Tuesday, 9 June 2009

White - Feathers, Lily and Lighting for Hedgehogs

I have noticed over the past year that quite a few birds have white feathers. This has been mentioned on other blogs that I read (including Bird Table News) and has been spotted in several parts of the world but nobody seems to have come up with a reason as to why this seems to be increasing. Today my attention was drawn to this Sparrow with the large amount of white on its head. It looks as though it has been standing out in the snow.


The other day I was pleased to see the first of the water lilies opening in my pond. Many people think that they need deep water. Some do but there are varieties which prefer shallow water. Mine grow well in just 10 inches of water. This is a large flowering variety with a bloom about 3.5 inches across. Each flower only lasts a short time but once they get established there is a sucession of blooms right through the Summer. The large leaves give shade and shelter to the pond dwellers.

Water Lily

For a while now I have toyed with the idea of increasing the amount of white light where the Hedgehogs come to visit. Yesterday I finally got round to converting a small flood lamp to hold two 12 volt LED lamps. Not long ago LED lamps gave poor lighting but the technology is moving on and these give the equivalent of about 20W each. I tried them out last night and the Hedgehogs were not put off at all. Unfortunately the camera switched to black and white about 5 minutes before the hogs arrived so today I altered the camera to stay in colour all the time. Tonight I hope to get some colour video.

LED Lighting

The photo shows one of the bulbs. It looks massive but in reality it is the standard size used for halogen spotlights in the home. The juvenile Starling is looking down on the flood light which itself is quite compact.

Writing of colour hog video, Shirl at Shirl's Gardenwatch has a terrific entry about Hedgehogs visiting her garden with a great piece of colour video, photos and lots of information about attracting them to your own garden.

Regular readers may remember the video of the Rook unhooking the fat ball feeder. I sent that to Springwatch and they have included it in the videos on the site. All the movies that people have sent in can be seen on the Your Movies section of the BBC Springwatch site.


  1. Cute Sparrow !! The Post Is Really Appreciable..Thanks For Sharing..

  2. I have statred a new website And Would Like You To Check It .Unseen Rajasthan
    for travels and tours.

  3. Congratulations on getting the Rook video on the Springwatch site John. I remember that, when you posted it. Fascinating to watch.
    Fingers crossed for the colour video tonight.

  4. That's very interesting to see all that white on the sparrow's head. Your new LED lights sound interesting - and hope the video works well with them.

  5. A beautiful water-lily, John. You'll be getting some fascinating insects attracted to the lilies no doubt. That Sparra's been painting the ceiling at home, that's all.

  6. Thank you, Unseen Rajasthan, for visiting. You have great photos of your local life on your site.

  7. Thank you Keith. I hope I got the camera set up correctly, otherwise all systems are go!

  8. The white feathers always seem to be a bit of a mystery as to why and what causes it. The sparrow looks as though he's been painting the ceiling.

    Looking forward to your video in colour John :D
    (and congrats on getting your video onto Springwatch)

  9. Thank you Mick. I've seen a few birds with one or more white feathers in their tails. One was a Blackbird. I wonder what causes the odd white ones to appear.

  10. Thank you Rob. I've always liked water lilies. I have noticed in the past that wasps often use the leaves as platforms so they can drink safely.

    And there was me thinking the Sparra had a bad case of dandruff :)

  11. Hi Tricia. Looks like being b/w as the camera has just switched over. Operator error again. Probably forgot to confirm the changes I made on its menu :(

  12. A lovely Water Lily photo John.

    I have noticed Blackbirds with quite a lot of white, I don't recall that in the past so wonder what causes it, it is bound to be something to do with us I'm afraid!!

    Many congratulations on the Rook video, I thought it was really special when I first saw it!

  13. Lovely feeder shots John...but my favorite I would have to say was your fab shot of the Water Lily my favorite flower...

  14. Thank you Jan. I always look forward to the pond lilies bursting into life. I just wish the Rook video had been better quality but you don't get second chances on that sort of thing.

  15. Hi Crista. Thank you. There is something special about surface water flowers where you can only see leaves and flowers and no unsightly stalks. I have about eight various lilies in the pond so there are more to look forward to but I think the white is my favourite.

  16. Hi again John :-)

    First off, really looking forward to seeing what colour images you capture with your new film set ;-) It is quite a compulsive challenge when we starting pointing a camera at wildlife in our gardens isn’t it? I’ve a new film set myself but still waiting for the cast to turn up on a regular basis, plus that camera has gone faulty too and requires busy OH to look at connections. He’ll maybe get it sorted at the weekend :-)

    Thanks very much for the mention about my last hedgehog posting. For me, it’s great to see what other people do to capture any video footage of wildlife but the hedgehogs really are quite special. I very much enjoy visiting your blog and hope my visitors wander here too :-D

    OH MY… just as I write this at 8.52am the daytime hedgehog (spotted yesterday) is visiting and eating sunflower hearts alongside a confused Blackbird. It has to be sick. Half an hour has past and I have been out, picked it up and put it safely in a large guinea pig cage with an igloo for shelter, food, water and a cover over most of it (except to let air in) to try and darken it. I’ll post on this later but for now I’ll have to phone a hedgehog rescue centre to see what to do next… not the day for this at all – my daughter is sitting her driving test in a few hours!!

    Re the black feathers, I’d take a guess that quite simply more partial albino birds are breeding and it is going from there. We get a number of partial albino blackbirds and I have seen quite a few juveniles with the start of white feather on their heads too. I’ve a couple of back postings you might be interested in one with partial albino
    on video and the other photos of a leucistic siskin.

  17. Hi Shirl. As you say it does become a compulsive challenge photographing and filming wildlife. I look at the marvellous things shown on television and want to be able to do the same or at least something similar. Things have come on a long way since the days we watched Armand and Michaela Denis showing us African wildlife in glorious black and white.

    You are more than welcome for the mention. It is lovely to be able to watch and compare behaviour on several sites and the Hedgehog seems to be a neglected creature. Always plenty about Badgers and Foxes but the poor old hogs get ignored or taken for granted on nature programmes.

    I hope your Hedgehog is OK and fingers crossed for you Daughter's driving test and that you get your camera problems sorted.

    Thanks for the links re white feathers - very interesting. It is an intriguing subject.

  18. Regarding white feathers - I'm in Florida. Last year, my son & I spotted a grackle with a white wing feather. Now, I have a pet European Starling with a white feather on her breast. Here's what I've found: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/Albinism_Leucism.htm

  19. Thanks for popping by Beth and for the interesting reference.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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