Monday, 30 January 2012

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Another set of good answers to last week's puzzle picture with Adrian, Keith, Wilma and anon gaining a gold star for correctly identifying part of an electric fence with Jan as runner up deducing the electric part.

IMG_0119 copy    Electric Fence

This was a temporary set up while some sheep were allowed to graze in what is normally an arable field.
Electric Fence    Electric Fence

This week we are back to a pixellated photo, in fact a crystallised photo processed in Photoshop Elements 10. Can you work out what this flying punctuation mark is?
Guess what:
IMG_0024 copy

No prizes, just for fun.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

These are my observations for this year's RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. The record sheet for common garden visitors can be downloaded from the RSPB site HERE. It is just to help with recognition and recording. It does not have to be sent in. You do not have to use their record sheet, any piece of paper will do to note down your observations.

RSPB Big Gardeb Birdwatch 2012

Some of the colours may look a bit peculiar as my printer is having a bad ink colour day.

The full results for birds landing in my garden during a one hour period today were:

Starling        9
House Sparrow   6
Blackbird       5
Chaffinch       3
Wood Pigeon     3
Tree Sparrow    2
Dunnock         2
Crow            2
Jackdaw         2
Pheasant        1
Blue Tit        1
Great Tit       1
Magpie          1
Robin           1
Greenfinch      1
Collared Dove   1

As ever, some of the birds which normally arrive in larger numbers stayed out of view and some I rarely see made an appearance.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Friday at the Flicks - Blackbird

Not a lot found to video during the week. I did try for some of the Tree Sparrows but that didn't come out very well so all I have is this of a male Blackbird at the Birdy Bistro with lots of Sparrows twittering in the background:

The weather conditions have taken a nosedive today so that may encourage more birds to visit the garden over the weekend for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Wings on Wednesday - Pheasant + Tree Sparrows + BGB

The cock Pheasant continues to be a regular visitor to the garden.

Cock Pheasant

Another regular Winter visitor is the Tree Sparrow. They spend most of the year in the hedgerows of the local fields but in Winter will often join with the House Sparrows to visit garden feeders. They seem to have bred well last season as I now get up to a dozen visiting at the same time.

Tree Sparrows

BGB  (RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch)
For those in the UK the weekend 28th / 29th January is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch weekend. The idea being to watch for any one hour period on one of those days to record the maximum number of each species of bird which visits a garden. Full details can be found on the RSPB site HERE.

Apparently the last aurora was one of the most spectacular seen in the Artic regions. Unfortunately none has been seen this far South but I did see a report that the previous display was seen at Tan Hill in Yorkshire.
A picture can be seen in The Telegraph HERE.
Also some photos on the BBC News site HERE.
Plenty of orange sky here but that was just the street lights reflecting from mist and low cloud!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Once again last week's puzzle photo was a resounding success with congratulations and   gold star  going to John, Anon, Wilma, Adrian and Glo for identifying the ice crystals formed during an early morning frost on my garden.

Morning Frost   Morning Frost

On to this week's puzzle picture of a shocking find at the edge of a local field.
Guess What:
IMG_0119 copy

Just for fun. No prizes.

The effects of the CME mentioned on Saturday were later than forecast and not as extensive as had been hoped for. I understand the Aurora could be seen over the north of the American continent last night and the effect was strong enough to compress the Earth's magnetic field for a while.

This morning Sunspot 1402 erupted producing a long duration M9-class Solar flare (the most powerful kind). It is expected to give a strong glancing blow to the Earth's magnetic field on Jan 24/25.

Further information HERE on the SpaceWeather site.

I have never seen an Aurora but live in hopes, especially as we approach the peak of the 11yr cycle of Sunspot activity. One thing I have managed in the past when I was an active amateur radio enthusiast was to bounce radio signals off the charged particles during an aurora. It does strange things to radio signals and the person you are talking to sounds like they have a severe case of laryngitis as only the breathy part of the sound is left and all tone is missing.  To contact someone to my East, say Holland or Germany, we both have to point our aerials towards the North to use the Aurora but if we try to communicate directly the chances are the signals that way are too weak to be detected.

My aerial setup as it was then:
Main mast bottom to top; 6m beam, 2m beam, 70cm beam and 2 times 23cm beams.
Small mast: 4m beam.
Occasionally I used to put up a set of aerials for working through amateur satellites. Great fun trying to keep a beam pointing at a satellite as it dashes across the sky above and working a transmitter at the same time.

Boby is active and eating well now we seem to have his medication sorted out. The main battle is getting all the pills down him though his usual liking for jam tarts helps as the tablets hide nicely in the jam!  Another is keeping up with him when we set out for a walk.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Possible Aurora 21/22 Jan 2012

There is a possibility of Aurora activity to be good tonight for those lucky enough to be in the right place to see it.

A report on states that active Sunspot 1401 erupted on the 19th producing an M3 class solar flare and a full halo coronal mass ejection which is expanding almost directly in the direction of the Earth. Strong magnetic storms are possible and the predicted impact is 22.30 UT (+-7 hrs) today.

A tweet from the British Geological Survey says:
Next 24hrs - QUIET. Expect STORM conditions late on Sat to Sun due to full halo CME seen on 19th. Good chance of seeing aurora in the north.

The BGS site also has the following storm warning:

On 19 January there was an M3.2 X-ray solar flare and
an associated full-halo Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). We expect
this CME to strike Earth's magnetosphere in the next 24 to 36 hours.

Following this event there is an increased risk of a geomagnetic
STORM from late on 21-JAN to 22-JAN (UK time). There is also an
increased chance of viewing the aurora borealis (or australis)
during local night-time hours, assuming dark and clear skies,
though this is dependent on the configuration of the interplanetary
magnetic field (IMF) embedded in the solar wind. 

For a simple explanation of what causes an aurora take a look the the web site of  The Center for Computational Heliophysics in Hawaii HERE.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Friday at the Flicks - A Pheasant Morning

Once again the cock Pheasant made a brief visit to the Birdy Bistro but this time there was no room for it to get at the feeders.

When it went for a walk across the garden I threw some peanuts on the grass. It didn't take long before he was gobbling them down and didn't even mind when I sneaked out the back door with the Lumix TZ7 to shoot some video.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wings on Wednesday - Hunting Wren

Yesterday morning I spotted a Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) searching round the front of the Greenhouse. My apologies for the grainy shots but lighting was difficult at the time:

I spy with my little eye - something beginning with S:

As I thought - a nice juicy spider:

Let go of that web:

Got you:

Burp - pardon, manners:

Monday, 16 January 2012

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Congratulations and a gold star to Adrian, Keith, John, Wilma, Glo and Twosie for identifying the pixillated Hedgehog: This one was seen in the garden back in 2009.

IMG_0177    Hedgehog in the Garden

Back to macro shots this week, taken with the microscope on the iPhone.
Guess What:

No prizes - just for fun.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Snowboarding Crow

Found this on Huffington Post Comedy page:
Thought you might enjoy watching it

Friday, 13 January 2012

3 - 134 - 818 - 36000

Wow. Have I really been prattling on about the wildlife visitors to my garden for 3 years? Yes according to the statistics. When I first started I wondered just how would people find this blog. Would they be interested? Would I find much to write about? It really started as an outlet for my photographs and I am more than a little surprised that the total has reached 818 blog entries. The whole experience has far exceeded my expectations. Visitors from 134 different countries have made over 36000 visits. My grateful thanks to one and all for visiting and for leaving lovely comments. If you can stand the pace then I intend to keep going for at least another 3 years.

Last Winter was very hard for our feathered friends and it was interesting that this photo from my first blog entry 3 years ago shows similar conditions:

Winter Bath Time

Fortunately, so far this Winter, the birds have had an easier time as temperatures have been above average, here in Lincolnshire anyway.

I have been a bit lax visiting other blogs recently. Bobby's health has been up and down for a couple of weeks necessitating several visits to the vets to get his medication sorted out. The water tablets he was prescribed gave him a raging thirst. He was drinking so much his appetite dropped right off, even turning up his nose to all his favourite food. Things are getting better and a reduction in his medication is slowly restoring his interest in food.

To end with, here is the first video I put on my blog. A Blue Tit with puffed out feathers sheltering in a nest box on a very cold Winter's night.

As far as I can tell the nest box hasn't been used as a roost so far this Winter.

Have a great time observing the wildlife around you.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

BBC Earthflight HD

This series seems to be a repeat of one I missed.
By accident tonight I caught the first of six parts in the Earthflight series of programmes on the BBC HD channel. The series seems to be concentrating on bird migration in various parts of the world. The photography is amazing with tight close shots of birds in flight mixed with video shot from cameras on some of the birds. Added are birds eye views of the routes and various places birds stop off to find food and the way they find it.  Programme One covers North America and follows Snow Geese and Bald Eagles among several species covered. The next one covers Africa.

The first programme is available on the BBC iPlayer HERE though I imagine it is only available in the UK.

If like me you live in the UK and missed the series then part one is repeated at 6 p.m. on Sunday on the BBC HD channel. I have made sure my recorder is set to record the whole series.

One to watch out for if the series migrates to the Discovery or National Geographic satellite channels in the future.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Mystery Photo on Monday - Guess What

Last week's Guess What is difficult (as far as I am concerned) to name accurately. It is a type of polypore or bracket fungus which I found growing on an old tree stump in the garden......

IMG_0174    IMG_0173

..... so I think a  gold star  is deserved by Andrew, Adrian, Glo, Keith and Wilma for their suggestions.

This week's mystery photo should be much easier to identify.
Guess What:
218 copy


No prizes, just for fun.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Friday at the Flicks - Pheasant at the Birdy Bistro + Mobile Food

One of the fat feeders was on a string which meant it revolved every time a bird pecked at it but that was no problem for a Starling which learned to peck in the direction the food was rotating.

The other day when I photographed the Pheasant visiting the Birdy Bistro I managed to take some video at the same time.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Bobby was a bit perkier yesterday and had a shot session of barking at passers by for the first time for several days. He even managed to race up and down the garden a couple of times.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A First Sign of the Spring to Come

Towards the end of last Summer I was looking for something to replace the Lavendar bushes which had died in the front garden. I didn't want to replace them in the same position as they sprawled over the path. Any replacements need to be further back near the fence. While I was putting up the plank on the Birdy Bistro I had an idea for a long, low raised bed, mainly for Spring bulbs. All of my front garden was gravelled nearly ten years ago. Partly to cut down on the amount of grass cutting and mainly as I knew I was heading for a major operation which would curtail heavy activity for quite a while. In the gravel I planted dwarf trees and low growing bushes so it is not as bare as it sounds.

Anyway the loss of the Lavendar bushes had left a long empty space so I used some of the other planks I had to build a long, narrow flower bed. Along the back of it I planted scores of dwarf Narcissus and as a temporary measure filled the rest with Pansies. The idea is to have the bulk of the bed planted with succulents which will spread over and down the sides to hide the wood. Also I keep meaning to get some of the six inch high bamboo edging to make the front of the bed a bit more attractive.


Since then I have been patiently waiting to see when the bulbs would start to show themselves and yesterday I noticed the first to show. It could well be quite a mixture as the bulbs were rescued from a couple of old wooden planters which were falling apart so they may have got a bit mixed up. The blue labels are to remind me where the clumps of bulbs are.

P1030294     P1030293

Now I can start looking forward to a nice splash of Spring colour.

Last night it got really blowy. My weather station recorded one gust of 57 mph. That may not have been the strongest as it only takes a snapshot about once every fifteen seconds. Fortunately only one bit of repair needed in the back garden. A pole which holds up a pipe carrying rainwater to some barrels broke so a Heath Robinson session is needed later to make it safe.

Bobby is slowly improving. The sedative used really knocked him back. They couldn't use a general anaesthetic because of his age and heart / breathing problems.  We both had a good night's sleep and he was ready for some breakfast when we came back from our early morning perambulation.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Bobby Back Home

The old boy is feeling a bit fragile at the moment otherwise reasonable. Mainly as he hasn't been able to have his medication during the day.  Magda, the vet, was surprised to see that his heart is not enlarged but an ECG confirmed a leaky valve. She was very good, showing me the three X-rays and explaining what could be seen. The main problem is some congestion in the lungs which his water tablets should help with. I've managed to entice him to eat a little and hide his medication in that. Now he is sprawled out on his chair once again, sleeping off the remains of the sedative used and catching up on his beauty sleep.

Taken a few minutes ago:


The total cost was £257 which included the 3 a.m. consultation a few nights ago (that being the most expensive item on the list), injections, X-rays, ECG and all the prescribed medication for the next month. I have seen reports of vets who charge up to that (or even much more) just for an X-ray!

Where Have all the Fat Balls Gone?

I thought the fat balls had suddenly become very popular. Normally I need to add one to the feeder each day. Today I saw the culprit.

Pheasant 11

The idea of the 4inch (10cm) wide plank was for the smaller ground feeders to get at the seeds. As I had taken down one of the feeders a couple of days ago that obviously left just enough space for a determined Pheasant to have a seat at the Birdy Bistro.

Pheasant 10


Bobby went for his X-ray at 9 a.m. this morning but I don't collect him another three hours yet so nothing to report. We were both woken at 4 a.m. this morning as the strong wind was blowing a tropical downpour straight at the front windows. I couldn't get back to sleep so we went walkabout at 5 a.m. - the rain had died down quite a bit by then.  A very peaceful walking time is that with no selfish speeding motorists throwing excess spray over the footpath.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Macro on Monday - Guess What

I'm going to try out a different way of showing items for the Guess What puzzle pictures. As usual this came at the very last moment after being completely stumped for any ideas. As usual the iPad came to the rescue in the form of a free app I found today called Crazy Mosaic which pixellates photos with choice of the size for the pixel blocks. So, here is the first one along with a close view of part of the object.



Have fun. No prizes, just for fun.
In case you need a clue: It will never hold a shelf up.

Bobby has been a bit restless today, otherwise he is OK.
This is listed as a side affect of one of the tablets he has to take.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A Good Start to 2012 + Fireworks

Bobby's new medication seems to be doing its job. He slept like a peaceful baby for much of the day, enjoyed a car ride to fill it up with petrol and had three short walks. Though I felt shattered for most of the day I decided to stay up to see if there would be any fireworks in the village at midnight. This time I had adjusted the camcorder before the event instead of leaving it to the last moment like previous years. I was surprised just how many people seem to have had a firework display to welcome in the New Year and I took about six minutes of video. This is a short selection made by overlaying two different sections of the video to make it a bit more colourful. Fortunately the camcorder doesn't show just how deafening some of them were. It is a good job that Bobby takes little notice of such noises.

Once all the excitement died down we both retired to get a good night's rest.
My very best wishes to all for a happy, peaceful 2012 and many thanks for the good wishes which have been left for Bobby.
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