GREY FANTAIL (Rhipidura fuliginosa)

After such a woeful outpouring a couple of posts ago, I’ve had a most thrilling sighting this afternoon.

At first I thought it was a baby Willy Wagtail I saw out of the corner of my eye (whilst typing at my desk).   I opened the sliding balcony door and stepped out into the wild gusty wind and went over to the balcony fence.

There was a tiny flash of black darting continually around the Japanese Maple (located between my balcony and the footpath).

I went back indoors and grabbed the long 150-500mm ‘birding’ lens and quickly flipped the 9 focus points to 1 and went back outdoors to try to get that between the Maple foliage.   Not thick foliage at this stage of Spring, but thick enough for me to quickly go through something like 50 shots in an attempt to get the tiny bird in focus.

Here are a few attempts…..

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I was totally mystified by the white wing-like patches behind the white ‘eyebrow’ feathers (which would have made it a Willy Wagtail chick flashing its tail backwards and forwards faster than the eye or camera could follow).

I got my Australian Bird Guide Book out and after downloading the images onto the 27″ screen I realized I had captured some images of a new Bird I’d never seen before – a Grey Fantail.

What a thrill!

Fantails are common birds all over Australia, but I’d never seen one before.

My excitement started to die down and all those long months of photographing the fast-moving Superb Fairy-wrens on my balcony started to pay off.

I finally got some better shots……

The white chin feathers clinched it!  Besides, Northern Fantails are restricted to the far north of Australia, so it wasn’t one of that species.   If you think I’ve got the ID wrong, please let me know in the comments section.

This was about 1.45pm or so.   I was so engrossed in my efforts I nearly forgot I had a doctor’s appointment at the local clinic.

Anyway, 2 hours later, when I returned home, the bird was still frantically flying around the Maple tree, then to the hedge next to the footpath, to the young Eucalyptus sapling and then back to the Maple.

Before I left home it had crashed into the glass balcony fence several times.

It’s 6.00pm at the moment and it’s still madly (and somewhat erratically) moving from branch to branch and tree to tree.

I wonder if it’s looking for its Mother or nest?

I wonder if crashing into the balcony glass fence a few times has hurt it somehow?

I’d never be able to catch it.

If it’s still in the tree tomorrow……. crazily flying around, I’ll be on the phone trying to find the appropriate wildlife association or the local Park Ranger to come and try to catch it and take it to a vet or something.  It is probably a bit premature to phone now this late in the day.

I’ve never seen a bird flying so fast and behaving in such a crazy fashion.

Except when a Rainbow Lorikeet, who flew into my lounge window, crash-landed and fell down dead in my plant pot.   Its body was still warm when I picked it up and surveyed the broken body.   I have to admit a tear came to my eye at that moment.

 

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PRACTICE, PRACTICE & MORE PRACTICE

Now that the new apartment construction (over the road) blocks my view of the sunset, I’ve started focusing more on my view to the right of my apartment balcony.

I just catch a small strip of trees between the building at the top of my road/hill and my own apartment building facade.

Wednesday night I made 3 images of the scene.   Not so much colour – more…… storm clouds.

…….and last night, we moved from the beautiful Spring weather the week before, back to Winter again for the weekend (according to the weather forecast).

So that was the focus of my photography shooting practice yesterday.   I had to stay home anyway as my plant and bags of potting soil were being delivered from the previous day’s outing to the Plant Nursery.

I practice shooting every single day.

You can never get too much practice – whether you’re an amateur photographer like me, or a professional photographer.   If you can’t get outdoors for a nature walk, photograph whatever you can see from your window.

If the weather is terrible, photograph the terrible weather.

Or photograph something indoors – anything, everything – it’s all good practice.

Bunch of lilies in a vase (indoors)

I find shooting photos of anything and everything and uploading them to a large 27″ screen means I can see what compositions ‘work’ and what doesn’t.

16th November 2017

……and last night, I played around with the lounge window reflections at sunset.

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So you see, there is ‘never nothing going on’ (as Dan Millman said in his book/film Way of the Peaceful Warrior).

There are ‘No ordinary Moments’.

There’s always something happening.

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At the moment the seedlings are sitting on a large plastic saucer on my lounge room floor, as, after putting them outdoors yesterday to catch the rain, the young plants were blown wildly about by the wind gusts and intermittent rain showers got a bit too heavy, so I bought them indoors for a few days.

Looks like next Tuesday the rain will have dropped off the radar and I have a mild day for Spring planting.

I’m going to try 3 different Tomato varieties this year.

The plant nursery didn’t have any Sweet Basil to plant around my Tomatoes, so I’ll go back to the store in a couple of weeks when the weather has warmed up again and Sweet Basil supplies are in stock.

Besides, I couldn’t decide what size pots to buy for my pot-bound Blueberry (outdoors) and Peace Lily (indoors).

Next visit I might take my camera again.  One of my shots of the plant nursery uploaded to Google Maps has gained a new personal record of 7101 views.  Unfortunately, that shot and a couple of others were lost in the new iMac computer photo library upload failure.

Sigh!

A BALCONY GARDEN UPDATE

Not much happening in the garden because I haven’t been to the nearby Plant nursery to buy Spring seedlings or some new potting soil (as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago).

I have emptied 6 pots, washed them with soapy water, rinsed them thoroughly and sun-dried them.

I very rarely plan ahead, but take life one day at a time and try to live in Mindful Awareness of what’s happening right now…..in this very moment, but occasionally, Life or Health gets in the way of the rare plan I do make.

This is what’s happened to my seedling shopping expedition.

I’ve been meaning to re-pot my Blueberry ‘Nellie Kelly‘ (Vaccinium x corymbusm x ashei x darrowi), but keep forgetting to buy a larger pot on my expeditions to the Plant Nursery in the last couple of months.

Note to self: write ‘new blueberry pot’ on the shopping list right now………tick, done.

Actually the same applies to my Peace Lily indoors.  I’m sure it’s pot-bound too – see left.  I have never seen any plant grow so quickly and with such vigor.  It has 2 full flowers at the moment and another new one starting to unfurl.   I had to re-pot it 2 weeks after buying it and it needs another larger pot right now.  Actually, it needed to be re-potted 6-7 weeks ago but continues to flourish despite the small pot.

A close friend who was here for lunch the other week said I must send waves of TLC to my garden constantly all day, as she was amazed at how well my plants grew.

One thing I did do at the end of its fruiting season was to prune the Blueberry bush back by 1/3 (as my gardening book advised).

Today, the volume of flowers on the bush is amazing (see below).   Last year I got a small handful of fruit every day for about 3 weeks if I remember correctly.  This year looks like a ‘bumper crop’ if the number of flowers are anything to go by.

I tested the soil PH a couple of weeks ago and found the soil really acidic, initially too acidic I thought. But upon reading up on Blueberries discovered they like acidic soil, so maybe that’s perfect.

Unfortunately, my Broccoli Bambino, which I was growing for the first time and a bit of an experiment, has bolted and gone to flower.   I took a photo just now, through the lounge room window.  Maybe I should have watered it more instead of relying on the rain to moisten its roots.

Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

The Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has grown about 5″ in the last 2 weeks, (despite the rain and cold mornings).

The weather forecast for this week looks to be superb, despite some rain.   It really IS starting to warm up with a forecast of 19C (about 65F) today and 21C (70F) tomorrow…… (and then dropping back to some cooler days for the rest of the week).

The Cabbage, which was supposed to be a 2nd Broccoli Bambino, is still ‘powering ahead’.   I mentioned this plant label error to the Manager in the plant nursery a few weeks ago and he was most surprised.

……and the 2 Kale ‘Tuscano Nero’ (Brassica oleracea sp.) are also doing well and having their outer leaves cut regularly for meals.  Actually, they are growing in the pots I normally use for Tomatoes.   So I have to either eat the whole lot and free up the pots OR buy some more large pots for Tomato seedlings OR don’t grow Tomatoes this year.

I’m awaiting the arrival of the Cabbage Moths as I type.

For those of you with small balcony gardens, but plenty of sun or good light, baby spinach and kale are really easy to grow if you want a few leaves for a veggie serving or the occasional omelette.

The thing to remember is that a couple of plants will do for a single person and last about 3 months for picking if you don’t cut too much.   Baby Spinach grows particularly well so any cut leaves are replaced with new ones in the ‘blink of an eye’. Saves going to the shops or supermarket.

Whenever I buy a bunch of leafy greens, unless I make spinach soup (for example), half the bunch goes yellow before I have a chance to eat it all.    Much better to grow some plants yourself and cut just a few leaves fresh when you want them.

I’ve used about 2/3 of my 2 Parsley plants (English Curly & Italian Flatleaf), so bought some parsley last week so as not to keep cutting my plants to give them a chance to re-grow.

My Tarragon (right hand side of the image below), which died off after cutting back earlier this year, is starting to regrow I noticed this morning.   Just when I shot the image below a few minutes ago, I had 2 male Superb Fairy-wrens in full breeding plumage visiting, so hopefully I’ll get some more little chicks in the near future.

…..and my 3 Mint bushes.   Well, you know what’s been happening to them.

I notice the House Sparrows have been struggling with large pieces of dry dead Parsley stalks and keep dropping them, so I got out the ax and chopping block and cut some ‘kindling’  to line their nests.   I’ve left it in a pile at the end of the Mint trough.

None has been taken so far, so maybe I cut it too small for nest making, OR they can’t read that its free 😀

Enjoy!