Monday, 30 June 2014

Sheltering From the Rain

A few House Sparrows using the shed overhang to shelter from the rain:

Room for one in the basement.

Has the rain stopped yet?

Taken with the 70D with ISO set at 12800 as it was so dull.
Once again processed using the Pix Shape app on the iPad2.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Inquisitive Youngster

Came in to make a cuppa and noticed this juvenile Robin having a good look round inside the entrance of my shed:




Photos transferred to the iPad and produced using the app Pix Shape.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Pony Meets Racing Wheelchair

On our afternoon amble round the block there were two things of interest to watch. One was a young lady I occasionally see in her racing wheelchair going North and a pony and trap going South. Before long the two met up and then things got interesting. The pony decided it wasn't amused and wanted to turn round. Not an easy manoeuvre in traffic.



The wheelchair user had stopped and asked the trap driver whether she should wait but he asked her to continue. Eventually the trap driver dismounted and led the pony while the wheelchair and other traffic passed by:



Then he was able to safely continue on his journey:



Penny doesn't bother about horses and ponies and is content to watch and wait while I take a few photos.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Friday at the Flicks - Juvenile Robins

These clips were recorded near the beginning of this month when a couple of juvenile Robins were making regular visits to the bird table:

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Going Nowhere Fast

As we trolled over to the village medical centre to stock up with another month's supply of medicinal sweeties I noticed how well the model Jet Provost, which is part of the Village sign, was standing out in the mid afternoon Sunshine:


Me being me, I couldn't leave it as just a straight forward photo.
Oh no, time to try out the 'Circular+' iPad app which not only creates Tiny Planet type pictures but also has the capability to crop, rotate, zoom and make kaleidoscope type effects.
Here with just two sections:


Also various layered effects can be added like birds and Sun effects plus the world globe at the centre of this four way version:


Very fast and easy to use even on my li'l old iPad2.

Anyway back to the village sign unsullied by my 'artistic' bent:


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tuesday Twister - Guess What

As I now have a few apps which can twist and distort photographs on the iPad and an easy way of moving photos between the iPad and the MacBook I though I would start a new, different, type of Guess What. Some will be a lot easier than others. Hopefully this first one won't cause any real problems to identify.

What is this a photo of?


If you want to have a guess please put it in the comments.
No prizes, just for fun.
Just a virtual gold star for correct identification.

Any guesses in the comments, along with the answer, will be revealed next Tuesday.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Roosting Wren

Last night you could have knocked me down with a feather. Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of movement on the camera monitor. There was a Wren approaching the roosting pocket:

The Wren went straight in the pocket so she may well have investigated it some time in the past without me noticing.  I had moved that pocket in the hopes that some small bird would use it in the Winter as an overnight shelter and wasn't expecting any takers in the Summer.  A few years ago a Wren built a nest in another pocket and then abandoned it so we will have to see whether this one becomes a nesting site.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Cloudy Weather

When I let Penny out at 5.30 a.m. this morning I noticed what appeared to be undulating clouds. Can't be sure whether it was regular variations in cloud thickness or whether they were actually undulating. If the latter then it is the first time I have noticed this particular effect:



As many will know I am always on the look out for interesting iPad apps which are available free for a while. One such recently was Living Planet. (still on promotion for free at the time of writing) An app which makes tiny planet type pictures from ordinary single photos. I have seen one or two which can do this. The added extra in this app is the ability to make tiny planet movie clips from ordinary video files. In fact it gives the choice of two methods, tiny planet and wormhole. Also included are many filters to alter the overall look of the finished result.

Two test videos showing the original 15 second clip and the resulting output.
A colour time lapse of clouds:

A b/w IR time lapse of clouds:

Processing video takes quite a while on my iPad 2. No doubt newer iPads with faster processing would reduce the time taken.

Another very useful app I just have started using is PhotoSync which can transfer items to and from the iPad Camera Roll using WiFi. Along with the app there are programs for Mac and PC.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Orchid Macro

The blooms on my first indoor orchid to flower were fading so I cut them off and decided to take a macro shot of the best one. Usual set up:


The flower:


The macro:

2014-06-20-14_Fotor_ZS PMax

19 shots processed in Zerene Stacker

Friday, 20 June 2014

Friday at the Flicks - Feed Me + Intelligent Rook

It has been great watching many different sets of fledglings arrive in the garden over the past few weeks - especially when they are being fed by the parents. Here is a fledgling House Sparrow and Mama on the bird table:

Yesterday, out of the blue, came a mail request from the BTO to ask if they could use one of my videos for a garden rook behaviour survey they will be running in July. It was taken some years ago when my video equipment wasn't as good as the present gear and the copy on Flickr was poor. I have re-worked it in wide screen and uploaded a new copy to YouTube:

At that time several people locally were finding their seed feeders on the floor every day and I was fortunate to catch one of the culprits in the act. Corvids are an an amazingly intelligent set of birds.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

This little experiment was inspired by Adrian (Adrian's Images) when he photographed Brian the Snail on a mirror. Following that we exchanged some ideas about types of mirror. I purchased a cheap A5 front surfaced acrylic 3mm thick mirror and finally got Round Tuit with an experiment. My subject was a miniature bullrush cut from my garden pond positioned so it would be in focus but the reflection would be well out of focus:


The 50D was fitted with 70-200mm lens plus Raynox DCR-150 macro lens. The camera was tethered to the MacBook so a clear large picture could be seen of what the camera was looking at. Four focus stacked shots were taken and processed with Zerene Stacker:


The orange background was from some cupboard doors seen reflected in the mirror.  The only lighting was natural daylight / Sunlight coming through the kitchen window.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Swooping Swallows

Normally I see a few Swallows swooping down and across the village cricket field towards the end of Summer when they are stocking up on food ready for the long flight back to Africa. Unusually yesterday there were three doing just that - flying up, swooping down and then skimming just a few inches above the surface of the field. Each would make two or three circuits and then disappear for a short while so I presume there is a nest somewhere no too far away.

Trying to get a photograph of constantly moving, small, high speed fliers is bad enough when they are up in the air. Even more difficult when they are at ground level and rapidly covering the whole field, even coming within a few feet of us as we sat and watched. I tried a few speculative shots with the Nikon and hoped for the best and this was the only one which managed to catch sight of a Swallow:


It is near the bottom left of the photo. All I did was point in the general direction and shoot when they got reasonably close. Far from a brilliant shot but the first I have managed.

It has been estimated that Swallows can achieve a speed in excess of 11 metres per second, 24 mph.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Mrs Great Spotted Woodpecker

8.15 p.m. went through to the kitchen to brew a cuppa when I saw a flash of feathers as a female Great Spotted Woodpecker landed on one of the peanut feeders. All previous sightings of GSWs have been of a male so it made a change to see Mrs. I had already put the cameras to bed as light levels were poor but quickly grabbed the 70D and whooped the ISO up to 12800 in the hopes of getting a few hand held record shots:




Obviously at that high an ISO the background is very grainy. Especially when I processed them to increase the colour and contrast. At least I was able to confirm it was a female - no red patch on the back of the head. Maybe now male and female are visiting I may get to see one or more juveniles in the near future.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Right of Way Dispute

There's me quietly minding my own business giving the lawn a short back and sides when this little frog with a death wish leaps out in front of me:


As I had the Nikon in my shirt pocket I took a quick snap and waited for Froggy to move out of the way. That was going to be some wait as it had no intention of moving. Froggy even stayed put while I got the camera closer and closer. It was determined it had the right of way in its garden.



In the end I had to walk round to the back of it and give it a gentle push. That got it leaping though to start with it aimed for the mower. In the end I persuaded Froggy to find somewhere safer and got on with the job in hand.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Sun Day

With clear skies last Thursday it was a good opportunity to take a new photo of the Sun:

Sun 20140612
Canon 70D  400mm with Orion Safety Film Solar Filter   f5.6  1/160 sec cropped

About ten Sun Spots were observable. We are now near or just past the peak of the Sun's eleven year cycle of activity.

Do remember never to look directly, or point a camera, at the Sun without the correctly designed apparatus. The special solar filter I use on the 70D can be seen in my post 'There is a Sun Up There'.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Little Green Pests

I noticed that the leaves on my plum tree were suffering some sort of attack as many were curling round. A quick examination of some leaves soon showed the cause. Aphids, greenfly by the score:



You wouldn't think such tiny creatures could cause so much damage but when there are hundreds of them sucking the sap out of a plant it soon becomes weakened. Where are the ladybirds now they are needed?

Friday, 13 June 2014

Friday at the Flicks - After the Rain + Woody Returns

Some birds were unsure how to proceed after last Monday's heavy rain shower. Some, like the Stock Dove went in for tentative paddling. Starlings, of course, took advantage of a giant bird bath and the Blackbirds collected the worms driven to the surface:

Fortunately with temperatures reaching the mid 20s C it didn't take long for the surface water to evaporate though the ground is still very soggy under foot.

Woody keeps making regular visits. I notice he doesn't seem to eat the peanuts but flies off with them so I guess he has a hungry brood not too far away.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

ISO 12800 Experiment

One dull afternoon when the Birdy Bistro was in total shade I decided to take a couple of photos at ISO 12800 with the Canon 70D to see what the results would be like. That gave me a chance to get a reasonable hand held speed:

ISO 12800  400mm  f8  1/500 sec

ISO 12800  400mm  f7.1  1/500 sec

Much better than I expected. There is grain in the background but not nearly as much as I thought there would be. There is a drop in contrast ratio which is to be expected in such dull conditions but I gave the photos a small amount of cropping, a sharpness boost and a boost in definition with iPhoto. No attempt was made to reduce the grain.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Wet, Wet, Wet + Woody Returns

No, not the Scottish band, my back garden. Teatime yesterday started with distant thunder but so strong it could be felt through the concrete floor in the kitchen. Fortunately the electrical storm passed over without any local problems apart from the electricity supply flickering off from time to time.

That wasn't the worst though. Suddenly the heavens opened with such stair rods of rain and hail the like of which I last saw decades ago as a child. According to my new weather centre the rate of rainfall reached 65mm / hour (2.5 inches / hour). Thank goodness that didn't last for an hour. As it was, 27mm (just over an inch) of rain was recorded in less than an hour.

The lane was a river with water flowing rapidly down from the main street and my back garden ended up about 3/4 under water. That lot was just rainfall and overflow from the gutters which couldn't cope. Normally it takes several hours of persistent rain to flood that much. Fortunately the building, garage and sheds are well above that level.



It had only just dried out after the last rainfall.

Once the rain had moved out to the North Sea Woody made his second visit of the day:

Great Spotted Woodpecker DSCN2829_Fotor

He is becoming quite a regular at the moment.

A bit of very shaky hand held video which iMovie did its best to stabilise:

It really cheered me up to see such a magnificent bird visiting the Birdy Bistro.

Monday, 9 June 2014

June Moon

As the sky looked reasonably clear late yesterday evening I set up the 70D on a sturdy tripod to take some shots of the Moon:

ISO 800  f7.1  1/400sec

ISO 160  f5.6  1/125 sec

EF 100-400mm lens set at 400mm. Different settings on the camera gave different coloured tints.
The yellowish tint in the first is nearer to what I could see.
Both photos were cropped, sharpened and detail enhanced in iPhoto.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Basking in the Sunshine

First - Tricia Ryder's comment yesterday got me thinking about the mystery bird table visitor. She thought it looked like a Dunnock. Well it certainly isn't a mature one. I have several as daily visitors but a Google search for some Dunnock Juvenile photos showed several which almost matched my visitor - pale belly with bold black streaks. In fact when I search I find I had photographed a juvenile Dunnock a couple of years ago.  So it looks as though that is favourite. Whatever it is it has visited several times every day so far. Also visiting the bird table have been two juvenile Robins.

Today has been a scorcher. Cool with heavy rain and hail yesterday morning.
Many creatures have taken advantage of blue skies and temperatures up to 25C:

The Damsel flies have started emerging from my garden pond.
Here a male Blue Tailed Damselfly sunning itself on a rose bush:


and a female on a pond plant:


A Red Admiral taking a short rest:


A Dunnock looking quite bedraggled but actually having a quick sunning session:


On the cricket field a Crow which didn't really want to move out of the way, until we got too close for comfort.:


I say sunning themselves but maybe the birds were actually trying to cool down.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Is this Bird What I Think it is?

A brief visit to the bird table by a bird I haven't noticed before:

Looking through Collins Complete and double checking on t'internet I concluded it was a rare visit to my garden by a Meadow Pipit. But then I could easily be mistaken.

Friday at the Flicks - Great Tits

For about a week I have had a family of Great Tits visiting several times each day. As far as I can tell there are two adults and four youngsters.

A bit of video from the bird table:

There are a few problems with my sound recording. It only seems to happen when there are noisy House Sparrows about. For some reason their chirps seem to distort.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Surveying My Realm

A couple of days ago my attention was drawn to a couple of Carrion Crows kicking up a might din as only crows can:


Eventually one flew off and the remaining one moved to the highest point on a chimney pot and spend quite a long time just gazing around as though it was checking that all was well in his neighbourhood:


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