MELBOURNE…..

No new nature images to share this week, only a few photos I shot on Monday from the Princes Bridge (overlooking the Yarra River) on the southern perimeter of Melbourne and some shots from my archives.

Most of the river cruises leave from this dock (where the ferry in the lower right of the frame is situated). I’ve been meaning to catch one of the tourist cruise boats for years, but never got around to it. Some 35 years ago when I worked in the centre of Melbourne, we did have our annual office Christmas party on one of these pleasure boats in the middle of the Yarra River though.

On the south side of the Yarra River, all the Rowing clubs have their boat storage sheds and club rooms. Some are very old from the mid to late 1800s and other club houses are much more recently built in the 20th century. Going by the dark-looking storm clouds in the sky, there must have been heavy rain in the outer eastern suburbs.

On both sides of the river, there is a walking/running/cycling track shaded by large trees and you can actually follow the river trail for many miles to the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

I’ve had the good fortune to live in various locations near/next to a major river, parkland, nature reserve or the Royal Botanic Gardens for most of the time since I returned from a 2 year working holiday in the U.K & Europe in 1978/79.  I’ve moved several times due to job changes or my rental property being sold and me having to move.   In one case I shared a house with a work colleague and we had to move out due to demolition of the whole residential area to construct a new south-bound freeway.

For those interested, the map below gives you some idea of the many public parks and gardens in and around Melbourne’s inner suburbs,   The grid of streets and lanes in the centre of this map shows where the Central Business District (CBD) and main shopping area in Melbourne.  The Yarra River exiting the bay and running from the lower left of the frame, winds its way across the centre of the map and then north-east for many miles.

The Maribyrnong River (which is 5 mins walk from my current apartment) enters/exits the Yarra River mid left of the map frame and heads north-west of Melbourne (city).

As you can see, we are lucky to have many public parks and gardens in Melbourne and its surrounding inner suburbs as shown by the green patches on the map – the 38 hectare Royal Botanic Gardens (shown below) is just one of many gardens for locals and tourists alike.

Note: all the images below are from my archives as I haven’t been to the Royal Botanic Gardens to do any photography since I moved from the area in April/May 2015.

LAST LIGHT

The last rays of daylight touch the tips of the Rosemary plant on my apartment balcony.

Since I made this photo 3 days ago, several more branches of the plant are coming into flower.

So strange to see the flowers in mid-winter.  But since my pink daisy and blue Bacopa are still covered with flowers, one can only assume there must be some heat generating from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows in my apartment to create some sort of micro-climate?  The Sage, Lemon Thyme and Oregano have all died back for the winter as normal, but my English & Italian Parsley, Mint and Rosemary are still growing as though it is Spring.  I was reading an article the other day which suggested that Australia actually has 6 seasons and we’d be better off planning our gardens that way.  Personally, I think Melbourne has 365 seasons and the weather bureau forecast still can’t get their daily/weekly forecast right 🙂

Have been off the blogosphere and blog reading for several days this past week as I’m feeling all ‘blogged-out’ and except for half a dozen photos made of the sun going down, my camera is starting to gather dust again!

Still, I did read a whole book in that time which is most unusual for me as I find the eyestrain tiring and reading difficult these days.

 

From the archives……..19th October 2012

This series comes to you from the Dandenong Ranges National Park – the range of hills overlooking the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.  I have seen these Cockatoos in the Royal Botanic Gardens and down by the Yarra River also (running by the southern side of Melbourne city out into Port Phillip Bay) but they were always too far away to get a good shot.

They’re found on the northern, eastern and south-eastern areas of Australia and very common.  Their white feathers make them easy to spot high up in the trees.  One day I found a couple grazing on some grass seed about 4 feet away from my walking path along the Yarra River, but I didn’t have a camera at that time and they flew away quickly on sensing my presence.

SACRED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus sanctus)

From the archives……..19th May, 2013.

One of the advantages of bird photography in the Great Aviary at Melbourne Zoo is the ability to use the waist-high guard rail of the boardwalk as a tripod.  I could never have got sharp focus of this Kingfisher with a hand-held shot using the heavy Sigma 150-500mm telephoto lens otherwise.  On this particular occasion, the disadvantage is getting the cage wire in the background of the image.

The Sacred Kingfisher always chose this sunny spot to warm up (on a cold day), whereas some of my Zoo images show no cage wire at all.  This beautiful bird is found all over Australia except for the arid centre of the country.

Sacred Kingfisher

From the archives…..

In all the years I visited Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary, I never managed to get a decent shot of the male Satin Bowerbird.  The 2 or 3 shots I did take were too soft in focus to be worthy of sharing and I deleted them only recently.  The male is a rich glossy blue-black all over.

But the female……..well, I did score a couple of nice shots of that and in both images the eye is a gorgeous blue/purple not unlike the feather colour of the male  (although my Australian Bird Guide book doesn’t mention this characteristic, so maybe it was the light on the day that gave the eye this colour).  It’s a fairly common bird on the south-east coast of Australia, but I’ve only seen it at the Zoo.

Satin Bowerbird – female (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

Satin Bowerbird – female

From the archives……

I love the soft pink colour of the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo and when it splays out all its crest feathers it is very handsome indeed (according to the image in my Australian Bird Guide).  I’ve never seen it fan out its crest feathers myself though.

In Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary, this cockatoo is very friendly with the Eclectus Parrots (bright green male & red/blue female), so much so, that one of my images of the M/M Cockatoo ‘talking’ to the female Eclectus Parrot scored the back page of the March 2012 Zoo News magazine.  I felt very flattered as I’d only been photographing birds at the zoo for a few months or so at the time – (for some strange reason the editor reversed the image).

pink Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo & male Eclectus Parrot

Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo and female Eclectus Parrot

I used to watch this Cockatoo and the Eclectus parrots for ages as they really do appear to be talking, or communicating, with each other.

NOTE: Today the weather forecast was for 90% rain and possible hail so I’m catching up with blogging and blog reading.  It’s past midday and all I’ve seen is blue sky and sunshine (with some rather brisk wind blowing my balcony plants) so far.  Where’s the rain & hail that made my planned ‘at home’ day I ask myself?

The Blue-faced Honeyeater is common in the north and north-east of Australia, but very scare in the south, so it was good to see these lovely birds in Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary.

This is one of my favourite bird shots from all the zoo visits I made over the years. I think part of it was the angle of the shot and secondly, I like the blue in the background complementing the honeyeater’s blue head.  As an artist (well, water-colour painter, potter & several other artistic skills, I like the overall colours & composition as much as the subject in photography).

These two honeyeaters landed right in front of me after the aviary staff had put some mealy worms on the wooden post for them at feeding time.

I was too slow zooming out on this shot so the bird’s tail got chopped off, but It was still a treat to be so close to this bird. Most of the feeding trays are close to the boardwalk in the Aviary, so if you’re there at the right time, you can observe the birds closely (and get some nice close-up shots).

PIED IMPERIAL PIGEON (Ducula bicolor)

From the archives…..

The Pied Imperial Pigeon actually comes from South-east Asia, but is now found in the north-east Australian state of Queensland.  The images below are from the Great Aviary at Melbourne Zoo and I’ve included a few old images of the Great Aviary to give you some idea of what a great space this is.  It’s enormous and covers 3 temperature zones with a water course running from the top Rainforest end down to a large pond in a dryer more temperate zone.

The boardwalk runs up to about 20 feet above the aviary floor, but on cold winter days, the birds are ‘indoors’ in sheltered spots and hard to see.

Spring, Autumn or a sunny Winter day are the best times to visit (when the birds are sun-baking in the trees (level with the boardwalk).  A couple of times, I’ve been to the Zoo specifically to spend a couple of hours in the Great Aviary (only) and it’s been closed for maintenance.

Pied Imperial Pigeon – this one looks like a rather obese older bird.

I dropped my Zoo membership a couple of years ago as I’d been about 100 times in 3 years to practice (mainly) bird photography and really………just how many times can you photograph the same birds.  Now that I’m living in a western suburb of Melbourne, I’m quite close to the main Melbourne Zoo (as the crow flies – about 3 miles or 6 kms).  Shame there isn’t a direct route over the Maribyrnong River from where I live now.

Melbourne Zoo is a great location to spend a hot summer’s day as the landscaping around most of the exhibits is temperate rainforest.

 

From the archives….

Haven’t been doing much photography in the last week, but we’ve had a couple of great sunny days for walking and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the invigorating fresh cool winds.  Rain forecast for the coming week and weekend, so it’s back to the archives for some images to share.

GOLDEN GRASSS HEADS IN FROGS HOLLOW

It was only 4.00pm when I walked past the south-eastern side of Fogs Hollow Nature Reserve on the way home on Tuesday and most of the Reserve had fallen into deep shade……except for one long strip of golden sunlight crossing the patch of high grass heads waving in the breeze near the main pond.