AUTUMN – The Dandenong Ranges (test run #2 with iMovie)

I’m like a toddler with a new toy – can’t leave iMovie alone now I’ve worked out how to use it over the weekend, but I really need to go out and shoot some new images/subject matter for Test Run #3.

Here’s test run #2……….made after I arrived home from some errands in the city centre this afternoon.

I was so engrossed in re-arranging some old images to try and fit the music I chose for this test run, I nearly forgot to cook dinner tonight 🙂

(I can’t work out why some images are static and some fade.  Hmmmmm.  Back to ‘the drawing board’.  I’ll work it out in the end.  This is another ‘hit’ or ‘miss’ effort as I can’t seem to alter the speed or change the transition of each image the way I would like.  Well, at least I’ve successfully passed the Beginner’s Class in iMovie). 

Enjoy……..and I recommend you switch to FULL SCREEN (located down in the bottom right hand corner of the slide show screen)

 

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Duck Day – Queens Park, Moonee Ponds

Saturday was a Duck Day.

I’ve been mostly housebound in recent times and somehow never got over to the Royal Botanic Gardens to photograph Autumn.

I caught a tram over to Queens Park for a couple of hours on Saturday, but the light was lousy, I couldn’t hold the camera still for long and the wind blew the few flowers around too much to get sharp focus.  Out of a couple of hundred shots, I only kept about 40 images and these were mostly under-exposed.

Looking towards the sun (due to being on that side of the lake) left my skies totally blown out and mostly white and the bird life in silhouette.  I tried to fix them to no avail in post processing yesterday.  I tried lightening the shadows in the image below, but my meagre editing skills are not sufficient to replace the sky (without reloading Lightroom or Photoshop).  I have the discs in my drawer from my old desktop computer days pre 2012 and there IS a Mac disc in there somewhere, but I don’t have the sight or patience to do that degree of editing.  I only tweak the contrast, erase the annoying spots  and do some minor cropping etc in the El Capitan photo software usually.

In the end I tried to take photos where the sky wasn’t in the frame.  Easy when photographing the birds (only) actually.

I was amazed at how many ducks were on the lake.  There must have been at least 60-70 Pacific Black Ducks, either on the lake bank or in the murky looking water.  Occasionally they’d all take flight and it looked like the 2 groups were changing places – land or lake – backwards and forwards.  They didn’t seem to fly far.  It was very enjoyable watching them all take flight though.

Dozens of Eurasian Coots (charcoal black with white beaks), a young Australian Pelican, what looked like a Mallard, some Grey Teals (I think) and some Chestnut Teals also enjoyed the lake.  I chased a Little Pied Cormorant part way around the lake rim in an effort to catch it with a fish in its mouth, but only ended up with some blurred images of it with, what looked like a Yabbie, or some other sort of crustacean.  The 4 blurred images below were the best out of about 40 attempts.  The water on its back looks to be in better focus that its head.  Even setting the DLSR on continuous shooting didn’t score me a focused shot of its head (or the Yabbie), but it was a lot of fun trying.  I suppose I might have put the ISO on Auto in the low light conditions.  Ehrrr , but I didn’t think of it at the time.

I only caught a shot of this Pelican swimming away in the distance.  It had a different  coloured beak and feather pattern to the usual Australian Pelican and I wondered if it was a juvenile.

A man with a little point & shoot camera came up to chat and told me he’d never seen a Pelican on the lake before.  He did tell me he’d seen some (of my favourite) Nankeen Night Herons in the past though, so I’ll have to go in my archives and check the dates of my old Nankeen Night Heron images and see if they were from a certain date/week/month of the year.   There was one cormorant on the small island warming its feather for a while, but when it turned to profile so I could see its face, it closed its wings.

This shot below was one of the best of the day and I wasn’t sure, but wondered if it could be a young Grey Teal.  Female Pacific Black Ducks, female Chestnut Teals and Grey Teals look pretty similar to me, but my Guide Book says Grey Teals have red eyes and dark metallic looking legs with a softer brown feather colour.  If any follower knows for sure, let me know in the comment section.

I made another shot of the lovely mosaic near the cafe/kiosk which turned out much much better than that made on my first visit to this 22 hectare park.

Queens Park is mostly lawn and a few avenues of old trees with a couple of playgrounds for the children.  It doesn’t have the numerous flower beds like the Royal Botanic Gardens on the south-east side of Melbourne.   Only a few trees had Autumn Colour, but the children seemed to like playing with the leaves anyway.

The man I was chatting to next to the lake remarked that he’d never seen so many seagulls washing themselves before.  I couldn’t get a well focused shot of them flapping and washing themselves, but did get several of them standing still on or near the island in the lake.  I gave his observation some thought and agreed.  I’ve never seen seagulls flapping and washing themselves down the beach either.  Sure they do a lot of flapping and splashing, but this lot of seagulls actually looked to be washing themselves.  Shame I couldn’t capture a shot of the action.

 

 

Pacific Black Duck with a sleepy male Australian Wood Duck in the background on the island.

And lastly I saw this lone male Australian Wood Duck on the island a bit later on when it was standing, but it seemed to have something wrong with its wing.  Perhaps it was a juvenile moulting its soft downy feathers (which do tend to leave the bone/frame a bit bare), but the rest of the duck looked like an adult.  I have several images of young Australian Wood Ducks moulting and growing their adult feathers so am quite familiar with the ‘scruffy’ look of juveniles.

As to Health News…….The MRIs from a few weeks ago show a slipped disc in my neck and severe disc disease, 6 slipped discs in my lumbar spine and with the vertebrae eroding away (not osteoarthritis), I’m not sure how long my photography hobby will continue.  It’s getting harder to bend, kneel or twist & turn lately.  This disc condition  will not improve with exercise or physio due to the poor condition of the vertebrae.  In several spots there is almost no disc left at all, so you can well imagine how stiff and inflexible I’m becoming.  I often wonder if the Sheuermann’s disease had been picked up as a teenager, whether treatment could have made a difference.  Most teenagers afflicted with Scheuermann’s grow out of it in 2-3 years, but those that that don’t, (aka me), have a lot of back pain and scoliosis later in life.  This is made worse by the Fibromyalgia pain condition I’ve had since 1980.  In the meantime, blog following and blogging is being reduced more & more this year.

I must admit I seem to be taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps backwards in the last year or so.

 

NEWELL’S PADDOCK WETLANDS RESERVE & FOOTSCRAY PARK

Last Friday, I finally got back to doing a long walk.

The forecast cloud cover faded just after I caught the bus to Footscray Park and the cool wind picked up as I walked through the formal entrance down the steep pathway towards the Maribyrnong River.   When the sun came from behind the clouds, the downhill trek became a real treat.  I love walking in Autumn and Spring with a cool wind on my face.

I made some lovely shots of the flowers in the Park and surprisingly, there were some stunning Autumn flowers out in full bloom, but getting down low to photograph the ground cover Peruvian Lilies (or Alstroemeria) was a real pain.  I bent down low and used the tilt screen of the Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ but the sun reflected off the LCD screen so it was really hit or miss whether I got the low-down shots in focus.

I then kept walking quite some way along the Maribyrnong River to Newell’s Paddock, entering the Wetlands from the rear riverside gate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was one of those days when the river held hundreds of sparkling ‘stars’ of sunlight as though there was a path of diamonds across the water surface.  Really pretty and made up for the lack of interesting landscape either side of the river in this green belt along the river.

There was a real change of colour to be seen in most of my photos of Newell’s Paddock, from various shades of green a few weeks ago, to tinges of Autumn orange and russet throughout the grasses and succulent ground cover in the conservation area of Newell’s Paddock Wetlands.  The golden rays of the sun made some of my images look like they’d been photoshopped, but no, the warm colours were definitely for real.  I’m pretty sure I had the White Balance on Auto also.

But my favourite shot of the day was looking over the fence at the most eastern pond and surrounding greenery (below).  I stood there for ages just enjoying the view of this green oasis in the middle of suburbia.  How lucky we are in Melbourne’s inner suburbs to have such wonderful parks and gardens amidst the residential housing estates.

 

A PERFECT AUTUMN DAY

Yesterday was a perfect Autumn Day on my side of the Maribyrnong River.

Blue sky and sunshine all throughout the day.  The weather forecast had mentioned fog in the early morning, but of course I arise too late to catch that.

Only the occasional light fluffy cloud wafted around on the cool breeze, which makes for a delightful day to spend outdoors.

Mid morning, I’d been sitting at the computer reading a Master Plan made in 2015 by my local Council and was dismayed to see that a walking path through the Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and a ‘lookout platform‘ over the small lake had a LOW priority (amidst the 50 items on their agenda).

When I finally finished reading my emails and got dressed I headed outdoors to check whether the deluge of rain and wild weather we’d had in Melbourne a few days ago had filled the lake in Pipemakers Park.  It had been dried up with only a small puddle left on the eastern edge a couple of weeks ago.

I headed down the wide gravel walking path to the river and could see the Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve lake was as full as usual from my raised position looking over the Reserve chain-wire fence.  I noticed that the path I had extended, (from Andy the grass cutter’s wide tractor made path), had well and truly filled in with thick undergrowth over the Summer months.

My path was now totally invisible in the foreground of the image below.

Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve was lushly covered and a rich green from recent rainfall.  Actually the Reserve from this side always looks green, just more of a vivid green depending on the light and time of day.  Late in the day it looks more of a golden-green as the Sun sinks behind the hill-top.

Soon, perhaps even now (?), the weather would have cooled enough to send the snakes back to their beds, and I might attempt to walk  a short distance into this Reserve in the near future.  You may remember that I’d seen signs warning of snakes in the area in the warmer weather and had left this thickly wooded reserve well alone for some months.

When I was nearly to the river I turned left to walk the eastern perimeter path of the Reserve which runs in line with the river cycling/walking path.  The normally low-mown grass was about 6-8 inches high.   Andy, (the grass-cutter), quite clearly hadn’t been around for a couple of weeks and the rain had already started to green-up Summer’s remains.

This eastern perimeter of the Reserve had the remnants of high dead grass and trees in general, but looked surprisingly green underfoot.  Doesn’t take long for Mother Nature to send a green cloak across the ground after a decent rainfall.

As I walked further ‘up-river’ the grass got higher and I very nearly twisted an ankle in an grass-covered hole.   I do so hope Andy will ride his tractor over this perimeter path again soon.   Can’t have accident-prone me adding to my high number of falls in old(er) age.  (note: the reason I have more falls than most humans is that I tend to walk everywhere, instead of driving a car like most Aussies – well that’s my theory anyway 🙂 Secondly, I have a bad habit of walking backwards or sideways with the camera against my eye and don’t watch where I’m going 🙂 Thirdly, I take after my Father’s side of the family and………you get the drift). 

I crossed over to Pipemakers Park and walked down to, what was, the dried up lake.

I looked over to the sculptured tree trunk in the middle.  All 5 ponds/lakes in this area have a bare-limbed tree trunk sculpture in their midst, which is rather attractive as a landscape element in the middle of the 6-8 foot high water reeds.

I was pleased to see the pond was nearly full of water again, but as always, tall grass and reeds hid most of the water surface.   I didn’t see any water birds, but could certainly hear the sounds of the Australian bush orchestra playing a full rehearsal.

Frogs croaking made the perfect back-drop to the main Bird Symphony.

This is the first time in the 6 months I’ve lived here that I’ve heard frog sounds in this particular part of the park.

Then up the winding path through the landscaped area to Pipemakers Park and the ruins of the Colonial garden, to see if the vine over the concrete arbor had changed colour.

It had.


 Then a brief walk around the Colonial garden ruins.

Someone had obviously started clearing out the dead grass beds and raked some of the pathways.  Many olive trees were full of green or black fruit.

The dozens of beautiful mosaics dotting the paths and garden ruins needed a good sweep to make them photo-worthy though.  I made some photos of the mosaics last year, but they weren’t that clear on the day.

I wondered if there was a Volunteering day that had brought locals in to do some maintenance and restoration of these early 19th century worker’s gardens.

I’d love to see the herb and rose garden restored and I’d certainly be willing to help in some way.  I notice the raised Rose Garden beds are high enough so I wouldn’t have to bend over much.

Note to self……must do a Google search or drop in to the nearby information office to ask about this.  I keep running this mental note through my foggy brain, but keep forgetting (as I get distracted and side-lined easily in my daily routine).  My short-term memory is like a sieve anyway.  I suppose there’s nothing to stop me going over and doing some weeding or sweeping regardless of who is doing maintenance.  If there’s one thing I’m really good at, it’s gardening maintenance.  I can’t do heavy digging or gardening, but many hands make light work – my dextrous hands could be just the bonus this old garden needs.

I left the area to walk over the short grass back down-river where I interrupted some Red-rumped Parrots (Psephotus haematonotus) feeding on grass seed.  I only had my Sony a6000 with it’s 55-210mm lens with me (as it was a bad back-pain day and I couldn’t carry a DSLR & ‘birding’ long lens), but my shots were good enough to crop down a little to make the birds larger in the frame.

The 3 colourful birds are the males and lit up by a shaft of light, is the plainer olive-green female.

The Parrots scattered as I slowly advanced towards them.

I had my usual black attire and rubber-soled walking shoes, so I usually get mistaken for a tree if I walk slowly enough.  Seems Red-rumped Parrots can see through my disguise though.

Next minute they flew up to the tree branches and my shot of them among the deep shade was sharp enough to crop down and lighten the shadows revealing the yellow underside of one bird below.

Then on I walked back past the ‘hidden’ lake and on past Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve…… down-river.

Some shots of that downriver area later, as today has dawned another perfect Autumn Day and I’m heading outdoors again.

Don’t know where.

Just somewhere in Nature.

I hope the Bloggers I follow will understand my lack of comments and/or Likes on their Blogs these days, but an exacerbation of back pain this year means an exacerbation of shoulder, elbow and wrist pain making typing my own blog about the most I can do (in general).  I follow mainly photography blogs now, that are filled with images (as opposed to some writing blogs I’ve enjoyed in the past).

Luckily Photography just needs the touch of a shutter button and eyes wide open 🙂