Saturday, 24 June 2017

BLACK COCKATOOS

The yellow-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus) is a large cockatoo native to the south-east of Australia measuring 55–65 cm in length. It has a short crest on the top of its head. Its plumage is mostly brownish black and it has prominent yellow cheek patches and a yellow tail band. The body feathers are edged with yellow giving a scalloped appearance. The adult male has a black beak and pinkish-red eye-rings, and the female has a bone-coloured beak and grey eye-rings.

In flight, yellow-tailed black cockatoos flap deeply and slowly, and with a peculiar heavy fluid motion. Their loud eerie wailing calls carry for long distances. The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is found in forested regions from south and central eastern Queensland to southeastern South Australia including a very small population persisting in the Eyre Peninsula. Two subspecies are recognised, although Tasmanian and southern mainland populations of the southern subspecies xanthanotus may be distinct enough from each other to bring the total to three. Birds of subspecies funereus (Queensland to eastern Victoria) have longer wings and tails and darker plumage overall, while those of xanthanotus (western Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania) have more prominent scalloping.

Unlike other cockatoos, a large proportion of the yellow-tailed black cockatoo's diet is made up of wood-boring grubs, and they also eat seeds. They nest in hollows situated high in trees with fairly large diameters, generally Eucalyptus. Although, they remain common throughout much of their range, fragmentation of habitat and loss of large trees suitable for nesting has caused a population decline in Victoria and South Australia. In some places yellow-tailed black cockatoos appear to have adapted to humans and they can often be seen in parts of urban Sydney and Melbourne. It is not commonly seen in aviculture, especially outside Australia. Like most parrots, it is protected by CITES, an international agreement, that makes trade, export, and import of listed wild-caught species illegal.

These ones were seen in the Darebin Parklands, in suburban Melbourne, about 6 km from the City Centre.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme,
and also part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.




Friday, 23 June 2017

SUNSET VISTA

A crisp afternoon ending with a spectacular sunset over the fields and the onset of a very cold evening in a wintry suburban Melbourne.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme,
and also part of the Friday Photo Journal meme,
and also part of the Orange you Glad It's Friday meme,
and also part of the My Town Shootout meme.



Thursday, 22 June 2017

MELBOURNE WEEDS 3 - BLACK NIGHTSHADE

European black nightshade (Solanum nigrum) or locally just 'black nightshade', duscle, garden nightshade, garden huckleberry, hound's berry, petty morel, wonder berry, small-fruited black nightshade, or popolo) is a species in the Solanum genus, native to Eurasia and introduced in the Americas, Australasia, and South Africa.

Parts of this plant can be toxic to livestock and humans. Nonetheless, ripe berries and cooked leaves of edible strains are used as food in some locales, and plant parts are used as a traditional medicine. A tendency exists in literature to incorrectly refer to many of the other "black nightshade" species as "Solanum nigrum".

Solanum nigrum has been recorded from deposits of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic era of ancient Britain and it is suggested by the botanist and ecologist Edward Salisbury that it was part of the native flora there before Neolithic agriculture emerged. The species was mentioned by Pliny the Elder in the first century AD and by the great herbalists, including Dioscorides. In 1753, Carl Linnaeus described six varieties of Solanum nigrum in Species Plantarum.

Black nightshade is a common herb or short-lived perennial shrub, found in many wooded areas, as well as disturbed habitats. It reaches a height of 30 to 120 cm, leaves 4.0 to 7.5 cm long and 2 to 5 cm wide; ovate to heart-shaped, with wavy or large-toothed edges; both surfaces hairy or hairless; petiole 1 to 3 cm long with a winged upper portion. The flowers have petals greenish to whitish, recurved when aged and surround prominent bright yellow anthers. The berry is mostly 6 to 8 mm in diam., dull black or purple-black. In India, another strain is found with berries that turn red when ripe. Sometimes S. nigrum is confused for the more toxic deadly nightshade, Atropa belladonna, which is in a different Solanaceae genus altogether. A comparison of the fruit shows that the black nightshade berries grow in bunches, the deadly nightshade berries grow individually.

Solanine levels in S. nigrum can be toxic. Children have died from poisoning after eating unripe berries. However, the plant is rarely fatal, with ripe berries causing symptoms of mild abdominal pains, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Poisoning symptoms are typically delayed for 6 to 12 hours after ingestion. Initial symptoms of toxicity include fever, sweating, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, confusion, and drowsiness. Death from ingesting large amounts of the plant results from cardiac arrhythmias and respiratory failure. Livestock have also been poisoned from nitrate toxicity by grazing the leaves of S. nigrum. All kinds of animals can be poisoned after ingesting nightshade, including cattle, sheep, poultry, and swine.

S. nigrum has been widely used as a food since early times, and the fruit was recorded as a famine food in 15th-century China. Despite toxicity issues with some forms, the ripe berries and boiled leaves of edible strains are eaten. The thoroughly boiled leaves (although strong and slightly bitter flavoured) are used like spinach as horta (see here) and in fataya pies and quiches. The ripe black berries are described as sweet and salty, with hints of liquorice and melon. In South India, the leaves and berries are routinely consumed as food after cooking with tamarind, onion, and cumin seeds. If you decide to pick and consume black nightshade, ensure you know that you are picking the right plant and also that you are preparing it correctly! 

The plant has a long history of medicinal usage, dating back to ancient Greece. In the fourteenth century, the plant under the name of Petty Morel was being used for "canker" and with Horehound and wine taken for "dropsy". It was a traditional European medicine used as a strong sudorific, analgesic and sedative with powerful narcotic properties, but was considered a "somewhat dangerous remedy". Internal use has fallen out of favour in Western herbalism due to its variable chemistry and toxicity, but it is used topically as a treatment for herpes zoster.

In the language of flowers, a sprig of flowering black nightshade signifies "truth".

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
and also part of the Weekend Green meme.






Wednesday, 21 June 2017

WINTER SOLSTICE

The winter solstice (or hibernal solstice), also known as midwinter, is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the December solstice and in the Southern Hemisphere this is the June solstice.

This year in Melbourne we had a suitably cold, grey, wet and wintry day marking this annual occasion.

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




Tuesday, 20 June 2017

MELBOURNE WINTER MORNING

In Australasia the traditional terms for seasons apply to the temperate zone that occupies all of New Zealand, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, the south-eastern corner of South Australia and the south-west of Western Australia, and the south east Queensland areas south of Brisbane.

Winter is from the 1st of June until the 31st of August. Our Winter solstice this year is on the 21st June, at 2:24 p.m. Winter in Melbourne is quite mild compared to most major cities in the Northern Hemisphere temperate zone. We rarely get snow, but having said that, Winters in Melbourne tend to be cool and wet. The lowest temperature on record is −2.8 °C, on the 21st of July 1869. The most recent occurrence of sleet in the Central Business District was on the 25th of June 1986 and the most recent snowfalls in the outer eastern suburbs and Mount Dandenong were on 10 August 2005. More commonly, Melbourne experiences frosts and fog in winter.

There are lots of things to do in Melbourne in Winter and many people who live in the tropical and sub-tropical North of Australia visit Melbourne during the Winter to experience "cold weather"!

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

Monday, 19 June 2017

FRUITS & NUTS

It's fruiting time for many decorative plants in the gardens, and as if to compensate for the relatively fewer flowers, this season brings us a wealth of fruits, nuts and seeds.

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

Victorian box (Pittosporum undulatum)

Broad-leaf Pprivet (Ligustrum lucidum)

Hawthorn haws (Crataegus monogyna)

Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepsis indica
Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima)


Casuarina "cones" (Casuarina obesa)

Sunday, 18 June 2017

ROYAL EXHIBITION BUILDING

The Royal Exhibition Building is a World Heritage Site-listed building in Melbourne, Australia, completed in 1880. It is located at 9 Nicholson Street in the Carlton Gardens, flanked by Victoria, Nicholson, Carlton and Rathdowne Streets, at the north-eastern edge of the central business district. It was built to host the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880–81 and later hosted the opening of the first Parliament of Australia in 1901.Throughout the 20th century smaller sections and wings of the building were subject to demolition and fire; however, the main building, known as the Great Hall, survived. It received restoration throughout the 1990s and in 2004 became the first building in Australia to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, being one of the last remaining major 19th-century exhibition buildings in the world.

It is the world's most complete surviving site from the International Exhibition movement 1851–1914. It sits adjacent to the Melbourne Museum and is the largest item in Museum Victoria's collection. Today, the building hosts various exhibitions and other events and is closely tied with events at the Melbourne Museum.

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, 17 June 2017

WORKING ON THE YARRA

Canoeing Victoria formed in 1930 as the Victorian Canoe Association Inc. and was incorporated in 1984. It is the recognised peak body in Victoria for canoeing and are affiliated with Australian Canoeing, and through Australian Canoeing, with the International Canoe Federation. Canoeing Victoria are committed to providing members and Victorians with a wide range of opportunities to safely participate paddling by offering services in four key areas of paddling – Competition, Recreation, Education and Experiences.

Canoeing and kayaking are popular sports on the Yarra River and regular patrols by Canoeing Victoria ensure that the River is safe for such sporting activities. Here some fallen tree branches are being removed to make the waterway safer for canoeists. The are is Alphington, close to the Fairfield Boathouse.

This post is part of the My Town Shootout meme,
and also part of the Weekend Reflections meme,
and also part of the Scenic Weekends meme.







Friday, 16 June 2017

MILD WINTER DAYS

The last few days in Melbourne have been rather pleasant, even though we are meant to be well into Winter. There has been quite a bit of sun and the rain has been holding off, however, nights are getting longer and colder. Still it's pleasant enough to walk outside and our evergreen trees may even give one the false impression that it is Spring.

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




Thursday, 15 June 2017

MELBOURNE STREET TREES 181 - CASUARINA

Casuarina is a genus of 17 tree species in the family Casuarinaceae, native to Australia, the Indian Subcontinent, southeast Asia, and islands of the western Pacific Ocean. It was once treated as the sole genus in the family, but has been split into three genera. They are evergreen shrubs and trees growing to 35 m tall. The foliage consists of slender, much-branched green to grey-green twigs bearing minute scale-leaves in whorls of 5–20.

The apetalous flowers are produced in small catkin-like inflorescences. Most species are dioecious, but a few are monoecious. The fruit is a woody, oval structure superficially resembling a conifer cone, made up of numerous carpels, each containing a single seed with a small wing.

The generic name is derived from the Malay word for the cassowary, kasuari, alluding to the similarities between the bird's feathers and the plant's foliage, though the tree is called rhu in current standard Malay. Casuarina species are a food source of the larvae of hepialid moths.

Casuarina obesa (shown here), commonly known as Swamp She-oak or Swamp Oak, is a species of Casuarina that is closely related to C. glauca and C. cristata. The Noongar peoples know the plant as Goolee, Kweela, Kwerl and Quilinock. It is native to a broad area of south-western Australia, with a much more restricted occurrence in New South Wales and Victoria.

It is a small dioecious (male and female flowers on separate trees) tree, growing to 1.5 to 10 metres in height and capable of flowering at any time of year. It has male and female flowers on separate plants, the female plants produce woody cones in an indehiscent state, with crops from two seasons sometimes present. It is found in sand or clay soils, often in brackish or saline environments, along rivers, creeks and salt lakes. It is widely planted for agroforestry, particularly in salt-affected areas, and as a street tree.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.
Male tree

Female tree (note "cones")

Clusters of male flowers (staminate "catkins")

Clusters of male flowers (staminate "catkins")

Male flowers (staminate "catkins")

Buds of female flowers

Open female flowers (pistillate apetalous)

Open female flowers (pistillate apetalous)

Single open female flower

Fruits ("cones")

Fruits ("cones")

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

WINTRY DAREBIN CREEK

A cold morning walk along the Darebin Creek - Sunny but the sun was showing his sharp nails...

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