Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Hedgehog Food Thief

The camera often picks up a black cat wandering through in the middle of the night but this is the first time I have seen it eat any of the food I put out for the Hedgehogs.

It is either very hungry or cats are partial to kibbled peanuts.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What + Great Tit Mother Feeds Baby

Congratulations and virtual gold stars for the correct identification of last weeks close up of a strawberry go to Adrian, Matron,Jan, Keith and Glo.

Red Image1 Strawberry

On to the new puzzle photo. This object I photographed quite a while ago and didn't get round to using it. I wonder how you will get on with:

Guess what:

I'm not looking for the name of the full object but what can be seen in the bottom half of the picture.
Clue: Sounds as though it should be speedy.
No prizes. Just for fun.

Mr. Mrs. and the four baby Great Tits are all doing fine. This morning was the first time I could see that one of the babies had it eyes partly open while it was being fed. It took a while for Ma GT to get the insect the right way round for the baby to swallow it.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Great Tit Nest Box + The Brat Pack

For those who missed the live video yesterday, or were unable to connect here is a video clip of some action from yesterday. The babies are now eight days old and you can see how much they have grown in that time by comparing them with the two eggs which didn't hatch. They were that size only a few days ago. Mrs GT spends a lot of time maintaining the nest cup. As the babies grow they need more room so she pushes round the inside with her head. This doesn't look very comfortable for the young ones. Every now and then she brings in more nesting material to build up the depth of the nest cup.

This is much longer than the clips I usually upload.

The Brat Pack (dozens of Starlings and their offspring) continue their noisy invasion of the feeders every morning and stay all day. Once the feeders are empty the juveniles are parked in the apple trees next door while the adults fly off to find food. Many of them can be seen on the cricket field at the end of the lane searching for grubs and worms in the mown grass.

Here is a small section of the group of youngsters waiting for their next meal to arrive. Clicking on the photo will take you to a larger version.

The Brat Pack

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Video Feed Closed

Mrs GT has gone to bed.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Bathing Birds, Clouds, Song Thrush

Juvenile Starlings are always good for a smile when they bathe. Sometimes they soak themselves so much they can't fly. Several times I have seen three or four in the bird bath going round in circles trying to get in the deepest bit of water. Also amusing is the way Wood Pigeons sit out in the open in pouring rain and lift their wings so that the rain can get at the feathers underneath.

It is quite a while since I last made a time lapse video. One sunny day a couple of weeks ago I set up the 350D, a wide angle lens and my home made intervalometer to take a shot every ten seconds. This is the result of just over four hundred individual photos. I forgot that the lens hood would mask the coners of the frame!

Finally a video of a Song Thrush enjoying the remaining rays from the Sun as it reached the horizon. The start of the video is as the recorder saw it. The bird was two houses away from my garden. The second section is a crop I made using Aiseesoft Total Video Converter so the definition suffers somewhat. Also heard in the background are a couple of Blackbirds and a Wood Pigeon.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Great Tits - Ma Knows Best

I had to laugh today as Pa Great Tit attempted to feed an insect to his babies and Ma Great Tit was determined that she knew which baby needed feeding next.

How the babies are growing. Only five days ago they were the same size as the two eggs which haven't hatched. I wonder when they will open their eyes.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Song Thrush

This morning's video feed from the Great Tit nest box was reasonably successful. Once again some people get straight on to the video stream and others seem to have a problem. I don't know enough about the finer workings of the system to work out why as yet. If you do have a problem it may help if you refresh the page after a few seconds to give the system a kick start.

A couple of days ago a Song Thrush rested a while on my fence and stayed long enough for a few shots. It did start to sing but even though I tried to set up the video camera inside the partially closed door as soon as I hit the record button the bird flew away.

Song Thrush

All being well I do have some video taken several days ago when a Song Thrush was singing so, with luck, that will be available on Friday.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Linnet + Great Tit

While waiting for the microwave to strut its stuff I noticed a pair of birds land on the lawn. One, I assume the male, took off again almost immediately and all I got was a glimpse of some red. The female stayed for a couple of minutes helping herself to the seeds from a dandelion.



Having scoured my few bird books I am left with two possibilities. My favoured one is a Linnet with a slight possibility of it being a Twite but I think the red noticed on the male will probably cut that one out of the list.

My grateful thanks to Roy for identifying it as a female Linnet - a first for my garden.

As an extra - here is Papa (I think) Great Tit waiting for me to go away so he can take a meal to his babies in the nest box.

Great Tit

Macro on Monday - Guess What

A full house last Monday with Adrian, Jan, Keith, Glo, Matron and Wilma all gaining virtual gold stars for the correct identification of a water lily. The first one to open in my pond this year.

White 1 Water Lily

I wonder if you will do as well this week:
Guess what:
Red Image1

Clue: Don't be mean with the cream.

No prizes for a correct identification. Just for fun.

All seems to be progressing well in the Great Tit nest box though it looks as if two of the eggs are not going to hatch.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Streaming Video Tests

The tests seem to have been reasonably successful though from the log I can see some don't seem to get as far as the video stream. Not sure why. It will need thinking about. I only have a total uplink speed of just over 400Kb/s so the frame rate could be slow when more than one person is logged on. Also things will slow down if I am using my computer for web surfing. No cable / fibre optic connections available here unfortunately.

The link will be available from time to time, not necessarily every day, or all day but it will always be in a new post so it can be found easily.

My thanks to those who let me know how it was working, or not as the case maybe.

Still Two Eggs to Hatch

I had hoped to get some streaming video on the net. I set up a channel with Ustream but every time it tries to connect to my video Adobe Flash crashes, and yes, it is the latest version. I have also downloaded a free program for streaming video but have yet to find a server to connect it to. Anybody know of a good, easy, free one?

Yesterday morning a fourth egg hatched but the remaining two are still intact. Only time will tell whether they will all hatch. Here are short clips from this morning. First the male has just fed a baby, a view of the chicks and eggs and finally the female returning to the nest.

No sign of the rain I was expecting over night. On our early morning walk I noticed how many trees were beginning to shed leaves which shows just how dry it has been. The water table in my garden is usually an inch or two below the surface but yesterday it was a good six inches down. Doesn't stop the weeds from growing though!  I can see the wind is getting up - the forecasters managed to get that bit correct. It is the only time you can see Wood Pigeons flying backwards as they try to fly into the wind.

The brat pack arrive with a vengeance each morning. A couple of dozen Starlings, mainly juveniles, all screaming to be fed. I had to laugh yesterday. One of the youngsters had had such a thorough bath that it couldn't take off and this morning one was going through the motions of having a good bath but it was stood next to the water, not in it!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Now there are Three

A third Great Tit chick hatched late yesterday afternoon. There are still three eggs in the nest but I wouldn't think it will be long before the rest hatch.

This morning Mr GT brought a tasty morsel but I don't think he has got the idea of how to feed his babies as yet.

I had just started uploading the video clip when I noticed that another chick has hatched. Now there are four hungry mouths to feed.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Extra - First Two Great Tit Chicks Hatch

When Mrs GT left the nest for a short while this morning I could only see four whole eggs and at first I thought she might have broken a couple of them. Then to my surprise I could see small  movements as one of the chicks was emerging from the egg shell. Soon there were two tiny baby Great Tits resting for a while after the exertion of breaking out of the shells.

Since then Mr GT has been very busy bringing food and they often have a tug-of-war as she tries to pull small pieces off to feed such tiny mouths. If it is too big she eats it. If small enough then the babies get fed.

Friday at the Flicks - Hungry Hedgehog, Jackdaw, Fledgeling House Sparrow

I seem to have been neglecting the Hedgehog visits recently so here is a short clip taken a few nights ago.

Jackdaws are regular early morning visitors at the moment but they normally disappear as soon as they spot the slightest human movement. This one seemed to be oblivious and may well have been a youngster.

Feeding the youngsters is in full swing here with Starlings and House Sparrows all bringing their offspring. Here I concentrated on a fledgeling House Sparrow.

The nesting Great Tit is continuing to take great care of her eggs, constantly turning and adjusting their position. The male continues to bring food for her.

STOP PRESS: The first two chicks have just emerged from their eggs. 
Great Tit Chicks

If you want to watch something completely different then, at the time of writing, the latest EVA from the International Space Station can be watched live HERE

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you..

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Eight Days On and Still Nest Building

On one of her short flights out of the nest box each day Mrs Great Tit returns with more nesting material. With luck she will now be just past half way in incubating her eggs. Mr GT is becoming more frequent in fetching food so it is looking promising for them to bring up a healthy brood eventually.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Internet Archive (Free ebooks)

Don't know about you but I love browsing through old books but there aren't many of the old type 'junk' shops about these days and the modern 'antiques' dealers know how to charge. Just a few days ago I discovered the Internet Archive where there are copies of about two million old books, all out of copyright as I don't think I have seen one dated later than the 1920s. They are all available for downloading in a few different formats which would suit many of the available ereaders.

If you have nothing else then for the Windows PC, Linux and Apple there is a free program called Calibre which can not only read many different formats of ebooks but can also make a good try at converting them to suit many ereaders. Calibre can be found HERE. Of course Adobe Reader is all you need on the PC to view the pdf version of the books.

I have tried a few of the books in the Biodiversity Heritage Library section. In this library you can find a tag cloud which speeds up the search for your choice of topic. First I downloaded a few illustrated British bird books in pdf format for transferring to my ipad but it couldn't display them properly. Don't know why as it manages other pdf documents perfectly. Next I tried the standard epub format and that seems to work OK.

If you are going to read the books on a computer then pdf versions are more accurate as they are usually scanned. Epub versions seem to have used text recognition software which is not always accurate.

Other sections available in the Internet Archive include American and Canadian Libraries, plus a Children's library - all very old books remember! You will also find access to a few electronic lending libraries which I haven't investigated as yet. Additionally the site will store freely available text material under the Creative Commons Licenses so there may be some more up to date texts to be found in some sections.

There is more to the site but I will leave that for you to explore if you are interested.

Here is a view of Adobe Reader showing the pdf download of Birds of the British Isles by John Duncan, published by Walter Scott Ltd in 1898

Birds of the British Isles

... and this from the pdf version of Birds of Britain by J. Lewis Bonhote, published by Adam and Charles Black in 1907

Birds of Britain

Where can you find this Aladdin's Cave?   HERE

Monday, 16 May 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Yes, last week's mystery object was a bit hefty to be a fly swatter. Wilma and Keith are awarded the virtual Gold Stars this week for identifying it as a butterfly feeder. I bought it last year with the idea of tempting some flutters to stay in one place long enough to be photographed but, of course, it went on the 'Round Tuit' pile. I finally put it up when some butterflies appeared a week or so ago but haven't seen once since so maybe I bought a butterfly scarer.

Yellow Image1   Butterfly Feeder

On to this week's Guess what:

White 1

Clue: Maybe Prince Charming is sat near it in disguise.
No prizes. Just for fun.

The Great Tit family are all well with Mrs GT spending most of her time sat on her six eggs and Mr GT making frequent visits with food for her.

Hordes of Starlings are rapidly emptying the feeders each morning as they grab food to take back to their nestlings. It won't be long before the noise levels increase dramatically when they bring the fledglings

Also visiting now are fledgling Blackbirds and House Sparrows and one or more Hedgehogs visit every evening. Maybe there will be some babies in the near future. From time to time I check the camera in the Hedgehog House but there has been no sign of occupation. Once the GTs have flown the nest I will move the hog box to a more secluded spot behind the shed..

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Missed Meal

Mr GT arrives with a juicy grub for Mrs GT but she had nipped out for a minute or so.

Fortunately she was at home the next time he dropped in with a meal for her.

Definitely Friday the 13th yesterday. Went to the fridge first thing this morning to find it warm! Must have conked out late yesterday. Zoomed in to town to buy a replacement as the other was quite old  The new one has an A+ efficiency rating so that should save a few farthings on running costs.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Blackbird, Stretch Spider, Collered Dove, Great Tit

You can tell it's Friday the thirteenth! Blogger having been pretty well unusable for many hours since an attempted maintenance update to the system seems to have gone drastically wrong. As the service manager at our local garage used to say, "If it aint broke, don't fix it!".

Official explanation of the outage can be found HERE.

Very recently I spotted a female Blackbird pulling pieces out of my 'natural' fencing at the bottom of the garden to use as nesting material.

It is a bit late in the scheme of things as only this morning I saw the first juvenile Blackbirds visit the garden.

Most days I have checked the garden pond to see if any damsels are emerging but so far have only seen the Common Stretch Spiders busy building their webs towards dusk ready for a night of insect captures. I spotted the first damsel having emerged on 25th May Last year so there may be some about in the near future.

There is at least one Collared Dove which has become impatient waiting for seed to fall from the feeders and worked out that it can balance on the round perches.

All seems to be well in the Great Tit nest box. Mrs GT is very attentive to her eggs and Mr GT frequently brings food for her They are both very good at using the rim of the nest for moving about the box taking great care not to stand on the eggs. I would think hatching should start in the week beginning 22nd May.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Early Morning Corvids, Great Tit Nest, Moth

Among the earliest visitors each morning are the corvids. Even though there are two or more visits from hedgehogs each night there is often some food left in the dish. This never goes to waste as there are plenty of feathered visitors up at the crack of dawn.

Mrs Great Tit spends most of her time sitting on her eggs with an occasional visit from her mate.

Yesterday as I was checking the pond for any emerging damsels I spotted a large moth resting on the half logs which surround the edge of the pond.  Probably quite a beauty but with my aversion to moths it sent a shiver down my spine. As yet I haven't got round to identifying it, just making sure there was no way it could find its way indoors.

Moth 1

My thanks to Jan of ShySongbird's Twittering for identifying the moth as Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa).

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Great Tit - Incubation Started

Still six eggs in the nest box today so it looks like she has finished laying and has started incubating them. This morning she left the box for a short while so it was easy to count them. Soon after she returned the male brought a tasty morsel. I had to laugh as once she had taken the food it looked as though she bumped him out of the nest. Then she spent a while as though she was looking for mouths to feed before she ate the grub herself.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Macro on Monday + Nest Box Update

Virtual Gold Stars go to Wilma, Adrian and Glo for the correct identification of one of the flowers on a Cymbidium orchid which flowers well in spite of all the very sitcky blobs of sap which appear round the buds every year.

20505    Cymbidium Flower

I did think that was going to be the last macro for a while as I had run out of ideas - until I remembered something I bought last year and didn't get round to using so here is a close view of part of it:

Guess What:
Yellow Image1

Clue: You would have to be all of a flutter to use it.
No prizes for a correct identification - just for fun.

Nest Boxes

The daily increase in Great Tit eggs continues as there are now six eggs to be seen.

Day 6 - 6 eggs

As for the roosting pocket I am now sure the photo I took a while ago does not show a Wren on the nest she built. I have taken a couple more shots at different times and they all look exactly the same. What looked like the wing markings was, unfortunately, the woven straw at the back of the pocket. Neither of the Wrens have been seen for over a week now. I am not surprised that it hasn't been used. It is a very exposed position for a bird which normally sticks to the shady parts of a garden.

There is also a Robin nest box hidden in a bush in the garden which I saw had a new nest a few weeks ago. Whether it is in use I have no idea as I have kept well away from it so as not to scare off whoever built the nest.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Great Tits - Mum Has Breakfast in Bed

Another egg last night - now we have five, there could be anything up to eight by the time she has finished laying. She hasn't finished yet as she has not started incubating them. Mum is obviously getting her mate trained as he was spotted bringing a tasty morsel for her breakfast.

She still leaves the nest from time to time which gives me an opportunity to see how many eggs there are. All five can be seen in this still clip.

Great Tit - 5 Eggs
I had a read up about nesting and incubation with the tit family. The eggs will not start to develop unless she is sitting on them day and night. Also when the time is right she loses some of her chest feathers which allows her body heat to be transferred to the eggs.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Now we are Four

It looks like one egg a day for the Great Tit in the nest box as the total has now reached four.

Snapshot from the video:

Four Great Tit Eggs

Friday, 6 May 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Great Tit Sitting on Eggs

Just a short video clip this morning as the electricity meter is being changed some time today and that will interrupt the supply for a while.  I had a feeling there was one egg in the Great Tit nest a couple of days ago but when she leaves the nest she covers everything up so well only the nest can be seen. Fortunately last night I was able to get a quick glimpse of two eggs as she leaned over to have a good scratch.

A snapshot from the video:

Great Tit and Eggs in the Nest Box

She doesn't appear to be incubating them as yet and often leaves the nest leaving the eggs well covered up. She does return from time to time to check that everything is all right. I assume incubation starts when they have all been laid and that leaving them cooler slows down the development so they all hatch at about the same time.

At tea time today I could see there are now three eggs in the nest box:

Great Tit with Three Eggs

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Bath Time for a Song Thrush

Looking through the captures from yesterday's session looking at the garden pond waterfall most are of Blackbirds, House Sparrows and Starlings. There is the odd Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Tree Sparrow and Greenfinch. Best of all was to see a Song Thrush as I rarely hear one and even more rarely see one so it was great to know at least one visits for a wash and brush up.

Song Thrush

Song Thrush

The camera set up is shown below. Canon 350D with EF 70-200mm f1.4 lens on a tripod on the left of the photo. PIR (passive infra-red) detector on a tripod on the right near the green water barrels. It looks down on the waterfall. The PIR triggers a radio shutter control so there are no wires trailing between the sensor and the camera. The camera was set to a fixed 1/500 sec with manual focus and auto exposure.

Pond Camera Set Up

Of course the supervisor had to get in on the act.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Bath Day

As we had got rid of most of the cold wind and the Sun was out I decided to set up the automatic system for taking photographs of any visitors to the garden pond waterfall. Even while I was setting up the camera at the opposite end of the pond several House Sparrows carried on bathing. By previous experience I hadn't expected much but by the end of the day there were well over 600 shots to examine.  About half were consigned to Dusty Bin and many of the rest are similar but I will have a sort through tomorrow. For now I will leave you with this one:

Wash Your Ears

Monday, 2 May 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

While I was sat outside one sunny day a few weeks ago several flies landed on my arm. I brushed them off and thought little more about it. Later in the day a lump and bruise started to appear which I treated with hydrocortizone cream. The lump and bruise grew for several days and each time I touched it I could feel something which felt like a stiff hair. I didn't think much about it until one day when it was itching I gave it a scratch and pulled out last week's mystery object. The pointed end on the left is the business end and an opening in the side like the eye in a needle can be seen near the tip.


My own theory as to what it is: I assume at least one of the flies was a blookd sucker and I think that the process of knocking the fly off my arm broke its proboscis while it was still inside my arm. Once I had removed the offending object the healing process speeded up a lot.

On to more pleasant things for this week's puzzle. Guess what.


Clue: Think back to some very sticky sap.
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