here in Williamstown.

One of the few sorrows of my current life, in early retirement, is not having a car to travel along some of my state’s spectacular coastline and possibly, the occasional quaint fishing town or boatyard to do some photography.  I’d been to one once when on a few days holiday with a friend and the boats and quay were restored as it might have been in the early days of the 19th century, no less.

Anyway, last Sunday, I walked slowly down the chain wire fence trying to see a way in, but the only entrance was through what looked like a ‘clubhouse’ or boat repair shed.

Obviously, PRIVATE PROPERTY – no through path.

So I followed the cycling/walking path round the corner and onwards past a small inlet.  According to a Google map this was Jawbone Bay & the start of the Marine Sanctuary and it looked like low tide on Sunday.

I was facing straight into the brilliant sunlight and most of the houses and low-lying coastal scrub was just a silhouette (so the above shot has had the shadows lightened to reveal some detail).

The tiny bay, (or inlet), was covered in sparkling stars from the reflected sun on the rippling water surface and really quite enchanting.  The wind had dropped a little and walking was really pleasant under the blue Spring skies with just a smattering of whispy cloud cover creeping in from the horizon.

I heard a weird sound and looked up to see 2 gyrocopters (?) with broad ballooning parachutes spread over them.

Then I looked across the low-lying scrubby salt-resistant landscape across patches of yellow Oxalis and some other yellow weed which I couldn’t identify.  It wasn’t Wild Radish, but something similar.

I walked down a narrow path towards the water.

Definitely low tide, but with cameras and other gear in a wheeled bag and what amounted to tennis shoes on my feet, (not my normal lace-up leather walking shoes), I couldn’t walk across any of the wet sand, or to peek in the shallows looking for crabs and other water creatures.

I’d deliberately brought my short 17-50 f2.8 lens and Canon DSLR in case I came across some rock pools.  I also had my Canon 50mm f1.4 lens which is the only remaining lens from my early Photography days some years ago which had the right-sized polarizing filter to photograph through water.  Now I’ve sold and traded a few lenses, I need to reassess the filters lying in their dust-free containers.

So I continued onwards stopping every now and then to admire the low-lying landscape and brilliant patches of green, yellow and other multicoloured low-lying plants.

I photographed a few other weeds, but the images weren’t particularly good so they got deleted.

I couldn’t help but be envious of the surrounding houses and their picturesque views over Port Phillip Bay.  If anyone had a glass-windowed loft and was high enough up with a ‘widows walk’ and/or telescope, they would be able to see all the shipping, leisure boats and yachts coming in and out of Port Phillip Bay.

Imagine living in the house below.

I am descended from the early Whaling Captains that plied their trade in the southern oceans and called Hobart, in the southern island state of Tasmania, home.  I can well imagine the wives watching and waiting in those early 1800s for all the months these whalers were at sea.  Some of my Ancestors ship’s instruments are in the Maritime Museum in Hobart, the capital of  Tasmania.

My Mother (now deceased), so my 91 year old Father now, has a copy of the original Whaling Captain’s diary in which my G/G/Grandfather’s brother ran away to sea at the age of 13 and worked his way up to the rank of Captain.  It’s a fascinating story and one day I’ll borrow it back and make another attempt to put the diary on computer.  My eyesight is poor even with prescription glasses.  I’m never really 100% sure whether my images have sharp focus when reviewing them on my 27″ computer monitor.  Don’t ask me how I take photos.  After some 80,000 images made over 7 years, I’ve just learned to guess, or compensate, with what I can’t see clearly through the viewfinder.

My G/G/Grandfather was hit on the head with a whaling spike and died in his fifties off New Zealand, so my G/Grandfather was brought up by the older brother who was a well-known whaling Captain.

Anyway, as I gazed up at this spectacular house with what appeared to be a third floor with 360 degree viewing windows in Williamstown, I immediately thought of my ancestors’ wives.

Waiting and looking out to sea each night for months on end.

Watching and waiting.

Waiting and watching.

Anyway, there were no spectacular seascapes to photograph on Sunday, but the stroll in the winding gravel path towards the Jawbone Arboretum entrance was thoroughly enjoyable all the same.

So all in all, it was a very enjoyable walk and the warm sun did its very best to break the effect of the brisk sea breeze that sent my jacket flapping and needled its way under my thin shirt.

Next visit, in warmer weather, will be to explore the Range Lakes system shown on the map at the top of this post………preferably with the long 150-500 telephoto lens to do some bird photography.

WILLIAMSTOWN – Part 1

I’ve been a little busy for the last couple of days and only just got around to re-viewing last Sunday’s images of my walk/photography outing.  I’ve also been extremely fatigued, so a little slower off the mark than usual.

Despite the fatigue and higher-than-usual back pain, I finally decided on Williamstown  (near the Rifle Range Reserve and Jawbone Arboretum which I first visited on 20th August) for my walk.

Since the first visit via taxi (only about 25 mins via car from home), when I became enthusiastic about re-visiting the area, I had found a bus route (#472) which took me to the car park and shoreline between Williamstown beach and the Jawbone Arboretum.

For those locals interested…..  

Williamstown is roughly about 9 kms south-west of Melbourne and was first explored as a possible settlement in early Victoria in 1803 (about the same time as my current home location by the Maribyrnong River was explored).

So I was travelling from the top left of the map (below), where the blue river and lots of greenery reveal my home location next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve) to the bottom left of the map where there is a tiny patch of blue sea.  Melbourne city is the grid of streets located in the centre of the map.

Melbourne, it’s suburbs and bayside beaches are actually very easy to get around via public transport and although I’ve never used the country buses and trains, I would imagine you can visit most places with a little research on routes and transport timetables.  I must admit that when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens to the south-east of Melbourne City, it was much faster to get anywhere and I was a lot fitter for walking.

I left the long telephoto 150-500mm lens at home on Sunday as I knew I wouldn’t have the energy reserves on this particular day to hold the weight up for bird photography.  I thought there might have been some landscape or seascape photography potential, so initially put my tripod and 17-50mm lens in my wheeled bag, then after lifting the weight up (as though to put it on a bus), I decided to leave the tripod at home also.

Buses run infrequently on a Sunday (on this particular route) – once every hour. But I did fantasize about staying long enough to watch the sun go down, hence the tripod and remote release shutter cable idea for some slow dusk shutter speed shots, but recent walks revealed my current energy envelope is only about 2 hours slow walking, so I figured I’d by returning home well before dusk.

There is also a train to Williamstown, but not quite close enough to the beach and foreshore for my liking.  A healthy person could easily catch a train from Melbourne’s city centre and walk all the way along this coastal area.  Buses are my preferred mode of transport as I like to watch the scenery along  the way.

Last Sunday lived up to the BOM’s (Bureau of Meteorology) forecast and was really superb weather……ehrr…. except for the bitterly cold wind down on the shoreline.

Wish I’d worn a scarf and gloves.

There are almost no trees or shade along the esplanade, so I doubt if I would go in mid-summer without a sunhat with secures ties, lots of sun-block and most of my body covered as, being very fair, I get sun-burnt in as little as 10 minutes.

My neck via my open-necked shirt got a little wind-burnt last Sunday and my light jacket nowhere near warm enough for the chilly onshore wind on this glorious Spring day.

When I got off the bus and walked through the small carpark to the esplanade, the cold wind hit me like a thunderbolt and I decided to turn left (east) and find a kiosk or shop that sold hot Fish & Chips to warm up.

But I continued to walk along this particular area of asphalt esplanade and reached the end.  Fortunately, I saw a walker appear from behind the rocky retaining wall on my right and realised the path turned right and didn’t drop off to the water as first thought.

And the highlight of this first part of my walk……..hot Fish and Chips of course.

There was little to be seen that was photo worthy on this particular stretch.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

GOOD MORNING LITTLE SPARROW

I love the way the sparrows stop by each day to quench their thirst via my blue water bowl.  Occasionally I take this down, wash it out and put some bird seed in it.  For the first 5-6 months since I moved to this area, the female sparrows wouldn’t come near the dish, but now they do.

I made the photo of a male House Sparrow (above) yesterday as I’ve already packed my cameras for today’s walk and photography outing.

I had the good fortune to be actually looking out the window as the tiniest bird I’ve ever seen flew around my balcony garden and landed briefly on the rim of my pink daisy pot. I’ve never seen it before and it was possibly a juvenile finch or tiny wren of some kind.  It flew very fast and I have to admit it didn’t stay still long enough to even see if it had a long tail like the Splendid Fairy-wrens that frequent the area.  I put my hand down to unzip my camera bag (sitting on the floor) and when I looked up it was gone.

Hopefully it will return for a closer inspection.

 

A SIMPLE LIFE

For those of you who have followed this blog for some time, you will know I lead a simple life in retirement (from full-time office work).  I eat, sleep and do what most people would consider ‘a lazy life of nothing much in particular.’  The truth of the matter is that my life is filled with Mindful attention to every small detail, especially Nature.

From my desk each morning, I notice each new leaf or avian visitor to my apartment balcony garden.  I hear the many calls of nature from the variety of bird life in the area to the whistling and howling of the wind in the treetops (let alone down my steep laneway and through my balcony garden).

The occasional Magpie or Crow flies overhead scattering the House Sparrows, Honeyeaters and tiny Finches which call this area home.

A dog is barking endlessly up on the main street.  Being the weekend, I hear an occasional car in the background, but it’s the wind and bird life which is prominent.

Living next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve is a precious gift, let alone the nearby parkland and Maribyrnong River, which winds its way gently through the remaining suburbs out into Port Phillip Bay, with Melbourne city at its northern tip.

A lone aeroplane flies over my airspace heading towards Melbourne’s main airport which is located only a few miles away.  It’s not loud and intrusive, merely a faint back ground noise (if you choose to listen for its passing).

About 15 minutes ago, the wind dropped and there was not a leaf stirring.  The Sage has grown about 5 inches in the last 2 weeks.  It seems like yesterday it had died down to ragged brown remnants and looked almost dead.  The various Mint bushes, which I’d cut down to 1/2″ stubble at the beginning of winter have grown about 6″ in 7 days.

Seriously – the growth rate in the last 7-14 days is mind-blowing with all this rain and intermittent sunshine (struggling to gain a space in the sky).

The Cherry blossom trees may not have their full load of flowers on the main street, but they’re well on the way now.

My English parsley which I’d thinned out by half, has grown back it’s 50% haircut and is so lush and green that it begs to be cut and eaten at nearly every meal.

Image made through the rain yesterday from my warm lounge interior, hence the bookcase reflection. I don’t have a polarizing lens for my Sony a6000 (which would reduce this).

I think it timely to have some more images from my archives from around this time of Spring, over a period of several years……mainly when I lived on the south-eastern side of the city next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

In between rain showers yesterday I went out to stake and tie up the Rosemary which the strong gusty, (read gale force), wind had almost split in half.

Did I tell you Melbourne has had very strong winds recently 🙂

………and it doesn’t take much to get me excited.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is more than a little promising, but since the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) is often wrong and Melbourne’s weather is predictably UNpredictable, dare I get my hopes up for a Nature Walk tomorrow.  I think I’ll double-check the walking/photography weather 1st thing before I set out.

Sunday 10 September

Summary
Min 6
Max 17
Partly cloudy.
Possible rainfall:    0 mm
Chance of any rain:    0%

Melbourne area

Partly cloudy. Light winds.

MISCELLANEOUS SHOTS

Melbourne had a couple of torrential (rain) downpours yesterday and I got caught in both of them.  I had to go to the other side of Melbourne’s city centre for an appointment so there was no choice about going outdoors.  I just made the mistake of not catching a taxi there and back.

I thought the overnight rain showers had finished so went out via public transport.

After getting wet for the second time (despite a trench coat & umbrella) after leaving my appointment at around 4.30pm, I decided to get a train halfway home.  I must say it was interesting even if I only went through a couple of train stations on the journey.

(I normally catch buses and trams).

I tried taking some photos out of the train window, but the rocking rollicking of the train on this older, western suburban train line spoilt nearly all of them.  I did catch sight of many reflections on the train station platforms where deep puddles lay in abundance.

Train station staff were going up and down the platforms pushing the water off the platform edges with brooms and squeegees so people didn’t slip getting on or off the trains.

I really must catch a country train when the warmer weather and longer daylight hours arrive.  I’ve been saying this ever since I quit full-time work in 2010, but like my vow to take a river cruise down the Yarra River, I’ve never quite found the right time or day.

When you’ve had a car for some 30+ years you really do miss some of the joys of public transport.  When you go everywhere by car you’re always concentrating on the traffic conditions and getting from A to B.  I sold my car in 2003 when my old ankle injury made driving painful and at that time, I really did walk to most destinations anyway.  I could walk far easier than holding a chronically inflamed ankle firmly on the accelerator of the car.

Of course I miss that car now (when I have the time to explore the nearby parks and nature reserves, or even, a wee bit further afield).

I daresay regular train commuters in peak hour would disagree with me when I say public transport can be fun.  But seriously, if you unplug your iPod, put your mobile phone away or stop reading the latest novel on your tablet and look out the window, there’s so much to see.

The street art painted on the sides of factories and other commercial buildings next to rail lines are worth a second look alone.

Anyway, I caught a tram for the second half of my journey home and was hoping for a sunset shot from the top of my hill.  It was too late as I stepped off the tram platform.  It had pretty much disappeared as you can see below.

After I entered the steep laneway going down to my apartment block I stood and surveyed all the northern suburbs in the far distance.  I stop and do this every time I return home on foot.  The sky was actually quite pretty with the remaining rain clouds, but my photos somehow didn’t quite capture it. Perhaps it really was getting too dark on my side of town and my side of the nearby Maribyrnong River..

But as I rounded the curve in the road, I could see Melbourne City bathed in a golden glow.  While another apartment block was blocking some of the view, the sight was really quite extraordinary.  This is not the first time I had seen this wonderful sight (of the city bathed in light while my area is in deep shadow).

I wish my photos were better.

I wish my hill was higher up.

Once, when I saw this golden light before, I tried walking down the hill to the other side of the apartment building, but Frogs Hollow trees and the surrounding parkland is too low down to catch a view of the city.

And while the 2 shots below aren’t exactly spectacular landscapes, I’m sure you get the picture.  Anyway, it was very cold by this time (6.15pm) and a hint of another rain shower, so I hurried down the hill and went indoors.

I love the changing of the seasons, but at the moment, we seem to be having a 2nd burst of Winter.  The temperature has been between about 12-16 degrees C, but the wind chill factor makes it feel more like 8-10 degrees.

I stopped to make an image of the young tree beside my balcony (where the bird’s nest was).  It was full of new leaves escaping from tiny buds.

The weather may be terrible at the moment, but the trees definitely know it’s Spring.

I can hear the birds calling to each other outside this morning and at this present moment, it is actually sunny with blue skies.

But this past Winter, I know this is Nature’s lure to get me outdoors and by the time I’ve had breakfast, showered and dressed, it will be overcast and raining again 🙂

NEARLY HERE

Spring is nearly here and the Cherry Blossom trees on the small piece of parkland on the nearby main road gave me more than a mere hint of it’s coming last week.  This tiny avenue of Cherry Blossom trees will be really quite spectacular soon.

Their bare limbs are dotted with tiny pink buds with white petals peeping out.

There is a small oval of green grass that will become a grazing pasture for the Galahs soon too.  You may remember these images I made when I first moved to the western suburbs 11 months ago.  I’ve seen these colourful, (and very common), Galahs a few times now, but never in the vast numbers that I saw that 1st week after moving in early October 2016.

These 2 images were made with the old Sony 18-200mm lens that only felt like auto focusing intermittently (after its devastating fall in June 2015) and eventually got retired to its original box in the camera drawer.  I do miss it, but I kept getting blurred shots just when a new bird happened to fly by, and my usual patience got tested far too often and became more of a curse.

Weird day today.

Very chilly outdoors, but not a breath of wind at the moment.  How unusual to see all the leaves and flowers on my balcony potted herbs perfectly still.

It’s actually a bit creepy.  

Like the ‘calm before the storm’ and poor light for photography

I’m waiting for a good sunny day to go back to  Jawbone Conservation Reserve  in Williamstown on the western side of Port Phillip Bay – of which, Melbourne is located at the northern end.  I’ve found a bus route that goes right down to the car park by a small rocky outcrop between the ordinary sandy beach and the Conservation Area.  I caught the bus down there last Saturday and came back to my starting point without even getting off the bus.

I explained to the bus driver that I was just going for the ride to see where the bus went 🙂

There’s a crack in the sky at the top of the hill at the moment, but otherwise it looks very bleak outdoors indeed.

Will it, or won’t it (rain)?

I’ve been on the phone part of the morning and my internet service provider not only gave me a free ‘top-up’of internet allowance, but offered me a cheaper plan with 2 extra GBs.  We’ll see how 10GBs pans out (compared to the old 8GB plan which is no longer available – I was way past my 24 month plan and paying just month-to-month since it ended in March 2016).

HOUSE SPARROWS (or how to waste 6 hours on a Sunday morning)

The temperature plummeted again today down to 12C (about 53F) and I woke up to rain, light hail and a brisk wind.  Light snow was forecast down to 600 metres so that would probably mean the low-lying range of hills overlooking the eastern suburbs of Melbourne might have white caps today.

Not a Sunday to go outdoors, so I made breakfast and sat down at my desk to read my emails.

I also plugged the Sony a6000 into the computer via the USB to re-charge it.

I’d filled an enormous plastic pot saucer with bird seed yesterday, but it was almost flooded over the rim and the House Sparrows sat on the rim looking hungrily at the seed faintly visible through the 2″ deep water.  

When a break in the light rain came, I stepped out in my PJ’s and tipped the worst of the water out and shivered more than a wee bit (before stepping back into my lounge), closing the sliding door and turning the wall heater on.

Then I preceded to waste 6 hours watching the Sparrows.  I did see one New Holland Honeyeater alight on the bare-limbed sapling where the bird’s nest had been, but it flew away before I could un-plug the USB cable, take the lens cap off and aim.  My other cameras and lenses were on the other side of the room and I didn’t want to miss too much of the action retrieving them, cleaning the lens and setting one/them up.

Since I had the Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ on continuous shooting which is 11 fps (frame per second), then I had the lengthy job of going through about 100 images which looked pretty much the same.  I don’t know who was fighting the most – the boys (dark head, grey cap) or the girls (plain), but it was highly entertaining.  There was one series of completely blurred shots too.  The autofocus must have been ‘on the blink’  🙂  (do you use that term in other countries when something doesn’t work? Or is that an Aussie phrase?).

Doesn’t take much to entertain me on a Sunday morning 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now, I really, really, really should get dressed as the clock just struck 2.00pm.

And with only 7% of my 8GB monthly internet allowance left this morning, I’ll better get on the phone tomorrow and see if I’ve got one more FREE ‘top-up’ of internet allowance left this year.  I knew I had at least one FREE ‘top-up’ per annum, but quite by chance when I was chatting to my service provider last month, I discovered they, (TELSTRA), actually give me 3 FREEBIES per annum.

Keep your fingers crossed there’s 1 left, other wise I’ll be offline until the 9th September when my next billing month starts.

(and I’m afraid I can’t make any more iMovies as that’s what wasted my limited monthly internet allowance this month).

PACIFIC BLACK DUCK (Anas superciliosa)

My favourite shot of a Pacific Black Duck made at Ringwood Lake in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. A favourite, probably due to the natural background as much as the duck itself.

Apart from the beautiful pale salmon-pink Nankeen Night Heron, Pacific Black Ducks are the most photographed wild bird in my photo library.

These ducks are seen in all the public parks and nature reserves around Melbourne (and probably much further afield – which I can’t reach via public transport).  Here’s a selection of some of my favourite images – most are hand-held shots, not from a tripod.

AWWWW……THE BIRD’S NEST HAS DISAPPEARED

I was thrilled to report a bird’s nest in the tree next to my apartment balcony on Saturday the 19th.

I was out on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday so didn’t actually check it on those days.

Yesterday, Wednesday, it rained most of the day.  In fact at once stage, the rain was bouncing off the ground so heavily, it almost looked like hail and the temperature dropped considerably.

So I didn’t check the nest yesterday either.  When I saw a bird in the tree this morning and retrieved my camera off the kitchen bench and came back, the bird was gone and that’s when I realised………so was the nest.

I went outdoors to double-check the ground at the base of the tree and all around.  Definitely gone.

How disappointing.

I was so looking forward to having new avian neighbours.

I saw plenty of bird life on my walk along the western side of the Maribyrnong River on Tuesday, but too far away to photograph.  I rarely walk on that side of the river as the surrounding landscaping between the townhouses and river is a little more formal  (than the two long islands in the middle of the river where I usually walk, as shown on the map at left).

I was intending to do the walk to the Maribyrnong Wetlands pond every day this week (with a bus up the 2 steep hills and along the main road home, shown on the left), but yesterday was too wet to go outdoors at all.

After Sunday’s rather slow and fatiguing walk at the Jawbone Conservation Reserve in Williamstown, I figure I need to get my fitness level back up again after much of this past Winter confined indoors.

For the first time in the last 7 years of nature walks and Photography, I genuinely felt unfit last Sunday.  I may have to walk very slowly due to my (inherited) heart condition of Obstructive HCM and Fibromyalgia/CFS, but I usually warm up slowly for the first 10 minutes of a walk and end up covering a fair bit of ground, stopping to look around for birds or other nature subjects (which gives me a breather to bring my heart rate back down) every now & then.

Only the Pacific Black Ducks on the Maribyrnong Wetlands pond were close enough to get a decent shot with the Sony a6000 on Tuesday.  Until the weather improves again, I’ll only be carrying this smaller, lighter ‘mirrorless’ camera on my walks.  It’s easier to carry in a waterproof bag, than all my Canon DSLR gear.

WATTLE (Acacia)

Wattle (Acacia) is in bloom everywhere at the moment and while there are 1350 species world-wide, at least 1000 varieties are indigenous to Australia.  No wonder the Golden Wattle is Australia’s national flower.

There are also pale cream flowering  varieties like the one below which was located close to the pond in Pipemakers Park.

On the way to, and from, Pipemakers Park on Monday, I passed many trees and several varieties.  I left home after a morning of rain showers so it was still overcast walking along the river path (which meant I should have changed the White Balance on my camera, but completely forgot).  On the way home, I took the shortcut through the picnic area which leads directly to the western path (and then gravel access road), around Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.

On the way home, the sun was out, but the nature reserve had pockets of deep shade which form as the sun goes down behind the hill (on which my apartment block is built). So while I had plenty of time, now that the shortest day of Winter is past, the light can fade very quickly after about 5.00pm.

I was reading up a little on Wattle as I’m embarrassed to say I know very little about it, except it makes many people sneeze and although I don’t usually get too close to the flowers, it can make my nose a bit itchy.  I was reading an article, some of which I’ve reprinted below, which indicated it can be eaten – I never knew that.  But then, I know a lot more about (mainly) English herbs, than indigenous plants in my own country, Australia.

All parts of various Acacia species have been or are used by people for one purpose or another.

The seeds from some specific Acacia species provide a valuable food source. Mostly the seeds are ground into a flour and cooked like damper although some are eaten raw or made into a porridge. The gum from some species is also edible.

Various extracts from the bark and the leaves or phyllodes have been and continue to be used by Australian Aborigines for a wide variety of medicinal purposes such as relieving toothache or colds or applying to wounds and burns. Green leafy branches of some species may be used to ‘smoke’ someone who is suffering from a general sickness.

The wood of various species has been used to make clubs, spears, boomerangs and shields. Some species, such as Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood), are used to make fine furniture.

Tannin has been extracted from the bark of a number of species for use in tanning including Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle), A. mearnsii (Black Wattle) and A. pycnantha (Golden Wattle).

Boomerang made from the wood of Acacia melanoxylon
A boomerang made
from the wood of
Acacia melanoxylon

Note: for those new to my Nature Blog, I currently live in a large modern apartment block cut into a hillside overlooking Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and the Maribyrnong River in the western suburbs of Melbourne.  The building is located about 100 feet from the rim of the nature reserve and about 6-7 minutes walk to the river………if you’re a brisk walker…….I’m not.  

I also have a Black & White blog located here (which is mainly street photography and not used so often these days) and a Sunset/Sunrise blog located here (which is mainly about the sunsets from my previous 3rd floor apartment to the north-east side of Melbourne).  This sunrise/sunset/cloud formation blog is not going to last much longer as I don’t see the sunsets as much in this current hillside location, despite my apartment balcony facing west.

COMMON MALLOW? – FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE

I walked over to Pipemakers Park on Monday looking for Spring.

On the way down to the river path (for I was going the long way round via the river), I spied this glorious patch of colour on the fence between Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and the river walking/cycling path.  A Mallow perhaps?  And while Frogs Hollow is still looking rather Wintery, this patch of colour looked so cheerful I was tempted to pluck a few cuttings off and plant them all the way along the fence.  But I know the Council in charge of the area are cutting out all non-indigenous trees, so I daresay they would not appreciate me spreading this non-indigenous flower.

Now that the weather is starting to improve a bit, I’ve been trying to get out for a walk more often.

I was rather shocked to find myself more breathless and fatigued than usual when down at Jawbone Conservation Reserve last Sunday.  That was the first time since I took up Photography 7 years ago that I actually felt really unfit.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT!

I planted this pink Argyranthemum in a pot on my balcony on the 4th November 2016 (according to the dates on my fist photo) and it has flowered non-stop through the extreme heat of Melbourne’s Summer and the wild winds of recent Winter weekends – some gale force.

I’ve been dead-heading, (cutting off the wilted or dead flowers), continuously and today the 21st August, close to Spring 2017, it is still flowering.

I’ve never grown this brilliant pink daisy before.  It this a record?  Or is this normal?

I don’t know.

I’ve just moved it closer to the lounge window so there’s a space to observe the bird’s nest (I spotted the other day) from my desk chair.

SOMEWHERE NEW – JAWBONE CONSERVATION RESERVE

While its back to rain, very chilly weather and overcast Winter skies today, yesterday was a different matter entirely.

The weather was superb – sunny and almost windless.  I’d been looking at Jawbone Conservationa Reserve in Williamstown (about 8 kms down the western side of Port Phillip Bay from Melbourne city) on the internet for a few weeks trying to work out the best way to get there via public transport, but after getting up late (due to a restless night with hip and neck pain), I decided to just call a taxi – the height of extravagance for me.  Being a Sunday and with minimal traffic on the road, the taxi ride took about 25 minutes.  The Internet had said 23 minutes via car, so I knew it wasn’t that far from home.

Tram/bus, then train and about a 20 minutes walk to the area might have been 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on connection times.  For the umpteenth time in the last 7 years I wished I still had a car and could drive.

I think my Taxi driver must have thought I was mad….. getting a taxi…..to go for a walk 🙂  But as always in the life of a chronic pain sufferer, you learn to let go of all your preconceived ideas of what seems rational or sensible.  You learn to concentrate of what you can do, not on what you can’t.   You learn to live your life Mindfully, living each day as it comes.

If its a bad pain day, you just call a taxi 🙂 (but my whole month’s taxi budget went in one day yesterday……….. and it was worth every cent).

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve consists of an impressive 50 hectares of wetlands, open grasslands, a saltmarsh and a mangrove conservation area, providing an ideal haven for up to 120 bird species that frequent the area. Equipped with beautifully laid out boardwalks and bird hides, this reserve is a must for any budding naturalist or bird enthusiast.”

The Shot of the Day. Another White-face Heron.
I followed this second White-faced Heron for quite a while. I was only about 30 feet away away on the wire fenced walking path but I couldn’t see what was making it’s neck vibrate so much. It was rather weird to watch.
This may be hard to see, but the Heron moved so quickly and picked up a goanna to eat. I almost missed the shot.  Obviously the ‘vibrating’ neck action happened each time it swallowed a goanna or other tiny critter as it slid down its gullet.