Category Archives: animals

Drizzle; Precipitation; Rain. Whatever you call it, boy is it welcome!

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It is finally raining !

After having had something in the order of 0.2mm of rain for the year to date (compared to our usual 77mm), and after the record temperatures and devastating fires of early February, today Melbourne is wet and cold.

It is delicious – cold enough to make you want to put on your favourite hoodie (I have), and run to the shop for a new umbrella (will do this later), and to feel happy sitting inside, drinking hot cups of tea.

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The rain is refreshing everything –  giving the garden a welcome drink as well as washing the petals clean of the soot and dust of the past month. I heard a whisper, too, that the fire-services are hopeful that this cool, wet weather spells the end of the fire season for this year. We can only hope…

Our hearts go out to them, and to everyone who has been touched by the fires.

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This brave little avocado tree –  a Christmas present to my husband that we planted on B0xing Day – is making a valiant effort to recover, having lost nearly all of its leaves during the heatwave, and having had to be protected by a portable beach shelter for the last three weeks.

You have to wonder, with the way that the drought is going, if it will ever really end. I heard someone from the Bureau of Meteorology speaking on the radio last week, and was depressed to hear him ask the same question. As he said, we are in un-charted territory: the drought has gone on twice as long as ever before; we’ve had the highest temperatures ever recorded and the lowest rainfall for this period since records began being kept. We can only wait and see, I guess…

Sorry about that; I didn’t mean to get depressing. To lighten the mood,  I have another couple of unrelated pictures to share with you.

These were taken at the Melbourne two weeks ago when we went to the zoo for a wander. By sheer luck, we were in time for a ‘keeper’s talk’ at the giraffe enclosure.

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This giraffe (above), with the very long tongue and a taste for carrots, was born at Perth zoo, and was made famous by the photograph below (he was the little one):

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Now he lives at Melbourne Zoo and has fathered a number of babies of his own.

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This meerkat isn’t famous, as far as I know, but it was very cute as it stood sentry.

Stay safe and well – and if you are in Melbourne, enjoy the rain!

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Hippos in the frame

Lotus, the baby hippopotamus, with her mother, Primrose.

As one of our Christmas holiday activities, an extended family group went to Werribee Open Range Zoo in the first week of January. Naturally, I couldn’t resist taking my new camera with me, to see what it could do.

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 These pictures are as they came out of the camera (with the exception of resizing them, of course)

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As usual, I pushed the camera, yet with the zoom at 360mm and being hand-held, it still managed to pick up the grains of sand on the baby hippo’s bottom.

The colour rendition is good straight out of the box and there are lots of really clever things like a built in video camera that can record in different modes – including for uploading to the net, and an overlay grid on the lcd screen to help with composition.

All in all, I love it – but it was the hippos that made my day!

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Burrs and dogs’ feet

A quick post, just to show you what happened this morning when I decided to take the dogs to a different park for their walk…

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A trip around the lake to look at the ducks, who had just been fed with scraps of bread by another walker…

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A walk to the hill past lots of Willy Wagtails, Noisy Miners, Rainbow lorikeets and some unidentified swallow, and a never-before-seen (by me) sculpture…

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Then back to the car and home, at which point I checked the dogs’ feet for burrs and grass seeds, and this is what I found…

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I stopped counting at 80! Oh well, it was a lovely walk…

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One less baby bird

I’m sad to say that I found a very tiny bird dead in the garden this morning. We had a severe storm last night that might have been the cause, but I don’t know how it got to where it was, as I found it about ten metres away from both of the nests I mentioned yesterday.

Nectarine blossom on bare branches, with a blue sky behind it.

There was a tense wait to be sure that the baby blackbirds were okay, because a rain storm hit just before we left this morning and we couldn’t check them out until we got home from school and work. I was so pleased to see that they were both there, and both looking really healthy.

I’ve got a soft spot for the blackbird family because they built their nest so trustingly low; I’ve loved watching the mother incubate the eggs over the last couple of weeks, and now get a real thrill from both parents swooping around the garden looking for food and calling to each other and the babies. I’ve even taken to leaving the lid off one of the compost bins for a couple of hours during the day, to allow them to forage…

So, it wasn’t a blackbird – or at least, not one of my blackbirds – and didn’t look like a dove (the occupants of the second nest), although the baby was so small, it was impossible to be sure what breed it was. Perhaps there is a third nest I don’t know about…

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Ducks in suburbia

 

Driving Meg to school one morning last week, we were thrilled to see three ducks wander across the side street in which we park, to forage in the dirt of a building site.

I don’t know what type of ducks they were – they were brown and speckled and cute, and completely unfazed by us – but what variety, and whether they were wild or domesticated, I couldn’t say.

I know it is a little un-pc, but we hastily pulled a piece of bread from Meg’s sandwich and the ducks happily took it from her. It was a lovely way to start the day, with an unexpected sight and the chance to get up close. Their comfort around people makes me think that they were probably pets. Either that, or they are so used to being fed by well-meaning passers-by that they are completely accustomed to the company of humans.

 

On the previous Sunday, a trip into town to see the VCE Top Arts exhibition at the NGV in Federation Square, provided its own excitement.

We made a point of going because we know one of the exhibitors – Andrew Fanning, the brother of one of Meg’s friends. Andrew was selected to exhibit two of his pieces: a self portrait and (in Top Designs at the Museum) an intricate chess set.

It is amazing to see the talent of the top year 12 art students in the state, and the calibre of their work, but not a stretch to see whose names will be appearing around the art world before long.

 

On leaving the NGV we wandered across to catch the City Circle tram and I was struck, as I always am, by the intricacy of the Forum Theatre building. The cross-hatching on the building’s facade makes me think of Moorish architecture – apparently with cause. According to the website Walking Melbourne, it is one of the few examples of this style in the city.

Built in 1928, the building was formerly known as the State Theatre.

I love it, though the angle I was on has given it a little bit of a lean in the photograph. Not one I can fix, either, without sacrificing the straightness of something else, like the traffic light!

My last photograph of the day was unplanned, but I quite like the result. Let me know what you think…

 

I like it for the strong diagonals, and the lone cigarette butt sitting on the right hand vertical third.

By the way, we were getting on to the tram to go up to China Town for yum cha, and due to queues at our restaurant of choice we ended up at another, less crowded establishment. Should I state the obvious, that it was less crowded for a reason…? If I say that it was the Chinese restaurant version of Fawlty Towers, would that tell you everything you need to know?

Next time we’ll wait, or at least go on recommendation. Oh well, live and learn.

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A busy weekend

Old railway bridge      Sunday last week was a happily busy one: the Guide Dogs’ (GDV) Open Day in the morning gave us the chance to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over the labrador puppies and show support for a fantastic program; the Darebin kite festival in the afternoon provided some spectacular opportunities for photography (though not, I admit, with my camera phone).

To get to the Guide Dogs’, we parked in a side street north of the Yarra river, then walked across the bridge to cross at the lights just beyond the Yarra Boulevard turnoff. Even walking across the bridge was fun, with the traffic whizzing past but with the robust barrier between pedestrians and traffic still letting you feel secure.

The staff at GDV were hoping for a turnout of around 15,000, and the sunny weather certainly saw lots of people out early. Dr Harry Cooper, of Harry’s Practice fame already had a massive queue by 10.30 in the morning.

9-week-old Labroador pups      The puppies in the puppy playground were only 9 weeks old, and Meg and I had to fight our way through lots of babies, strollers and protective parents to get anywhere near. We didn’t get to pat any, but they were still good to look at.   

  Trainee Guide dog Dogs of various stages were in the kennels – some awaiting assessment, and some ready to go onto their final stage of training before being assigned to their new owners. There was even a cat in the kennels, whose job it is to de-sensitise the dogs from the distractions of cats, and make them better working dogs.

The kite festival – photos to be uploaded on Tuesday – was full of colour and music. It was lovely to see the little children, faces turned up towards the sky, looking in awe at the kites flying overhead. It was hot and the wind was erratic, but overall it was a fantastic day for it.

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Discerning diners.

Sophisticated diners

Last week, walking down Swanston Street, I saw a couple finish their meal and leave their street-side table. As soon as they left, a flock of pigeons descended to finish off the odd bits of rice and vegetable that were still in the bottom of the bowls.

The way the birds (pictured) descended on the abandoned bowls, it looked for all the world like they were going to use the chopsticks. They didn’t, of course, but there were about four birds in the bowl at one stage, and they managed to eat around the chopsticks without even moving them. One bird didn’t bother with the table, but waited hopefully underneath for something to be dropped. Alas, it waited in vain…

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