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.


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.

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.


Life is like a Merry-go-round, but I feel I sit on the sidelines far too much these days.

Is it the fact I am ageing far too quickly since early retirement in 2010?

Is it modern technology which makes me feel like a dinosaur?

Probably a bit of both.

After 10 days of intermittent wireless keyboard connection and my keyboard not registering some letters as I type OR, at the end of a paragraph, a gremlin, chases and deletes each letter at lightning speed until I’m left with a blank page again, I’ve concluded it was a virus or my 2019 iMac was very, very sick.

My tiny 11″ MacAir worked just fine when I took it out of the drawer, but its size and my poor touchpad skills make it not feasible for long-term use with my eyesight.   It’s my communication and entertainment provider every time I go into the hospital for surgery.

My lovely computer technician James is coming today, but last Friday, the Gremlin left my location and moved on to someone new.

Duh!   How can viruses(?) and Gremlins(?) disappear all on their own.  At one stage I couldn’t even type my password to log on, so I had to turn the computer off and try again later in the day(s).

But I decided to keep the consultation time so James could fix a lot of other mysterious computer-related matters……..I hope.

In the meantime, I got outdoors for a short (2 km) walk down to the local pond and lake last Sunday.   The first real nature walk since the 26th of October last year (according to my photo library).

Very little to see in the way of local bird life and not much else happening as the riverside walking/cycling/jogging trail was almost empty.  Where were the usual Sunday crowd?  I could hear some carnival sounds that day.  But where from?  It was a long weekend with a Monday public holiday but there are always joggers or cyclists on the river path no matter the time or day of the week.

There weren’t any of the local Purple Swaphens grazing in the low-lying field next to the gravel path leading to the river.  They are always there – Summer, Winter, Autumn and Spring (including that crazy new season of storms and floods the eastern seaboard of Australia has acquired).

But not last Sunday.

Note: The images below were made in past years.

All I saw were a few Superb Fairy-wrens grazing on the gravel path edges, a couple of Mapie Larks who frequent this area and, initially, an unidentifiable water bird on the rocky edge of Bundap Lake.

Note: Images below were made in past years.


I had trouble holding my heavy 150-500mm lens steady, but here it is.

Last Sunday’s only bird shot.

I couldn’t get the bird to turn around so I could see its breast feathers, so this was the only view.

The large webbed feet were my clue and I finally narrowed the identity down to a Eurasian Coot.   Google images showed it was a juvenile and missing the sooty-black body and white beak of the usual adults I see.

Feel free to correct me in the comments if you believe it to be a different water bird.

The photo below, made in the Royal Botanic Gardens some 10 years ago, show a Coot looking at its feet as though to say……

“My what big feet I’ve got.  Are they really mine?”

A few more photos of Eurasian Coots taken over the years….


Take only memories, leave only footprints

Chief Seattle

Note: this quote is attributed to various people depending on which website you read.

When I converted this September 2014 image to black and white last night, the quote immediately came to mind.

In reality, the local environmental body (or council?) had used tractors and graders to cart loads of sand to the St Kilda beach, south of inner Melbourne, to replace the sand which was gradually being eroded away by strong tidal waters.


Butterflies can’t see their wings. They can’t see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can. People are like that as well. 
Naya Rivera

Back to December 2010 for this series of images.   I can picture the scene now.  This butterfly was captured by my little Canon PowerShot A3000 IS (prior to buying my first Canon DSLR at the end of that same month).   Who says a little inexpensive Point & Shoot camera isn’t as good as an expensive DSLR.

The location was near an archway right next to the entrance to The Herb Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.  The colourful Lantana was in full bloom and a shaft of sunlight lit up the flowers and Australian Painted Lady butterfly.


I don’t often see butterflies in my current home location (compared to the dozens I saw when I lived near the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne pre-2015) and walked around the lovely 55-hectare site regularly.

On the 10th December, when my desk was still next to the lounge window, I glanced sideways and spotted an Australian Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa itea) on the outdoor power switch unit.

I slowly rose out of my desk chair, grabbed a short telephoto lens (17-50mm attached to a Canon DSLR body), and went outdoors to capture a photo before it flew away.

It was a lovely insect and didn’t seem to have any wing damage as is often the case captured in past photography opportunities.


I tried to get a little closer and better focus but the butterfly must have felt threatened as it closed its wings rather abruptly.

It stayed that way for a few more minutes and then flew to the opaque balcony dividing fence……

…..and then flew away.

For those of you who see butterflies all the time, this short photo opportunity may not seem so exciting, but for me, who rarely sees more than a cabbage moth butterfly around my potted plants, this was a rather thrilling experience.

My usual ‘bird on my balcony’, where I have to work hard in a very short time at capturing a fast-moving small bird, is sometimes more work than fun.  This was definitely fun!

ROCK DOVE (Columba livia)

Rock Doves, or Pigeons, as most of us call them, are common in my suburb, especially in the area around the nearby river and parkland.

The species has so many markings and colours in the feathers that some people might think they are different birds when they see them in a group.

Basically, they are in almost any location where there are ‘man and his crops.  I’ve seen them down the beach, in suburban backyards and in parklands.   They seem to be in droves on city buildings.

I first noticed them on my balcony back in January 2022 with this fine specimen standing on the air-con outlet on my balcony below.   Before that, they appeared on the rooftops and balcony fence railings.  While I’m sure an experienced photoshopper could get rid of the blurred louvred windows lines in the image, I’m happy to get the shot anyway.

Yesterday, there were 2 rock doves fighting over the birdbath (or bird paddling pool as I call it during the hot weather).

I went to get my camera and frightened them away with my sudden movement.   A short time later they came back to the birdbath individually so I was able to photograph them.

The feather patterns/colours are completely different between the two birds and the slimmer one seemed to be much younger.

I had the sliding door wide open so was able to get a clear shot.

(note: you’ll be pleased to know I finally got around to cleaning the exterior lounge windows yesterday, so the only hindrance to fairly good shots are the interior furniture reflections if the sliding door is closed and my intermittent wobble holding the heavy telephoto lens and camera still.  I also cleaned out the birdbath and the rocks in the water.  This morning reveals lots of smear marks on the louvred windows though.  A more thorough wash is needed, but I’m sure you can appreciate that cleaning every louvre slat individually is rather tedious).

Birds on my balcony often stare straight at me to check on my movements and proximity.  All the birds are very skittish in this area and nothing like the tame approach I was able to get to the Spotted Turtle-doves when I lived on the northeast side of Melbourne pre-October 2016.

In the image below the dove/pigeon moved its head just as I pressed the shutter button.  I think it was wary of confronting the younger Rock Dove again.

The rear view below shows some of the lovely aqua and mauve sheen on the throat and neck of the fatter bird.

…..and then they were gone.

There’s never much time to change camera settings or zoom in or out on these occasions.   It’s a case of shoot and just hope you can fix minor blemishes or lighting irregularities in photo editing software.   I just use the Mac’s basic in-house editing software to tweak the light and definition mostly.   I don’t have the interest, or more importantly, eyesight, to use all the other editing software on the market these days.

Mostly it’s too hot to go outdoors at the moment, so no interesting walks to share.