Saturday, 31 December 2011

Vet Visit Again + Happy New Year to All

Four a.m.. Back from the vets about 10 minutes ago. Bobby was having problems every time he fell asleep. He would wake with a mighty 'cough' for want of a better description. He was struggling to get his breath. This has happened occasionally in the past but tonight it was getting rapidly worse so I phoned the vet emergency line. Luckily the vet spends her evening call out times at the surgery so I was able to drive Bobby straight there. After another check up on his heart murmur, an injection and a tablet which looked big enough to give to a horse we came home with a bag full of tablets. He goes back on Tuesday for his heart X-ray. That will probably confirm that he has an enlarged heart which is making up for the faulty valve which causes the murmur. At the moment Bobby is sprawled out in front of the fire catching up on his beauty sleep.

I was going to put this short video up later in the day but I might as well do it now.

It is our very best wishes to all for 2012.

As with the Christmas one some of the graphics were free animated GIFs from the internet.
Soundtrack was produced using iSequence on the iPad.
This shows the app with the first quarter of the tune:


Now for that cup of tea brewing in the kitchen. 4.20 a.m..Not really worth going to bed now as I am normally up by 6.30 a.m.. Thank goodness for PumpkinFM UK Comedy internet radio channel to pass the time.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Update on Bobby

The vet took some blood from Bobby this morning and has just phoned with the results. Slight anaemia which is probably age related. Otherwise liver and kidney functions were OK. She wants to give him a chest X-ray and ECG in the new year as his heart murmur is worse than the last time it was checked - level 5 on a scale of 1 to 6 (6 being the worst). This is to check for any fluid around the heart and work out the best treatment.

This morning's incident was neurological in that his back legs gave way, not for the first time. Back leg and heart problems are 'normal' for older sighthounds (greyhounds, lurchers, etc.) and at 14 Bobby has reached a grand age for his breed.

 Wake Me When the Sun Comes Out

Although stiff from being prodded about and somewhat tired B has eaten well and had a short, slow walk. I think his neck must have a cold spot where it was shaved to get at a vein.  For the moment we continue with his half tablet of Previcox (anti-inflammatory) daily plus occasional Tramadol for painful days.

I doubt there will be a Friday at the Flicks tomorrow but all being well there should be a Saturday at the Cinema.

Off to the Vets

Had to make a quick appointment to take Bobby to see the vet later on this morning. First thing today the poor old fellow had a fit of some sort - possibly a mild heart attack as he has had a heart murmur for a while. At 14 he is getting on a bit for a Lurcher so some old age health problems are to be expected.


Yesterday I had my own annual check up and was pleased, and relieved, to find that the results were all on the good side.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Wings on Wednesday

I had taken to scattering a few peanuts around the bottom of the garden for the Pheasant, which I haven't seen for a couple of days. I did think a Grey Squirrel might come in and bury some of them but I had forgotten something. It's not only squirrels which stash food away for harder times, so do Magpies.

Magpie 4

Monday, 26 December 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

There was just one correct identification to last week's Guess What so congratulations and the  gold star  go to John for correctly identifying `Stinking` Iris seed head (Iris foetidissima).

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In spite of its name I can't say I have ever noticed any particular odour though it is said that the crushed or bruised  leaves can have a beefy smell.

No new Guess What this week. All things being equal they will start again in the new year.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Makes a Change from a Christmas Robin

No apologies for yet another photo of the Pheasant who has become a daily visitor. He is gradually getting used to me being around though he still looks at me cautiously. Yesterday I was able to get within 12 feet (4m) of him for a closer shot as I had been aiming to get a reasonable portrait.

Pheasant 7a

Bobby and I wish all our readers a happy, peaceful end to 2011.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Merry Christmas + A Pheasant Visits

Best wishes to all:

Background images found as public domain animated GIFs on the web;
Sound Track: Carol of the Bells by Mykola Leontovych arranged by William Wallace and produced using the app iSequence on the iPad. That was only my second attempt at creating music with iSequence.
Animated GIFs needed to be converted to AVI files. For this I found a very useful free open source utility VirtualDub which can be found HERE. Animated GIFs make very short AVI files so they need to be added many times to the time line in video editing software to build up a reasonable sequence length.

The site mp3skull has access to many different performances of Carol of the Bells.
This is one of my favourites (to listen click the play button)
01 - Carol Of The Bells

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Earlier in the week a Cock Pheasant made one of its occasional early morning visits to my garden. In the second clip you can see how large a Pheasant is when a male Chaffinch can be seen feeding in the same area.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Wings on Wednesday - Return of the Pheasant

Early yesterday morning I spotted a Cock Pheasant on the roof of my shed. He was cautiously looking round and moving slowly towards the edge ready to fly down to see if there was any food to be had. After a short while he took the plunge and spent quite a while finding scattered seed in the grass. I took a lot of photographs but it was so overcast that even with the ISO dialled right up to 3000 shutter speeds rarely got past 1/150th sec.

These are the best of the bunch as the main problem was firing the camera when his head was still.

Pheasant 4

Pheasant 5

As he stayed in the garden for a reasonable length of time I also managed to take some video, which, all things being equal, should be available for Friday at the Flicks.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Another good week last week with a   gold star  being gained by Adrian, Wilma, Matron and Glo identifying the 5p coin and Keith recognising it as a coin.

IMG_0091    P1030259c

I think it is only this particular issue which has all the pitting over its surface. So far I haven't found another which looks like that.

For the last chance to gain a Gold Star this year here is a complete object for once.
Guess What:
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Result next Monday but the next Guess What will be in January.

No prizes - just for fun.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Basketweave Bobby

OK, so I got bored as it is freezing outside. I though I would have a play with the free PS filter plug-in "AAA Blender"
which can be found .HERE. Included with the plug-in are a few border / frame masks and backgrounds but more frame masks can be downloaded from HERE and more texture backgrounds from Textureking HERE.

This is the result of using a basketweave texture and then adding a frame mask in the AAA Blender filter.

P1010133 nose copy

Yesterday I was really pleased to see a small group of Long-tailed Tits arrive in the garden. The first sighting for well over a year. Now the early morning temperature is around 0C I have the usual gathering of Blackbirds. Just as it started to get light I counted at least eleven around the back garden. It's about the only time I see so many males together without furious squabbles. Talking of birds squabbling - if you haven't seen Keith's video of Green Woodpeckers disputing a feeding area then it is well worth nipping over to "Caldecotte Lake - Dancing Woodpeckers" where Keith was fortunate enough to take some video of this unusual and rarely seen activity.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Cold but Nice Sunrise

Plenty of frost and ice about this morning but with few clouds in the sky there was a colourful sunrise for a short while. The view from my front door - minus telephone wires and pole.

Sunrise P1030261

An atry farty picture of a corvid on the telephone wire:

Early Morning Corvid P1030264

Friday, 16 December 2011

Friday at the Flicks - More Regular Bird Visitors

It has been one of those mornings. The latest version of Corel Video Studio Pro X4 is just as bad as the previous version for playing silly beggars when trying to load video clips from DV tape. This morning it got within three clips of the end of 26 minutes of filming when it decided to play it all backwards right back to the beginning and then stopped. Fortunately it had stored most of the clips on the hard drive.

Anyway I did eventually manage to produce the following video of some of the birds which have visited in the past week:

Soundtrack:  "Littbe River" from the free iPad app ":)Natural Music - Spiritual Pleasures" which is availabe for download through iTunes.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Wings on Wednesday - Collared Doves

As usual these past few weeks the lighting has been abysmal for decent photography, especially of birds at the feeders as the Birdy Bistro only catches the Sun for about an hour each day at this time of year.

The Collared Doves were quick to work out that the plank I put under the feeders was just right for them to reach feeders they never normally manage to get near.

Collared Dove 2

Collared Dove 1

Monday, 12 December 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What + iPhone Microscope Revisited

Yes folks, last weeks 'Guess What' was a fungus, whether it would be classified as a toadstool or as a mushroom I have no idea. Either way congratulations and  gold star  go to Adrian, Keith, John, Wilma and Glo.

Page_1    P1030242

The best identification I could come up with is the Sphagnum Brownie (Hypholoma elongatum) which, along with dozens of others, was growing in the moss in my back garden.

I was at a loss until the last minute this morning as to what to use for this week's puzzle picture. A while ago I showed how a cheap tiny hand held microscope could be used with an iPhone to get quite reasonable micro / macro photos. At that time I had to hold the microscope next to the phone's camera lens. Since then I bought a package which included another microscope and a purpose made holder which clips on the phone.

P1030250 copy copy

P1030257    P1030253

The plate which holds the microscope just clips on the phone and the eyepiece of the microscope plugs in the hole. The fit is quite stiff and needs some pressure but as the plastic of the holder is flexible and not brittle pressure can be applied without fear of cracking it.

The new microscope was advertised as 60x magnification. The first one I bought was 45x. Now these are area magnifications. i.e. 45x bigger area which is about 6.7x linear. A 1mm long object should appear about 6.7mm long when viewed through the magnifier. Others who have reviewed these things have stated that the figures seem optimistic and in reality probably somewhat smaller in real life.

After a few test shots I found the 45x gave superior results. I found it difficult to get the 60x in focus and the results were not as sharp. These things do not have a manufacturers name and may have come from different sources or there may be little in the way of quality control. It is possible to buy the holding plate by itself and I think some are advertised with the 45x microscope.

The bottom of the microscope consists of a clear plastic cylinder with part cut away to let the LEDs shine through. The unit is in focus when this is resting on the object to be photographed which makes it easy to use. So far I haven't needed to use the LEDs as the phone camera is quite sensitive and there has been enough external daylight.

At last I get round to this week's mystery photo (sighs of relief all round) taken with the above set up using the 45x magnifier and the Camera+ app.
Guess What:

Clue: The Beatles said it can't buy me love.

No prizes. Just for fun.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A Doggy Christmas

Though it has been around for quite a while I have only just found this brilliant video on YouTube:

Dogs decorate a Christmas Tree.

Of course Bobby, being a typical laid back sighthound, leaves such mundain tasks to 'He Who Must Be Obeyed, When It Suits'.

Christmas 2011

My thanks to Adrian - Adrian's Images - for pointing out in one of his comments how to make animated GIFs in Elements.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Hoverfly - Garden Pond

There has been little opportunity to video anything new this past week so I had a look through some old videos that I haven't used yet.  The first was shot in October 2009 when Hoverflies were showing great interest in the Ivy flowers.

The second is a view of my pond. This was never meant to be a public video. In March last year I got it into my head to attempt to build a 'steady cam' as the commercial ones seem so expensive. The idea is that the camera is mounted under a universal joint which, with counterbalance weights, is supposed to keep the camera view steady as the operator moves. I think I can claim it was partially successful. I tested it out as I walked up and down beside my garden pond.

The idea was to improve the design this past Summer but, as usual, that got buried on the Round Tuit pile.
The pond is just a large rectangular shape and very shallow as it was originally designed for testing radio controlled boats. That didn't last very long and I have been lucky that, with addition of pond plants, it has matured and attracts a variety of wildlife which includes, frogs, newts, damselflies and dragonflies.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Wings on Wednesday

My one and only nature photograph this week was so grotty I ended up having a play with a set of freeware plug-in filters to see what I could come up with that might be worth looking at. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and very subjective.

First the original was cropped:

IMG_3311 copy0

A couple of examples made using the freeware 'Harry's Filters' which can be found for downloading HERE on The Plugin Site. Borders were added using the free 'Border Mania' plug-in which can be downloaded from HERE.

IMG_3311 copy3 copy

IMG_3311 copy2 copy

I wonder if you see the same optical illusion I noticed. To me the bird in the first arty farty picture appears to be flying towards me but away in the second.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What + Robin Nest Box

A better response for last week's Guess What with Adrian, John and Glo gaining a   gold star  for identifying the pond snail along with Wilma who identified it as some sort of snail.

 Page_1    Pond Snail

On to a new puzzle picture.
A couple of microscope shots and the rest small crops from the TZ7.
Guess What:
I'm not expecting a specific identification, just a general name will do.

No prizes. Just for fun.

Robin Nest Box
While doing some pruning and general tidying up at the bottom of the garden I had a look in the Robin nest box. I was pleased to see that it contained a nest so something had made use of it for the first time in the three years it has been available.

P1030247   P1030249

I think some leaves have been blown in recently but the nesting moss can be seen under them. The box was empty last time I checked which was after the Great Tits had fledged their box in June.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Birdy Bistro Regulars

This week I concentrated on filming  the regulars at the feeders. A few would not stay in one place long enough to be included like the Robin and Wren.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you wherever you are.
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