NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae)

I’d just turned on my computer and settled down to my morning coffee and Sunday morning scrambled eggs on toast, when I spotted a new bird out on the Japanese Maple in front of my balcony.  I could only see the outline on the bare-limbed young tree through several layers of dirty glass, but had a fair idea of what it might be due to the shape alone.

(Yes, I eat breakfast at my desk, always prepared for early morning avian sightings).

Unfortunately it flew away before I could drop the fork and pick up the camera with the long 150-500mm lens and turn it on.  I’d set up the 2 cameras (Canon DSLR and Sony ‘mirrorless’) last night with Shutter Priority and cleaned the lenses having ‘wasted’ half the day following the Superb Fairy-wrens around my balcony garden yesterday afternoon.

Thick fog surrounded my apartment building and the construction site over the road so it was an exceptionally chilly Winter morning.

Tomorrow is supposed to be colder and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear on the News that the low-laying hills surrounding the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne had got a thin dusting of snow.  My younger brother, who lives on the other side of these hills up in the country, is at a much higher altitude than me and would be sure to email me some photos if this weather phenomenon did occur.

I braved the full force of the chill and flung open my sliding glass door to my balcony, took the lens caps off both cameras and got prepared for the wait.

I’d been about to reply to overnight blog comments, but completely ignored the computer screen and sat watching for the slightest movement outdoors signally bird activity, instead.

I slowly lifted the piece of toast piled high with creamy eggs and a heavy covering of chopped English Parsley and started to open my mouth, when……..

…….all of a sudden, I got such a fright, (or, should I say….thrill 🙂 ), when a bird flew in the open doorway and nearly into my armchair by the window about 4 feet from my desk chair.

The bird crashed around indoors frantically trying to find the open doorway and freedom again.

$&#!  How could I catch it.  No way with my hands that’s for sure.

I’d caught a Spotted Turtle-Dove in my hands and released it when it got stuck under the glass balcony fence in my previous apartment, but those Doves were relatively calm since I’d been feeding them every day for months.  Towards the end of that tenancy, I could go out to the balcony fence and fill the seed and water bowls with the Doves sitting about 12-15 inches away from my hands (if I moved very, very slowly).

I’d also caught a tiny Fairy-wren in my hands when it got stuck between a flower pot and the glass fence in my current apartment and released it into the air only a year or so ago.

But this was a New Holland Honeyeater – wild, not used to close human proximity, and frantic, desperate for escape.  It was flying and crashing fiercely into the dusty lounge windows and flying so fast I thought it might hurt itself.

There was nothing I could think off on the spur of the moment, so I picked up the DSLR with the long 150-500mm.

$&#! I said again.

“Zoom back out, you idiot,” I said to myself.

I was too close.

I’d left the 150-500mm zoomed ready for Birds on my Balcony as approximate camera settings save time when these fast-moving birds land on the garden or balcony fence.

So I put the camera back on the desk and picked up the Sony a6000 with the shorter telephoto lens and blow me down if the lens didn’t jam.

I frantically pushed the shutter button, willing it to release, but the camera wouldn’t work.

I softly said a different expletive (as though a different swear word might magically unlock the ‘mirrorless’ camera 😀 ).

I rarely swear now I’m a little old(er) lady with greyish hair…… (as though my age and appearance might somehow preclude me from the uttering of such language).

Gosh, I only used to swear when I hurt myself, or the computer acted up in my working life,  but I admit to more than a few expletives since I’d bought my new iMac on the 3rd May this year.  You’ll understand if you’ve read my previous few posts.  This is meant to be a nature blog, not the saga of my current computer/internet issues.

Anyway, back to the story……

I picked up the Canon DSLR again and zoomed back out and managed to fire off a few shots, before the bird suddenly found the open doorway and flew away.

I had no idea if I’d got the Honeyeater in focus as the area was relatively dark at floor level this time of morning, (while the west-facing lounge room and balcony was in full shade on this frigid cold Sunday morning).

I quickly transferred the photos to the new 27″ iMac and carefully reviewed the multiple shots (as both cameras were set on continuous shooting).

I found 4 images that were good enough to share.

Here ’tis…………. (and not a word about my lousy internet troubles).

Do the long-term followers remember when I found 2 tiny New Holland Honeyeater chicks in December 2017 – one on my balcony fence and one on the Eucalyptus sapling between my balcony and the road?

Now, that……..really was a thrill, especially when I went out to attempt a photo of the chick on the fence railing from about 12 inches away and it opened its eyes and stared straight at my camera lens without the slightest fear at all.

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

(and thanks to all those followers who’ve offered suggestions about my computer and internet problems – I’ll follow some of them up).

I’ve finally discovered the best way to deal with these pesky computer/internet issues.

Stop thinking about them and stop writing about them  😀

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

A rare shot made in deep shade, which when lightened in post processing, revealed a NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) – FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE (behind my apartment building) –  17th December 2017

 

Advertisements

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Winter

The dying Autumn leaves have mostly drifted down to the ground now and the Japanese Maple in front of my apartment balcony is revealing the tiny birds – House Sparrows and Superb Fairy-wrens that visit me each day.

They bring so much joy into my day now that I’m more housebound.

I put some seed on the balcony fence rail to tempt them this morning and was quickly rewarded by a number of House Sparrows peck-pecking and spitting out the husks.  The bag of canary seed I’m using up, isn’t much use to the tiny Fairy-wrens though.

One of my veggie troughs is almost bare and I ran a stick through its surface to allow more of the Winter rain to soak into the roots of the last baby Spinach plant in that container and to my surprise, the Fairy-wrens seem to find something tasty to graze on.  I can’t see what they’re eating, but they do seem to enjoy whatever it is.

********

I’ve resolved 3 problems on my new iMac, including the main one whereby my gmail and web browsing sites keep opening to a window I don’t want.  I might add this particular issue should have been easily resolved by the AppleCare Helpdesk who screen-shared with me last week.  Hmmmmm……….

The saga continues with the new computer gobbling up my limited internet allowance each month so I am continuing to keep off the internet for the most part.  Today, I’m making an exception, although I continue to monitor my internet data usage each morning to keep within my limits this month.  It cost an extra $40 last month and I fail to see why as I was mainly working offline on my Photo Library.

On Saturday I went to Apple Store with some photos I’d taken of my issues to explain my problems more fully and I was fortunate to have an exceptionally good staff member who gave me some answers, although I do await the home visit of a technician in the coming week (?) who has been booked by AppleCare Helpdesk over the phone.

While the Apple Store staff member did say photos take up more internet due to the exceptionally high resolution screen of the 2019 27″ iMac, I really can’t believe they take 2 1/2 months worth of extra internet each month.

I also went to the Telstra (my internet service provider) store in the same shopping centre and sought some advice on what affordable larger internet packages I might sign up with.  Unfortunately my current contract doesn’t end until the 30th August, 2019, so other than paying extra $$$ for every GB I go over my limit for the next couple of months, I can’t do much about that.  I will continue to reserve my internet use to mostly banking, checking emails and bill paying online with the occasional visit to a few blogs I follow.

I had a quick look at a few blogs I follow in WordPress this morning, but can’t press the LIKE button on some sites.  This is an old problem I had years ago and I can’t remember how I fixed it.  I also have to keep logging on to WordPress each day……and 500px……and National Geographic Shot of the Day (which I occasionally submit images to).

I have to admit this new computer is testing my patience, but with brilliant winter sun and glorious blue skies filling my view out my lounge window, methinks I should turn off that pesky computer and attempt a walk to the local pond.

NO NEED FOR AN UMBRELLA TODAY 🙂

 

AUTUMN LEAVES…………..

From the archives……

28th May, 2013

We’ve had rain every day (and often overnight) for about 10 days now and the forecast for next week  looks like it’s going to continue.

None of my cameras are waterproof and with the massive task of setting up a new Photo Library, it’s been a good time to work indoors.

Unlike when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens 4 years ago, where there were lots of sun shelters and a couple of restaurants, there is no shelter from the rain or strong winds walking along the river behind my current apartment block, so even light rain showers prohibit walking outdoors with a camera.

Not that I can complain about the inclement weather (it plunged down to 11C degrees the other day), we badly need our dams and water reservoirs filled after such a dry Summer here in Melbourne.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS SHOTS FROM early 2011

This week’s goal is to file 2011 images (and re-create their respective folders with names).  If you’ve read the last few posts you will know I have a new computer and have had trouble importing my Photo Library (and lost my whole image filing system).

With a very cold wet windy weather forecast for this week, I should make great headway stuck indoors (again 😀 ).

I came across these images (above) made in first few weeks in 2011.  I’d been using a small Canon ‘point and shoot‘ camera since taking up Photography as a hobby in May 2010 and became totally addicted to the art of Photography.

In December 2010 I bought my first Canon DSLR and 100mm macro lens intending to do flower photography, but soon found the brisk winds in Melbourne made it difficult, so I did lots of research and ended up buying a 18-200mm lens a couple of months later (and borrowed my SIL’s 55-250mm lens for a month also).

I experimented a lot.

After using full Auto for most of 2010, I never used Auto with the Canon DSLR.  I dove straight into Manual mode (although I had to use Auto Focus with such poor eyesight).  I had no idea about the ‘exposure triangle’ and how to use Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, but somehow I ended up with fairly good exposure all the same.

I’d also dug a ‘big hole’ in my $3000 photography budget.  A small $6000 inheritance is well and truly gone today – 2019.

Photography is not a cheap hobby.

To this day, I still think the 18-200mm lens is the perfect all round general lens (especially if you’re new to Photography and can only afford one lens).  Both 18-200mm lenses I bought for my Canon DSLR in 2011 and my Sony a6000 in 2015 have died and I have other lenses now.

 

I also became addicted to shallow DOF (Depth of Field or Bokeh or background blur).  

????? An Acacia (wattle) of some kind ?????

…..and started photographing leaves, seeds and tree bark.

The images in this post are a random collection of whatever I saw on my afternoon walks in the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens, (where I used to work opposite for 16 1/2 years so knew the area well).

I walked to wherever I could get to via public transport at that time.

Even Melbourne Zoo – but that’s another Story……..

 

MOVE CLOSER….

From the archives….

11th February, 2014

I don’t know whether its something to do with being extremely short-sighted, but I’ve always been a ‘details‘ person.

It’s a character trait that served me well in my old accounting job over the years and I haven’t changed since I had to take early retirement and took up Photography as a hobby in 2010.

As I go through my old photos, transferring them slowly to my new iMac computer in recent days, I’m amazed at how many shots I’ve taken showing the details of flowers, plants, leaves……………… and the ground.  The spare 2T hard drive I used as an intermediary had lots of old deleted images on it (as well as the 2 photo libraries I’d transferred there in recent days).

The image above was in a series I took  of the water course in Fern Gully (located in the centre of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne).

I spent a whole afternoon with the camera on a tripod testing out various shutter speeds to see which one I liked the best when shooting moving water.

It was so interesting experimenting and if you’re new to Nature Photography, I urge you to do the same.

Don’t copy someone else.

Find your own style and camera settings.  Experimenting is one of the quickest ways to learn how to use your camera, which settings make for good exposure and how to develop your own Photographic Vision.  Sure, tutorials and manuals are a great guide.  But personally, I think I learned more by experimenting and reviewing the results on a large screen.

I think I ended up with a shutter speed of 1/20 as my favourite to achieve a slight blur but still retain a sense of movement.  I’m not a big fan of those images in which the photographer has ended up with a ‘sea of foam’ which is so popular in seascapes and water falls etc

The same afternoon, I also took a few photos of this Australian Wood Duck couple in the shallow part of the main lake in the RBG.  The greyish bird in the background facing the other way is an Eurasian Coot.

I hope to be back to ‘normal’ blogging on my Nature Blog in about 7-10 days (if no more interruptions happen).

Last night  I had to type in my password to update Adobe and somehow a virus hopped on to my computer.  It was a ‘Smart Search’ browser virus.  It kept changing my Google Homepage and as it ‘greyed-out’ where you type in the homepage details in ‘Preferences’ on my iMac, I couldn’t get in to fix it.  When I logged on, it kept running a virus scan and telling me I had 217 problems, or faults, and I needed to pay the Virus folk to fix it.

Grrrrrr!

Anyway, the Apple Helpdesk quickly jumped in to screen share and after about half an hour we managed to get the virus in the Trash Bin and eradicate it.

LOOKING FOR AUTUMN – PART II

I usually share this same series of Autumn images, made back in May 2014, every year, as they’re such a lovely display of Autumn colour.

Most of these trees would be English or European trees planted back in the early settlement of the area.

The hills overlooking the eastern suburbs of Melbourne are called The Dandenong Ranges and include several National Parks, many local and wholesale plant nurseries, small and large spectacular residential gardens and homes.  Small and large market gardens, particularly berry farmers, are located in and on the other side of these hills.

Much of the area was milled for building materials in the 1930s, but still provides lush fern forests and protected national parks in the current day.

My younger brother took me to this tiny park on the way home from a stay in the country specifically so I could photograph the Autumn colour.

I have to be honest and say I’m not familiar with any Australian indigenous trees which change colour in Autumn, but I’m sure there must be some.

THEY’RE BAAAAAACK!

The Superb Fairy-Wrens are back this week.

In larger than usual numbers too.

I never seem to get tired of watching these Wrens.  They keep me entertained for hours and  when they’re visiting, I never seem to get any household chores or cooking done.

Female SUPERB FAIRY-WREN – THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST SHOTS I’VE TAKEN FOR QUITE SOME TIME. 

I counted 6 in my balcony garden the other day, but as I’ve mentioned before, they move so quickly, some days they’re impossible to photograph with the heavy long 150-500mm lens and DLSR.

Male SUPERB FAIRY-WREN.

All this week I can hear the wrens cheeping in the Japanese Maple growing next to my balcony fence and they are becoming more common than the House Sparrows 🙂   I don’t remember seeing any of these tiny wrens drinking from the bird bath though – only the Sparrows.

There’s been far less sound from the jack-hammer-like ‘rock splitter’ coming from the construction site over the road this week.  On Tuesday, the construction crew seemed to be pouring concrete most of the morning and were almost………. as ‘quiet as mice’. 😀

When I go out to pick up my new glasses which have arrived in-store, I’ll have a look at the top of the cliff and see  how progress is going on the site.

On another note, all, or at least most, of the Harlequin bugs and Cabbage Moth Caterpillars seem to have left the area. I didn’t get so many this past Summer.   I have pruned all the herbs of their ‘nibbled’ leaves for the umpteenth time and the new growth is starting to flesh out the bushes.  I feel as though I can finally leave the pest control hutch off the smaller plants and they can get some more sun.  After the previous year’s devastation of every single leaf on nearly every potted plant, I think the purchase of this pest control netted ‘hutch’ was well worth the money.

But I do have to be vigilant though.  I picked a whole lot of mint to use in cooking last Sunday and was just about to start chopping when I saw one leaf looked a bit curly.  I turned it over and what did I see – a lot of fine spun fibres and a caterpillar waiting to turn into a butterfly.

Phew!

I wonder what fresh caterpillar might taste like 😀

 

LOOKING FOR AUTUMN – PART I

I was ‘cruising’  through my archives last night looking for Autumn.

The image below, made in the nearby Pipemaker’s Park in Maribyrnong, is probably my all-time favourite image.

Made on the 13th April, 2017, mid-afternoon, it was one of those right time, right place images in which the brilliant Autumn afternoon sun back-lit some of the Autumn Leaves on this old arbor perfectly.

Colonial Garden, Pipemaker’s Park, Maribyrnong

I have literally hundreds of Autumn leaf images so here’s a select few.  I’ll include a few more in the next post.

SUPERB FAIRY-WREN (Malurus cyaneus) – Female

Silence is Golden 🙂

I don’t know who said that, but after the taxi dropped me home at 9.30am this morning, (after an overnight stay away), I couldn’t help but be struck by the silence.

It’s Saturday here in Melbourne and the usual weekend shoppers, zooming up my short steep road in their cars, were completely absent.

No walkers, joggers, cyclists or runners.

No mothers pushing prams or pushers up the steep footpath.

The unique sound of what I thought might be Currawongs filled the background.  (I have yet to share a photo of an Australian Currawong – I have a couple, but they’re not very good).

The wind had dropped and the forecast showers were absent.  It was sooooooo quiet, almost like the end of the earth, and I couldn’t help but be overjoyed at the absence of human sound.  If you’ve read my previous post you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I caught the lift upstairs to my apartment and after dropping my overnight bag on the floor, flung the sliding door open on to the balcony to let air into the stuffy room.

I heard tweets, chattering, birdsong and then a gentle whisper as a slight breeze sprung up.

The Fairy Wrens were back.

The birdsong was reminiscent of the lovely country sounds I first heard when I moved to the area in October, 2016.

SORRY ABOUT THE LOUSY SHOT, BUT I COULDN’T WAIT for a better one at that moment (in case the bird flew away quickly as they are want to do when I don’t have a camera handy)

Then one female Superb Fairy-wren dropped from the balcony fence down to the potted herbs and jumped from pot to pot and over to the bird/pest control netted hutch looking for seeds or some other tasty morsel.  She walked over the fine netting and I frantically looked for the camera case as I’d put all the cameras away yesterday and stored them in a different place (other than under my desk or beside my desk chair).

Then I spotted a male Superb Fairy-Wren scrambling around the pots under the bird control netted hutch.

So much for bird control 😀

I went out to lift the netting so it could get away as it seemed to have forgotten its entry point, then grabbed the plastic watering jug to give some of the potted plants a drink.  I hadn’t watered them before I left home late yesterday morning as it was supposed to rain this morning.

When I came back outdoors with the full watering pot, I heard frantic cheeping and a very frightened little wren.

It had jumped off the Marigold pot and got caught between the line of plastic pots and the glass fence.  It could obviously see the male wren on the Japanese Maple enjoying the sunshine through the glass, but couldn’t work out how to get through this clear (aka dirty) glass fence barrier.

I think this might have been the first time I had seen a distressed Fairy-wren outdoors at my current home.  I pulled all the plastic pots out so there was more room, but for some reason the tiny bird couldn’t work out what to do.

You hopeless little thing I thought to myself and very slowly bent down and tried to carefully catch it in my cupped hands.  This frightened it all the more.

I stood right back and silently waited.

Nope, it just could not work out why it couldn’t  ‘walk through glass’ 😀

Human intervention was obviously needed before the frantic little bird keeled over in exhaustion.

Finally,  I managed to catch the distressed little wren and slowly bring it up to the fence rail and release it.

It quickly flew to the male on the Maple tree and then the couple flew off to the other side of the road where they could rest in the thick hedge in the warm Autumn sunshine.

I feel like I’m in Heaven with the absence of construction workers and machinery noise.

Photo of a Male SUPERB FAIRY-WREN from the 26th March.

The gentle warmth of the sun was so pleasant after the long hot Summer, that I couldn’t help but think…..Thank God for Silence.

………..and the distant caw-caw of the local Ravens and the chatter of the nearby House Sparrows spread the beautiful sound of Autumn.

It’s only after incessant jarring noise (of the construction workers all week) that you truly appreciate the Silence in this unique apartment location.

I was back to my positive happy self and all was well with the world…..or at least my world.

 

……and so I asked Mr Google who had first said this phrase.

What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Silence is golden’?

As with many proverbs, the origin of this phrase is obscured by the mists of time. There are reports of versions of it dating back to Ancient Egypt. The first example of it in English is from the poet Thomas Carlyle, who translated the phrase from German in Sartor Resartus, 1831, in which a character expounds at length on the virtues of silence:

That fuller version – ‘speech is silver; silence is golden’, is still sometimes used, although the shorter form is now more common.

SILVEREYE (Zosterops lateralis chloronotus)

Back to the archives………22nd February, 2011

I don’t think I’ve shared this image of a Silvereye before.  It’s the only photo of this bird I’ve got and I had to over-edit it to make the bird more visible.

SILVEREYE

Made just after I bought my first Canon DSLR camera and probably taken in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, as, at that time, I lived 5 minutes walk from the south-eastern gate.

The plumage varies considerably depending on whether it’s habitat is western Australia or down the south-eastern side of the country.  The plumage of the bird in the photo belongs to  the western race and yet I live in a south-eastern state.  Despite its variable colouring, it is still readily identifiable as Australia’s only small grey and olive-green bird with a bold white eye-ring.

When the berries were ripe on the enormous tree outside my lounge window (of the apartment I lived in at that time), there’d be literally dozens of these cute birds feeding and hopping from branch to branch.  I was never able to capture them in a photo due to the deep, dark foliage and the fact I was facing into the sun (from my vantage point on the building’s side path).

It took me a couple of years before I was able to identify these birds due to the deep shade of the tree.

Here’s a cropped version of the image, so you can see the bird a wee bit better.

SILVEREYE 

 

FLOWER PHOTOGRAPHY

While I love my current home location, I can’t deny that it’s not as ‘colourful‘ as when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne (up to May 2015).

I was also a short bus ride away from some of Melbourne’s other main public gardens and The Conservatory (in the Fitzroy Gardens) at that time.

After walking the Royal Botanic Garden’s many paths for over 25 years, it really was fun to capture some of the beautiful flowers through the seasons when I bought a DSLR in late December 2010.

While I do have a relatively small Edwardian public park a bus ride away at the current time (images above), somehow it’s not the same as the diverse range of flowers, grasses and old trees of the RBG (Royal Botanic Gardens) which was first planted in 1846.   Quite a few of those old trees were uprooted or severely damaged in a storm in 2009, but other 150+ year old trees, sourced from many countries around the world, remain a backdrop to some of the RBG’s beautiful paths and avenues.

One of the main drawcards to the RBG is the wide variety of formal garden beds, informal planting of native plants as well as a rich variety of grasses and trees.  It’s variety is constantly being updated and replanted to maintain a lovely array of foliage as well as flowers.

Melbourne is known as the Garden capital city of Australia and its many public parks and gardens are a living testament to the wisdom of some of the early settlers in the area who made the effort to surround the first white settlement with gardens.

While recent years have seem much re-landscaping from English cottage garden plants to more drought-hardy natives, South African and South American plants, some of the 55,000 plants are bound to be in flower in any season.

The Treasury Gardens and Fitzroy Gardens on the eastern perimeter of Melbourne’s CBD (Central Business District) together with many National Trust Properties make for a wealth of photo subjects to entertain and enchant the Garden Lovers among you.

So to cheer up those living in the northern hemisphere, which is still under storms and/or snow/wintery chill, here’s a colourful array of some of my early flower images – mostly made between 2010 and 2013 (combined with a few butterfly images from the Butterfly House at Melbourne’s main zoo in North Melbourne).

NOTE: As always, if you see a misspelt name, blame the Auto Spellcheck which keeps changing my typing OR if you see an incorrect name, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section.  There are 3-4 flowers which have several common names, but I’ve only listed one to save space.

 

COCKS COMB CORAL TREE (Erythrina crista-galli)

I decided to end my blogging and blog reading holiday a couple of days ago and get back into the swing of Blogging and sharing my nature photos again.

My brain was turning to ‘mush’ while on holiday from the computer.  Being mainly housebound for most of 2018 only added to my intermittent Brain Fog, Short-term memory problems and Cognitive Dysfunction.   I was putting a lot of it down to the Auto Spell-check in the latter part of 2018, but the truth is…… my fingers don’t always type what my brain tells them to. 

(if you read some weird sentence on one of my 3 blogs, don’t hesitate to point it out to me using the comments section.  Spell-check and proof-reading don’t always catch the errors).

This is not a sign of ageing, merely some of the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME)  that seems to send my normal brain function awry.  The fact that my Mindful living practice was put out of sync with some complicated family issues only added to the mix.  Hopefully these family issues have now been resolved.

I came across my Cocks Comb Coral Tree (Erythrina crust-galli) folder while meandering through my old iPhoto Library in the last couple of days.  While not an Australian native tree/flower, the tree is striking due to its unusual bark.  The difference between its Summer canopy of lush green leaves and many brightly coloured flowers and non-flowering bare tree trunk and branches, is really quite extraordinary.

There is one large very old tree near the Herbarium and one smaller tree near the William Tell Rest house.

These are located in the southern end of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

The colourful Australian Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) love it’s nectar, and in one particular small tree next to a walking path in the RBG, can be found close enough to observe and photograph.

Cockspur coral tree is just one of its many common names, and is a deciduous shrub or tree from South America. It has been commonly grown in Australia as an ornamental plant, and has become invasive along waterways in coastal NSW north of Sydney.

SOLITUDE

I wrote this on a fellow blogger’s site and he suggested more readers might enjoy it…..

His question was…..where did you find solitude……(after relating his own experience)

 

I find solitude every day in the times that all is silent around my apartment – especially noticeable on a Sunday.

 

 

Just the sound of birds chirping and caw-cawing, the occasional whisper of the wind in the tree tops outside, and very faintly, the low drone or hum of a plane occasionally, almost like thunder as it rolls across the sky.

(This occurs because I live halfway up a steep hill and the sounds of traffic and urban living float over the top without having touched my ears, attuned as I am to the sounds of nature which dominate my senses).

The hum of a plane can be so low you wonder if it was there at all.

For a city dweller it’s a kind of feeling that few would notice. I am enfolded in Solitude’s cloak regularly, but not the solitude you would find in the wilderness.

 

 

At this time of year, the constant tiny cheep of young chicks in nearby nests reminds me I’m never really alone or lonely. I live in Solitude and yet I do not.

 

 

Even standing at the local pond on a weekday is a sort of solitude in that no one walks that way at that time.

 

 

There’s only ever-widening ripples as the occasional Duck or Teal steps off the bank onto the water surface and in ever-increasing webbed feet strokes, darts in and out of reeds, tiny inlets and then slows to a halt and finds shade in the blistering heat of our afternoon Summer sun.

 

 

Tiny flowers sway and dip down in a bow, then spring up a little higher, as a bee, having soaked up the pollen, lifts off with its tiny wings and flies in and around each nearby bloom, before landing once again and pausing in its daily flight pattern.

The new Spring leaves on the Eucalyptus wobble and sway in a meditative dance and then suddenly stop when the wind drops, only to pick up their drooping green ‘feathers’ as the wind re-ignites.

 

I watch the tiny, almost invisible midges slowly move up the large glass window in front of my desk and know that today is a slow and restful day for Mother Nature, (having done her best over Spring to bring new life to Winter’s decay).

DEEP SHADE AT THE EDGE OF FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE 100 Feet FROM MY ‘BACK GATE’
A rare shot made in deep shade, which when cropped and had the shadows lightened in post processing revealed a NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) – FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE

 

If you only hear Sound, then how do you know Silence. If you only know Heat, how do you know what Cold means. If you only know dark, (like a person born blind), how do you know Light.

 

The GOLDEN HOUR casts sunlight on some bare weeds along the Maribyrnong River bank

 

The Joys of Solitude are impossible to understand without having experienced them.

 

Everything in this life is Impermanent and ever-changing and yet, when you truly know Solitude, time seems to stand still.

 

USING YOUR IMAGINATION…..

I’ve just spent the last hour watching 3 Superb Fairy-wrens hopping through the shady branches of the Japanese Maple growing in front of my apartment balcony.

I have so many birds coming to my little bird bath (hanging from my balcony fence) which I can’t share online as the birds move so quickly, take a sip or two, then fly off to ‘greener pastures’ OR, my camera is out of reach OR, the lens cap still on.  (I live in a windy, dusty area and I suspect the dust, continually appearing on my furniture each day, is from nearby building sites – hence the reason for leaving the camera lens cap on much of the time).

So……………. you’ll have to start using your imagination (for this post).

It was a fun and entertaining morning.

Here’s the scene……….(and this is a couple of female House Sparrows photographed last year of course).  Even though the photo was made through 3 panes of glass, I managed to fiddle the contrast and exposure enough so you can see what I see (now the Maple has its full cloak of Summer foliage).

After a heavy (dust-filled) rain, it’s almost impossible to see the birds in this tree from my desk chair  indoors.

……and here’s the male Superb Fairy-Wren below (so those new to my nature blog know what a tiny Fairy-wren looks like).

This image was made on the 2nd December.  I’ve cropped it down a fair bit as the blur of the black window frame was caught in the photo.

In recent days, I’ve seen lots of juvenile House Sparrows land on the balcony, take a drink from the bird bath and fly into the Eucalyptus on the right hand side of the balcony (visible over my the top of my computer screen).

This young sapling’s height was lower than the balcony fence when I moved here 2 years ago.  Today, it is about 3+ foot higher than the fence. If it grows at this rate, I’ll have a shady balcony garden, instead of a hot balcony garden in 2-3 years.   There are 8 trees planted in front of this side of the building in this 5-year-old housing estate and my tree is the only one that has grown wider (and not taller as the other 7 trees).

Does Mother Nature know I need a shady tree for my Avian Photography subjects?

THIS TREE FILLS MY VIEW AS I LOOK OVER MY COMPUTER SCREEN THROUGH THE FLOOR-TO-CEILING LOUNG WINDOWS. THE TREE ON THE RIGHT OF THE FRAME IS MUCH TALLER BUT HAS FAR LESS WIDTH AND FOLIAGE (COMPARED TO MINE).

All the bright green leaves in the image (above) are this year’s growth and the tree has filled out with heavy thick foliage making it a haven for birds on the hot summer days, but quite hard to photograph through.  Yesterday was 37C degrees in Melbourne (about 100F) and very hot and muggy right up til midnight, so when I got home from my appointment on the other side of the city, I could hear rustling of several birds in its depths.

Right now (11.20am Saturday), the air is filled with an amazing array of bird calls and you’d be forgiven for thinking I live in the country.  Early evening I hear Frogs croaking (from Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my building).  Soon, as the summer weather heats up, I expect to hear the nightly clicking and chirping of Cicadas calling to attract a mate

I refilled the bird-bath with cold water and a few tiny cubes of ice ‘for the little fellas’ to cool them down this morning.  They seem to appreciate this cooler water on a hot day.

The light is dull, a little dreary and the skies heavily overcast as we’re expecting rain, but it’s still hot and muggy like yesterday – actually quite good photography weather.

The bushfire season has already started in my state, with a fire threatening houses on the outskirts of a large country town during the week.  Fires were already ignited in another state the previous week.

……..and I ate another 6 ripe blueberries when I watered the garden last night.  I fear there will be no blueberries for Christmas Day as I keep eating them every time I see a few ripening.

*********

The (first) consultation with the Orthopaedic Surgeon yesterday confirmed what I already knew – I needed a total right hip replacement.  I can only walk with considerable pain and even swivelling in my desk chair is starting to hurt (this past week).  Operating days vacant were in February and in March – methinks I’ll ring back on Monday and book the earliest.  In the meantime, I hope you’ll all continue to enjoy images from my archives.

I think we might have a flower week this week starting with some lovely Camellias from The Camellia Walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

Camellia japonica ‘Somersby’

When I photographed the various Camellia varieties over the years, I tried to photograph some of the name plaques at the base of the bushes, so I do have a few names for the gardeners and flower lovers among you.

NO EXPLANATION NEEDED

If you’ve been following my nature blog and reading about my balcony garden exploits in the past, you’ll be pleased to hear…..

I saw a BLUE berry yesterday…….

Then I turned over leaves where I knew bundles of green berries had been hiding…….

Ate all the 6-7 berries straight off the bush……and then went to get the cotton bird netting to cover it.  Only comment I can say is that I hope the rest ripen through the netting.

…..and I hope, what I suspect is……the plant is pot-bound and that doesn’t affect the future ripening.  If the bush grows much larger, I’ll have to give it to my brother to plant in the ground up at his farm.

I suppose I should cut off a piece, but since it was a small roll of netting, I’ve just bundled the excess up with a rubber band and left it on the ground.

Whoopee! 😀

Blueberries for Christmas.

RED WATTLEBIRD (Anthochaera carunculata)

I’d just made my morning coffee and sat down at my desk in front of the floor-to-ceiling lounge windows to read my overnight emails, when I caught a sudden movement out of the corner of my eye.

I turned my head and picked up my Sony ‘mirrorless’ camera which I’d just removed from it’s ‘sleeping bag’, but my movement must have startled the bird through the window (which is very dirty from recent rains), and it flew away before I had a chance to take a shot.

I uttered a word not so polite for a little old(er) lady – $%@#! – missed the shot! 😀

It was a Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) and while I’d seen these honeyeaters on the hedge over the road a few times in the last couple of months, this was the first time one had landed on my balcony fence rail.

Of course it may have visited my balcony garden one day when I was out, but since I’m pretty much housebound most days now, I am still aware of the avian visitors due to their distinctive calls, even if I don’t actually catch sight of them.

NOT REALLY A GOOD SHOT PER SE, BUT THIS IMAGE WAS MADE LATE ONE AFTERNOON IN FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE (LOCATED BEHIND MY CURRENT APARTMENT BUILDING)

Talk about thrill of the year.

I never cease to be amazed at the variety of birds which visit my balcony or the (3) hedges across the road.  Many of which make such brief visits I don’t have time to take the lens cap off one of my cameras and capture them in an image to share with you.  (Or maybe my cameras are still in their overnight sleeping bags and I haven’t set them up on my desk for the day).

Sometimes I feel as though I haven’t seen a bird all week, but that would be a lie as the House Sparrows visit the bird bath regularly nearly every day and I’m still getting the occasional sighting of a male Superb Fairy-wren with it lovely blue head and upper back. I photographed one only yesterday, but I won’t bore you with more shots of the Fairy-wrens as I’ve already shared so many.   Haven’t seen a female Superb Fairy-wren for several weeks, so they may be nest-sitting?

Anyway, I haven’t seen a Red Wattlebird this close-up for about 5 years (when one landed at my feet on the paving stones next to the pond in the Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne) below.

I’ve shared these images (in this post) from my archives before…….several times…….but I’ll share them again so you know what bird I’m talking about.

Once again I was reminded of how large this particular species of honeyeater is.  While you may think the grey-brown and white streaks of its head, nape and back and grey-brown rump are pretty ordinary,  its yellow belly and reddish-pink wattles, (or earrings as I like to call them), make this species stand out in the crowd.

The 2 images below were made from underneath a large tree next to the Yarra River in north-east Melbourne with a long lens about 3 years ago.

RED WATTLEBIRD (Anthochaera carunculata)
RED WATTLEBIRD (Anthochaera carunculata)

The Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) has a very distinctive and raucous ‘cockay-cock’ ‘kwok’ ‘yekop’ sound,  once described as ‘fetch-the-gun’, is totally familiar to me now.  I’m not sure whether the Red Wattlebird has exactly the same sound or not, but once you hear a Wattlebird’s’s call and identify it, you’ll never forget it.

The image (below) was made in a residential garden in north-east Melbourne where I used to live next to the Yarra River (which runs to the south of Melbourne city and out into the bay).

Easy to see how they blend into the branches when the tree is bare of leaves in winter.

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

By the way, for long-time followers, the recent right hip MRI I had done about 10 days ago and got the report from my GP on Monday revealed, advanced osteoarthritis, extensive loss of cartilage, a muscle tear, a hip labrum tear and some minor common hamstring tendonitis – not good news.

 (I thought my spine was bad enough and had seen my old Neurosurgeon in June and got a 2nd opinion from another Neurosurgeon only a few weeks ago.  It was actually the ‘second opinion’ neurosurgeon who suggested I have my right hip investigated).

I had a look at the MRI disc they give you at the Radiography Centre and thought my right hip looked like a craggy rock (compared to the MRI ‘slice’ showing both hips for comparison).  My left hip looks like an ordinary round ball and socket to me.  Not that I’m a radiographer, just saying that the difference was striking and I could see the hip labrum tear easily).  Labrum tears don’t always cause symptoms, but when they do, Mr Google says the only treatment is surgery – they do not heal on their own.

So, it’s been my HIP and torn tissues/muscles that have been keeping me pretty much housebound in recent times 😯

When you have 3 different pain/fatigue conditions for 38 years, it can be hard to discern between the regular chronic bad/severe pain and a new pain site (in case you wonder why I could put up with such severe pain for so long).

I have a referral to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon on the 7th December.

 

LAUGHING KOOKABURRA (Davelo novaeguineae)

Australia’s Kookaburra needs no introduction to most people the world over, but it’s actually called the Laughing Kookaburra (Davelo novaeguineae) to differentiate the bird from the Blue-winged Kookaburra (Davelo leachii).  From what I’ve seen on the internet, I suspect some people confuse it with our Kingfishers.  They seem to include the word Kingfisher in the title just as much an error (to my knowledge) as calling a Koala a Koala Bear (which is not a bear at all).

The Kookaburra’s beak is fuller and not as pointed as a Kingfisher.

I used to see and hear them regularly in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne Zoo or prior to that, when I still had a car and went bush walking, up in the country.  I’ve only heard a Kookaburra once in all the 2 years since I moved to the western suburbs (and never actually seen one here,  despite living next to a nature reserve and some 400 hectares of green space up and down the Maribyrnong River).

The Kookaburra has its own enclosure at Melbourne Zoo and despite the cage wire between the bird and my camera, this shot turned out pretty well.

Famous for its raucous accelerating laugh, increasing in volume then fading, this youtube , despite the bird being indoors, is a little more accurate than some other YouTubes I’ve heard.

It’s a large bird, much like a Kingfisher in appearance, with a white crown, smudges and streaked brown, with distinctive dark patch through the eye.

Its back and wings are brown, with bluish feather-edges on the shoulders,   Its rump and tail chestnut with black bars.

It’s actually one of the first birds I photographed in the Royal Botanic Gardens when I took up photography, as it landed on a park bench and later, could be seen pulling up worms in the tan bark mulch on a garden bed.

But the shot below is one of my favourites for the simple reason, that the bird was about 50 feet high up an enormous tree some distance away and all I could see was a white blob lit by a bright ray of sunshine in the dark foliage.

I made a hand-held shot with my 150-500mm lens trying to guess where the head might be near the top of the white blob and was amazed to see, on downloading the image to my 27″ screen,  that I’d actually captured a Kookaburra and it was in relatively sharp focus.  I must have been holding the heavy telephoto lens very stead that day.

….and another shot of a Kookaburra in the wild (below) – Dandenong Ranges National Park – located in the low range of hills overlooking the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.  It’s a bit far away to see much detail, but I was glad to photograph it in the wild, as opposed to my local urban area.

INSECTS ON FLOWERS

When I lived (and worked) next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, it was a sure bet that on buying a camera after I had to take early retirement, my main photography subject was going to be flowers.

(Bird photography came some time later).

I think I’d walked in, around, or through the gardens on the way to work something like 8,000-10,000 times and that is no exaggeration.

The Royal Botanic Gardens was my home-away-from-home OR, as I called it, My Backyard and I learned more about flowers in the first 5 years of photography than I had ever learned in my whole adult life.

I rarely notice small insects on flowers, being very short-sighted (and back to wearing thick glasses after some 40 years  of wearing contact lenses doesn’t help).  My ‘walkabout’ glasses  are ‘distance‘ glasses.  But I notice on cruising through my archives that I do actually have quite a number of flower images with insects on them.

Here’s a variety of both – large and small.  I guess you can easily tell which insects were the main focus of the image and which insects were just lucky additions to the main flower subject.  There are a couple of images which were made elsewhere, but that’s not important.

I won’t take the time to look up the insect names as that would take all day and I’d never get the post done 🙂 but most of the flower names should be correct.  Please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section if I’ve got one wrong.

Enjoy…..

GIANT HONEY FLOWER (Melianthus Major)

I’ve only ever seen 2 Giant Honey Flower (Melianthus Major) plants in Melbourne.

One was in a very sheltered garden bed in a National Trust Property, Como House, and the other was in the back garden of The Abbotsford Convent, (in the inner north-east suburb of Melbourne overlooking the Yarra River).  The images below are from that second garden and thankfully, there were flowers in bloom so I could identify the plant the second time around.

It’s actually the leaves which I find interesting.  You can’t miss their distinctive shape.

The Giant Honey Flower is an evergreen suckering shrub, endemic to South Africa and naturalised in India, Australia and New Zealand.  It grows to 7-10 feet tall by 3-10 feet wide, with pinnate blue-green leaves 12-20 inches long, which have a distinctive odour.

Dark red, nectar-laden flower spikes, 12-31 inches in length, appear in Spring, followed by green pods.

All parts of the plant are poisonous.

The plant generally requires a sheltered position and may need a protective winter mulch in temperate regions like Melbourne.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR

We changed to Daylight Savings Time (DST) early Sunday morning and I’ve woken to the most extraordinary sound of Birdsong I’ve ever heard in the 2 years since I moved to this area.  In fact, it’s the loudest sound of birds I think I have ever heard in an urban area (except for Melbourne Zoo’s great Aviary and other bird enclosures combined).

With only the occasional car driving up my steep little road and the distant sound of a plane as it lowers towards the airport some miles away in the north-west, I could almost…….. but not quite……… be in a shady country bushland oasis.

There are so many bird sounds I’ve never heard before.  Must be the summoning of a perfect Spring day arising over the next few hours.

I found a Youtube which has a louder version of what I’ve been listening to over the last hour or so.  The Youtube has a few more bird species than I can hear, but it’s not that far off.  Keep this youtube open in a different window while you watch the image series below.  I think I will bookmark this particular video as it’s a particularly good one and if I ever feel ‘down at heart’ at being housebound, I can turn it on in another window and listen to it when it’s cold and rainy (aka tomorrow) and there are no birds around at all.

I know most of you will never believe I can hear most of this from my desk chair in an apartment block in a new housing estate, but I swear if I knew how to capture the real sound, I would send it to you.   As the heat of the day starts to increase and the birds cling to the more shadier parts of the area or over at Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve, the sound almost disappears.

It resumes towards late afternoon (on a sunny day), but in a much more reduced variety of bird sounds.  I can now anticipate what Superb Fairy Wrens and House Sparrows will visit my balcony garden by the changing of cheeps, chirps and twittering in the thick Eucalyptus tree in front of my balcony.  I’m amazed that this tree has grown approximately 3 feet in 2 years i.e. it was level with the balcony fence when I moved in Oct 2016 and now………its 3 foot above the fence.

The Japanese Maple growing in front of my balcony is incredibly lush with thick foliage and higher branches this Spring also.

In the meantime, I have been bogged down with down-sizing my balcony garden to a more manageable watering chore for the summer.  Medical appointments, tests, cortisone injection in my hip and a worsening of pain has meant I’m still stuck close to home base for the most part.  Probably didn’t help with all the bending and twisting I did last week on the balcony, but it had to be done.  I was staggered at the number of plants that were pot-bound.  How they keep growing in such a state is a mystery to me (in my amateur gardener status).

I can walk home from the local medical centre (which is a 10 minute walk if I didn’t keep stopping in pain OR to take photos), but I know if the worse scenario arose, I could call a taxi to bring me the rest of the way home, or walk over to the main road and catch a tram a couple of stops to give my hip/leg/spine pain a break.

To be honest, I’m reluctant to walk down to the local pond or river, as I’d have to still walk all the way back home if the pain got too much – no way to call a taxi to a park, river or around the nature reserve of course.  I have done a lot of searching online re mobility scooters, but once again, they don’t necessarily go over rougher ground or parkland and that’s what I want (to get around to get back to nature photography).

Anyway, here’s a repeat of what I was photographing this time last year, both walking around Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my apartment building, over at the old colonial garden at Pipemakers Park around 10 minutes walk  away, as well as the river and local pond – also 10-15 mins walk for those inclined to walk fast (not me).  Well, I discovered it was really only 10 minutes walk to Pipemakers Park when I walked home briskly at dusk late one afternoon and didn’t stop to admire my surroundings and take a zillion photos on the way.   I thought I was going to get caught outdoors in the dark, as this side of the Maribyrnong River falls into deep shade as soon as the Golden Hour is over.

On the other side of the River and atop the River Valley there can still be plenty of light while my immediate area can be very dark indeed if there is no moon that night.