TASK #1 – Balcony Garden

Spring never ceases to amaze me.

One day there are buds on the branches, then the tiny feathery fronds of foliage appear and next minute………………..a young tree full of leaves a couple of weeks later.

My little friend Mr House Sparrow and I looked over the scene today and agreed…..Spring really is the best time of the year.

I beckoned him to come down to look over the last couple of days of hard work I’d put in.  (Not really days per se, afternoons are about as much as I can manage when it comes to re-potting and bending over with a bad back).

A quick drink and then he turned around to see what he could see.
Mr House Sparrow agreed that the sore lower back I earned from my Spring gardening work on my apartment balcony was well worth the effort.  He surveyed my finished and re-configured garden late this afternoon.

Note: none of these plants need staking, but with our ongoing fierce winds in Melbourne in the past few months, I figure I may as well put the bamboo stakes in now and tie the trunks loosely just in case of another gale.

 

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SOMEWHERE NEW – JAWBONE CONSERVATION RESERVE

While its back to rain, very chilly weather and overcast Winter skies today, yesterday was a different matter entirely.

The weather was superb – sunny and almost windless.  I’d been looking at Jawbone Conservationa Reserve in Williamstown (about 8 kms down the western side of Port Phillip Bay from Melbourne city) on the internet for a few weeks trying to work out the best way to get there via public transport, but after getting up late (due to a restless night with hip and neck pain), I decided to just call a taxi – the height of extravagance for me.  Being a Sunday and with minimal traffic on the road, the taxi ride took about 25 minutes.  The Internet had said 23 minutes via car, so I knew it wasn’t that far from home.

Tram/bus, then train and about a 20 minutes walk to the area might have been 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on connection times.  For the umpteenth time in the last 7 years I wished I still had a car and could drive.

I think my Taxi driver must have thought I was mad….. getting a taxi…..to go for a walk 🙂  But as always in the life of a chronic pain sufferer, you learn to let go of all your preconceived ideas of what seems rational or sensible.  You learn to concentrate of what you can do, not on what you can’t.   You learn to live your life Mindfully, living each day as it comes.

If its a bad pain day, you just call a taxi 🙂 (but my whole month’s taxi budget went in one day yesterday……….. and it was worth every cent).

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve consists of an impressive 50 hectares of wetlands, open grasslands, a saltmarsh and a mangrove conservation area, providing an ideal haven for up to 120 bird species that frequent the area. Equipped with beautifully laid out boardwalks and bird hides, this reserve is a must for any budding naturalist or bird enthusiast.”

The Shot of the Day. Another White-face Heron.
I followed this second White-faced Heron for quite a while. I was only about 30 feet away away on the wire fenced walking path but I couldn’t see what was making it’s neck vibrate so much. It was rather weird to watch.
This may be hard to see, but the Heron moved so quickly and picked up a goanna to eat. I almost missed the shot.  Obviously the ‘vibrating’ neck action happened each time it swallowed a goanna or other tiny critter as it slid down its gullet.

Yesterday, I spent just a couple of hours exploring the small area of Jawbone Arboretum and for the first time in the last 7 years of my Photography Hobby I was so busy looking around me, I took few photos.  By the end of that time I was limping and struggling to hold my heavy telephoto lens so gave up and mostly used my main Canon DSLR with a 17-50mm lens.  I had all 3 cameras and lenses in a wheeled trolley (which I normally use for shopping), but which has become my constant companion this year.   It carries far more than I could carry over my shoulders and fragile spine.

And the 17-50mm lens was what was in my hand when I raised it high and shot my first focused image of birds flying in the sky.  I’ve never been able to capture birds in flight (except seagulls gliding slowly in to land).  I know it’s impossible to identify the birds as they were so far away, but I had to include this shot to prove I’d finally done it.  I missed at least half a dozen shots of flying birds, including a White-faced Heron flying towards me when I had the 150-500mm lens in my hands.  I just couldn’t hold that heavy lens steady yesterday.

I’ll go back in the summer when the days are longer and take more photos to share with you.  This whole 50 hectare site needs several hours and several visits to explore more thoroughly. 

Perhaps I will see some of the 120 bird species that are supposed to inhabit this area.  I only saw Herons, Ducks, Eurasian Coots, Black swans, Dusky Moorhens from a long distance away.  The small birds I saw yesterday were too far away to identify and photograph and I didn’t have the energy to walk every path in the Arboretum.

There’s Jawbone Marine Sanctuary on the seaward side if you’re a scuba diver or strong swimmer.

TOMORROW LOOKS PROMISING……….

Dare I get my hopes up that tomorrow will be a lovely day for Photography?

Will Melbourne’s weather forecast be right for a change?

Sunday 20 August

Summary
Min 4
Max 14
Partly cloudy.
Possible rainfall: 0 mm
Chance of any rain: 20%

Melbourne area

Partly cloudy. Areas of morning frost. Slight (20%) chance of a shower in the evening. Light winds.

 

Light winds is one of the descriptions I’m always looking for (in Photography).  Partly cloudy is far more interesting than a clear blue sky for Photography.

So where shall I go tomorrow?  (it feels like I’ve been pretty much indoors for the whole of Winter this year, partly the weather, but partly these #$@! severe headaches and neck pain – which are now permanent, but I’ve got plenty of prescription painkillers these days in the wake of all those MRIs I had.  They only show one new slipped disc in my neck, to match the 6 slipped discs in my lower back.  Methinks I may have to give up the heavy 150-500mm lens soon).

St Kilda Beach or Pier?

or somewhere local?

Newell’s Paddock Wetlands & Conservation Reserve?

Brighton Beach ?

It’s a long way off now that I’ve moved to the western suburbs, but actually only 2 buses, or a tram and a long bus trip?  But it’s Sunday tomorrow and the buses don’t run as often.

The Royal Botanic Gardens?

Queens Park, Moonee Ponds?  That’s only a tram ride to the end of the line and a 5 minute walk to the entrance.

Or shall I renew my Zoo Membership and go to the Great Aviary for some Bird Photography practice?  Despite lack of direct route via public transport, it IS only about 3-4 kms away as the crow flies.

Or shall I go somewhere new?

Guess!

PS.  It’s only 10.45am and the hail and heavy rain has just started (it’s Saturday morning as I type this post).

WILD & WINDY WEATHER

Image made from my apartment balcony a couple of weeks ago.

It’s been wild and windy weather in Melbourne and its surrounding suburbs on and off for several weeks now.

The laneway leading down the small steep hill to my apartment block acts a bit like a wind tunnel, so it seems to be more like gale force on my west-facing balcony.  Over the weekend and yesterday, I had to end up closing all my windows, (and door to the balcony), as the wind had blown in loose soil and bark mulch from my potted herbs.

Quite weird having to vacuum a layer of soil off my bedroom carpet near the window and clean all the bark off a chest of drawers (near that same window).  I only had the windows open about an inch (to give you some idea of the strength of the wind).  The lounge sliding door was only open about 1/2″  to let in some fresh air.  These modern apartment blocks leave a lot to be desired in terms of fresh air, especially when they’re as tiny as mine.  I’m missing my nature walks at the moment.  There have been some sunny afternoons but I’ve had commitments to keep me at home (like the washing machine repair man and the supermarket home delivery service).

When it rains, I have to shut the windows completely as they are the louvered kind and the rain comes straight in from the west.

Strangely enough. despite the weather bureau predictions, we seem to have had little rain.  Maybe the best of the rain has been in the eastern and southern suburbs, although the skies in the west, where I live, have been dark and ominous enough.   I guess it’s rained overnight as my balcony tiles were wet, but I’ve had to start hand watering the potted plants.  I have noticed the sage and lemon thyme, which I cut down low at the start of winter, has lots of lovely green leaves again, so the soil temperature must be warming up at least (now that Spring is not far off).

To me, nothing signifies climate change, (and how dry Melbourne’s winter has been this year), when I have to hand water my potted plants in the last month of Winter.

Perhaps we’ll have record-breaking Spring rains like we had in 2016?

The wind whistling through my apartment block sounds just like an Arctic Storm and I always wonder what makes such a loud sound in a modern building like this one.  Same thing happened in my previous modern apartment block.  And while there has been the occasional colour in the sky at dusk, no stunning sunset images to share with you either.

 

This morning, I suddenly noticed gaps in the plants I’m growing near the balcony rail to give some privacy – I’m quite close to the footpath and road, despite being on the first floor of this building.

I was shocked to see 2 of my heaviest pots blown over.  I assume the wind must have dried the soil out so much they’ve become lighter overnight?

I quickly righted them and scooped the spilt soil back in, but not much point sweeping all the other scattered bark mulch and soil ( with the wind so strong during the day).  I gave them a generous watering to make the pots heavier.

Roll on Spring and some windless days…………………..please 🙂

 

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

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

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

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

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

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