TREE LUCERNE or TAGASASTE (Chamaecytisus proliferus)

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

(note: this blog post was written on Monday 15th May and never finished, so when talking about a beautiful Autumn day I was referring to Sunday 14th May’s sunshine).

Yesterday was a beautiful Autumn day mostly filled with sunshine despite the weather forecast.   I had to take my microscope back to the showroom/service centre as I couldn’t get the in-house camera to work.

Turns out I was at fault and I’m too embarrassed to tell you what I was doing wrong (in my attempt to photograph flower parts up close).  😀

The consultant and I laughed our heads off when we solved the problem.  My excuse is that I’m technology-challenged being old(er).

I can DO computers.   I LOVE my cameras and photography.   Give me anything else and I can’t find the on/off switch.   (note: it wasn’t the on/off switch that I fumbled over, but it was just as bad  😀  ).  LOL

I can master all the most basic settings on my 2 Canon DSLRs and Sony Mirrorless camera, but I actually only use the ‘basics’.   Over the last 13 years, I’ve played around a wee bit with photo editing,  but not to the extent of learning Photoshop, Lightroom or the myriad of other photo editing software on the market these days.

Just slight cropping, minor tweaks to the contrast, definition, sharpening or light using my iMac’s in-house photo editing tools.

My reasoning was that I wanted to be able to take a photo with a DSLR, not be a photo editor.  I wanted to be able to lighten the light, darken the shade and everything in between.

The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark. 
 John Muir

When I arrived home late yesterday afternoon the light was fading fast on my side of the river valley in Maribyrnong (10.8 km from Melbourne City – meaning it is an inner suburb……..on the western side of Melbourne).

I went down to the ground floor basement car park and slipped out ‘my back gate’ with a short and long telephoto lens attached to my 2 Canon DSLRs.

I was only going to walk 20 feet to where there were 2 large bushes on the side of the narrow twisting road – a native white-flowering Tree Lucerne and a golden-flowered invasive Gorse.

The Tree Lucerne is where, when the bush is in flower (seems to be 3 times a year), around 4.00pm to 4.30pm approximately, New Holland Honeyeaters come to drink the nectar.

Yesterday, a flock of House Sparrows, mainly female came to roost.  I think they watched me closely, although I couldn’t be sure due to the backlighting from the sunny part of the hillside making it hard to see their eye.

I raised the long (150-500mm) lens up to my eye and got a couple of shots before the flock of Sparrows flew away.

One lone male sat on the nearby metal wire temporary fencing separating my newish housing estate from the enormous open grassy field to the north of my apartment building.

I surveyed the bush and found only one white flower with a nearby half-opened flower bud.

Not a perfect specimen to study under the microscope, merely the only specimen available.   I notice some of my old images of this bush were made in mid-winter so there’s plenty of time to plan ahead if I wanted more.

The image below is the first one I photographed back in 2019.

TREE LUCERNE or TAGASASTE (Chamaecytisus proliferus)
TREE LUCERNE or TAGASASTE (Chamaecytisus proliferus) ????

I snipped off the (only) flower and went back into the apartment building through the ‘back gate’ and up to my first-floor home.

THERE IS A SEPARATE DOOR with a security fob lock AS WELL AS A BLACK SLIDING GATE DOOR you can open to drive through to the 2 basement car parks and then go upstairs via a lift.

I didn’t hesitate or unpack my gear straight away.  I turned the microscope on and had a look at my first sample.

Lots of white fibres.

My next shot was terrible, but I’ve included it to show how hard it is to photograph a 3-dimensional flower with a microscope designed to study mainly 2-dimensional specimens.

The sharp focus only appears on a small part of the specimen.

The result ended up mostly a soft blur with a few ‘hairs’ on the side.

TERRIBLE PHOTO but HEY, my digital microscope with its inbuilt 3mp camera is NEW. I’m still practising to see what makes a good photo of a 3-dimentional object.

I could see the previous day, that this new hobby of mine could get quite creative and form a piece of art if I wanted it to.  I’m still at ‘kindergarten’ level.  It’ll take a while to get to the ‘university’ level and highly skilled….. methinks.

I thought my scalpel (out of my new medical dissection kit) was clean but a quick photo showed how much the human eye misses.

The first shot of the flower looked a bit like a stylised painting……almost.  It was muddy, a bit dark and not as brightly lit as I could have edited.  This comes about my having my new desk in my bedroom corner where the lit is not so good at night.

(Note: if you’re new to photography, ensure you do your photo reviewing and/or editing in good light, preferably morning light.  If you’re a professional nature photographer you’ll probably have a dedicated space for your computer with proper lighting – day and night).

The second shot zoomed out slightly.

I only had the overhead LED downlights switched on the microscope as the uplight made the foreground too dark.

One of the features I love about my new Saxon Digital Microscope is that both uplight and downlight have 5 settings as well as off.   I’ve discovered, so far, that botanical specimens seem to look better with the up-light turned off.

All in all, my photos could have been better if I’d taken them in the morning or early afternoon light, instead of the fading light through my narrow bedroom window.

But remember, that this is early days and really, only the 3rd day of photographing flower parts.   Earlier this year, I was photographing other specimens under the microscope.

I took a slice off the closed petals in the centre of the flower bloom surrounding the Stamen.

(Stamen: The pollen producing part of a flower, usually with a slender filament supporting the anther. Anther: The part of the stamen where pollen is produced. Pistil: The ovule producing part of a flower.

Then proceeded to photograph some more images depending on which part of the flower I chose to put the focus on.

I threw the piece of flower and stems into the plastic container to take them over to the kitchen rubbish bin.  I’ve finished examining them for this exercise.

Another few shots before I threw them out.

……and some more shots of the actual bush outdoors (with the 3rd shot being made at a different time of the year).

Time to tidy up my desk for the day.   I’m a wee bit OCD so having an untidy desk is NOT something I can handle long-term.

SPOTTED TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis)

Last year I picked up 3 tiny feathers from my apartment balcony tiles.

They were fluffy and soft like those from the under-feathers of a newly born chick.  I tucked them gently into a box in my desk drawer and forgot about them, but one day I imagined actually photographing them in some interesting creative manner that might appeal to fellow nature lovers or bloggers.

It never happened.

Until last night when I was peering intently at the 9″ digital screen on my microscope.  I’d re-discovered the feathers while cleaning out the drawer and was keen to see them ‘up close & personal.’

I was fascinated to see that the spots on the neck feathers of a Spotted Turtle-dove were actually pure white as though someone had randomly painted spots on the bird’s feather(s) or bleached circles of white.


I don’t know quite what I expected to see.  Separate white feathers?  Do we generally think about the patterns on a bird’s feathers?  Probably not!

What could I expect to see in the detail of the soft downy chick’s feather.  I don’t think this microscope is designed to see 3-dimensional specimens that have this  thickness and width.

To be honest, it was very hard for me (with thick glasses) to get a really sharp focus on these fine feathers.   I’ve done much better with more solid flat subjects recently.

The feathers (and glass slide which I’d thoroughly cleaned with isopropyl alcohol wipes I use on my glasses) were surprisingly dirty.   I erased the worst of the obvious spots in the background after I transferred them to my iMac.

……and what details showed up on the tiny feather.  Not much more than what was visible to the naked eye, but I was interested to see that the end of the feather (below) looked like it had been cut straight with a pair of scissors.   It was a natural shape, not made by me.


I follow Alison and Don’s travel blog. but they are in Canberra in today’s post (Alison is from Canberra originally) and highlight many of the common colourful avian species in Australia in this post.

It’s well worth a view/read and their photos are superb.

(and if you are interested in travel worldwide, Alison and Don are experts – both their photos and travel diary.  I can highly recommend the following).


Autumn is a visual gift given by nature to raise the morale of human beings who are worried as they enter the dark days of winter!
Mehmet Murat ildan

I don’t have much in the way of Autumn Leaves to share from this inner western suburb of Melbourne, although I did visit a public park a couple of times in nearby suburbs back in 2017 when I was still able to use public transport and get around the area more.

I’ve been spoilt by living in streets surrounding the Royal Botanic Gardens over many years where Autumn shows her splendour in dozens of different ways from the tree-lined streets to the actual Royal Botanic Gardens.

Back in May 2013, I seem to have made dozens of images of the colour so here are a few from my archives that you may not have seen on my old nature blog (which I greatly regret closing down now).  There’s a couple of shots from May 2014 also.

CORREA or NATIVE FUSCHIA (and a demo of my Digital Microscope)

Finally……….a demo of my newest ‘toy’.

If you’re a nature photographer and own a dedicated Macro lens and/or extension tubes, this demo is not for you.  You already know how to get some macro images with your camera gear.  (Note: I had a Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens but traded it to buy a Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ camera in early 2015).

Back to the story…….

I picked up my new(ish) Digital Microscope from the repairers last Monday and finally got to the shops to buy a couple of the tiny (aka minuscule) memory cards on Thursday.   The original memory card was destroyed when I push it in too far and damaged the screen trying to get it out.  All I can say is just as well I have slim fingers.  Just putting the card in the tiny memory slot is a challenge in itself. It has to be flat with the surface of the slot (and side of the digital screen). This afternoon, I was just practising putting the card in the tiny slot and keeping it there.  

The spring that bounces the card back out of the memory slot went into over-drive.

 First, the card bounced out and I couldn’t find it all.  It flew so far, that it landed in my open carry bag and I had to take out all 101 things I carry in that bag before I finally found it in the middle of my wallet.  How a tiny memory card got into a closed wallet is one of life’s mysteries.  

Then it flew out of the slot and landed in the lounge room about 5 feet away.   I’m not joking.   This tiny little memory card uses the digital screen memory slot as a springboard to shoot high into the air and land wherever it pleases.  It’s almost comic to think about.

It never did that earlier in the year, I swear.

I’ve been trying to take some photos with the in-house 3mp camera ever since I bought the memory card(s) on Thursday.   Thank goodness I bought 2 cards because at this rate I’m sure to lose one of them.

I can’t get the damn in-house camera to work and since all you have to do is use the mouse to click on the camera icon on the top left of the digital screen, just how hard can this be?

I also clicked on the SETTINGS icon on the top left of the digital screen and no sub-menu came up?  A mystery indeed!  Looks like I’m going to have to go back to the showroom to find out why (or have a tutorial)?

NOTE: I took a couple of images and transferred them to my iMac photo library when I first bought the Digital Microscope just after Christmas, so I DO know how to do this simple task.  I also looked at the sub-menus easily back then, so I know what they look like.  By the way, I love my new microscope and the head office showroom consultant was amazing.  Both in his advice and help getting started on this new hobby).

I can’t tell you how many times I swore at the microscope in the last 2 days.  Every swear word in the English Dictionary (and then some more words you wouldn’t think I might know) came to mind, and occasionally, mouth.

So this demo of my new ‘toy’ showing a Correa (or Native Fuschia) flower, which is growing next to the entrance of my apartment building, has to be photos taken of the digital screen with my Canon DLSR and Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens.

As this is a ‘demo’ post…… that will do.

First up.

I almost forgot.

I bought a little medical dissecting kit online while I was waiting for my microscope to be repaired.  Very handy for picking up tiny things and using the scalpel to cut the tubular Correa flower in half.  There are probes, scissors and other small equipment which I’ve made use of already.

I love the fine-pointed tweezers as much as the larger ‘grasping’ tweezers.

Good choice, Vicki, I said to myself.

The Correa is a native Australian plant and comes in a variety of colours and petal markings.  It’s a pretty little thing and seems to grow almost anywhere.

I took a few leaves off the stem of my sample first.

…and was left with a tiny green stem I wanted to examine.

I eventually turned the up-light on the microscope off (with its 5 levels of brightness) and used the down-light only (which also has 5 levels of brightness).

Please excuse the resolution, but I was taking a photo of a digital screen.  Not as clear as taking a photo in-house from the microscope and transferring it via card reader to my iMac photo library.  You can actually use some in-house editing in the microscope settings, but I haven’t learned how to do that (and probably never will) as it’s so easy to tweak the images/colour and so on, via my Photo Library software on my Mac.

Secondly, apart from the height controller, the scope can be adjusted by the focus ring of course, but unless you’ve got a perfectly flat specimen, the scope only takes sharp 2-dimensional images of a 3-dimensional subject.  Probably like using my 50mm f1.4 camera lens with lots of blur in the background.

Hmmmm.  There are cactus-like spikes on that lovely pink petal.   Who would have guessed it?

Now down to that tiny 2mm stem.  As you can see, you can only get a tiny part in focus and I chose the outline to see yet another lot of spiked cactus-like spurs.  So both flower petals and green stems have spurs.

Let’s turn over one of those green leaves.

The resolution of this shot was terrible, but you can still get the idea.  The wiggly lines of the digital screen totally destroyed the focus on the shot below.

The under-leaf was both beautiful in colour and interesting in texture.

How about we look at the brown stem……


I think I can do better but there is still a lot of practice needed.  The photo below is a bit better.  More cactus-like thorns or spurs.

That’s interesting.

The whole Correa plant – branch, stem, petal and leaves have these tiny almost invisible to the naked eye, spurs/thorns/spike things.  I guess the bright pink petals surprised me the most.

Now, to cut it down the middle with the scalpel.   There are 2 different-sized scalpels in my kit.

…..and we’ll go a bit closer.

Then onto the ‘anthers’.

The anthers carry the pollen. These are generally yellow in color. Anthers are held up by a thread-like part called a filament. The pistil has three parts: stigma, style, and ovary.

And back to that focus problem.  No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get any of the anthers in focus.

So we will end this post with something I could get in focus.   Well, I DID try to take a photo of what was in focus.

Not much.

A bit more….in focus.

And the petal tips….

As you can see, 3-dimensional parts only give a sharp picture of where you’ve put the focus dial.

There is a tiny little container of glass slides about 1 cm. square which I presume are to put on top of your sample to flatten it and store it in the slide box, but in some samples earlier in the week, I just used another same-size glass slide to flatten the specimen.   Are you meant to glue those 1 cm glass slides to the specimen?

Who knows?

I’ll find out one day.

Now, ‘back to the drawing board’.

Sunday and Monday will be fine so I might pop out to the back gate to see if any weeds are in flower.

Or, maybe a shell out of my collection might be interesting?


P.S. I won’t be operating on an insect with my dissecting kit as I don’t really like killing anything, let alone insects and little critters.

AUTUMN (in the Fitzroy Gardens)

Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they’re falling like
they’re falling in love with the ground.
Andrea Gibson

AUTUMN IN THE FITZROY GARDENS – April 26th 2023 – EAST MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA.  Not a very sharp focus on this shot, but I do like the composition within the frame.

I left home early on the 26th of April so I’d have extra time to take a short walk before my appointment in East Melbourne.

The Fitzroy Gardens is one of Melbourne’s most historic and beautiful gardens. Located in East Melbourne, Fitzroy Gardens is bounded by Lansdowne, Wellington, Clarendon and Albert streets.
Originally set aside as a reserve in 1848, the gardens were named after Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy, Governor of NSW. The gardens were laid out in 1859 and were developed as a garden under the supervision of Deputy Surveyor-General Clement Hodgkinson, with the assistance of gardener James Sinclair. 

The layout follows a classic Victorian era design, featuring pathways lined with magnificent elm trees, known to be some of the best grown in Victoria. There are a variety of flowers and ornamental shrubs and trees, which together with extensive lawns creates a diverse and layered landscape.   

The watercourse that runs through the centre of the gardens is an ephemeral tributary of the Yarra River, Birrarung.

Most of the bushes and trees were still lush with the ripening of the summer sun, but some showed the distinct leaf fall of Autumn.  In some cases, I had to search all over the flowering bushes to find specimens that were worthy of a photo.

I must admit I was a bit out of practice at taking photos of flowers too  😀

The Agapanthus flowers were mostly wilted, but then I found the one below.

The sun was glorious that day and I wished I was able to take a long walk as I had the time, but not the physical ability to do so.


A brisk wind sprang up making me pause to wait for the ‘seventh gust’ which signalled a lessening of the breeze.  I say ‘seventh gust’ but I’m never sure exactly when that occurs.  Like the waves on a beach or the wind across the landscape, if you are sensitive to Mother Nature, you do find a gust (of wind) that dies down slightly (regularly) to enable an easier photo shot.

Obviously, this quietening of the breeze does not occur during wild or fierce storms, but on a good day, stop and open your senses to the changes in air movement.

I don’t know the name of this flower. It almost looks like a newly opened Tubeflower and is about the same size, but some more scrolling through Google images is needed.  It was a beautiful soft lemon-yellow colour.

Sometimes I think Melbourne is the windiest city in Australia.  When I lived on the southeast side of Melbourne next to the Royal Botanic Gardens, I was totally convinced it was the most blustery side of Melbourne as the wind turned winter umbrellas inside-out and bent the flowers down in a graceful prayer almost every day that I walked through the Gardens on the way to work.  Once, I swear I was lifted off my feet (and I’m no lightweight).

But generally, Melbourne can actually have 4 seasons in one day so tourists should be prepared to pack all-season clothes.

I didn’t take many photos back on that day in late April and as I’ve mentioned in another post, I don’t have the eyesight to see on the LCD screen on a sunny day these days, so just had to click (& review when I downloaded the images at home).

Most of my images were blurred or and when I switched to manual mode, I got the light settings wrong.

Never mind.

There’s always another hour, on another day, sometime in the future, to do flower photography.

(NOTE: the DRAFT for this post has been sitting in my WordPress box for nearly 2 weeks, so it’s good to update it to PUBLISH).

On a happy note, my new(ish) digital microscope has been at the repairers for nearly 2 months waiting on a new digital screen from overseas and I received a phone call last Friday to say it’s repaired and ready to pick up (probably this afternoon).


For those not acquainted with digital microscopes, mine has a (9″) digital screen and an inbuilt 3mp camera on top of the ‘scope instead of an eyepiece (to look through).  Here’s hoping I can now take a sample of plants (or whatever), photograph the fine details, and then transfer the image to my iMac to include in some future blog posts.  I had many samples prior to breaking it, but not good enough to share.

Well, that was the idea when I bought a very extravagant Christmas present for myself during the usual Christmas/New Year break in Dec/Jan.

I had been looking for a new hobby since early last year now I can’t walk outdoors so much and hopefully, this is it.

(I say a short walk as I’m still recovering from a fall when I caught my shoe on the corner of my desk chair mat mid-March and crashed very heavily onto my knees, catching my right outer shin on the sharp bed frame corner.  Instant large swelling on my shin the size of a cricket ball and severe pain in my knees resulted in an ambulance and x-rays at the local hospital E.R.   No broken bones but some soft tissue damage to both knees and shin making it painful to walk much around my apartment, let alone attempt outdoors.  Dare I say it’s dangerous living in a tiny apartment LOL  😀   The orthopaedist’s opinion I sought said it might be months before the pain recedes.  Sometimes I think I’m a walking accident waiting to happen  😀 ).

I also say, I trip or fall a lot as I’ve walked everywhere since 2003 when I sold my car.  People who drive their car everywhere are less likely to have falls and more likely to have engine trouble  🙂


The landscaped area next to the walking/jogging/running/cycling trail – 12th March this year – is the only walking day in several months.

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.

Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.

My new desk space in the corner of my bedroom (as opposed to previously in my tiny lounge).  Note the Christmas present to myself – my digital microscope – used every night for the last 3 months.  I hope to bring you some fascinating images……one day.  The tiny memory card is jammed in the slot at the moment and I can’t get it out to transfer images to my iMac and my nature blog.

And a little reminder to the newer followers.   Frogs Hollow nature reserve (lower left quadrant of the photo below), which is mostly fenced off and being re-vegetated since last year’s floods and 400 hectares of parkland up and down the Maribyrnong River is where I call home in Melbourne’s inner western suburbs.

RIBWORT or RIBGRASS (Plantago lanceolata L.)
Rock Dove on my balcony fence with the green landscaping in the background.
Pacific Black Duck in Bundap Lake 10 minutes walk from home
Male Chestnut Teal in the golden hour on Bundap Lake.
The city of Melbourne in the golden hour is some 10-11 Km from home.


I’m always in a rush to go home

And do absolutely nothing


Note:   Despite the intermittent storms & flooding this past Summer, the grass surrounding my home is dry as a bone.

Bush fire material is abundant in and around Melbourne, its suburbs and further out to the countryside and mountains.