Sunday, 31 December 2017

Saturday, 30 December 2017

DESKTOP 1614 - WOOD DUCKS

The Australian wood duck, maned duck or maned goose (Chenonetta jubata) is a dabbling duck found throughout much of Australia. It is the only living species in the genus Chenonetta. Traditionally placed in the subfamily Anatinae (dabbling ducks), it might belong to the subfamily Tadorninae (shelducks); the ringed teal may be its closest living relative.

This 45–51 cm duck looks like a small goose, and feeds mostly by grazing in flocks. The male is grey with a dark brown head and mottled breast. The female has white stripes above and below the eye and mottled underparts. Both sexes have grey wings with black primaries and a white speculum. Juveniles are similar to adult females, but lighter and with a more streaky breast.

The Australian wood duck is widespread in Australia, including Tasmania. It is found in grasslands, open woodlands, wetlands, flooded pastures and along the coast in inlets and bays. It is also common on farmland with dams, as well as around rice fields, sewage ponds and in urban parks. It will often be found around deeper lakes that may be unsuitable for other waterbirds' foraging, as it prefers to forage on land.

The Australian wood duck eats grasses, grains, clover and other herbs, and occasionally, insects. It is rarely seen on open water, preferring to forage by dabbling in shallow water, or in grasslands and crops. They nest in cavities in trees or in nest-boxes above or near water. Nests are made with a pile of down. It lays 9–11 cream-white eggs, similar to the Mandarin ducks.

The female incubates them while the male stands guard.Once the ducklings are ready to leave the nest, the female flies to the ground and the duckling will leap to the ground and follow their parents. Like Mandarin drakes, the males also secure their ducklings closely along with the females.

Australian wood duck is widespread in its range. This species has benefited from agriculture developments, with creation of dams and pools. It is classified as a game bird, and killed by licensed hunters. This species is not threatened, and numbers are stable.

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

Friday, 29 December 2017

DESKTOP 1613 - HILL

View of the hill at the Darebin Parklands in 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 Weekend Green meme.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

DESKTOP 1612 - AMAZON WATER LILY

Victoria amazonica is a species of flowering plant, the largest of the Nymphaeaceae family of water lilies. It is the National flower of Guyana. The species has very large leaves, up to 3 m in diameter, that float on the water's surface on a submerged stalk, 7–8 m in length. The species was once called Victoria regia after Queen Victoria, but the name was superseded. 

V. amazonica is native to the shallow waters of the Amazon River basin, such as oxbow lakes and bayous. It is depicted in the Guyanese coat of arms. The flowers are white the first night they are open and become pink the second night. They are up to 40 cm in diameter, and are pollinated by beetles. This process was described in detail by Sir Ghillean Prance and Jorge Arius. It is the largest waterlily in the world.

The spectacular flowers are relatively short-lived, lasting only 48 hours or so. The flower is white the first evening it opens, attracting beetles with a sweet pineapple-like scent and with heat from a thermochemical reaction. At this stage the flower is female, and is open to receiving pollen picked up by the beetles on other plants. As they bumble around inside the flower they transfer pollen to the stigmas and fertilisation takes place. Meanwhile the flower shuts, trapping them until the next evening.

During the following day the plant changes from female to male: The anthers mature and start producing pollen. When the flower reopens on the second evening it has changed colour to purplish red and no longer emits attractive scent or heat. The beetles, dusted with their pollen, fly off to find another white flower on a different plant (each plant only ever has one white flower at a time), where the process is repeated. The flower then closes up and sinks below the surface of the water, its mission accomplished.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

DESKTOP 1611 - YELLOWJACKET

Yellowjacket or Yellow jacket is the common name in North America for predatory social wasps of the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. Members of these genera are known simply as "wasps" in other English-speaking countries. Most of these are black and yellow like the eastern yellowjacket Vespula maculifrons and the aerial yellowjacket Dolichovespula arenaria; some are black and white like the bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata. Others may have the abdomen background color red instead of black.

They can be identified by their distinctive markings, their occurrence only in colonies, and a characteristic, rapid, side-to-side flight pattern prior to landing. All females are capable of stinging. Yellowjackets are important predators of pest insects.

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

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

DESKTOP 1610 - IRELAND

Ireland (Irish: Éire; Ulster-Scots: Airlann) is an island in the North Atlantic, often called "The Emerald Isle". It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe. Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, in the northeast of the island.

In 2011, the population of Ireland was about 6.4 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe after Great Britain. Just under 4.6 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland. The island's geography comprises relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, with several navigable rivers extending inland.

The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable climate which is free of extremes in temperature. Thick woodlands covered the island until the Middle Ages. As of 2013, the amount of land that is wooded in Ireland is about 11% of the total, compared with a European average of 35%. There are twenty-six extant mammal species native to Ireland. The Irish climate is very moderate and classified as oceanic. As a result, winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area. However, summers are cooler than those in Continental Europe. Rainfall and cloud cover are abundant.

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.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

DESKTOP 1605 - CANNAS

Canna (or canna lily, although not a true lily) is a genus of nineteen species of flowering plants. The closest living relations to cannas are the other plant families of the order Zingiberales, that is the Zingiberaceae (gingers), Musaceae (bananas), Marantaceae, Heliconiaceae, Strelitziaceae, etc. Canna is the only genus in the family Cannaceae. Such a family has almost universally been recognized by taxonomists.

The name Canna originates from the Celtic word for a cane or reed. The species have large, attractive foliage and horticulturists have turned it into a large-flowered and bright garden plant. In addition, it is one of the world's richest starch sources, and is an agricultural plant. Although a plant of the tropics, most cultivars have been developed in temperate climates and are easy to grow in most countries of the world as long as they can enjoy at least 6–8 hours average sunlight during the summer, and are moved to a warm location for the winter.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

DESKTOP 1604 - XANTHI, GREECE

Xanthi (Greek: Ξάνθη); is a city in Thrace, northeastern Greece. It is the capital of the Xanthi regional unit of the region of East Macedonia and Thrace. Amphitheatrically built on the foot of Rhodope mountain chain, the city is divided by the Kosynthos River, into the west part, where the old and the modern town are located, and the east part that boasts a rich natural environment.

The Old Town of Xanthi is known throughout Greece for its distinctive architecture, combining many Byzantine Greek churches with neoclassical mansions of Greek merchants from the 18th and 19th centuries and Ottoman-era mosques. Other landmarks in Xanthi include the Archaeological Museum of Abdera and the Greek Folk Art Museum.

Xanthi is famous throughout Greece (especially Northern Greece) for its annual spring carnival (Greek: καρναβάλι) which has a significant role in the city's economy. Over 40 cultural associations from around Greece participate in the carnival program. The festivities which take place during the period include concerts, theatre plays, music and dance nights, exhibitions, a cycling event, games on the streets, and re-enactments of old customs.

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

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

DESKTOP 1603 - PERTH AUSTRALIA

Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia. It is the fourth-most populous city in Australia, with an estimated population of 2.02 million (as of 30 June 2014) living in Greater Perth. Perth is part of the South West Land Division of Western Australia, with the majority of the metropolitan area of Perth located on the Swan Coastal Plain, a narrow strip between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Scarp, a low coastal escarpment. 

The first areas settled were on the Swan River, with the city's central business district and port (Fremantle) both located on its shores. Perth is formally divided into a number of local government areas, which themselves consist of a large number of suburbs, extending from Two Rocks in the north to Rockingham in the south, and east inland to The Lakes. As part of Perth's role as the capital of Western Australia, the state's Parliament and Supreme Court are located within the city, as is Government House, the residence of the Governor of Western Australia.

Perth was originally founded by Captain James Stirling in 1829 as the administrative centre of the Swan River Colony. It gained city status (currently vested in the smaller City of Perth) in 1856, and was promoted to the status of a Lord Mayorality in 1929. The city is named after Perth, Scotland, by influence of Sir George Murray, then British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The city's population increased substantially as a result of the Western Australian gold rushes in the late 19th century, largely as a result of emigration from the eastern colonies of Australia.

Perth became known worldwide as the "City of Light" when city residents lit their house lights and streetlights as American astronaut John Glenn passed overhead while orbiting the earth on Friendship 7 in 1962. The city repeated the act as Glenn passed overhead on the Space Shuttle in 1998. Perth came 8th in the Economist Intelligence Unit's August 2015 list of the world's most liveable cities, and was classified by the Globalisation and World Cities Research Network in 2010 as a world city.

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.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

DESKTOP 1601 - IT'S NOT SNOW...

New Spring (1)

Sitting underneath white branches
Far you hear winds are wailing;
Overhead you see the cloudbanks
Wrap themselves in misty veiling,

See how on bare field and forest
Cold and barren death is seizing;
Winter's round you, winter's in you,
And your very heart is freezing.

Suddenly white flakes come falling
Down on you; and vexed and soured
You suppose some tree has shaken
Over you a snowy shower.

But it is no snow that's fallen,
Soon you see with joyful start
Look, it's fragrant almond blossoms
Come to ease and tease your heart.

What a thrilling piece of magic!
Winter's turned to May for you,
Snow's transmuted into blossoms,
And your heart's in love anew.

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

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.

Heine's poem was translated into Greek by  by Angelos Vlahou, set to music by Manolis Zaharakis and sung by Eleni Dimou:

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

DESKTOP 1597 - WOOL

Woolly thoughts make the warmest white wraps for Winter!

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

Sunday, 10 December 2017

DESKTOP 1594 - MISER

"Go miser go, for money sell your soul. Trade wares for wares and trudge from pole to pole, So others may say when you are dead and gone. See what a vast estate he left his son." - John Dryden

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.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

DESKTOP 1591 - TAGETES

Tagetes is a genus of 56 species of annual and perennial mostly herbaceous plants in the sunflower family (Asteraceae or Compositae). The genus is native to North and South America, but some species have become naturalised around the world. Depending on the species, marigold foliage has a musky, pungent scent, though some varieties have been bred to be scentless. It is said to deter some common insect pests, as well as nematodes. Tagetes are hence often used in companion planting for tomato, eggplant, chili pepper, tobacco and potato. Due to antibacterial thiophenes exuded by the roots, Tagetes should not be planted near any legume crop. Some of the perennial species are deer-, rabbit-, rodent- and javalina or peccary-resistant.

This post s part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

DESKTOP 1590 - VIEW OF THE CITY

Looking towards the City of Melbourne along the Yarra River from the Southeast.

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.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

DESKTOP 1589 - MANLY, AUSTRALIA

Manly is a suburb of northern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia, 17 kilometres north-east of the Sydney central business district and is the administrative centre of the local government area of Manly Council, in the Northern Beaches region.

Manly was named by Captain Arthur Phillip for the indigenous people living there, "...their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place". These men were of the Kay-ye-my clan (of the Guringai people). While scouting for fresh water in the area, Phillip encountered members of the clan, and after a misunderstanding he was speared in the shoulder by one of the clan; to his lasting credit, the progressively-minded Phillip ordered his men not to retaliate.

Manly is most notable for its sandy beaches right on the Pacific Ocean, which are popular tourist destinations. Manly features a long stretch of sand on the ocean side, that runs from Queenscliff Beach to North Steyne Beach and Manly Beach. This is followed by rock pools and sandy beaches called Fairy Bower and Shelly Beach. There are also a number of beaches on the harbour side of the peninsula. Norfolk Island pine trees are also symbolic of Manly and are a prominent feature of both the ocean and harbour beaches.

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, 4 December 2017

DESKTOP 1588 - THREE SAINTS

The three saints of Orthodox Christianity below have their Feast Days on consecutive days of early December. These are all popular and well-known saints that are venerated in the Orthodox Christian faith. The first is St Barbara, whose Feast Day is on the 4th of December; the second is St Sabbas, whose Feast Day is on the 5th of December; and finally St Nicholas, whose Feast Day is on the 6th of December. St Nicholas has become the "Santa Claus" of Christmas.

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.