Thursday, 30 April 2015


Over the past few years I have tried the occasional plant which is more drought resistant. This year I bought a couple of Lampranthus (means shining-flowers in Latin) succulents which produce brilliant orange daisy like flowers:

 DSCN4350 Lampranthus

They are mainly found in arid areas of Southern Africa.
The blooms are tightly closed at night but open wide in Sunshine.

A few more views.

Notebook 08 filter in Fun Sketch:


Colour popped in Color Accent:


Finally, created in Happy Photo Frame:

 Lampranthus 02

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Toshiba Camileo X-Sports Camera

Managed to pick up a very little used Toshiba Camileo X-Sports camera. It belongs in the same range of cameras as the Go Pro but for far less money. The Toshiba version comes complete with waterproof casing and a range of fixings for mounting it. Without the case it is a very dinky size:

Toshiba Camileo X-Sports

It has a fixed wide angle lens which focusses from about 30cm to infinity, 12M pixel sensor  and built in WiFi (which is very useful as there is an app for iOS and Android devices which can control the settings of the camera, operate the shutter and gives a live view of what the camera sees). It also comes with a wrist control which can also be used to control the camera but is much more basic. There is the facility for up to 10x digital zooming though that will obviously affect the picture quality. On the back of the camera is a 2 inch LCD. A microSD card is needed for storage.

Yeserday I just had time for a quick fiddle with the camera to work out what does what and make sure it was working OK. Along with various qualities of movie and frame rates, still photos and burst shots it can be used for time lapse photography. This was a quick trial looking through the bedroom window. One shot every 2 seconds:

The Toshiba doesn't make the video. It just saves the stills. These can be dragged and dropped to the laptop once plugged into the USB port. One problem I found was that the camera stores two photos for ever still shot. One is full quality, the other being a thumbnail which is what is sent to the app for the live view. That made it a lengthy job choosing only the full quality photos. These were then process using a free program called Time Lapse Assembler. This used the full size of each frame:


The resulting movie was then cropped to 16:9 in iMovie. As can be seen there is distortion noticeable at the edges of the view as a result of the wide angle lens. I think it has about 135 degrees view.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Finding a bit of Colour

A quick look around the back garden and everything seems to be green; grass, hedge, trees and ivy. Almost hidden among this swathe of green are a few coloured plants:

Garden Colour 1

Down the left: aquilegia, acer, phlox
Down the centre: sempervivum, narcissus, grape hyacinth
Down the right: delosperma, sedum, wild or alpine strawberry
Background: French marigold seedlings for some Summer colour.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Macro on Monday - Guess What



Back to a full house this time. My thanks, congratulations and virtual Midmarsh Gold Stars go to Adrian, TexWisGirl, Wilma, Ragged Robin and ImaBurdie who all correctly identified the close shot of a thermometer:

DSCN4335    DSCN4332

I wonder whether this week's close shot taken with the microscope will be as easy to identify.  Guess What:
Snapshot Cal 150425_0000

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.
No prizes, just for fun and possibly a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Automated Bird Photography

Regular visitors may well remember my home brew motion detector which I sometimes use to photograph birds visiting the pond waterfall. This time I set it up to monitor any visitors to the bird bath:


Essentially the set up consists, in the background, a room type passive IR detector which activates a relay which in turn activates a wireless release for the camera. That is powered by a 12V gel cell.  In the foreground the Canon 350D with Sigma zoom lens set for auto focus mounted on a tripod. The camera being fired by a wireless receiver. Camera was fixed at 1/500 shutter speed with auto exposure.

This time there were many false triggers (over 60 birdless shots binned), maybe moving tree shadows and also me or Penny walking within range, but I managed a few captures. It is a question of things being set up at the right time as the birds tend to arrive at fairly set times of day. Unfortunately I had to cut the session short when it started to rain heavily.

Is that a growth or a ring on its leg?







Great Tit:



I can see I will be having some automated sessions throughout the Summer. I keep searching for a decent quality, cheapish camera which would allow externally triggered video. I don't think the trail types are as good quality as they make out and anyway  I want something with a zoomable lens.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Super Poop

Maybe best not read while eating.

Glorious day Friday. Lots of Sun. Temp up to 20C
Got the grass cut nearly a week early as rain is forecast to arrive Sunday and the whole of next week threatens to be cool and wet. Before cutting the grass I spotted a pile of poop:


By far the largest I had ever seen in the garden. What sort of creature could have produced it? From the size thoughts tend to go towards a mammal of some sort but you would be wrong. Twas a bird. Not a vulture or eagle (which we don't have here). No - believe or or not it came from a Wood Pigeon. The main time you are likely to find this size of pigeon poop is when they are nesting. According to one site I read, pigeons have what they called a built in cesspit where they can store waste products until they find a suitable time and place. So the birds can incubate eggs for long periods without having to leave the nest. The result being the sort of poop I found in my garden.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday at the Flicks - Hungry Hedgehog

Yesterday I got round tuit and zoomed in HoggyCam to give a closer look at any Hedgehogs outside the Hedgehog House:

After I had captured this video the Hedgehog was back less than 10 minutes later to scoff more crushed unsalted peanuts, have a quick drink from the bowl of water, then disappeared into the house to guzzle the peanuts in there. At the same time a mouse kept rushing up and gathering any scraps left behind. When it had eaten most of the available food Hedgie had a long drink and went on its way.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Easy Come, Easy Go

For quite a few years I had a small clump of Snake's Head Fritillary growing in the rockery. Suddenly last year they failed to appear and seem to have vanished without trace. About the same time a white Fritillary appeared out of nowhere in the front garden:


Now it has been joined by some Snake's Head variety:


Neither of which have I planted.  It is possible mice have been burrowing under the rockery and eaten the bulbs or they may have been eaten by Scarlet Lily Beetles which I have seen in the garden in the past. As for the new ones in the front garden - I can only think that birds have self sown them.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A Wolf in the Grass

A wolf spider that is.  In fact dozens if not scores of them. I doesn't matter where I look around the gravel or long grass around the edge of the lawn I can guarantee to see lots of these small brown spiders making for cover:


To give an idea of size, the wood is about 3/4 inch (20mm) wide.


This group of spiders are unusual in that they can tolerate others close by unlike most which are solitary. With the vast number of wolf spiders around there must be a wealth of insect life to feed them all.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

I am Oliver


I have had a standard version of this for about three years. Can't say it has come to much. In spite of the label saying they are tolerant to -30C new growth on mine had died back each Winter so I've moved it to a spot where it gets the Sun for longer each day and should be a bit better sheltered from any cold winds.

At the moment it has catkins which looked interesting enough for a bit of focus stacking. First I tried taking some hand held photos but they were pretty useless so in the end I set up the 50D with 70-200 zoom lens plus Raynox macro lens with LED ring light on a tripod:


The results made using Zerene Stacker:

2015-04-20-11.44.34 ZS PMax 2

These two with a bit of added colour emphasis in Serif Affinity Photo Beta:

2015-04-20-11.06.07 ZS PMax 2

2015-04-20-12.37.13 ZS PMax 2

Not fully in focus but still quite nice.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Macro on Monday - Guess What



No one managed a correct identification for last week's mystery photo but Ragged Robin deserved a virtual Midmarsh Silver Star for the suggestion that it might be a tube for a bee 'hotel'. It was a close photo of some bamboo edging and these short tubes are often used to make artificial insect homes.

IMG_0158   IMG_0160

Here's hoping that this week's close shot of an object is not quite so difficult to identify.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.

No prizes. Just for fun and maybe a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Song Thrush

Thursday a Song Thrush was singing from before 6.30 in the morning until at least 7.30 p.m. with a few breaks. Often it was in the top of a tree near my back door which was when I managed to photo and video it.

IMG_2350 Song Thrush

IMG_2349 Song Thrush

It stopped singing for a short period while three House Sparrows were having a noisy argument.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Friday at the Flicks - Clouds + Two's Company

A few days ago I set up the Ipod Touch running LapseIt to shoot some time lapse of the clouds through my bedroom window. I then promptly forgot it was there so it ended up taking over 3000 shots, one every two seconds:

A couple of nights ago two hedgehogs met up. One was in its house when the second arrived. It ran out and charged the other. A while later they both met up in the Hedgehog House:

No sighting the following night and still no sightings of any activity in either of the camera nest boxes. Will this be the first time in four years there won't be a brood to watch?

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife and nature in general wherever you are.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Emmelina monodactyla

To you and me - a plume moth:

DSCN4309 Emmelina monodactyla

Spotted on the back door to the garage.
Easily recognised by its rolled up wings.
Wing span about 20mm

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Feeding in the Sunshine

I went out in the front garden to photograph a couple of self sown plants but ended up taking photos of insects instead.  First there was a lone Peacock butterfly finding plenty of nectar:

DSCN4217  Peacock Butterfly

DSCN4223  Peacock Butterfly

DSCN4283  Peacock Butterfly

Plus lots of Bee Flies about with males occasionally landing on a flower to feed. Even when feeding they are still partly hovering as those spindly legs are not designed for holding on to petals:

DSCN4250   Bee Fly

 DSCN4255  Bee Fly

DSCN4262   Bee Fly

DSCN4267  Bee Fly

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

We All Have To Eat

A bit of a surprise on glancing out of the kitchen window to see a Sparrowhawk on the lawn near the building at breakfast time yesterday. It was only just far enough away to be able to photograph it by standing on tip toe and aiming at a very awkward angle through the double glazing.

Sparrowhawk IMG_2344

Sparrowhawk IMG_2334

Sparrowhawk IMG_2343

Now there is one Starling less to scatter the bird seed all over the place.
All that was left after the incident was a pile of feathers:


I assume from the lack of rusty colour on its front that this was a female.
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