WE LOVE OUR GARDENS IN MELBOURNE

From the archives…….

Melbourne is known as the Garden capital (city) of Australia and while I don’t usually go out of my way to photograph people and families enjoying the Royal Botanic Gardens, people inevitably appear in my images at various times.  Especially Sundays and Public Holidays when the sun is out, the day is warm and picnic baskets (or rugs) beckon their owners outdoors.

This is a cropped portion of a larger image, but by sheer luck I was able to capture the outline of the girl’s face with the sun reflecting off the white pages of her book. The shot wouldn’t have been half as interesting without it.

I don’t think I’ve shared many of these images before, but they do reflect our love of Public Gardens as a time to read or bask in Solitude, or share with others on social occasions.

 

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LOOKS LIKE I GOT IT WRONG….

Well, looks like I got it wrong, folks.

The newly revealed left side of the apartment building at the top of the hill is not due West at all.

I thought the removal of the large mobile showroom and sales office, selling off the plan apartments (due to be built opposite mine) would be a revelation of stunning colour at sunset.

NOTE: Melbourne has gorgeous sunsets in Autumn.

Due West (and the dying sun) are definitely on the right hand side of the building (not the left).  The last 2-3 nights, the sun has reflected off the rain clouds with such brilliance, it’s  almost impossible to look in that direction.  It has reflected on the left hand side of my lounge window and into the apartment interior in such a way I’ve had to pull the block-out blinds down early.  It was probably a situation where experts warn about looking directly at the sun – it certainly blew my vision for about 5 minutes after I looked away and gave me quite a scare.

To give you an example, here’s a few images made to try & capture it.   I’ve inserted these images on this Nature Blog as they’re not really colourful enough to go on my Sunset, Sunrise Blog.  The sun was even brighter than my images, but I tried to capture the scene with the intelligent auto setting of my lightweight Sony a6000.  Normally this setting takes 3-4 images when there are extremes in contrast and automatically brackets them together giving surprising, and usually perfect, exposure straight out of the camera.

AN OBSERVATION……… AND A WEE BIT OF TRIVIA……..AND A SUNSET (OR TWO)

Not nature related, but an interesting observation from my home location in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

Last week I shared some images of the removal of the mobile office/showroom at the top of the cliff in front of my balcony.

The new horizon outline at dusk is much changed and I’m eagerly awaiting the first really spectacular Autumn sunset to share online.

I’ve joined 2 (rather mundane) images below, which I happened to notice fitted together by chance.  The left-hand skyline image was always there, but the right-hand image, with the silhouette of the grass in the middle and the left of the building, were completely hidden.

That is……….the whole of the scene, top to bottom, left to right, in the photo below was invisible.

I think where you can see the silhouette of some grass in the middle of the lower part of the frame is due west and as soon as we get a decent sunset, I’ll share it.

In the meantime, I been enjoying the somewhat ordinary sight of planes descending on their approach to Melbourne’s 2 airports – Tullamarine (international and interstate) and Essendon (the old airport now used for small 2 engine or local country planes).

Today, the sky is completely overcast and no planes in sight.

So while we wait, here’s a selection of sunsets from Country Victoria from the archives.

……..and some more images from the archives – made as I walked home down an inner suburban laneway after an afternoon in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

The first part of the laneway runs east-to-west.

 

The second part of the laneway runs north-to-south.

Yes, Autumn in Melbourne, Australia, is a great time of the year.

YUCCA

I’m thoroughly enjoying my break from daily/weekly blogging at the moment, but I have to admit the cameras are ‘gathering dust’ (not really gathering dust as I usually keep them in my camera bag or soft pouches when not in use).

There’s a narrow strip of landscaped area at the top of my steep narrow road where I walk through to catch public transport.

Among the lovely succulents and grasses there are a couple of Yucca plants and I made some photos back on the 28th March and forgot to share them.  One plant was in the shade…..

……and the other…..just caught the late afternoon sun.

Yucca is probably best known as a house plant here, but it does make a spectacular architectural plant for the garden.

Yuccas include around 40 evergreen shrubs and trees, all of which come from hot, dry deserts and plains.  Their sword-like leaves are produced in shades of mid-to dark green or blue-green.  A few have cream or yellow edges.

Towering spikes of bell-shaped, usually white flowers rise above the leaves Summer and Autumn, making a dramatic focal point in a garden or pot.

IF………….

If Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, Computers must be from another Galaxy.

I have to relate this story, even though it’s nothing to do with Nature, because it’s so weird as to be classed as UNBELIEVABLE!  It’s a long post, so give it a miss if you wish, but there are a few bird shots at the end……so read on…. or scroll through to this morning’s avian visitors.

The story goes…………and long-time followers already know of my computer idiosyncracies.  This story is for the benefit of new followers.

After constantly running out of my old monthly 8 GB internet allowance last year, I rang my service provider back at the beginning of September and after some discussion, they said I was on an old plan and they now had a better one for me.

Nearly double the monthly allowance ie. 15GB…. and….. $10 less per month.

Sounds good to me” I said and instantly signed up.

Fast forward….. and constant hiccups with my internet connection dropping out, together with a few other software issues, forced me to take my Mac Pro to the local Apple Store around the end of October, who later set me up with a new Wi-Fi connection (not the connection address set up on my new internet plan by my service provider).  I don’t understand these things.  I gave the Apple ‘Genius’, (aka Nerd), the proper connection address, but he invented a new one.

Worked for a while.

More problems, but I managed to restore the connection over Christmas via my back up hard drive, when I didn’t have time to take my computer back to the Apple Store.  This meant my back-up hard drive had to be connected by a USB cable instead of operating remotely on the other side of the lounge room.  Seemed to work pretty well over Christmas and New Year, but I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY.   I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT I ACTUALLY DID or, more importantly, WHY IT WORKED.

Then, I kept losing my connection continuously in the last week or two, so I figured it was time to go back to the Apple Store and get it fixed properly.   I find it easier to converse with Nerds face-to-face and  I’m a bit deaf in one ear to handle long phone conversations with Apple Support Staff from home.  Yesterday, I finally lucked out and couldn’t get on to the internet at all at one stage.  By that time my anxiety levels had reached new heights.  My Blood Pressure went into ‘meltdown’ mode.

Then my brother and his wife dropped in on the way home from their country day-trip and I had to solidity the meltdown and carry a normal conversation for an hour or so.

This morning I was woken by my ‘security doorbell’ buzzing.

Duh!

No one there.

I finally got up and made my usual morning coffee and turned the computer on.

MAGIC.

My computer is back to what it was on 1st September 2017 when I got a new Dongle and internet package.

I pulled the Apple ‘Time Machine’ back-up drive USB cable out and logged off.

I turned the computer back on again.

A MIRACLE!

The computer still connected to the correct Wi-Fi address from the 1st September 2017, as per my Service Provider set-up – not the Apple Store Connection address of the last 3 months.

So can anyone tell me what happened overnight?  Why did the Apple store Wi-Fi connection work for 3 months and today, it’s reverted to the Service Provider’s initial connection address all on its own?

Did the mysterious Doorbell ring this morning come from the Heavens to wake me up and tell me ‘they’d’ fixed my computer for me?

Let’s see how long this connection lasts, is my only answer.

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

In the meantime, this morning, (nearly midday actually), is one of those magical days when the birds are singing their heartiest songs and the wind has died down to a faint whisper.  The temperature was starting to climb before this weekend’s next HEATWAVE.

I listen carefully to decide which bird species is in the bush in front of my balcony.

Is it a finch…….a wren……..or a common old House Sparrow?  Bit hard to tell with the tree in full Summer Dress and some deep shadows.

The bird calls are very mixed this morning and I could hear a couple of new sounds.

My Nature’s ear and my Photographer’s eye were working in unison.

I picked up the DSLR and long lens beside me and carefully aimed through the foliage.  I couldn’t tell what it was as it had its back to me.

After I downloaded the shot all I got was a House Sparrow.

How ordinary I thought.

I kept listening very carefully as I typed this post.

Then I see the faint shape of a Honeyeater’s curved beak peak out from behind a thick bunch of leaves.

I had the camera ready and picked it up to zoom in and……..low and behold, it was a New Holland Honeyeater.  Haven’t see one for while.  I pressed the shutter button….. too late……. and missed the shot, but here’s a few images I made of this beautifully plumed honeyeater in Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve, (behind my apartment building), when I first moved to the area.  I had missed the shot as the shutter speed was far too low.  With both bright sunlight in the background and shade in the foreground I tried to gauge which settings might work for both light conditions.  Maybe I should have just changed the setting to Intelligent Auto 🙂

This is one time when my Foggy Brain could be a nuisance.

***********

I’ve got dressed and come out to check up on the computer connection again.  I switched the Mac Pro off.  Then on.  It was still connecting correctly.

Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I see a movement (and this is why you always have your desk and computer set up in front of a window, so that all corners of both eyes catch every movement happening outdoors, as well as the task of typing via your central gaze).

It was a female Splendid Fairy-wren.  I didn’t have time to see what the DSLR settings were.  I quickly pressed the shutter button and just caught this young female Wren within the frame.

The tiny bird quickly flew away (after finding no bird seed).

Lucky shot.

A glance to my upper right revealed a House Sparrow surveying the scene (from the divider which separates my balcony from the one next door).

Then, intent of disconnecting the USB cable from my DSLR to my laptop, I sensed a larger fluttering of wings and looked up to see a Spotted Turtle-dove land on the fence rail.

Then another.

You’ve never seen me move so fast.

Both Doves proceeded to inspect my whole balcony (including the empty plant trough attached to the balcony rail which I’d put some bird seed in last year.  It was now washed out and cleaned ready for Autumn planting.  I’d run out of potting soil, so it has remained empty for some months.

So now I’m left with a scattering of bird seed over half the balcony floor……which will attract every bird once the grapevine works its magic…….and tonight I’ll have a whole new load of bird poop to clean up.

I only cleaned all the tiles last week 😀

THE GOLDEN HOUR – MARIBYRNONG RIVER

I only had time for a very quick walk last night (and my absence meant the balcony garden didn’t get much of a watering).  Sometimes the watering chore becomes rather tedious when late afternoon/early evening is the best time for a walk.

Setting off from home at 7.45pm Daylight Savings Time meant that I captured the Golden Hour for the first half of my walk downriver.  In fact, it was like Peak Hour on the river walking/cycling/running track with many people waiting for the cooler end of the day to go out.

(Today has dawned much cooler which is just as well for my garden – might be good for another short walk tonight before the next heat wave hits Melbourne on Friday).

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.

 

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)

 

SPRING SUNSET

From the archives – 21st September 2016

It’s been cold, extremely windy and VERY wintery weather in recent days………..just when I thought Winter was coming to an end and Spring might be soon appearing on the horizon.

But still…….not much in the way of real heavy soaking rain this past winter in Melbourne.

Maybe we’ll have record-breaking Spring rain like we had last year?

Who knows.

In the meantime, I’m in hibernation mode and my cameras are gathering dust.

SPOTTED TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis)

We’ve had some lovely sunshine in Melbourne last week and again this week (since the gale force winds over the past weekend), but I’ve had so many errands (and other commitments), I’ve had little chance to enjoy it.  Monday,  I walked home along the Maribyrnong River path as the sun got lower in the sky and turned much of the surrounding landscape into gold which is really a wonderful time of the afternoon for Photography.

I noticed a couple of Spotted Turtle-doves on a branch in Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and (fortunately) had the long 150-500 lens with me.  Initially, they seemed to be half asleep but when I took aim through the viewfinder, one opened its eyes as though it sensed my presence.  Impossible from that distance away, so was probably just coincidence the Dove opened its eyes and stared straight at my camera lens at that moment.

The image below (at 4.15pm as I walked home on Monday) gives you an idea of the pleasant weather we’ve experienced.

Yesterday and today was almost picture-postcard perfect too.

Although in one way,  I’ll be glad if it does rain for the rest of the week as we surely need it in Melbourne at this stage of late Winter.  While my balcony tiles have been wet most mornings when I wake (suggesting overnight rain), my potted plants have needed regular watering by hand again!

We’re having a very dry winter here.

IT’S ALL IN THE FRAMING……..

A friend said to me once, “where do you find all these nature reserves and natural bushland areas in the suburbs?”

I replied “it’s not just what you see in the image that makes these photos look like you’re out in the country.  It’s the details you leave out.  It’s about looking up maps and finding all the marked green belts or public parks, then going there and walking around the area.”

Driving in a car in the suburbs is usually about getting to your destination.

Walking around gives you the opportunity to really see  the natural elements along the way.

This portrait sized shot could be anywhere in the countryside.

I’m always looking for birds to photograph, but I’m also looking for my slice of nature (since I don’t have a car to drive to the country or mountains to enjoy the peace and tranquility).

But add in the road, houses and the bus stop into the frame and you realise you’re just in the inner western suburbs of Melbourne.

Living in Nature is all about what you can see and do outdoors, despite living in a town or city.

Living in Nature is not just about looking in any direction in a suburban setting.  It’s about seeing the individual details within your urban environment and taking time to hone in on the flora and fauna as individual subjects.  Being in nature can be easier than you think.  Even a weed or native grass species on a vacant suburban house plot has visual interest (if you open your eyes and really look at the small details).

REMAINS OF LAST SUMMER

Sometimes I think I’ll never find something new to photograph around my local area and then, I take a random shot of nothing in particular and just love the result.  I had my heavy long 150-500mm lens in my hand when I made this shot and can’t believe I managed to hold it still enough to capture the fine hairs of this dead thistle(?) from so far away.

BALCONY GARDEN UPDATE……

It’s been raining overnight and I’ve woken up to a rather chilly day.

While the first month of winter – June – is nearly over, we’ve had surprisingly little rain so far in Melbourne.  It’s been mainly light showers in the western suburbs (where I live) for this last week, but enough to stall my efforts to get outdoors for some walking and fresh air (and/or nature photography).

More frequent showers are forecast for the next few days though.  I have to be honest and say that at least 2 days this week, I’ve spent most of the day watching my favourite Italian detective DVD series with the sound turned off, reading the subtitles only and a hot pack on the back of my neck.  Seems to be the only thing that truly reduces this long-running severe headache. Earlier this week,  I received a referral to a Neurologist who specialises in migraines, but when I got a quote for his initial consultation, I silently said “Ouch” and put the heat pack back on my neck.  Gee, some of these specialists cost more than my food budget for 2 months.  Maybe I’ll try some acupuncture, as at least that’s partly covered by my private health insurance. I’ve only just realised (in my foggy brain pain state) that the wonderful Chinese Doctor and Acupuncturist who I used to go to (in early 2010) is only a tram ride away.  Now why didn’t I think of her 5 months ago, I ask myself.  All I can say is that I’m forgetting lots of things these days.

My west-facing potted garden on my balcony is still thriving, despite the intermittent nature of Mother Nature’s rain drops.  I gave all my herbs and flowers another massive haircut a week or so ago and the flowers have spread their colourful petals even more.  Will this blue Bacopa and pink Argyranthemum ever stop flowering, I’m wondering?  Herbs love a good prune regularly and although its winter, only the Sage, Oregano and Lemon Thyme have really died back for the season.  My Rosemary, Mint, English and Italian flat-leaf parsley are surging ahead with the speed of a ‘Road-runner’.

For the first time, I’m growing Sorrel and Tuscan Kale.  Both are looking rather lively, although the Tuscan Kale seems to be rather slow to start (for my dinner table). Apparently, Sorrel tastes a bit like Spinach, so I’m keen to give it a trial run in my limited balcony space.

NOTE: all the images in this post were made yesterday.

Even my Rosemary has got new blue flowers on one spike.

 

A FEW MORE IMAGES FROM YESTERDAY’S WALK

Yesterday, after I left the River & Cormorants, (mentioned in the previous post), I headed to the late 19th C garden ruins in Pipemakers Park.


It was a short walk and I was hoping for some wintery scenes for a blog post.

A Willy Wagtail sits on a drinking fountain near the semi-shade of the Pipemakers Park pond.
Note the bottom half of a Spotted Turtle-Dove in the top left of the frame, which I never saw at the time of shooting.

Soon after arrival, a Kindred Spirit came up to chat (and return the lens cap I had dropped further down the path – phew 🙂 ).

Turns out he used to do the photography on overseas travel trips with his journalist Wife many moons ago and we had much to talk about……. like…..Photography, photography, photography, the Light, the Light, more light and the many overseas places he had visited – many I’d never seen on my own overseas travels back in the mid to late 1970s.

There’s nothing I like to talk about more than Photography, Nature and overseas Travel, especially if it’s to some far-flung destination off the usual tourist route.  And if its to an isolated destination like northern Europe, Alaska or the Far East all the better as far as I’m concerned.   If I haven’t been to it, I’m sure to have read about it or have a book/dvd or nature documentary at home, so I usually try to prolong these little interesting chats on my walks as long as possible.  I must have been an explorer in a previous life as I certainly haven’t had the opportunity to travel to some of these remote locations in my current life.   In fact, these days, in enforced early retirement, I spend much time in solitary bliss and at home.

Eventually I ended the conversation with wanting to catch the light.

I turned around and found the wintery shadows had grown long from the ruins & trees and I only had a short time before I’d have to set off for home or get caught in the dark – not something to do, as the Kindred Spirit warned me, (just as a couple had warned me some weeks ago down on the River at dusk).

So I ended up with just a few photos of nothing much in particular.

 

NEWELL’S PADDOCK WETLANDS RESERVE & FOOTSCRAY PARK

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

A PERFECT AUTUMN DAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It had.


 Then a brief walk around the Colonial garden ruins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Parrots scattered as I slowly advanced towards them.

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

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

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

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

Don’t know where.

Just somewhere in Nature.

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

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

WILD WEATHER IN MY STATE

I knew if was cold and continuous rain yesterday around Melbourne, but 80mm rain overnight in the western suburbs gave us a good soaking.

Hopefully the dried up ponds and lake edges in the parks and nature reserves surrounding my area will have filled up for the bird, insect life and wild critters in the area.

A group of Australia Wood Ducks feed along the dried up edges of the pond at Maribyrnong Wetlands.

Wild weather, flash flooding and SNOW in alpine regions (2 months early) made me glad all I needed to do overnight was get up in the early hours and close my slightly open windows to stop the noise of the blinds flapping.  It was one of those nights when the howling wind in my apartment building made me glad l had a roof over my head.

SUNRISE, SUNSET (and all the clouds in-between)

Sunrise in country Victoria
8.02 am DST (daylight savings time) 12th February 2012.

If you followed my nature blog for a few years, you’ll know that when I lived on the north-east side of Melbourne on a 3rd floor apartment for 20 months, I had a 180 degree uninterrupted view of the sky (over the rooftops of the warehouses and residences right over to the Good Shepherd Chapel church spire in The Convent, Abbotsford.

You’ll remember some of those brilliant sunsets (and occasionally sunrises, when the bird calls woke me early) which I made from my 3rd floor balcony.  I’ve deleted all old posts a few weeks ago as I was running out of media room on this blog.

I’ve decided to open another blog and repeat those 250+ images now that I have them all in the one photo folder (l finished cataloging them last night).

Sunset 10th August 2015 – 7:34:17pm

I think to upload one a week might be enough to share, without overloading follower’s readers or email inbox, or maybe even less?  Or maybe I’ll post 5 days in a row to start the blog off to spark some interest in following/sharing my photography 🙂

Hopefully by the time I get to the last image in this current archive folder, I will have made more sunset and cloud images (perhaps not so much sunrise – as I don’t get up early enough these days – the birds are not as vocal in my suburb of Maribyrnong at sunrise). Here’s a sampling of what you’ll see if you would like to follow that new blog.  I haven’t set it up yet as I wanted to find a free WordPress template where the image completely fills the screen.  Might take me a couple of days to go through the WordPress theme options.  The headline will be the time, date and year etc. and I probably won’t write any words within the post.  Being a visual person myself, I like looking at photo posts which are quick to view.

I’ll have to find a better location to make  future sunset images though, as my current apartment building is built into a steep hillside and I can’t see as much (despite facing west where the sun sets).  Maybe I just need to walk up the 100 feet of the steep hillside to the main road?

There won’t be any exotic locations of course, as I don’t travel or have a car and am limited in getting around via public transport these days and rarely go far at night.   Most of these images are un-edited and the sky REALLY is that amazing colour.  Some nights are completely clear and there is nothing interesting to share.

Occasionally the images will just be of clouds or approaching storms (for a bit of variety).

Last night…….not much, but here it is….

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FEELING A LITTLE BLUE?

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.

Alfred Austin