The Changing Seasons – June 2022

June in Canberra (the Australian Capital Territory) – Winter officially begins. It has been the coldest start to winter since 1964. Opening the house to the elements due to household Covid infections made June a particularly cold month. Life on the outside was better even if it was freezing. The sun came out occasionally and reminded us that winter days in Canberra can be glorious. Here are the highlights, largely courtesy of my True Love who took photos before and after his Covid infection. The poor man still seems very unwell to me but he takes beautiful photos nevertheless.

It snowed on the ranges in the period after my TL’s surgery and prior to his Covid infection. It was bleak but we were happy, happy, happy.*


The majesty.*


Then life got more complicated so I snatched a few moments in the garden.
My Eutaxia obovata (egg and bacon plant) that I planted last year clenched its leaves to conserve heat.


The galahs were contemplative.


The sun popped out and so did my TL and Pimelea physodes.* Lucky for us.


The Eastern spinebill chimed its arrival and stopped to freshen up.*


The prodigal Golden Whistler returned.*


The sun called me and I was off. T-shirt weather, baby!
The brittle gums (E. mannifera) up the hill were celebrating too.


The Eucalyptus cinerea were covered in galls. Something should eat those.


By this time (3 hours later), I wished I had packed my jumper.


Finally, one last photo for my neighbour, J, who is home with Covid. You had visitors today. They seemed to be gnawing on your tree rather than eating the seeds.


Anyway, back to the Covid situation. Canberra seems to have the highest rate per 100,000 people than any other Australian state or territory (NY Times tracks this stuff but maybe their data is wrong). Perhaps the number of infections is only now catching up with the rest of the country? On the other hand, there are now 122 people with Covid in our public hospital. That’s 122 people with Covid in a public hospital system that has somewhere between 600 to 670 public hospital beds and a huge number of hospital staff off sick. At the same time, elective surgeries in the public hospital system have been cancelled again. By my rough calculation, 15-20% of our public hospital beds are being occupied by people with Covid, as they should be if those people need hospital care. These stresses on the system do not seem to merit a “business as usual” approach. Furthermore, several patients and staff in the cancer ward have also caught Covid on the ward. I understand that staff, patients and visitors are required to have a RAT test to enter those highly sensitive areas. If our experience with the uselessness of the RATs is anything to go by, then that does seem like a Covid breach waiting to happen. That’s my opinion.

Anyway, anyway, I send my best wishes to my neighbour, J, for a speedy recovery. Ditto, my friend, Martha, in the States. My TL is none too well and he is in his third week post onset of his infection. Who knows what July will bring? Hopefully, cake. And a few sunny days. And good health. Especially good health.

This is my response to The Changing Seasons photo challenge, jointly hosted by Ju-Lyn (Touring My Backyard) and Brian (Bushboys World). Click on the links provided to check out Ju-Lyn and Brian’s challenge and create some memories by joining in.

But enough of me, how was your June? I hope you found a space for things that make you happy and keep you sane.

Take care, everyone. Stay safe, be kind and be you.
Kind Regards.
Tracy.

*Photos preceded by an asterix were taken by my True Love.

Ravenous

Ravenous is a great word, don’t you think? There is something quite primal, urgent and debased about it. Or at least, that was its historical context but, at least outside of the bedroom, it is a word that has now attained some respectability and simply means very hungry. According to Mirriam-Webster, the noun “raven” (black bird) and the verb “raven” (from which the adjective “ravenous” is derived) are unrelated. They are homographs, which is a shame because I have a ravenous raven story. This is your chance, squeamish readers, to skip this story.

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The Changing Seasons – April 2022

Canberra (Australia) – Autumn delivers and April visitors.

I haven’t contributed to The Changing Seasons since December 2021. A lot has happened over the past four months, including health issues, poetry, completion of a major mosaic project and the start of a new front garden. Apart from the health matters, the garden has taken priority because we have to get it in now ahead of the next, inevitable, drought. In the regular garden, we had to abandon the tomatoes and beans to the rodents this year. They have been very hungry (we caught three and Makea, our dog, caught one). Nevertheless, we still managed to harvest three pumpkins from vines we did not plant. The fig tree went bonkers and produced two huge bumper crops. The rodents got stuck into the first crop but we managed to score some figs from the second batch by securing Elizabethan collars around the trunk of the tree to prevent the rats from climbing up the tree. I also collected a small tub of feijoa today, our first ever crop in more than two decades that we have lived at our house in Canberra.

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Aura – It’s All A Blur

Some thoughts on bokeh for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. This is not a tutorial on bokeh.

I once thought “bokeh” referred to the circles, sometimes sparkly, that you often see in the background of a photo taken with a macro or telephoto lens. I’ve moved on from that and I now like to think of bokeh as the aura surrounding the subject of the photo, the bokeh being that little bit of voodoo magic performed by the camera to blur out the background so that the subject has centre stage. That is purely my artistic view and not a technical definition. I prefer my bokeh soft and calm and not swishy/choppy, but this is easier said than done. The exception to that is when the bokeh is being used for creative effect. If for any reason it is not possible to achieve the effect desired, I would rather take the photo “as is”, and enjoy what I’ve seen. Hence, you will see less than perfect bokeh on my site. Hopefully, the photos will still be interesting.

A messy background, my position and camera shake affected the quality of the bokeh/aura in my photo of this kookaburra below. The bokeh is not to my taste but how could you not love a face like that?

Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), Australian National Botanic Gardens

Now for my photography partner’s photo. He was further up the hill than I was and his extra height meant that he was able to access a much nicer background, and hence, lovely bokeh.

Kookaburra – Australian National Botanic Gardens

Look! Even with my little camera, I can still achieve a lovely blurred background if I am lucky to find myself close to my subject and there is a reasonable amount of separation between it and the background.

Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) in the Canberra suburbs

It is difficult to capture that lovely blurred background effect with fast moving little birds. A really fancy camera or lots of patience is required. I therefore like to see what my little camera can make of plants. Trees in sheltered spots are great for this. The filtered light provides a beautiful tonal calm backdrop to the bark of this Pinus canarienis at Canberra’s Lyndsay Pryor Arboretum. The dark colour of the bark is a result of being burnt in the 2003 bushfires.

Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis), Lyndsay Pryor Arboretum, Canberra)

And below, I couldn’t resist the combination of the young eucalyptus leaves against the muted yellow plants in the background (probably paper daisies like those in the foreground), which were themselves set against the darker green of the heavily shaded area in the far back. I wouldn’t classify this as bokeh or an aura, but without my camera to see this stunning plant against the blurred background, it might not have caught my eye so. My botanist son’s best guess is that the tree is a native of Western Australia, Eucalyptus macrocarpa. WA plants are always show stoppers. What do you think, WA readers? Did my son guess right?

Mottlecah (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) tbc – Australian National Botanic Gardens

And, finally, this creamy milk chocolate background is a perfect complement to the fungi growing in fallen timber. Photography can be such a time waster but there are worse things we could be doing.

Thanks for reading this far, everyone. I have a couple more photos of the kookaburra that I will share soon. In the meantime, take care and take photos.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

The Changing Seasons – November 2021

Canberra (Australia) – A veil of green pools on valley floor. Grey-filled sky billows adding to uncertainty. Will I or won’t I go for a walk? We put on our gardening gear and gumboots to dig in the loam once labelled the garden bed of death. Intermittent sunlight sounds of engines thrumming, dogs barking, bees humming and tiles cracking. Beyond Canberra, on the vast flood plains of eastern Australia, rivers rise, fall and rise again.

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Grey Expectations

Each month, Jude hosts a colour challenge, Life in Colour. The colour for November is black and/or grey. This is definitely my last contribution to this month’s colour challenge.

What Next?

On the lookout for smoke tendrils in the sky,
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike surveys the scene.
Each year lurching from one extreme to another,
What are we to make of the constant vacillation?

Grey expectations –
Hoping for a break in the weather.

There has been yet more flooding in parts of Australia. The rain would have been welcome had it come after harvest. British Columbia (Canada) has also been experiencing serious flooding this week. Please take care if you live in a flood affected area.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Magpie Latest

Last week we rescued a magpie chick that had become caught in the dog fence while most likely fleeing from our dog. We were so happy and relieved when we saw the the magpie family of five down the street at the park. The injured chick had recovered sufficiently to be released and was successfully reunited with its family. Unfortunately, this afternoon my True Love picked up a dead magpie chick on the side of the road near our house. It had been struck by a car. Many young birds die this way each year. Hopefully it died quickly.

A Tragedy Of Sorts

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

There was a huge commotion in the backyard late this afternoon. Birds were screeching. Ama launched herself at high speed hoping to join the fray. My True Love beat her to it. One of the three magpie chicks had caught its wing in the dog fence, possibly trying to escape our big dog, Makea. Maybe the chick was already trapped before Makea arrived on the scene to complicate matters. The other magpies were screeching overhead and swooping to fend off the attackers. My True Love untangled its wing and popped it over the dog fence but it was injured and unable to fly.

In Canberra, we have this marvelous system where all vets provide a community service by treating injured wildlife. I was in two minds about whether to separate the maggie chick from its family and take it to the vet. It was pouring rain, the little bird was sodden and hurt, and of course, there was Clyde, our neighbour’s evil, cat to worry about. So My True Love and I reluctantly boxed it up and took it in. All going well, the chick should go to the wildlife carer tomorrow before being released back in the vicinity when it fully recovers. We hope its parents accept it back into the family again.

We are all in shock. We wonder whether we are now off the magpie family’s Christmas card list and will become swooping targets in future. Maybe the chick will become a swooper due to the trauma. Maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about evil Clyde and worry more about my own evil hounds. It is notable that Fynnie, our male dog, remained inside during all the commotion. As far as he is concerned, traipsing around in the rain is strictly for the birds.

How shattered ma and pa magpie must be right now! It breaks my heart. What song could possibly convey that? I dunno, but I am going with Lullaby of Birdland, performed by Andrea Motis, Joan Chamorro, Scott Hamilton and Ignasi Terraza (the latter playing a very special introduction).

Take care, everyone. Try not to worry.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

RDP – Under the Weather