Saturday, 30 April 2011

Great Tit Resumes Nest Building

Every day I have checked the camera view from the nest box and nothing had changed for weeks - until this morning. Things looked different and it wasn't long before I saw a Great Tit arrive with some new moss.

Since recording that a short while ago she started to bring in some softer material to add to the nest. I wonder if it is the same bird that started the nest three weeks ago.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Friday at the Flicks - The Amorous Hedgehog

A few evenings ago I was able to take some video of a pair of Hedgehogs as the amorous male was attempting to mate with a female. All she was interested in was eating and drinking.

The automatic monitoring system caught some of the action.

At the same time I happened to be watching from the kitchen window so I was able to video from that angle as well.

The male seems to have had no success that time and I have heard them snuffling together on several evenings since then. They are usually under one of the bushes in next door's garden.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Blackbird with a Crossed Bill

From time to time a bird is seen with a bill which has become distorted in growth. One such is this blackbird which has been visiting the garden for months. I would imagine it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for it to hunt for worms in the ground but it has learned to put its head on one side so it can pick up any seeds which drop from the feeders. So far it seems to have thrived well.

Blackbird with crossed bill

One species whose numbers have declined rapidly in this area is the Greenfinch so it was a real pleasure to spot this one waiting to find a vacant perch on the seed feeder,

Greenfinch 3

Monday, 25 April 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Glo, you managed it again, Well done. It was plant sap, which was all I was looking for. I think you will need a bigger bucket to add this week's gold star to the collection. The plant is one of my Cymbidium orchids. They all exhibit the same problem and I have never managed to find out what is causing it. Every year these little 'bubbles' of sap appear. I suspect a plant pest of some sort but have never found one. It doesn't seem to harm the flowers, just makes the plants extremely sticky to the touch.

Guess 01     P1020472 Orchid

Wilma: The plant is in the conservatory and the building seen in the sap is next door to me.

On to this week's puzzle. Even I am not sure what it is. All I know is I took it out of my arm where it had been for about a week - I just didn't know it was there. I had been bitten and the resulting pain and swelling masked it until things settled down a bit.

Two views of the same object, total length about 18mm


No prizes, Just for fun, though you get a virtual gold star if your guess coincides with mine.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Wren in Residence

It looks as though the Wren is now nesting in the roosting pocket. It is too dark to see inside so from time to time I have taken a flash photo from about fifteen feet away. Up to yesterday there was nothing to be seen inside. The last photo showed a somewhat blurry occupant which looks to me like the feathers of the Wren.

Wren Nest

It is impossibe to focus inside the pouch as it is in complete darkness and I don't want to disturbe Mrs Wren if she is now hatching a few wrenlets.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Stock Dove, Singing Wren, Hedgehogs Sharing

I was beginning to think a new PC was going to be the next expense. It may be yet as it took a lot to get it started this morning. Also the USB hub is playing up and a new one I bought stops everything from working. Don't you just love computers.

Anyway - on with the show.

Every morning for quite a while now there has been a pair of stock doves feeding in the garden. I guess they are nesting fairly close by. I did manage a bit of video of one of them the other morning. Better sunlight would have made those neck feathers really glint.

I haven't seen any activity in the Wren nest since it was finished. This morning though, when I opened the shed door, I'm sure I saw both wrens fly from the roosting pouch so there may yet be some wrenlets later in the year. One is often singing from one of three vantage points around the garden and the other day I managed some video taken through a far from clean window.

I am going to have to buy, or make, a 'sprung' mount for the microphone as it picks up too much motor noise.

A few nights ago a couple of Hedgehogs were spotted feeding peacefully together which seems to be a rare event, here anyway.

Just as I was about to pack the camera away last night there were two hogs at the feeding station. This time I thought I was finally going to video them mating. The male nearly managed it and that piece of video will have to wait for another day.

Have a great holiday weekend observing the wildlife near you.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Green Men

I have always looked on with envy when I have seen the occasional wood carving outside houses. Most have been large and well beyond my wallet but recently I found a company on which sells various sized carvings. Needless to say I just had to have a couple of them for the garden. The Green Men are about 55cm tall and fixed either side of my imitation wagon wheel where I used to have hanging baskets. At least the Green Men don't need watering.

Green Men

One of our usual power cuts tonight for about 80 minutes. They tend to come in batches and then everything settles down for several months. Tonight they said it was a fault on their high voltage line and affected a large area. At least my emergency lighting did its job as did the UPS (uninterruptable  power supply) units I have on the computer (which runs for just over half an hour and at least allows a clean power down without courrupting any data) and on the satellite box (which can keep it going for well over an hour, useful if it is recording).

Monday, 18 April 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Well done and gold stars to Adrian, Wilma and Glo who correctly identified last week's puzzle picture. It was one small piece from a clump of moss taken from the 'lawn'.

rectangle_New-Out99999d    Lawn Moss

Now for this week's guess what:

Guess 01

Don't go for the obvious. It's not a water drop.
No prizes, just for fun.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

This Season's Look for Starlings

This year we are mainly going in for the punk look.

Punk Starling 1

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Oh Dear, What Can the Matter be?

Third day with no nesting activity in the Great Tit box. I did hear a GT belting out its alarm call yesterday and last night was the first time there has been no bird roosting in the box for many months. Has she fallen foul of the Sparrowhawk or the killer black cat I wonder or just changed her mind as the Blue Tit did last year.

The title is from an old song the first verse of which is:

O dear, what can the matter be?
Dear, dear, what can the matter be?
O dear, what can the matter be?
Johnny's so long at the fair.

My upbringing was not so refined as some so I knew a different version which started:

Oh, dear, what can the matter be,
Seven old ladies were locked in the lava'try,
They were there from Monday till Saturday,
And nobody knew they were there.

These and other information about this song can be found HERE on Wikipedia.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Tadpoles, Wood Pigeon, Wren

Not the best of days today. Spent ages trying to beat a WiFi PCI card into submission, waited in for three days now for a delivery which seems to have gone AWOL and watched paint dry while the video clips uploaded to YouTube. Anyway, got there in the end though it took a while for my remaining grey cell to work out what YouTube had done with the 'embed' facility. Now I have to click on the 'share' button which then reveals the 'embed' button. Why do the encoders at these places have to keep messing about and making it more difficult to use?

The last time I filmed the tadpoles in the nursery pond was on the 2nd of this month when they were skinny little things with large external gills. This morning I filmed them again. They have matured well in the past two weeks and are now large enough to enjoy eating floating Koi sticks as well as all the algae they are scraping off everything in the nursery pond.

 This morning I saw a Wood Pigeon sat on the ivy growing the other side of my fence and having a grand tuck in to the ripe berries.

Finally, also seen this morning,  a Wren sat on top of my artificial wagon wheel having a very energetic preening session. It may appear to be speeded up but it is actually filmed at normal speed. To give an idea of the size of a Wren to those who are not familiar with them - the wood of the wheel is about 2 inches (50mm) wide.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Green Thing

I just received this in an email and I was so taken by it I thought I would reproduce it here.

This is an interesting perspective on today’s “Green” concern for the environment....

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to her and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

That’s right, they didn’t have the "green thing" in her day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soft drink bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, using the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.  But she’s right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine – wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.  And clothes were recycled:  kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right, they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a pizza dish, not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item
to send in the mail, they used wadded up newspaper to cushion it, not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.  She's right, though; they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right, they didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty, instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.  But they didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus, instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from
satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

It’s a crying shame that we didn’t have “the green thing” back then!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Great Tit Nest Box - Update

Not a lot of activity today, not until well into the afternoon when the female was spotted bringing some more nesting material. The video has been slowed down to half speed. In the second part you can see she sometimes has a struggle to get the moss and her body through the hole at the same time.

It is beginning to look like the start of a nest now.

Great Tit Nest Box  110411

The female, I assume, is still using the box as a roost every night.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What + Nesting Update

Gold stars to Glo and Jan for correctly identufying last week's puzzle photo. It was indeed part of a deceased bumblebee I found in the conservatory.
Image11   BB2

This week for the first time for ages I took some stacked photos of todays mystery object and used CombineZP to produce the final stacked photo.
Guess What: (actual size about 10mm)

Clue: just the thing for a feathery maternity ward.

No prizes - just for fun.

Great Tit Nest box Update:
The nesting material continues to arrive, usually early morning and late in the afternoon.

Great Tit Nest Building

This morning I spotted the Wren going in the roosting pocket. The first time I have seen it for several days so all seems to be OK in that direction.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Pages From a Hedgehog's Diary

April 9th 2011

While I was walking my usual nightly mile or two I met this lovely lady Hedgehog eating at the Birdy Bistro.

2 Hedgehogs 01

I went across to her and said hello but she was only interested in her favourite dinner of dried mealworms. Every time I spoke to her she just ignored me or gave me the cold shoulder. I tried over and over again, using up all my best snuffle chat up lines.

What lovely glossy spines you have.
Do you come here often?
Your dark eyes glitter like a moonless sky.
What's a pretty hedgehog like you doing in a place like this?
Do you fancy a walk together round the next garden?

She did let me join her for a quick meal.
Over and over I tried to strike up a conversation. I even kept inviting her to follow me but every time I wandered off she just went back to eating.

You can see from this speeded up video just how hard I was trying.

It was over half an hour before she made a move. A couple of hours later we were seen by a human as we snuggled up together in a dark corner.

2 Hedgehogs 02

Whether I managed to persuade her to go back to my place I will leave to your imagination.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Hedgehog Meeting and More Nesting

What a glorious day Friday was in more ways than one. Temperatures, according to my weather set up, reached  about 22C outside and almost 27C in here.

Playing through Thursday night's video captures I saw another Hedgehog encounter. No charging or bullying this time. Looked more a 'Is it time to make babies' type of meeting. It was a pity that they met up right at the edge of the camera's field of view. The answer seemed to be 'Not tonight. I've got a headache'.

Looking through Friday's captures from the Great Tit nest box I saw that some small amounts of nesting material were brought in. There was also a lot of nest box fluttering. Things are beginning to look up in that direction.

I haven't seen the Wren visit its nest but I have heard and seen it around the garden. The roosting pocket is directly above one of my paths down the garden but I have kept away from that area.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Night Activity, Chaffinch, Wren

There is usually plenty of Hedgehog activity most nights. They don't stay for long on their travels and some may return several times. This is all the visits the camera captured a couple of nights ago, speeded up to keep the length and file size down.

A male Chaffinch sat on a tree next door singing in the sunshine. Some wind noise unfortunately.

When I took the still shots of the Wren building its nest in a roosting popcket I was also able to take some short pieces of video. You will have to look hard at times as only the beak can be seen. Sorry the last part was out of focus.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife where ever you are.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

A Wren in the Pocket

Several times I have tried, and failed, to capture any photos of the Great Tit at the nest box. Each time I have gone down the garden and found cover to observe the box I have noticed a Wren in that area. Today I saw her fly up to one of the roosting pockets which hang on the side of my shed. You could have knocked me down with a feather.

Roosting Pocket

Can you see what I could see?
Have a closer look.

Wren Nesting in a Roosting Pocket

Lots of moss.  The Wren had disappeared inside. I waited patiently and after a short while she appeared at the entrance.



After making sure the coast was clear she flew down to the area behind the greenhouse where I keep all my garden junk.


It is right next to the shed and the grass round there has plenty of moss so she doesn't have far to go to gather more material.


Wren Collecting Moss

I'm looking forward to future developments. The beauty is I can see that roosting pocket from the kitchen window so I can keep an eye on things without disturbing her.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Feathered Visitors to the Pond

As it was a dry day, mostly, on Monday I again set up the 350D and the home brew IR detector to automatically photograph any birds which visited the garden pond waterfall. The IR detector goes near the waterfall and the camera on its tripod is set up at the opposite end of the pond. Once they have been in place a short while the birds carry on visiting as usual.

Wood Pigeon
Pond Visitor - Wood Pigeon

Collared Doves
Pond Visitor - Collared Doves

Male Blackbird
Pond Visitor - Male Blackbird

Starlings can be guaranteed to have a good splash about
Pond Visitor - Starling

My favourite of this batch:
Female Blackbird - shall I have a drink, have a bath or continue nest building?
Pond Visitor - Female Blackbird

Slightly out of focus range, a male Chaffinch looking dapper in his mating plumage.
Pond Visitor - Male Chaffinch

Wet and windy today so the auto setup will have to wait until the weather settles for the next attempt.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Late in the day - been busy - playing. (Thank you for enquiring Adrian) Finally made my mind up what to buy me as a belated b'day prezzy. Anyway on with the show. Me thinks last week's clue was a tad on the difficult side, sorry. It was based on the type found in the Daily Telegraph when I used indulge in crossword puzzles many years ago. Maybe they get easier after a few bevies.

The clue was:
Confused race amongst part of the hive.
It was a hidden anagram using the underlined letters.
The result being echeveria. Glo was on the right track thinking it was a succulent of some sort so deserves a silver star. Thanks to all who gave it a try.

Image270311  P1020366  P1020362

Maybe this week's puzzle photo will be somewhat easier:


Clue: Rimsky-Korsakov

Just for fun, no prizes.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Bath Time for a Wren

For the first time this year I set up the 350D and the home brew IR sensor to take some photographs of any birds visiting the waterfall on the garden pond. Lots of false triggers and many of the birds it did capture were in deep shadow but one lovely surprise was to capture a Wren visiting. Being such a small bird it used the shallowest pool at the bottom of the waterfall. Unfortunately most of this area was not seen by the camera but here are some shots. (All small crops)

Just arrived, thinking about a quick bath:
Wren 1

A couple of it in the water:
Wren 6

Wren 5

Looking a bit wetter than it started:
Wren 2

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Tadpoles Galore

It was only 22nd March when I photographed the newly laid frog spawn. All told 6 lots were laid and, as last year, I moved 4 of the lots to the 'nursery' pond so any hatching tadpoles wouldn't get eaten by the fish in the main pond.  Today when I first looked at the spawn I thought it had failed as it was just a flat mass of jelly but on closer observation there they were - scores of tiny tadpoles.

Tadpole 020411

I hope they thrive as well as last year's batch did when I was able to return scores of them back in the main pond when their back legs were beginning to appear and they seemed big and strong enough to survive in there.

A short piece of video taken today. The tadpoles are about 11mm long:

Still and video taken with the Panasonic Lumix TZ7

Friday, 1 April 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Great Tits, Rook, Hedgehogs

The nest box is still in use every night as a roost for one of the Great Tits. During the day one will visit a few times and occasionally they can both be seen in there, usually for a second or two as they swap places. This visit was slightly longer and I am wondering if the gentle pecking is part of a mating ritual.

Rooks are among the earliest of the visitors to the garden and during the day there will be one or more sat on a nearby television aerial surveying the surrounding gardens.

When the surveillance camera automatically recorded one Hedgehog dumping the other in a water bowl I was also filming from the kitchen window. The auto recording missed the first part of the charge so here is a different view of all the action.

Taking into account the body language of the 'attacker' and the snuffling which can be heard right at the end of the clip this could well be part of the hogs mating ritual. Before they can mate the male has to 'persuade' the female to lower the spines on her rear end otherwise he will end up with a close encounter of the prickly kind.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.
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