HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – female

It’s rare that I don’t take a photo (or two) every day.

As far as I’m concerned it really doesn’t matter if it’s a good shot or a not-so-good shot.  Its all practice and practice is well worth the effort in Lockdown.

I love the image below.   It was made yesterday when the sun cast a brilliant beam of light on my balcony fence rail and despite the ghostly band of white in the bottom half of the frame (which is actually where a louvred window overlaps the pane below), I think its the face and eye which appeals in this shot.

I’d sprinkled a long row of birdseed on the fence rail in the hope of attracting a few more birds to photograph.  In general, it’s only the House Sparrows that like to snack on it,  but I still get Superb Fairy-wrens flying down to the grey balcony floor tiles and wander around in the hope of something tasty to eat.

I followed one male Superb Fairy-wren around the Japanese Maple branches for a quite a while yesterday, but despite having washed the glass panes of the fence, couldn’t get a clear shot.

 

It’s still fun and entertaining.

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Only 14 new COVID cases in Melbourne in the last 24 hours (and sadly 5 deaths – all in the aged care sector).

We’re well on the way to achieving the goal of 14 straight days of an average of <50 new daily cases in order to drop down a Stage in restrictions on Monday, September 28th.

Only 7 days, 7 hours, 40 minutes and 5 seconds to go – not that I’m counting mind you.  😀

 

NEW BIRD SIGHTING

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks with medical appointments, scans, tests, ordering online and the hundred and one other tasks when you have chronic pain & illness and don’t have a car to get around.

The current lockdown, curfew and having to keep within a 5km radius of your home in Melbourne only adds to the difficulties when you don’t have a car and have to rely on taxis to go anywhere.

The one good piece of news is that at the end of the month ‘elective surgery’ is going to open up again in our hospitals.   Despite a backlog of over 100,000 surgeries which have been on hold and will now take something like 6 months to clear, I have finally sourced a new orthopaedic surgeon and am cautiously optimistic that I might REALLY get to the stage of getting a hip replacement.   Even so, I have to pass a medical since I have a severe (inherited) heart condition and multiple other severe health issues.    Then there’s the……..well, I won’t bore you with the details, but daily life is getting to be really hard work – both physically and mentally – at the moment.

I’m totally fed up with this ever-increasing hip pain and I’ve watched so much TV or movies online that my eyes are getting ‘distinctly square’ (overseas followers might not know this expression from watching too much TV).

I live in one of the most picturesque urban areas in the western suburbs – including a nature reserve and river behind my apartment building (for the benefit of new followers), but without the ability to go for a lovely long walk, I’m restricted to indoors – mostly.

After I dismantled and re-homed most of my balcony garden a couple of months ago, I don’t get as many birds visiting my balcony.   Long-term followers will know how much that garden and its avian visitors meant to me over the last 4 years, especially in Spring.

Some images of the old balcony garden below (for the new followers).

ASIAN CLIMBING SPINACH (from the seeds my younger brother gave me).
A female Superb Fairy-wren standing on the rim of the veggie trough.
Part of the balcony herb & veggie garden Spring 2019
Heirloom tomatoes grownn for the first time.
Herbs, beans & leafy greens cut for today’s meals.

Apart from the stores and plant nursery being closed in the current 6 week lockdown in Melbourne,  there’s no point setting up a new Spring garden with the potential of  surgery and several weeks of recovery on the horizon.

It would cost a fair bit of money to start my garden all over again, although I’ve got all the plastic pots from last season and the plastic plant ID tags ready to purchase seedlings sometime in the future.

I have a list.   Gosh, I have an enormous ‘to do/buy’ list if it comes to that.

Although I did have my DSLR and long telephoto lens out of its pouch, I haven’t been holding out much hope of some avian visitors in the deep, dark shade of the eucalyptus tree.

One of the luckiest shots ever – A BABY GREY FANTAIL chick in the eucalyptus tree from 2 weeks ago.

The incredible sound of many chirping birds in its depths was almost deafening this morning, but with so many leaves, pretty hard to catch a bird in focus within the frame, for it’s a nature photographer that I am in retirement – the Grey Fantail above, caught by the lens was in a very lucky series of shots.

But the Japanese Maple on the left-hand side of the fence is bursting with new growth and a powerhouse of young buds and leaves for the bird-life in the area.   It’s also much less densely foliaged at the moment.

I was watching a YouTube online of some Willy Wagtails singing and a mother feeding it’s tiny offspring (which I’ll share next time I see a Willy Wagtail) when I noticed a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye.

I turned and saw the rear end of olive-green feathers and knew without a doubt I was looking at a new bird in my tree.

For ‘my’ tree it is as I am the tenant to benefit the most from its bird-attracting new foliage in Spring.

At first, I thought it might be a White-plumed Honeyeater which I’d seen a couple of times in past years, but there were more olive-green feathers on the bird (below) than a honeyeater.  The photo below actually looks like the rear or back of a Bell Miner.

I watched as the bird jumped from branch to branch between the bright green young leaves.

The #$@%! autofocus on the telephoto lens wouldn’t focus.

I’m actually fairly good at getting one focal point between branches and foliage after practising so much in recent years, but for some weird reason, it wouldn’t autofocus today.   My eyesight is too poor to use the manual focus ring on the DSLR/lens, but on autofocus, well, let’s just say I’ve had plenty of practice photographing the local birdlife.

I waited patiently for the bird to appear near the top of the tree where I’d have a clear view.

I knew that time would come as its the tiny new shoots that the birds like to graze on in Spring and those tiny leaves are in profusion at the top of the tree where the sun kisses the young branch tips.

Then the bird flew up to the top, turned so I could see its white eye-ring and I knew straight away it was a Silvereye (western race)  which doesn’t have the blue feathers of the eastern race – Zosterops lateralis chloronotus to be exact.

This is the first time in 4 years since I moved to the area that I’ve seen a Silvereye.

So I’m thrilled to share this shot with you today, as I can see by the fine downy feathers and small beak, it’s a young chick………very young-looking in the following shot.   I would say only days or a week old?

Every time I get a bit ‘down’ and dispirited in Lockdown, it’s the birds who uplift me with their presence and song.

MORNING VISITOR

I heard a slightly different bird call as I was reading my overnight emails this morning and turned to face the slight gap in the louvred windows on the right-hand side of my lounge room.

It was a  Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) standing on my balcony fence.

On the rare times, I’ve seen a Blackbird in my (now depleted and re-homed) balcony garden in the past, it’s usually flown away before I could get my camera out.

This morning was different.   The Blackbird actually stayed for a while, so I first picked up the Canon DSLR with the 150-500mm lens and took a couple of shots.

No good, there was a bright spot behind the left-hand side of the bird and I’d forgotten to change yesterday’s high ISO of 3200 back to 800 (it’s usual setting).

I quickly got the Sony a6000 out (with its ‘kit’ lens of 55-210mm).   I was lucky enough to have the time to steady my arms and breathing and hold the camera very still and fire off 3 shots before the Blackbird flew awat,.

In the first shot, it turned its head at the same moment I pressed the shutter button, so it looks amusingly headless.

The next shot was OK…..if a little too far to the right of the composition.

The adult male blackbird is very distinctive: jet black with orange-yellow beak and eye-ring.  The female and juvenile are dark brown, paler and rufous on the underparts and brownish-yellow beak.  The female often shows a dark-bordered whitish throat.

Its calls sound like a ‘chink’ and ‘chack’: melodious, attractive fluting song.

Instantly, its sunny, chirpy disposition became mine and I was so thankful for its song.

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

Earlier this week, our State’s Premier announced an additional 2 weeks lockdown and curfew to that 6-week current one which was due to end next Sunday the 13th.  He also announced that businesses – cafes and ordinary shops – wouldn’t re-open until the last week in October (I think) – my memory is more dysfunctional than usual at the moment.

So no shops open for quite some time yet.   I’ve now got so many errands listed on my TO DO list.    Most need to be done in-store, not online. Especially my hair-cut which is in the city.  I can’t do that online  😀   I did cut it myself earlier this year, but with a shoulder injury at the moment, I can’t hold my hands/arms up high.

So there’s not much activity happening in Melbourne (and its suburbs) for quite some time yet and Stage 4 lockdown will continue.

Regional Victoria has had no new cases overnight so they look more likely to step down a Stage if that continues.  They are currently on Stage 3 restrictions.

The Premier’s idea is that when we get down to single-digit new cases for a consistent period of 14 days, restrictions and curfew will be lifted……… (mostly).   We’re hoping interstate borders will be re-opened in the coming month(s).  Surprisingly, some of our fresh food comes from interstate, although I got all I ordered online this week, whereas most of the previous weeks orders were missing items.

Sigh!

 

GREY FANTAIL (Rhipidura fuliginosa)

Exciting news!

Yesterday when I was cleaning out my desk drawers, (a task one does in ‘lockdown’), I spotted a movement out of the corner of my eye.

I looked up and thought I saw a bird in the eucalyptus tree beside my balcony fence.   After collecting my DSLR and long 150-500mm lens out of its soft pouch on the floor, I slowly stood up and edged sideways towards the lounge balcony door.

Now,  normally this movement on my part would scare any birds away, but with the foliage being thick and not much light, I felt the only way to get a shot was open the balcony door and have no glass between the bird and myself.  I’d cleaned the exterior of my lounge windows only a week ago, but some rain, thick with yellow/orange dust, had re-soiled the windows mid-week.

FIRST SHOT OF THE GREY FANTAIL 5/9/20. I CLEARLY NEEDED TO GET CLOSER TO SHOOT OVER THE BALCONY FENCE RAIL.

The bird didn’t move much.   Take note of its soft downy breast feathers (below).   These and the size of the fantail suggested a very young bird, probably born in the last week or so.   It also looked rather fat so I might suggest it was well-fed by its mother?

A BETTER SHOT BUT WITH AN ISO of 800, CLEARLY A BIT OF NOISE or GRAINYNESS IN THE BACKGROUND FOLIAGE

It was very small and I wondered if the faint white on its face denoted a tiny Willy Wagtail chick initially.   Willy Wagtails have very distinct white ‘eyebrows’. I managed to get 2 shots before it flew away and when I downloaded them, I saw at once that it was a tiny Grey Fantail chick.

THE NEXT SHOT OF THE SECOND VISIT. I WAS HOPING FOR A FRONT-ON VIEW, BUT THE SPOT OF LIGHT REFLECTING IN ITS EYE (MAKING IT A FAIRLY GOOD BIRD SHOT) WAS MISSING.

It was so cute and similar in size to the Superb Fairy-wrens who move with such speed around my balcony area.

Next minute I saw more movement so once again repeated the exercise……got up off my desk chair and slowly moved to the doorway which I’d left open.

I actually repeated this 6 times as the tiny chick flew over to the other side of the road to the tall trees and back to my tree again.   It whipped around to the back of the tree and I watched for some time as it came back to the front-facing me.   Over and over, several times.

I HAD TO STEADY MY LEFT ARM AGAINST THE DOORWAY POST (to get handheld shots).   I missed quite a few when it moved.

It turned continuously as though it was showing off its new coat of feathers to its adoring public – aka ME!

THEN THE SUNLIGHT DISAPPEARED BELOW THE HORIZON AT THE TOP OF MY HILL AND THE TREE FOLIAGE, WHICH WAS ALREADY THICK AND DARK,  got PLUNGED INTO extreme DARK.

I switched the ISO to the highest speed on my Canon DSLR – 3200.   This high ISO creates a lot of noise, or graininess, in the background, but for a hand-held shot and a bird continuously on the move on that branch, it was the only way to get the bird in focus in such low light..

I walked indoors to get out the Sony a6000 ‘mirrowless’ with its fast 11 fps (frames per second) continuous shooting speed.   The Sony has a top ISO of 6400 which was the only way I was going to get more shots of the fantail in the dim light.   I only have one lens for this camera, but that would have to do.

With my eyesight, I can’t tell which of the following 2 shots is in focus, so I’ve given you both. With only the 55-210 kit lens for my Sony left now (the 18-200mm lens died in a fall 3 months after I bought the Sony in 2015).   I traded some lenses to buy the Sony, partly because of its light weight with my declining spinal condition, but also because, at that time it was the fastest fps (frames per second) on the market.

So the 2 shots below were handheld with my left elbow resting on the doorframe to try and steady the camera.  Hope you can see the bird right of centre.

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I’m hoping to see this tiny new chick a few more times in the afternoons.   I’m not sure why it flew back and forth betweeen the tall tree over the road and my eucalyptus tree so many times, but it kept me entertained for quite some time.

The first (and only) time I saw a Grey Fantail previously was in the Japanese Maple tree on the 19th September 2019.

That Fantail was fully grown (to my eyes) and continually flew up, down and all around the branches in the maple for 3 hours.

Here are a few of the 2019 shots.   You’ll notice the new Spring growth on the bare-limbed winter tree.

Yesterday’s tiny bird sighting really made my day.

A friend who lives on the top floor of this building rang me on Friday to say there were new ducklings on the large puddle of water near Frogs Hollow and also 2 black swans further down the river on the pond.

Dare I hope for another walk and some more photos in this glorious Spring sunshine?

You’ll have to keep following my nature blog to find out   🙂

IT’S COMING……

Spring is on the horizon and the tiny buds (and new leaves) on the Japanese Maple in front of my apartment balcony are always the first to herald it’s arrival.

It’s a gorgeous day outdoors (despite the forecast for rain this afternoon) and I yearn for a good long walk, but the old hip says “no”.

FROG’S HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE (lower half of this image). Photo made from the 5th floor of my apartment building.
PART OF FROG’S HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE (the lower left). GRAVEL WALKING TRACK down to the river (lower centre). FROG’S HOLLOW loy-lying field (lower right side of the image). GOLF COURSE and RESIDENTIAL AREA ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER (in the top half of this image).
MELBOURNE CITY approximately 10-11 KMS away from my home.

We are coming to the end of the 4th week in our 6-week lockdown in Melbourne and I for one will be glad when the 6 weeks are up.  Hopefully, our state’s Premier will issue some lighter restrictions OR maybe going back to Stage 3 restrictions and a release from keeping within a 5km limit to home (to stop community spread) and a nightly curfew (8.00pm – 5.00 am) in an effort to curb younger folk partying.

We’ve had only 113 new COVID cases overnight (but sadly, still 23 deaths – 22 in aged care).   This is down from 725(?) 7-8 weeks ago.    Most of the deaths always seem to be in the aged care sector which saddens me greatly, especially as family and friend’s visits are restricted too.  They range in age from 70s, 80s, 90s and 100).   There has also been a 20-year-old male and a 30 yr old male – the young are not immune.   To those of you who live in large countries with higher populations, these figures might not seem like much, but any premature death saddens me.

Our nightly curfew and strict lockdown is working but at what cost?   I’ve seen ambulances and police outside my building twice in the last week and can’t help but wonder if there are any COVID cases in my 6 storey apartment building.   I’m being doubly cautious after my own scare over the weekend (described in this post here).

I don’t usually wish my life away, but I can’t wait for Something to Happen.

Anything.

Just a change in my days indoors.   It’s been something like 18 months since I’ve mainly been housebound with this severe hip OA (and other pain conditions).   I’ve done about 4-5 walks down to the local pond and one visit to the Maribyrnong Wetlands – via taxi.   All aggravating the pain, but worth the effort (at the time) to capture a few photos and some fresh air.

Actually, mid last year, I had to call a taxi to take me to the nearest street post box to post some urgent mail) as it was too painful to walk up my road’s steep hill and the 2 blocks to the post box outside the Aldi store.

I then asked the taxi driver to take me down to the small pond near the river where there are a pair of Khaki Campbell ducks. I walked around the pond just once and then caught a bus home (from the bus stop right next to the pond).

Khakis were originally bred in England and are a combination of Mallards, Rouens and Runner ducks. They generally come in three colour varieties – khaki, dark and white. The drake (the boy) is usually mostly khaki coloured with a darker olive green head lacking the white ring of its Mallard ancestors. The duck (the girl) has the usual underwhelming colour scheme and is khaki (brown) all over.

They are prolific egg-layers and this pair must have escaped from someone’s back yard I think.  They originated in the U.K. in the late 1800s so they must have been imported to Australia.

I suspect the small patch of white water Lillies on this pond are coming into bloom at the moment too.

The next 2 days are going to be clear and sunny so we’ll see what the pain levels are going to be like when I wake up in the morning before I predict my ability to walk outdoors in that glorious pre-Spring weather.

….and GLORIOUS IT IS AT THE MOMENT!

There are lots of other birds in my immediate vicinity and I long to join them, camera(s) in hand, on their daily excursions.

At the moment, all I can hear is birdsong from outside my lounge window.   I suspect the thick foliage in the Eucalyptus tree next to the right end of my balcony is going to host some bird nests this year.

What fun that would be……if I could see them in the dense foliage that is. 2-3 times I’ve seen birds right in the middle, but I have to look hard (and for some time) to pick their dark bodies out in the gloom.

Here’s a sample of the Maribyrnong Wetlands area & pond below.

Enjoy……..

And the pond near my home……

WHITE-FACED HERON (Egretta novaehollandiae) – Maribyrnong River

and a bit further along the river heading for Newell’s Paddock Nature Reserve.

Little Pied Cormorant

To be honest, I don’t miss people, shops, movies, library or even just the supermarket & Asian fresh food market near my home.   I certainly don’t miss the dentist in the city centre.   I do miss my city-based hairdresser at the moment though – my hair looks like an unruly floor mop.

I MISS THE BIRDS (and the opportunity for a nature walk and some photography).

More images from my archives to come.   Hope you’re not all getting bored with the absence of new photos.   Hope the newer followers are enjoying my photo archives.   Long-time followers will have seen all these images before of course.

Another image shot at my local pond – only about 10 minutes walk.

 

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

From the archives

Late 2012

I’m not sure I’ve shared images of the Glossy Ibis before, but here they are.    They were made in the Great Aviary at Melbourne Zoo.   I’ve seen Australian White Ibises in Nature Reserves or National Parks, but not these Glossy Ibises.   But they’re out there.  Depending on whether its shady or full sun on the day of the zoo visit, makes a great difference to the colour of these lovely iridescent-feathered birds.

Sometimes they look to be more blue/green/grey and other times more a rich russet brown, although I’ve just been reading that the juveniles are more brown so that could account for some of the colour difference.  I suspect I had my camera on AUTO ISO some days and CLOUDY ISO on other days which might account for the mix of cool or warm tones in the images in this post.

Ibises are found over most of Australia, particularly the northern states and eastern seaboard.

In flight they look very dark in colour and carry their heads and neck outstretched.  The image above was the best I could get of one in the air.

This Ibis (below) looks like it just caught a meal from the surrounding landscape.

Most of these images were made from the 10-20 foot high boardwalk that runs through the Great Aviary.

Here are a few photos of The Great Aviary to give overseas folk a sense of how large this enclosure is at Melbourne’s main Zoo in North Melbourne.  It is designed and landscaped to cover 3 climatic zones.

If and when, Australia ever opens it’s international borders to tourists and you’re visiting Melbourne, do make the effort to visit our main zoo (there are 3).  The landscaping, animal, bird and reptile exhibits are worth a day trip to see them all, but after many visits, I often chose the Great Aviary a lovely place to practice some bird photography for the whole afternoon.

I did get caught out on one afternoon visit in that the Aviary was closed for maintenance, but then that can occur with other parts of the zoo also.

It’s usually open 365 days per year, but in our current 6-week lockdown in Melbourne, it’s closed at the moment.

The first time I can remember it not being open.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK (again)

I have a large folder of quotes which I read from time to time.  Most of them are uplifting or inspirational and remind me to ‘keep on, keeping on.’   I keep adding to the file whenever I come across a new one (quote) I like.

Inside yourself or outside,
you never have to change what you see,
only the way you see it.

Thaddeus Golas

This quote (above) reminded me not to forget why I loved this image of an Australian Pelican at Melbourne Zoo – made on 1st August 2012 (below).

In hindsight, now, 8 years later, I can see the outline/detail of the bird’s feathers is soft in focus and these days it just wouldn’t be worth keeping (by today’s photography standards I have acquired).

But the reality is that I loved the reflection and colours in the foreground/background and it was one of the first Australian Pelican images  I took, so I try not to be so critical, but keep my eyes open to why I love bird photography in general.

I keep it because it reminds me of how much fun I had/have doing bird photography and that joy is well worth keeping in my life today.

It’s also a reminder that we don’t have to be perfect in our various creative pursuits whether it be painting, pottery, drawing, craftworks etc.   We just have to enjoy it in that very moment of creation and open our eyes to the pleasure in doing what we love.

GALAH (Cacatua roseicapilla)

Back to the archives for today’s post.

I was looking/listening to bird calls on YouTube late last night and came across one that highlighted 10 of the most beautiful cockatoos in the world and was surprised to discover that 8 of them came from Australia.

It reminded me of the Galahs I have seen in my urban location.   They’re seen in huge flocks in the countryside from just about anywhere in Australia and I daresay country-living folk take them for granted, but for me, a sighting near my home is an absolute delight.

I’ve only seen them twice grazing on the grass in a small park between my home and the local shopping centre.

Fortunately, both times, I’ve had my small, lightweight Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ camera in my shopping trolley.

I saw about 20 in a small flock and couldn’t resist a few photos.   (my heavy long 150-500mm lens and DSLR is too large/heavy to take on shopping expeditions), but on this occasion, I managed to slowly creep quite close before one Galah saw me and the whole flock took off to the other side of the park.

I sill managed to get a fairly decent shot from that distance as they lined up in a row – obviously this is a cropped image below.

I shared these images last year, but in these restricted times when outings are at a minimum, no harm in sharing again for the new followers.

And the YouTube I was watching is below.   I found the video a bit long to be honest but watched it to the end anyway.

 

PIED CURRAWONG (Strepera graculina)

I mentioned the bird name Currawong a couple of posts previously when talking about the Australian Ravens I’d seen down in the seaside suburb of Altona 3 weeks ago.

I managed to find my (only) 2 photos of what I believe is a Pied Currawong (Strepera craculina) in my archives.  Now that I’ve found these images made in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne on 6th December 2013 I’ve given them a folder all of their own in my Archives so these images will be easy to find if I need them again.

Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina)

I imagine they were random shots of what I thought was a crow at the time and not particularly good, (as far as Bird photos go), but the second image does show the yellow eye more clearly.

It’s a large crow-like bell-magpie.  Generally black, with a heavy black beak.

Distinguished by contrasting white base and tip to tail. white under-tail coverts, and striking white patch in the wing particularly conspicuous in flight.   The eye is strikingly yellow and this should have alerted me to the fact that it wasn’t a crow at the time of shooting.

The immature is a duller grey-brown, with dark eye according to my Photographic Field Guide Birds of Australia by Jim Flegg.

They have a varied tunefully mellow whistle, plus harsh shrieks and variants of ‘currawock’ and ‘currawong’ and while they’re essentially a forest bird, they’ve adapted to well-treed farms, scrub and city parks and gardens.   I managed to find a very short YouTube of a Black Currawong call.

I’ve been listening to a cacophony of bird sounds outside my lounge windows this morning, broken by the sweet chirping of the Superb Fairy-wrens.   I wish I could see which bird(s) have made a home in the Eucalyptus tree next to my apartment balcony fence, but the foliage is too dense as you can see in the image I just made below.

20 minutes ago, the same(?) young female House Sparrow was sitting on the partition that divides my apartment balcony from the balcony next door (below).

This is an even harder shot due to the louvred set of windows on the right-hand side of my floor-to-ceiling windows in front of my desk.   It’s quite hard to hold the heavy long telephoto lens and DSLR pointing upwards right between the glass panes.   Fortunately, I opened all my windows and door wide open when I got up this morning to let fresh air in.     It’s much easier to hold the heavy lens horizontal with my elbows leaning on my desk when birds actually land on my balcony.

I much prefer images of the birds when they land on my balcony and are doing something interesting that I can photograph clearly from my desk chair.

I saw one Sparrow carrying a rather large bundle of nesting material yesterday.

*******

Melbourne, Australia, where I live in one of the outer north-western suburbs, is in strict lock-down for at least 6 weeks at the moment as we try to contain a large cluster of virus-outbreaks in the high-rise housing commission apartment blocks to the north of the city, but once the winter fog clears I’ll see if I can manage a quick walk outdoors as it’s going to be a beautiful sunny winter day today (and tomorrow).

Housing Commission, for overseas followers,  as described on Wikipedia:

The Housing Commission of Victoria (often shortened to Housing Commission, especially colloquially) was a Victorian State Government body responsible for public housing in Victoria, Australia. It was established in 1938, and was abolished in 1984.

The main activity of the Commission was the construction of tens of thousands of houses and flats in Melbourne and many country towns between the late 1940s and the early 70s, providing low rent housing for low-income families. The most visible legacy of the Commission is the 47 or so high-rise apartment towers in inner Melbourne, all built using the same precast concrete panel technology.

Those high-rise apartments are small and often house 2-3 families, or extended families in each flat, and have no balconies or Room With a View like I have.   I must admit if I didn’t have a green outlook, I would find it very difficult to sustain living long-term house-bound so I have great sympathy for the Housing Commission occupant’s current plight.

The State Government is hoping after the 6 weeks we can get back to our (new) ‘normal‘ i.e. staying home or working from home (if possible), limited daily outings for food and exercise, or caregiving/medical needs……….and limited cafes, hotels & social get-to-gether numbers.

It’s a very strict indoor lifestyle at the moment.

AUSTRALIAN RAVEN (Corvus coronoides)

I’ve finally unpacked everything and got 97% of my possessions back in place after my apartment move on Monday this week.

(I seem to have more possessions than 2 weeks ago  😀   but that’s impossible, merely that I’ve done a bit of re-arranging in this move to try and eradicate so much bending and/or twisting in daily activities for my degenerative spinal condition and right hip OA).

Anyway, this means I’ve found my photographic field guide Birds of Australia by Jim Flegg.  

By the way, if you live in Australia and are interested in Bird Photography, I can highly recommend this relatively small, (well, about 8″ & 6″), book to help you identify any Australian Birds you’re keen to put ‘name to face.’

Most of the images in this guide are very clear in both colour and bird shape, sometimes the eye colour being the only thing to help you identify between 2 or 3 similar birds.   Jim Flegg has inserted a small map of Australia with shaded blue areas of where the bird species is usually found for each one and a very concise description of the bird, the differences between male and female, its call and whether it’s common or rare etc.

AUSTRALIAN RAVEN (Corvus coronoides)

I believe the couple of photos I made of a large black bird last week in the local children’s playground have now been identified correctly, (although please let me know in the comments section if you believe I’ve got the name wrong).

There are 6 species of Raven or Crow in Australia, with the 3 Currawongs adding to an easy-to-mistake identification.

First I cast aside any bird photo that didn’t fall into my state of Victoria, then dismissed the ones with dark eyes and carefully read the description to reveal the name Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides).

I think Jim’s description finally clinched it.

47-56cm Large, familiar, and the largest Australia Crow.  Entirely glossy black, with an oily sheen in sunlight.  Throat feathers of adult bushy and bristly, especially during calling, when body is characteristically held horizontal.  (yes, this description definitely looked like the bird on the right side of my photo).  Eye white in adult.   Beak long, strong and black, with slightly convex ridge to upper mandible.

Immature duller with brown eye.  Mated pairs characteristically sedentary, roaming flocks of non-breeders small, not cohesive as in very similar Little Raven.

And so on………

This identification was a hard one for me as I’m not good at judging bird size from any distance and 8 (out of the 9) birds in the book have white eyes.