Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Wings for Wednesday

Once again the flock of Goldfinches has increased. There can be as many as twenty arriving by 7 a.m. and by the sound of chattering in nearby trees they stay until it is time to roost for the night. Not the sharpest of photos as they were taken early one dull morning.

A mixture of ages can be seen. The youngest still have the speckling on the breast. Those slightly older have  the brownish chest tint while the adults have the red on their heads.

Goldfinches 7

Goldfinches 8

The first was enhanced using Paint Shop Pro's auto enhancement facility and the second was enhanced using the Redyamix plug in.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Last week another full house with Adrian, Keith and Glo all gaining virtual gold stars for identifying the piece of Heather. When I was about five years old the gypsies used to go from house to house trying to sell dolly pegs and 'lucky heather' and telling you it would bring bad luck if you refused.

Page_1    Heather

A third plant from the garden, but not one I planted.
Guess What:

Answer next Monday.
No prizes - just for fun.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Still Squabbling

Not only was there a wasp nest under the front hedge but also one in the roof. The indoor one I knew about but as they were entering high up I didn't bother about it too much, until recently. Over the past week or so more and more wasps seemed to be finding their way down to the living area and the last straw was when one landed on Bobby and he obviously removed it with his mouth. First job late last Friday was to find a pest controller. The local council no longer provide that service and they would have shut down for a long weekend anyway. Plenty to choose from on the net so I eliminated those with non geographical phone numbers and chose one who lived a few villages away. Emailed for a price late Friday night and had a reply within the hour. Phoned Saturday morning and after arranging a Sunday morning visit he then phoned back to say he could fit me in that morning. Within the hour he was doing what was needed to eliminate both nests. Today there seems to be a very welcome absence of wasps.

Since the temperature took a tumble several days ago there have been more small birds visiting the Birdy Bistro. There just aren't enough perches and a lot of squabbling takes place. This morning there were about twenty House Sparrows competing for the six perches on the feeder. For once the Sun was shining so I was fortunate enough to take a few action shots.

Sparrow Altercation 0

Sparrow Altercation

It looks as though today will be reasonable weather so I had better get some more tidying up done in the garden as the green waste bin gets emptied tomorrow. The fat cats may well be able to laze in the sun on their yachts or be wheeler dealing on the golf course but the grafters who keep the country ticking over work on a Bank Holiday Monday.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Feathered Squabblers

What a week! Can only think of one thing which has gone right over the past five days but as a failed political party used to say - things can only get better.

In spite of several cleaning sessions this Summer the pond waterfall is more than a little covered in blanket weed so the Starlings have returned to the bird bath:

It has been great to see the amount of visiting Goldfinches increase. Their numbers had dropped drastically after two years of finch disease but this year they seem to have been breeding well and arrive with their youngsters which have the occasional altercation:

Wherever you may be have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


This has got to be one of the cleverest
E-mails I've received in awhile.
Someone out there
Must be "deadly" at Scrabble.
(Wait till you see the last one)!

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:


When you rearrange the letters:

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Wings for Wednesday

Lots of winged insects about the garden and house at the moment.

A small Cranefly on the kitchen window.


One sunny day there were three Common Darter Dragonflies around the garden pond. All were males. One stayed for several hours and chased away any others which dared to make an appearance.

Common Darter Dragonfly 3

Common Darter Dragonfly

There continue to be Blue-tailed Damsel Flies from time to time which are still breeding.

Blue tailed Damselflies 2

I have a wasp nest under my front hedge so I don't hang about there. Occasionally one strays indoors where my rule is 'The only good wasp is a dead one'.

Dead Wasp

Also found dead in the kitchen was this which was about 6mm long.
Probably an ichneumon wasp though no idea which.

Unknown Fly

Back outdoors found several Greenbottles

Greenbottle Fly

and this black bee.

Black Bee

Not sure what type it is - a miner bee maybe.

Finally there were plenty of hoverflies doing their best to thwart me snapping one in flight.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

I Really Shouldn't Laugh at Them

Just a link today. This is a section from the wildlife film 'Animals Are Beautiful People' so be warned it is in CinemaScope type format. While watching this tears of laughter were rolling down my face.

You can see the four and a half minute clip by clicking HERE for the link.

We shoudn't laugh at the misfortunes of others but this is well worth a look.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Congratulations and virtual gold stars go to Glo, Keith and Wilma. Yes indeed they were different parts of a Chinese Lantern Plant.

Page_1    Chinese Lantern Plant

Another plant from my garden for this week's mystery object.

Guess What:

No prizes, just for fun.

The collage pictures are put together using Comic Life which I have found to be versatile enough to use for more than just making comics.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Bumblebees Sleeping on Flowers - Update

After my observations last Friday I did a bit of Googling on the subject of Bumblebees apparently sleeping on or in flowers overnight.. It turns out that some do, especially males towards the end of the breeding season when the females have no use for them. As for my observation that they sometimes seem to freeze while feeding on flowers. Again this can and does happen. They need an internal body temperature of 30C to be able to fly and when cold they will stop and appear to shiver as we do to raise their temperature. The day I was watching them the air temperature was about 14C so the bees were having their work cut out to get enough nourishment to enable them to maintain their body temperature. In fact it will take a bee about 5 minutes to raise its temperature in those conditions.

A good source of information can be found HERE at

How to stop Bobby using part of the garden.
Yesterday I noticed that Bobby was avoiding visiting his favourite barking position in the garden. It seems that he wouldn't use the path as there was a dead male Blackbird blocking his route. The bird must have flown in to the wall of a shed, probably during one of the many altercations they have over territory. Once the offending corpse had been removed Bobby was quite happy to use all his garden again.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Unidentified Black Caterpillar

While clearing a patch of weeds this morning I spotted this caterpillar. I've looked at photos of black caterpillars until my eyes blurred over but haven't managed to positively trace it as yet. Length nearly 2in (50mm). My best guess is Elephant Hawk Moth.

Black Caterpillar

Friday, 19 August 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Insects Around the Garden

The first set of video clips were taken a few years ago but I don't think I have used them before. Sorry the Broad Bodied Chaser is a bit fuzzy. It must have been taken three years ago as I haven't seen one in the past two summers. It was put together as a practice session using AVS Video Editor.

This originally had the short piece of Ravel's Bolero produced using an old MIDI file played back through a Roland keyboard. Photobucket rejected it as their software assumed it was copyright. YouTube's software assumed it was EMI copyright so I challenged it. To date YouTube have passed it on to EMI for them to check. This version uses a Protracker MOD file in which the composer just asks for acknowledgement if it is used, which I have done at the end of the video.

The soundtrack is a bit louder than I intended:

The second video is of the bumblebees on a lavender plant. I am not sure what is going on with some bumblebees recently. Some seem to spend the night clinging to a flower. Some suddenly stop while feeding and freeze for several minutes before flying away. I have not noticed this happen in the past. Are they near the end of their life span or are they suffering from attack by the same mite which has been decimating honey bee hives?

 Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Optical Illusion

I take the RSS feed from Today there was reference to an interesting update on an old optical illusion. In the past this has been a 2D static illusion but now you can see it in action as a video. Though a simple illusion it really does make the mind boggle.

Click here for the link to the video on YouTube

If you go there and click on 'Show More' there is an explanation of how it works and even a link to a jpg file so you can try it out, in 2D, for yourself.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Wings for Wednesday

Last Monday Bobby visited the Vet for his six monthly check up. Mike, the vet, said that his vision is now probably limited to seeing light and dark with very little detail as his cataracts have grown thicker. He continues to have a heart murmur but that doesn't stop him from thinking he is 13 months old as against his 13 years.

On our journey there I spotted a tree carving I hadn't seen before so I made a quick stop on the way back. Why are these things near blind bends in the road? A few shots through the windscreen. The trunk has four carvings:

Tree Carving 1   Tree Carving 2

At the bottom are a badger and a bird which may be a Curlew. Near the top is a squirrel and pride of place goes to an owl:

Carved Owl

 There have been quite a few Blue-tailed Damselflies around my pond. Mainly males but this female allowed me to thrust the TZ7 within a few inches of her face.


Yesterday when I checked my pond for any visitors I spotted what at first I thought was a Harlequin Ladybird. Much relief when I checked on the net and found out it was my first sighting of a 14 Spot Ladybird. It was very small, about 4mm, too small to be a Harlequin.

14 Spot Ladybird

Most of this year's fledglings have grown up but it is still possible to see the occasional young Goldfinch.


Finally - weekends usually see the occasional private aeroplane on its way between various local small airstrips.


This Thruster Sprint T600N was spotted last weekend as it flew over the village. No, I'm not clued up on the myriad makes of planes. As long as you can get the ID (G-CDGI in this case) a quick Google usually finds all the information. It seems to have quite an unusual shape and engine layout. A good view can be seen on

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Aggressive Copyright Auto Detection

Today I uploaded the same video to YouTube and Photobucket. For the soundtrack I used a short piece of Ravel's Bolero. This was recorded using a MIDI file released into the public domain on a bulletin board many years ago - before the world wide web took off. This I played through my Roland keyboard which has sampled sounds of real instruments. Good as they are it is still possible to detect they are not played live by a human.

YouTube sent me a mail saying it may be copyright of EMI though it did load and display.
Photobucket refused to load and save it as it alleged it was copyright material.

Two examples where very aggressive auto detection software is being used to arbitrarily detect copyright material. I have mailed both companies and it will, possibly, be interesting to see what their responses are. 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What + Video Editing Software

Yippee. Another full house last Monday. Congratulations and virtual gold stars go to Keith, Adrian, Wilma and Glo for identifying the hairy monster AKA Bobby. Parts shown were nose, eye, paw and ear.

Page_1   Sunbathing

On to this week's macro.
Guess What:

No prizes. Just for fun.

A bit late getting started today in spite of having to get up at 3.30 a.m. this morning.

Then when I did feel somewhat awake I decided to search for a different video editor. For a few years I have used Corel Video Studio Pro X3. Now there is a version 4 but the upgrade price is only £10 cheaper than the full price. It isn't really long since I last upgraded and on the whole some newer programs have better facilities to do the sort of thing I want.

I downloaded the trial version of AVS Video Editor and found it more user friendly and had better choices of effects and titling with more control over them so I decided to 'buy' that. It was cheaper to get a lifetime authorisation code with AVS4YOU, than a one off upgrade with Corel by taking advantage of the 70% reduction until the end of this month. Also the code works with all their programs and covers all updates - not to be sniffed at.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Goldfinches with a Collared Dove

Not a lot going on here this week. The last few days the seed has hardly been touched. Regulars though still include Goldfinches and a Collared Dove which has worked out how to enjoy Nyjer seeds by balancing on the dish which collects any spillage.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

BTW - if anyone knows of a Windozy program which can colour pop video files I would dearly love to hear about it. I've tried Googling but all I get is info about working with photographs.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Pop Goes the Colour

Some time ago Adrian explained how to colour pop on the PC. Today I happened to come across Color Splash, an app for the iPad which does the job so easily I couldn't resist investing the £1.50 or so. In fact it was more trouble finding out how to transfer the results from the iPad to the PC than it was to go a popping.







It took well under an hour to achieve the above results, including the time to download and install the app and searching for help to transfer the results to the PC. No other processing was used and no wildlife was harmed in the process.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Wings for Wednesday

There are two plants in the front garden which are attracting plenty of winged creatures at the moment. Lavender and Hibiscus.







Notice anything missing? Butterflies! Last year the lavender especially was a great attraction for butterflies. To date this year I haven't seen one on or near these plants.

All photographs were taken with the Lumix TZ7, usually with the lens within three inches of the insect. Not a problem with the bees and hoverflies but can be a bit fraught when it comes to wasps.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Excellent - a full house last Monday with Adrian, Keith, Wilma, Matron and Glo all gaining virtual Gold Stars for identifying the Shield Bug. Congratulation to Matron for solving her first ever anagram and to Glo for further identifying it as Palomena prasina.

Page_1 Common Green Shield Bug

On to this week's creature....
Guess What:

... which shouldn't be too difficult, especially for regular readers.

Good luck. No prizes, just for fun.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Lesser Whitethroat (?)

My thanks to Keith for confirming my ID.

A short while ago I was watching the House Sparrows actually forcing the Starlings to vacate the feeders when I happened to notice a different bird on the cables leading to the shed. At first glance I thought it was a Blackcap. Anyway I grabbed the camera which I always leave on multi shot and fired off a few seconds. It wasn't until I looked at the results and checked with my books that what I had seen best fitted the pictures and description of the Lesser Whitethroat. Definitely a first for my garden whatever it was.

Lesser Whitethroat 1b

Lesser Whitethroat 2

Saturday, 6 August 2011

A Sheepdog With Wings

Unfortunately there are no photos to go with this. It started early this morning as we returned from our walk. As I entered the gate I could hear a House Sparrow giving his alarm call. A male was sat on the woodwork nearby and as I walked past the corkscrew hazel I spotted a young sparrow on the ground. Papa was warning me to keep away, which I duly did.

Later in the morning while I was carrying out a bit of much needed pruning I saw a male House Sparrow with a couple of youngsters on the lane. The youngsters were hardly able to flutter their wings let alone fly and the male was behaving just like a sheepdog, weaving back and forth behind them as it ushered them across the road to shelter under the hedge on the opposite side of the road. A behaviour I have never seen before. Many parent birds will call to their youngsters to get them to move but this fellow was definitely gently forcing the young ones in the direction he wanted.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Hedgehog, Hoverflies

There hasn't been a deal of activity here recently. Also I have been experimenting with some of the effects in Corel Video Studio.

I only switch on the night recording equipment every so often to check that Hedgehogs are still about. This one had obviously got the scent of something but couldn't work out what.

It was only an hour ago I spotted that the hoverflies were attracted to the pond lilies, especially the white ones:

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Wings for Wednesday

As I mentioned last Friday, Thursday afternoon found a large flock of gulls which spent a lot of time soaring and diving above the village. At first I though they may have been using any thermals from the built up area to gain height but on a longer observation they were diving about too much for that. In fact their flight activity was much the same as that observed when watching Swallows. On second thoughts I assumed they were feeding. I couldn't see anything but I guess the farming activity nearby may have been driving a lot of insect life up into the air.

Fortunately they continued their activities for a while after we had returned home from our afternoon perambulations so I was able to stand in the garden with the 50D and its 100-400mm lens. It was quite a feat to keep any birds in the viewfinder, never mind about focussed. As the gulls were flying all over the place I left the lens on auto focus though I did shorten the focussing range so it didn't have to hunt too much.

Seagull 5

Seagull 4

Seagull 3

Seagull 2

Seagull 1

It looks to me as though the flock was Black Headed Gulls, or at least all those I managed to get in reasonable focus were.

While we were out and about I took a short piece of video with the Lumix TZ7:

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