Saturday, 21 October 2017

PACIFIC BLACK DUCKLINGS

The Pacific black duck (Anas superciliosa) is a dabbling duck found in much of Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and many islands in the southwestern Pacific, reaching to the Caroline Islands in the north and French Polynesia in the east. It is usually called the grey duck in New Zealand, where it is also known by its Maori name, pārera. This sociable duck is found in a variety of wetland habitats, and its nesting habits are much like those of the mallard, which is encroaching on its range in New Zealand. It feeds by upending, like other Anas ducks.

Mating in Pacific Black Ducks coincides with availability of sufficient food and water, and often with the onset of heavy rains or when waterways are at their peaks. Courtship is accompanied by ritualised displays including preening, bobbing and wing-flapping. This behaviour is often initiated by the female, and, other than copulation, the male helps little in the breeding process. Often, two broods will be raised in a year. The number of offspring produced may seem quite high, but only 20% of these will survive past two years of age.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the I'd Rather Be Birdin' meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.




Friday, 20 October 2017

SPRING SKY

Spring in Melbourne means highly variable weather, and I mean more so than usual... One needs to be prepared for cool to hot, and dry to wet conditions. However, the vegetation is all bright green and the sky more often than not a brilliant blue which is broken up by clouds so that it doesn't get too boring. Here is the big pond at the Darebin Parklands looking particularly attractive.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme,
and also part of the Friday Photo Journal meme,
and also part of the Weekend Green meme.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

MELBOURNE STREET TREES 188 - MINT BUSH

Prostanthera, commonly known as mintbush or mint bush, is a genus of flowering plants of the family Lamiaceae. There are about 90 species within the genus, all of which are endemic to Australia. The word is derived from the Greek for an appendage. Within the flowers are small spur-like appendages on the anthers.

They are bushy, evergreen shrubs, usually with strongly aromatic leaves, and 2-lipped, 5-lobed flowers. They are cultivated as ornamentals and for essential oils and spices. All require varying degrees of winter protection in temperate regions, and are usually grown under glass. Prostanthera species are used as food plants by the larvae of hepialid moths of the genus Aenetus including A. eximia and A. ligniveren.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.



Wednesday, 18 October 2017

OAKS IN MELBOURNE

In Australia, the common oak is an exotic plant - i.e a non-native plant, which was introduced into the country by the early settlers from the late 18th century onwards. Modification of the Australian environment by Indigenous Australians and following European settlement has affected the extent and the distribution of the flora.

The changes since 1788 have been rapid and significant: Displacement of Indigenous Australians disrupted fire régimes that had been in place for thousands of years; forestry practices have modified the structure of native forests; wetlands have been filled in; and broad scale land-clearing for crops, grazing and urban development has reduced native vegetation cover and led to landscape salinisation, increased sediment, nutrient and salt loads in rivers and streams, loss of habitat and a decline in biodiversity. The intentional and unintentional release of invasive plant and animal species into delicate ecosystems is a major threat to floral biodiversity; 20 introduced species have been declared Weeds of National Significance.

While the common or English oak (Quercus robur) is perhaps the best known of all the oaks, it is just one of around 600 species that make up this genus belonging to the beech (Fagaceae) family. The genus is mostly comprised of deciduous or evergreen trees, but there are also a few shrubs. Many species are large and impressive trees that live to a great age. Although most will grow too large for the average garden, these ornamental trees are suitable for parks, large properties, and street planting, provided there is sufficient space for them to reach their full potential. The timber has long been valued for ship-building, furniture-making, and panelling.

Here, oak trees are seen to grow beside Merri Creek in Clifton Hill. The lush green of the leaves is quite different to the drab olive green of native eucalypts and these and other introduced exotic trees would have made the early settlers feel a little less nostalgic for the "home" they left behind in Europe.

This post is part of the ABC Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Outdoor Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.




Tuesday, 17 October 2017

BALLARAT

Ballarat is a city in the state of Victoria, Australia, approximately 105 kilometres west-north-west of the state capital Melbourne situated on the lower plains of the Great Dividing Range and the Yarrowee River catchment. It is the largest inland centre and third most populous city in the state and the fifth most populated inland city in Australia. The estimated urban area population is close to 100,000 inhabitants. It was named by Scottish settler Archibald Yuille who established the sheep run called Ballaarat in 1837 with the name derived from local Wathaurong Aboriginal words for the area, balla arat, thought to mean "resting place". The present spelling was officially adopted in 1996.

It is one of the most significant Victorian era boomtowns in Australia. Just months after Victoria was granted separation from New South Wales, the Victorian gold rush transformed Ballarat from a small sheep station to a major settlement. Gold was discovered at Poverty Point on 18 August 1851 and news quickly spread of rich alluvial fields where gold could easily be extracted. Within months, approximately 20,000 migrants had rushed the district. Unlike many other gold rush boom towns, the Ballarat fields experienced sustained yields.

Ballarat was the site of the Eureka Rebellion, the only armed civil uprising in Australian history, which took place on 3 December 1854 at the Eureka Mining Lead, and the event is controversially identified with the birth of democracy in Australia. Many significant Australian cultural icons are also a legacy of Ballarat's gold rush boom. The rebellion's symbol, the Eureka Flag has become a national symbol and is held at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Australia's oldest and largest regional gallery.

Other nationally significant heritage structures include the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, established 1857, the best example of a regional botanic gardens in Australia with the greatest concentration of public statuary including the official Prime Ministers Avenue; the longest running lyric theatre building, Her Majesty's, established 1875; the first municipal observatory, established 1886; and the earliest and longest memorial avenue, the Avenue of Honour, established between 1917 and 1919. Several Australian mining innovations were made at the Ballarat diggings including the first use of a Chilean mill in 1851 and the first use of a safety cage in 1861.

Proclaimed a city in 1871, its prosperity continued until late in the 19th century, after which its importance relative to both Melbourne and Geelong rapidly faded with the slowing of gold extraction. It has endured as a major regional centre hosting the rowing and kayaking events from the 1956 Summer Olympics. It is the commercial capital of the Central Highlands and the largest city in the Goldfields region of Victoria—a significant tourist destination. Ballarat is known for its history, culture and its well preserved Victorian era heritage.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.











Monday, 16 October 2017

VINTAGE MELBOURNE

Melbourne is a wonderful place to go hunting for vintage objects, see old homes, explore historic neighbourhoods and do the rounds of the antique shops. We are lucky to have quite a lot of recent historical objects, heritage collections, Victoriana and interesting museums and galleries. However, in some neighbourhoods, one just needs to take a walk, look at the old homes and imagine what life was like then...

This post is part of the Mosaic Monday meme,
and also part of the Macro Monday meme,
and also part of the Through my Lens meme,
and also part of the Seasons meme.



Sunday, 15 October 2017

LIBRARY

The State Library of Victoria is the central library of the state of Victoria, Australia, located in Melbourne. It is on the block bounded by Swanston, La Trobe, Russell, and Little Lonsdale streets, in the northern centre of the CBD. The library holds over 2 million books and 16,000 serials, including the diaries of the city's founders, John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, and the folios of Captain James Cook, R.N.. It also houses the original armour of Ned Kelly.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme,
and also part of the My Sunday Photo meme,
and also part of the Photo Sunday meme.





Saturday, 14 October 2017

NESTING MOORHEN

The Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) is a medium-sized, dark grey-black water bird with a white undertail. It has a red bill with a yellow tip and a red facial shield. Young birds are much duller and browner than adults, with a greenish bill and face shield. It is found from Indonesia through New Guinea to Australia. It is widespread in eastern and south-western Australia, ranging from Cooktown to eastern South Australia and in the southern corner of Western Australia. 

Dusky Moorhens are found in wetlands, including swamps, rivers, and artificial waterways. They prefer open water and water margins with reeds, rushes and waterlilies, but may be found on grasses close to water such as parks, pastures and lawns. The Dusky Moorhen has been favoured by artificial water sources such as dams, ponds and lakes in parks and gardens and associated grassy areas. However, wetland drainage in other areas may have negative impacts.

These birds feed in the water and on land on algae, water plants and grasses, as well as seeds, fruits, molluscs and other invertebrates. They will also eat carrion (dead animals) and the droppings of other birds. They do not dive when feeding; its tail is always visible above the water when upended. 

During breeding season, the Dusky Moorhen forms breeding groups of two to seven birds, with all members defending territory, building nests and looking after young. The shallow platform nests are made of reeds and other water plants over water, among reeds or on floating platforms in open water. Two or more females will lay their eggs in the same nest and all members of the group help to incubate the eggs and feed the young.

This post is part of the Weekend Reflections meme,
and also part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the I'd Rather Be Birdin' meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.





Thursday, 12 October 2017

MELBOURNE STREET TREES 187 - HAWTHORN

Crataegus (from the Greek kratos "strength" and akis "sharp", referring to the thorns of some species) commonly called hawthorn, thornapple, May-tree, whitethorn, or hawberry, is a large genus of shrubs and trees in the family Rosaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe, Asia and North America. The name "hawthorn" was originally applied to the species native to northern Europe, especially the common hawthorn C. monogyna, and the unmodified name is often so used in Britain and Ireland. The name is now also applied to the entire genus and to the related Asian genus Rhaphiolepis. The name haw, originally an Old English term for hedge, applies to the fruit.

The common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is a shrub or small tree 5–14 metres tall, with a dense crown. The bark is dull brown with vertical orange cracks. The younger stems bear sharp thorns, approximately 12.5mm long. The leaves are 20 to 40mm long, obovate and deeply lobed, sometimes almost to the midrib, with the lobes spreading at a wide angle. The upper surface is dark green above and paler underneath.

The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late spring (May to early June in its native area) in corymbs of 5-25 together; each flower is about 10mm diameter, and has five white petals, numerous red stamens, and a single style; they are moderately fragrant. The flowers are pollinated by midges, bees and other insects and later in the year bear numerous haws. The haw is a small, oval dark red fruit about 10mm long, berry-like, but structurally a pome containing a single seed. Haws are important for wildlife in winter, particularly thrushes and waxwings; these birds eat the haws and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

The common hawthorn is distinguished from the related but less widespread Midland hawthorn (C. laevigata) by its more upright growth, the leaves being deeply lobed, with spreading lobes, and in the flowers having just one style, not two or three. However they are inter-fertile and hybrids occur frequently; they are only entirely distinct in their more typical forms.

Common hawthorn is extensively planted as a hedge plant, especially for agricultural use. Its spines and close branching habit render it effectively stock- and human-proof, with some basic maintenance. The traditional practice of hedge laying is most commonly practised with this species. It is a good fire wood which burns with a good heat and little smoke.

Numerous hybrids exist, some of which are used as garden shrubs. The most widely used hybrid is C. × media (C. monogyna × C. laevigata), of which several cultivars are known, including the very popular 'Paul's Scarlet' with dark pink double flowers. Other garden shrubs that have sometimes been suggested as possible hybrids involving the common hawthorn, include the various-leaved hawthorn of the Caucasus, which is only very occasionally found in parks and gardens.

The fruit of hawthorn, called haws, are edible raw but are commonly made into jellies, jams, and syrups, used to make wine, or to add flavour to brandy. Botanically they are pomes, but they look similar to berries. A haw is small and oblong, similar in size and shape to a small olive or grape, and red when ripe. Haws develop in groups of 2-3 along smaller branches. They are pulpy and delicate in taste. In this species (C. monogyna) they have only one seed, but in other species of hawthorn there may be up to 5 seeds. Petals are also edible, as are the leaves, which if picked in spring when still young are tender enough to be used in salads. Hawthorn petals are used in the medieval English recipe for spinee, an almond-milk based pottage recorded in 'The Forme of Cury' by the Chief Master-Cook of King Richard II, c. 1390.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.