Monday, 30 December 2013

A walk after Christmas.

I went for a bit of a walk around the block just after Christmas - camera in hand.

At some time in the past I read a sentence that went something like this; "Nothing sounds as stupid as the silence that follows an angry word" - well there were no angry words for me, but the thought came into my head about how things look after the event.

It was not longer Christmas, but the trees in out street were still decked with holly, or at least tinsel and ribbons - and I made some form of link between the sentence and the presence of decorations that were (only a day of two) past their purpose.

Then I found the rose on the ground and stopped to take its picture - grey to green, an old year to a new year - well maybe.

Then I found a whole heap of stuff that had been put out for the council to collect and I wondered how much new stuff we had added to our house, and if this was really a good idea.

I think it's good to consider these things.

Maybe I think too much.

This is not meant to be sad or angry - it's just what happened as I want for a walk!

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

An apple tree / fresh air

Strangely, I've been rather busy over the last week, so I have plunged into the archives for this shot.

I found this miniature forest on the limb of an apple tree a few months ago - this growth of lichen is an indication of low air pollution.  This is hardly a surprise as there was not much south of this tree except some forest, a small coastal town, the ocean and antarctica!

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday 2 and I Heart Macro.

Cheers - SM

Friday, 27 December 2013

A post for Friday

Its obvious that it's not just us humans who like a drink at Christmas!!

Cheers and hope you all had a good few days.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 76 - A Christmas Bower

Hi there and welcome to the Christmas day edition of Wild Bird Wednesday!  By the time this posts the big day will have started in New Zealand and be just a few hours old in Australia.  You guys in the west will have to wait a little longer!

Just a post and run today - but I thought I'd put up some bowerbirds  As cardboard cut-outs they would make great decorations on a Christmas tree - and in the flesh they are real show stoppers!

Thanks to all the linkers, commenters, +1ers and folk who just pop now and then for making WBW what it is.  I have no idea how it ranks compared to other bird sites - but I think we have build a good little community here - so I'll see you in 2014.

Satin Bowerbird (female)
Satin Bowerbird (female)

Satin Bowerbird (male)
Regent Bowerbird (female and male)

Regent Bowerbird (female)
Regent Bowerbird (Male x2 and female)
Regent Bowerbird (male)
Now its your turn to join in - if you are here on Christmas day (or there abouts) I assume you know what to do!

Monday, 23 December 2013

A different (almost) Christmas view

Most of the people who drop into my blogs seem to be from "up north" - i.e. the other side of the equator to me.

So, this is what Christmas looks like in the southern hemisphere - green and leafy.  We have a had a cool spring, so no brown landscapes just yet - although its only a matter of time.

One closer inspection I wish I had seen the house number on the left hand side - I would have include all of it if I had!

Hope you all have a good Christmas - and for those "up north" keep warm, and for those "down south" keep cool - and for those in the English Lake district - keep dry!!

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Ghosts of Christmases,* Past

* birthdays, acts of spontaneous kindness and impulse buys by me.

Just a quick post here as I was thinking about Christmas and the things that are beginning to gather under the tree!

You can find more close ups (assuming this is a close up!) at Macro Monday 2 and I heart Macro if they are up and running in this season!

Cheers.  SM

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Party Sky

OK, it's summer - Melbourne got to 39.3 degree c today.  Thats 103 degrees in the old money!

However, this is a picture from a much cooler weekend party - which was not for my birthday!

This is from just outside Buninyong, near Ballarat a couple of hours away from Home.

I have to say this is a much better view than I have!

More views from around the world at Sky Watch Friday.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 75 - Dusky Moorhen.

So, finally, I have a WBW bird where the name makes sense - well sort of anyway.

This is the Dusky Moorhen - Gallinula tenebrosa - a close relative of the common Moorhen, which is found all over the world.  "Moor" in this case is an old term for a swamp - so this is a swamp hen - which is just about as accurate a name as you can find.

I'l just post some pictures of this bird - hopefully showing that while it may be Dusky, it's not without some charm.

Now its over to you - click on the link below and off you go!  (It's been a long day, and I have just got back from a school Christmas event - hence the brevity of the post!)

Monday, 16 December 2013

The whole hog!

We spent a rare night without the kids this saturday - a 50th birthday in 1970's theme! All I can say is that I hope the pictures never see the light of day!

The next morning I bumped into this fine looking beast - the sad part of the tale is that one of his siblings had been the guest of honour at the birthday feast the night before!

I did not have the heart to mention it!

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Did anybody mention bacon?

Sunday, 15 December 2013

After a shower of rain

I was wandering about in the garden after a brief but heavy fall of rain and found this:

Rendered as black and white as the colour of the background distracted from the subject.

By the way - this is the seat of one of our garden chairs!

More close ups at Macro Monday 2 and I Heart Macro.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

A Windy Sky

I've had an idea for a picture I want to take in my garden - it involves an interesting looking sky, on a windy day.

We have a row of birch trees in the garden, and they are very mobile in the wind - the aim of the picture is to be able to capture the stillness of the sky, but also the movement of the trees.  I suppose I feel this is the other way around to normal.  I think of the land (in this case the trees) as solid and the sky as mobile.

I'm going to keep working on this idea - but this is the best image so far.  Comments appreciated.

You can find more skies at SkyWatch Friday.  SM

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 74 - Magpie-lark

OK, lets get this over and done with - the Magpie-lark is neither a magpie nor a lark! Which should come as no surprise to anybody!

 I suppose that the Magpie bit makes sense - its black and white after all - but the "lark" bit is a mystery.

The naming of this bird does not get any clearer when you delve into its scientific name: Grallina cyanoleuca - which means blue and white stilt walker.  The stilt walker is due to the birds long(ish) legs and the blue is due to the sheen on the birds black feathers, which can sometimes look blue.  I remain unconvinced by this!

A week or so ago I found this party of young Magpie-larks begging for food from their over-worked parents.  (At this time of year I know how they feel!!)

These birds build a completely exposed mud nest on a branch and I not sure that these birds had long left the nest.

This last shot is much older.  It was taken on a beach at Lorne - which is not really where I would expect to see one of these birds.  It appears to be very interested in an apple core!

I also like the mottled reflection in the water on the sand.

Now its over to you.  Click on the link and off you go.  If you would like to give me an early  Christmas present for running WBW, then consider turning off word verification if you still have it on!


Monday, 9 December 2013

One Year After …..

Like many parents this is the time of year when kids weekend end activities come to an end and there are presentations, shows and lots and lots of events.

This is my world this week.

It's much easier taking pictures when there is some light and the subjects stay still!!  SM

More pictures from around the world here at Our World Tuesday.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A mystery flower..

Some plants are really very tough.  Despite the amount of work done in our garden over the last few years, a few plants from its earlier incarnations still mange to pop up.

Last summer this one made it to flower - I (well my wife thinks!) that this is a "pine-apple lilly".  I have nothing more to offer!

I am very behind with replies to comments - to many Christmas things to do, and places to be.  But I will get there one day!

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday 2 and I Heart Macro.  SM

Thursday, 5 December 2013

What season is it?

One of the joys of living on the next continent north of the Antarctic is that the weather is more than a little changeable.

Last Monday the temperature was 36 c (thats about 97 in the old money!) - today, we have had hail, single figure temperatures and snow on the mountains.

This is the kind of sky that produces such weather:

You can find more skies at SkyWatch Friday.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 73 - Australian Magpie

While it may be easy to think of birds like Emus, Cassowary and parrots as icons of Australian birdlife, I think this list misses a real classic.

Australian Magpies are big, bold, occasionally aggressive and (surprisingly given this description) wonderful singers.  They are also very easy to see over the vast majority of Australia.

Many of those otherwise wasted moments on train platforms or in queues have been occupied in watching these birds.

Like so many other Australian birds, their common name is misleading.  The Australian Magpie is more closely related to butcher birds than crows - and it is really only its black and white colour that links it to its European namesake.

The bird has a checked taxonomic history with groups of birds once considered species now though of as races of one species - Gymnorhina tibicen.   The final part of its name refers to "piper or flute player" which as the book next to me says is "very apt".

At about 40 cm long these are large birds and at this time of year you often find well grown young birds noisily begging for food from their parents.

Now it's your turn to join in with WBW.  Good number of bloggers have been linking up over the past month, but we can always find space for more!  So, invite away and don't forget to link back here!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Songs from the Wood.

I like this time of year.  Its not too hot.

But most of all, I like the way its sounds.

Most mornings and evenings are filled with the sounds of Blackbirds singing.  (I can hear one now).

I know that they are not a native bird, but while many of the birds that pass through my garden are colourful, few of them are songsters.

This picture was taken a little early in the year - its a male in full song in out front garden.

You can find more pictures from around the world here at  Our World Tuesday.  SM

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Fallen Leaf / Wet Leaf

This weekend has disappeared in flurry of end of year activities - and it's only just December!

The camera - back from the hospital! - stayed more or less at home.

So here is an un-seasonal image.  An autumn oak leaf, jewelled with rain from the night before.

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday 2 and I Heart Macro.


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Why I like blogging…..

On Wednesday, as has been my way for the best past of three years, I posted I picture of a bird.  This week the bird was an Eastern Yellow Robin - a great looking bird in lemon yellow and grey.

One of the birds in the pictures wore a green plastic band on its left leg - green left would have been added to the note book if I had noticed it in the field.  But I only spotted it on the screen at home.

I had done a quick but unsuccessful inter-net search for information about projects banding these birds, but came up empty handed.

I mentioned this in the post, more in passing than anything else.

Then I got a comment from Pete Shanley  - a Melbourne birder who I have never met - pointing me towards one of his contacts doing a PhD on urban Eastern Yellow Robins.

Seven degrees of separation?

I really do like blogging.  SM

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 72 - Eastern Yellow Robin

While most birds called "robins" have a red breast, just to be different these guys have a yellow one.  In fact these birds are not that closely related to the Robins I grew up with.  I assume that the similarity of form is a product of convergent evolution.  (Sorry, I should have issued a science warning!).

As you may have gathered by now I am more than normally interested in the way things are named.  I think that the names we give things can alter the way we see them - call a bird a robin and a Brit will expect to come and feed in the freshly stirred earth of a garden flower bed.

These are Eastern Yellow Robins - Eopsaltria australis - and while common, I find them a rather secretive bird - not one that sits on still warm garden fork handles.  These birds seemed very fond of sitting in places with rather bad light!

The first set were taken in a mix of bright light and deep shadow on the side of a path near Lorne, and the second set taken in rather deep shade in suburban Melbourne.  You can see that the second bird has a green plastic band - up until this point I have not been able to find out who is (or has been) studying these birds.

Note green leg band
Note green leg band
Now it's your turn to join in with WBW.  Good number of bloggers have been linking up over the past month, but we can always find space for more!  So, invite away and don't forget to link back here!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Heavy Horses

At times I am staggered by the pace of change that has engulfed the world.

Not much more than a decade before I was born, horses pulled the ploughs and carts that had been the engines of agriculture for more years than most people care to count.  I was born just in time to see the tack of the horse age lie unused and abandoned in old barns and farm buildings - its use not just a memory but a reality for many people.

I also saw the consequence of the sweep of machines across the landscape - machine food, machine beer, machine landscapes: the loss of the small, the delicate and wild.

Today I wonder what it must have been like to walk behind the plough and talk to the horses that pulled them - unimaginably hard I suspect.  But rose tinted glasses make me want to find out.

Now we only see heavy horses as the strange cousin of race horses or show jumpers.  The circus side freak show of modern horses.

As a kid I learned the words to this song - and sang it as the players arm tracked down the great spiral to the middle.  It's only now that I think I have some understanding of what I missed and what I wanted to see.

Iron-clad feather-feet pounding the dust,
An October's day, towards evening, 
Sweat embossed veins standing proud to the plough, 
Salt on a deep chest seasoning.
Last of the line at an honest day's toil,
Turning the deep sod under,
Flint at the fetlock, chasing the bone,
Flies at the nostrils plunder.
The Suffolk, the Clydesdale, the Percheron vie
With the Shire on his feathers floating.
Hauling soft timber into the dusk

To bed on a warm straw coating.

And one day when the oil barons have all dripped dry
And the nights are seen to draw colder
They'll beg for your strength, your gentle power
Your noble grace and your bearing.
And you'll strain once again to the sound of the gulls
In the wake of the deep plough, sharing.

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM