Saturday, 3 October 2009

Birdy Bistro Fully Booked

For the past few years there has been a steady trickle of birds visiting the various feeder I have tried in different arrangements in the back garden. Just recently it has become pure bedlam. Yesterday morning I gave up counting Goldfinches when I reached twenty four. Add to that several Greenfinches, Chaffinches and numerous House Sparrows and there is chaos when they all decide to book a seat at the Birdy Bistro at the same time.

Sometimes several will queue waiting their opportunity.

Birdy Bistro

Others get impatient and prefer bully boy tactics.

Birdy Bistro

I usually film through the kitchen window and my camcorder has one failing, no way to add an external microphone to pick up the sound from outdoors. A recent question from Shirl prompted me to wake up my remaining grey cell and find a solution.  After scrabbling through my various junk boxes looking for a way to get a microphone outside I remembered I had an old baby monitor which I usually use to monitor the front door bell with the receiver in the shed so I can hear if I have a visitor.

After a bit of thought I took the baby monitor apart, filed a small hole in the side and moved the microphone outside the case. This now sits in a hole in the end of the shed not far from the feeders. It is fairly well protected from the elements as the wall of the shed is one inch thick and on the outside a sloping solar panel and the roof overhang keep off the rain and some of the wind.

The baby monitor transmitter in position with the microphone (the black bit just on the right) in the hole.

Baby Monitor

The receiver is in the kitchen about six feet from the camcorder. Results are not perfect. It is an old unit and the frequency it used is now allocated to other things so I get a bit of interference but here is a sample of the unit in use. Not much sound to begin with but as things hot up at the Bistro it gets noisier for a while.

 I think that now conveys a better impression of what it is like here three times a day. Next thing is to get hold of a modern digital version which should eliminate any interference.

I have one small tree, grafted on dwarf rooting stock, which is a treat in Spring and Autumn. In Spring it is a mass of flowers which appear before the leaves. In the Autumn the leaves turn from green to red. Yesterday I took two series of photographs. The first is in daylight and the second at night by flash.

Autumn Colour

Autumn Colour by Night

Finally (sighs of relief all round) we spotted this little frog during our afternoon perambulation. The photo was taken with my mobile phone and fortunately little froggy let me get the phone within a few inches for a nice clear portrait.



  1. Really like the photographs.
    I can see only one problem with your sound system. How will you now hear the door bell?

  2. Thank you Adria.
    Yes, that is another reason to get a digital system for the bird sounds and then I can have the old system back for its original use - door bell monitor, not babies ;)

  3. What an amazing sight, all those Goldfinches, and I love that second shot with the Greenfinch flying past. Bedlam indeed; but great to see.
    Ingenious idea with the baby monitor too. Really adds to the video.
    Great post John.

  4. Hee Hee, that didn't take long John...ingenious!

    The Midmarsh Cafe is a busy place, those Goldfinches just love it.

    Your tree is a lovely colour, I particularly like the one taken at night. Another good phone pic...what did Bobby think about that little chap?

  5. Thank you Keith. Definitely great to watch so many birds visit the garden. I was always disappointed with some of the silent video clips as they needed some appropriate sound to enhance them.

  6. Yes Jan. I prefer the night picture. The dark background makes the tree stand out where the bright day sky takes the eyes to the wrong part of the other photo.

    It was unfortunate that the phone refused to take a picture while Bobby gave the frog a cursory sniff. I think he thought it wasn't anything to get excited about as he can see frogs at home :)

  7. Wonderful post, John. Inspired use for the baby monitor; it really does add drama to the visuals. The forelegs of your frog are decidedly more muscular than the North American frogs. Glad you got such a good cell phone shot.

  8. I think you have been awarded a Michelin star at the Birdy Bistro!

  9. Another problem solved! Great work John. I thought you might have been going to do as they did during the silent movies and entertain us on piano...

  10. From a trickle of birds to utter bedlam is quite a remarkable turn of events, so congratulations on the undeniable success of Birdy Bistro! The fluttering and flapping of feathers, the squabbling and squawking of same,recorded for all to see and hear through your innovative and ingenious in(ter)vention of the baby monitor, is an excellent example of educational entertainment at its best. Oh my goodness, I've become caught up in the excitement of it all! :) Great photos and video!

    Isn't it lovely to have a tree that changes so noticeably each season? My pink dogwood gives me similar enjoyment ~ I look forward to each stage of its beauty.

    Your frog is a sturdy and striking looking individual. I'm sure he has a story to tell, but who knows what it is? Do you know what kind it is, and where was it heading, I wonder...

  11. Thank you Wilma. Some video really needed sound to go with them. Our Common Frog leaps most of the time so I guess that builds up the muscles on its legs.

  12. Thank you Rob. I'm more into the idea of a Mighty Wurlitzer rising majestically out of the floor but I don't have enough pipes to go round. :)

  13. Good morning Glo. Thank you.
    It is nice to have things which change with the seasons even if they are just bare branches for part of the year.
    The photo is of a Common Frog. Not a very inspiring name. Try the Latin name: Rana temporaria. There - that is more impressive. It was on a narrow track with ditches either side so could possibly have been moving from one to the other.

  14. The goldfinches look great, particularly the flash of yellow on their wings when they are flying.

    Your success shows that we can make a difference to the wildlife around us. It may take a while to make a significant difference, but perseverance does pay.

  15. The Goldfinches do add a splash of colour to the garden Twosie.
    I think every little helps in helping our wildlife.


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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