OOPS!

Looks like growing Pak Choy (Brassica rapa) indoors was a mistake.

Too hot (with the heating on this last month of Winter).  My little plants have bolted and gone to seed.  I’ve just put them outside this morning, but the wind is blowing a gale today, so I hope their fragile little stems don’t break.

Since I’ve never grown Pak Choy before, only it’s smaller cousin Bok Choy, I’m wondering if I allow it to grow further, whether I can still eat it in a stir-fry?  I suppose so.

The image below shows what my mixed Asian Greens did in my previous apartment balcony which had no direct sun, but lots of light (and shelter).  Asian greens love company and it seems planting them very close together was a wise choice.  I only harvested outer leaves as they grew, and in general, each plant lasted about 3 months.

Asian greens which lasted months as I only picked the outer leaves

In the meantime, the other herbs & leafy greens are doing just fine, not great, just fine.  I think they’ll have to go outdoors as soon as the frosty mornings have disappeared.

I washed the windows yesterday and even made an effort to wash both sides of the balcony glass fence so I can photograph any birds that land on the budding Japanese Maple (growing between my balcony and the footpath).

Now of course, its sure to rain.  It always rains when you wash the outside of the windows (or a car).

The outdoor plants are all exhibiting new growth, especially the ones eaten by the Harlequin Bugs and Caterpillars last summer.  Regular readers may remember I cut most of those down to 1-2″ stubble.

The only herb not starting to grow new leaves is the Sage.  Since I need 2 large empty pots for this Summer’s tomato crop, the Sage might be the one to ditch.

I usually forget to feed my plants, so in general, if I want to re-use any pots, they get a good  scrub and then fresh potting soil.

I can’t say my indoor culinary garden is the best I’ve every had, but at least it’s better than buying bunches of herbs from the supermarket and throwing half the bunch out when I don’t use it all.  I’m pretty sure I’ll end up putting all the new indoor garden outdoors soon.

The wall heater is just that bit too hot for it.

As a single householder, best to grow a few plants and just harvest what I need for each meal.  I’m not sure that I actually save much money by growing herbs and leafy greens, but at least what I harvest is fresh and pleasing to look at in my balcony garden while it grows.

I knocked the bird bath off its hanging chains yesterday and the ceramic shattered on the concrete tiled balcony floor, so I’m off to buy a new bird bath in the coming days.  I miss that splash of bright blue ceramic among the greenery and 2 House Sparrows sat on the balcony fence chirping in confusion this morning.  They seemed to be asking where their water supply had gone?

NEMESIA – looked a bit straggly to start and with the strong wind in the area, I wasn’t sure it was going to survive, but it’s growing quite well and covered in flowers.

 

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BELL MINER (Manorina melanophrys)

The Bell Miner (Manorina melanophrys) is a medium-small, olive-green honeyeater and makes a high-pitched ‘ting’ sound closely resembling a bell (hence the nickname Bellbird).

I daresay most Australians even think its real name is Bellbird 🙂

Like the Australian Magpie, this tiny bird’s distinctive sound is evocative of the sounds of the Australian bush.  You can’t miss it.

ONE OF THE MANY BRIDGES LEADING TO A LARGE ISLAND IN THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE WHERE I WOULD STAND FOR ABOUT 20-30 MINUTES ON A HOT DAY IN THE SHADE OF THE TREES LISTENING TO BIRD SOUNDS..

The image (below) was made above a small boardwalk weaving through a rustic area in a path (to the left of the iron-railing bridge above).  Here, the branches are usually bare with the foliage growing at the top so you have a chance to spot these tiny honeyeaters.

Bell Miner (Manorina melanophrys)

The Melaleucas, or Paperbark, trees form a shady umbrella over a small boardwalk in the Royal Botanic Gardens in the upper right side of the image (below).

Around 4.30pm on a sunny day you are almost guaranteed to see Bell Miners hanging from Eucalyptus trees sucking the nectar (almost upside down) or swinging to & fro in the breeze in the very centre of a tree at the end of the bridge (first image in this post).

They might be easy to hear, but sometimes they are hard to spot, as they blend into the foliage quite well when you stand on the iron railing bridge.

The second image in this post was made in the tree tops at the top of the frame in this image where you can see 3 wooden steps leading from the jetty to the small boardwalk.

I just found this superb YouTube with many other bird sounds as well to give you a taste of what thick Australian bush often sounds like – made by Marc Anderson (north of Sydney).

Do take the time to listen to it as it’s a superb capture of the sound.

Some mornings, especially on a hot sunny day in Summer (on a Sunday), when there’s little road traffic noise in the background of my current home area,  I get a small taste of Australian bird sounds.  Unfortunately, I don’t get the sound of Kookaburras included, (as I did when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens on the south-east side of Melbourne), but I do get the addition of Frogs croaking as I live next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.

Here’s a little courtship I caught on camera in the RBG (and have shared before on one of my blogs).

THIS IMAGE WAS SHOT NEXT TO THE YARRA RIVER IN ABBOTSFORD, AN INNER NORTH-EASTERN SUBURB OF MELBOURNE.  The Yarra River runs from high in the hills/mountains down to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, through the southern side of the city and out into Port Phillip Bay (on which the city of Melbourne was built at the northern end in the mid 1830s).
I THINK THIS IMAGE MUST HAVE BEEN SHOT IN THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS AS I DON’T RECOGNISE THAT PARTICULAR TREE AS HAVING BEEN NEXT TO THE YARRA RIVER IN ABBOTSFORD.

Yes, I can usually recognise by one tree where I shot the bird or flower image.

APOSTLEBIRD (Struthidea cinerea)

When I cleared out my whole nature blog and started afresh, my main aim was to set up a better index in the sidebar for both birds and plants (as well as the intermittent news on my apartment balcony garden), but inevitably I’ll also end up with the more dull and less interesting Australian birds.

This Apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea), photographed in Melbourne Zoo’s great aviary, is one of them.

APOSTLEBIRD (Struthidea cinerea) – The Great Aviary, Melbourne Zoo.

The best way to describe this bird, usually found in more inner regions of eastern Australia, is DULL.

Body dull, lead-grey with a darker eye patch and dark brown wings.  Tail long and black, wedge-shaped.  Beak, dark grey, robust and almost triangular.  Legs short, giving an awkward almost horizontal posture, with the tip of its long tail on the ground.

It flies low, with frequent glides.  When feeding it hops, walks and runs actively and is often aggressive.

Not usually seen as far south as Melbourne where I live, but to be honest, I don’t think I could identify it in flight in the wild anyway, as its so similar to many other dark-coloured Australian birds, so was pleased to photograph it standing on a nearby branch at the Zoo.

AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK (Chenonetta jubata)

GOING BY THE DATE OF THE SHOT, THIS JUVENILE FEMALE AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK MUST HAVE BEEN ON THE MARIBYRNONG RIVER
A YOUNG MALE AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK – RINGWOOD LAKE, RINGWOOD (AN OUTER EASTERN SUBURB OF MELBOURNE WHERE I WAS BORN……ehrr IN A SMALL PRIVATE HOSPITAL (now demolished and replaced with a massive shopping centre), NOT IN THE LAKE.

The long neck and upright posture gives the duck the appearance of a small goose.  The male has a brown head with substantial drooping crest, chestnut-speckled grey breast, grey body and black rump, tail and under tail coverts.

ORNAMENTAL LAKE, ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE
JUVENILE FEMALE AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK – TREASURY GARDENS, MELBOURNE

The female has distinctive stripes above and below the eye on a brown head.

NOT MUCH WATER LEFT IN THE MARIBYRNONG WETLANDS AT THE END OF SUMMER, 2017.
THIS FEMALE WAS CLEARLY INTENT ON SCARING ME OFF WHEN I GOT TOO CLOSE TO HER LARGE BROOD OF DUCKLINGS.
THIS SHOT FROM THE TREASURY GARDENS IN MELBOURNE CLEARLY SHOWS THE DUCKLINGS HAVE THE STRIPE ABOVE AND BELOW THE EYE,  DENOTING FEMALES.

I haven’t followed this up, but every tiny duckling I’ve ever seen, (and I’ve seen and/or photographed many), seems to have the stripe up and below the eye.   So I’m not sure whether all ducklings have this and the males head feathers change to all-brown as they grow OR, I’ve only ever seen female ducklings 🙂

I ASSUME THIS IS A TEENAGER ABOUT TO SHED ALL ITS SOFT DOWNY FEATHERS. THIS IS ONE VERY UGLY DUCKLING.
MORE TEENAGERS IN THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE