Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A Hot Day

A couple of days ago when it was really hot a Blackbird decided to spend some time on what must have been one of the hottest situations around - on a hot felt roof:

Some times preening:

Blackbird IMG_1553

Sometimes just resting:

Blackbird IMG_1550

Can't really be to cool off, maybe to try to get rid of some of the fleas and such like.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Tuesday Twister - Guess What

gold star

Once again a full house. Congratulations and virtual gold stars go to Adrian, TexWisGirl, Wilma and Ragged Robin for identifying the twisted golf ball. They seem to come in all colours these days. Bobby often used to find them in the rough ground round the edge of the village cricket field.

IMG_0646      2013-11-11 17.19.05

I wonder how you will get on with the next object.
Guess What:


Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed next Tuesday along with the answer.
No prizes. Just for fun and a virtual gold star.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Who Will Be First?

When I was ordering my usual supply of bird seed from CJ Wildlife I looked round for some replacement feeders as mine are getting well weather worn and grotty even after cleaning. I spotted a different seed feeder. The Fiesta Diner is ceramic with a steel wire hanger. Depending on the colour they range from £4.95 to £7.95 each. Needless to say I chose a couple of the cheapest:

DSCN3133    IMG_1542

When they arrive the only thing which needs doing is to screw on the perches making sure not to lose the tiny nylon washers which protect the ceramic glaze. Being glazed they should be easy to wash and keep clean. There are three holes in the bottom to let rain water drain out. As well as the feeders they also make an identical product without the holes so it can be used as a water feeder.

Once the first was hung up it was a case of wait and see who would be the first brave soul to investigate it. I doubt that many would need three guesses! For about an hour the old feeders were visited but for this one many gave it a good dose of looking at from a safe distance:


Then at last the first user arrived:


Yes, a juvenile Starling - they get everywhere!

Once others saw that the Starling didn't go up in a puff of smoke or get transported to another dimension they soon began to make use of it.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday at the Flicks - Early Morning Visitors

A few live video grabs taken early this morning of some visitors to the bird table:

Female Blackbird, Female Chaffinch, Dunnock, Juvenile Robin, Robin, Juvenile Blue Tit, Male Chaffinch.

There are three juvenile Blue Tits which visit every day, mainly to the peanut feeders.
Regulars missing from this video - House Sparrows and, of course, Starlings. Both managed to get in on the act via the sound track. Also heard in the background is a Collared Dove.

iMovie on the MacBook produced a 230MB file which was squished down to 90MB using the excellent HandBrake app to cut down the uploading time.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Seeing Me, Seeing You

Quite a few male Blue-tailed Damselflies around the garden pond recently:

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Unfortunately I couldn't see any females.
Just look at the size of those eyes.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Woodpecker Wednesday

Lovely to see at least one of the juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers visits the peanut feeder nearly every day. There is only one at a time so it may be the same one. It is impossible to tell.

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tuesday Twister - Guess What

gold star

All seems to be going well with this series of puzzle photos so far. Congratulations and virtual gold stars go to Adrian, Roy, TexWisGirl, Wilma and Ragged Robin plus Alimary who sent the answer by mail. Everyone sussed that it was a twisted snowman. In fact when I looked again at the original I think it may well have been a snowwoman:

IMG_0624     DSC00209

Now for the new twisted photo.  Guess What:


Please put any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed next Tuesday along with the answer.
No prizes. Just for fun and a virtual gold star.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Orange Ladybird

Nearly home from walkies one afternoon when I saw what at first I thought was a small moth flying towards us. Quite a surprise when it landed on Penny's back.

Poor record shot only as Penny was trying to say hello to a neighbour and wouldn't stand still:

2014-07-19 13.12.10

It turned out to be an Orange Ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata) which can have between 14 and 16 white spots. They can be bright yellow or orange and feed mainly on mildew though will sometimes eat aphids. They are more a woodland species frequently found around Sycamore trees but are spreading to Ash. There are plenty of Ash trees round here. I don't remember ever seeing this particular variety before now.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Scary Homer

A local entry in the village scarecrow contest:


On first meeting Homer Penny thought it was a person and was wagging her tail as she always does when she meets anyone. That turned to distrust and some anxiety when she found the 'person' didn't move or say anything. Obviously a new experience for her which she found scary. Next time we passed Homer she just ignored him.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday at the Flicks - Wren Activity + Juvenile GSW

The Wren spends the occasional night roosting in the roosting pocket. About 10.40 a.m. last Monday morning I spotted activity. The first in daylight hours.  She gave the inside and outside a close look. At one point disappearing behind the pocket. Some of the activity certainly looked like nest building:

Unfortunately there doesn't seem to have been any other activity since then.

As promised here is the video of one of the juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers which visited a few days ago. It sat on the fruit cage for a while, went away, came back and slowly got neared the peanut feeder. The video starts where the GSW is trying to reach the peanuts and finally lands on the feeder. This has been the first time I have seen any bird get the better of the Starlings. A quick thrust with that sharp beak made them choose another feeder:

I have only spotted a juvenile once more in the garden.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Lucky Escape

Just happened to look in the greenhouse and spotted movement in one of the plant saucers. An inquisitive black ground beetle had fallen in the water and was swimming round trying to find a way out.



With the slippery vertical plastic there was no way it could escape without a bit of help so I scooped it up so it could reach the top:



It stayed there quite a while to dry off and partly opened its wing covers to let some warm air in:


All the above cropped photos were taken with the Nikon Coolpix S9050.

As it looked as though it would stay in one place for a bit longer I grabbed the Canon 50D fitted with a Raynox macro lens and took a few hand held shots which were focus stacked with Zerene Stacker:

Beetle 2014-07-15-09

I don't know how long it stayed there but by the time I checked again it had disappeared.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Tuesday Twister - Guess What

gold star

Congratulations and virtual gold stars to Adrian, TexWisGirl, Wilma and Ragged Robin for successfully identifying last week's twisted face of a clock. In fact my garden clock:

IMG_0594    DSCN2910

An unseasonal twister for this week's Guess What:


Please put any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed next Tuesday along with the answer.
No prizes, just for fun and a virtual gold star.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Arachnids Inside and Out

In the conservatory a House Spider, Tagenaria duelica which feeds on small insects caught in its web:

House Spider 01

House Spider 02

On the back door of the garage a Common Harvestman, Phalangium opilio,. Sometimes called a daddy long legs. These will eat almost anything though they are mainly carnivores. They do not produce silk, spin webs or produce venom though they do have impressive fangs for their tiny body size. As with some other spider species the male has to hurry away after mating as the female is liable to eat him.

Harvestman Spider 01

Harvestman Spider 02

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Red Tops Visit

I had hoped the frequent visits by the female Great Spotted Woodpecker meant she was feeding a family. Well, 6.20 a.m. on a dull, misty Saturday morning two juveniles were spotted in the garden. Not very good photos as high ISO and small crops means grainy piccies:

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker 01

A juvenile is easily identified by the red top to its head. At first one made a tentative visit, flew away and then came back to attack the peanut feeder. The second only made a brief visit.

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker 02

I hope they come back another day when the light is better for some sharper photos.
I did manage some reasonable video which I will probably save for Friday.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Drone Fly

Spent a happy hour in the Sunshine photographing the insects attracted to my Buddleia bush which was coming in to full flower. One flying insect I spotted behaved like a hoverfly but looked like a bee. What caught my eye was the size of its eyes which wrap round a large portion of its head:

Drone Fly 00

Fortunately a quick Google for hoverfly brought up a matching picture of this creature which turned out to be a Drone Fly. So called because they imitate a drone bee (the male hive bee).

Drone Fly 01

Drone Fly 02

All photos taken with the Nikon Coolpix S9050, usually around four or five inches from the subject.

BTW, don't go getting the idea it's always sunny here. I tend to be a fair weather photographer and as I write this it has been raining for the past seven hours and is forecast to go on for many more hours.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Friday at the Flicks - Female Great Spotted Woodpecker + Juvenile Blue Tit

I keep saying it is pot luck if I see a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the garden. This occasion proved it. I had been photographing outdoors and was setting the 70D on its tripod in the kitchen. Just as I had focussed it on a peanut feeder Mrs GSW arrived. One quick photo and then switched to video:

I had often thought she was just collecting bits of peanut rather than eating them and that can be seen clearly in the video. As soon as she had a full beak off she flew. She may be eating elsewhere or more probably taking the food for a brood somewhere nearby. Total visiting time just one minute.

Just back from our afternoon perambulation when I spotted a Juvenile Blue Tit at another peanut feeder. Luckily it stayed long enough for a few shots before a House Sparrow chased it off. Fortunately it came back a short while later when I had things set up for a bit of video;

You can tell it's a juvenile by the way its cap hasn't turned blue yet.
Interesting to see the size difference when a Great Tit makes a brief visit.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Busy Collecting Nectar

I have no idea what this bush is which hangs over from next doors garden but it was attracting scores of bees and other insects:

(P.S.  After a Google session I think it's Ligustrum sinense, Chinese privet.)




My favourite of over 70 shots I took that session.
A bee laden with pollen coming in to collect more:

Bee Collecting Pollen

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Recent Sunspots

Sunspots 07072014

Next ambition is to get a shot of the International Space Station passing in front of the Sun. Doesn't happen very often for any particular viewpoint on Earth. Also the timing has to be accurate as a pass only lasts a few seconds.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Tuesday Twister - Guess What

gold star

Congratulations and virtual gold stars go to Wilma, Adrian and TexWisGirl who successfully identified the twisted Robin in last week's Guess What:

IMG_0556    Robin

This week's twisted photo was made using the InstaFisheye app on the iPad. This method inverts the photo in the background and also places the photo as if seen in a crystal ball in the centre. The photo was also zoomed to give....

Guess What:


Please put any guesses in the comments. They will be revealed next Tuesday along with the answer. No prizes, just for fun and a virtual gold star.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Mrs GSW Still Visiting

One or both Great Spotted Woodpeckers could well be visiting the peanut feeder ever day. They stay for such a short while it is pure luck if I happen to see one. Yesterday it was the turn of the female to arrive while I was watching from the kitchen window:

Image 06-07-2014 at 20.08

This time I used the basic free version of the Mac app Photohive which puts the photos in cells like they were in a beehive. As you can gather I had a session downloading several free apps which produce different types of collages. It's nice to ring the changes from time to time.

Photos taken with the Canon 70D. ISO set to 5000 as it was still somewhat dull after a morning of heavy rain. Photos enhanced in iPhoto as contrast tends to be rather flat with high settings of ISO.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

When is a Hopping Frog not a Hopping Frog?

When it's a Frog Hopper:

Frog Hopper

Remember that frothy Cuckoo Spit (also called frog or snake spit) on my Pinks? This is the creature which emerges when the nymphs hidden in the froth mature. Length about 6mm.

It was half way up the door frame of my conservatory and stayed long enough for one shot before it just vanished from view - hopped away! They are capable of leaping many times their height and length. Some can leap up to 70cm vertically and accellerate at 4,000 m/s2 over 2mm as they jump. Some can jump 100 times their length. All in all well named as Frog Hoppers.  Information from Wikipedia.

Photograph, cropped, taken with my Nikon Coolpix S9050
Picture produced using the Mac app PicCollage Lite.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Sparrowhawks 1 Starlings -1

I knew the cacophony the young Starlings kick up would eventually attract another visitor to the garden:


Collage produced using the Mac app CollageFactory Free.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Friday at the Flicks - Roosting Again + Bottoms Up + Panorama Experiment

After an absence of six nights the Wren spent another night sleeping in the roosting pocket.

Walking past a tub filled with Pinks in full bloom I noticed how deep the Bumble Bees had to go to get at the nectar. Good for the plant as it forces the hairy bee to brush against the pollen which will get carried to other plants to fertilise the embryonic seeds.

Some flowers are easier than others for a large Bumble Bee to gain entrance to the nectar.  Phil Gates in his blog Cabinet of Curiosities has just explained with beautiful close up photos how hard they have to work to get in the flowers of the Foxglove. See Bumblebees and the Foxglove Challenge.

Yet another experiment. The iMovie Mac app has a zoom facility called the Ken Burns effect which allows me to very easily fix a start point and size along with a finish point and size to give zoom and / or pan effects to movies or stills. This experiment started with one of my old panorama shots taken with the iPhone:

2014-05-03 14.35.42

Pasted in iMovie and the Ken Burns crop / zoom effect applied to give a panned video view across the still picture:

Screenshot 2014-07-02 at 08.46.45 am

I will have to take some more detailed panoramas around the area and see how they look as pseudo videos.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.
Related Posts with Thumbnails