Sunday, 31 May 2015

Two Very Different Youngsters

As I was checking on some potted plants in the garden I spotted a movement right next to my foot - a young frog about half full size so maybe two or three years old:

Young Frog DSCN4557

Spotted on our afternoon walkabout - a very small Horse Chestnut tree in the grass verge near a full size one. Probably wont survive as that is cut frequently by council contractors. It's amazing it managed to get this big, probably a result of the shoddy job they do in cutting the grass these days:

Horse Chestnut DSCN4559

Borders were put on using Photoscape X. Last time I used the program, which was free from their web site, a notice popped up saying there was an update. Clicking on this led to the Apple Store where it could be downloaded for free. On installing it the first noticeable thing was many of the borders and other facilities were now only available in a Pro version for around £29. It no longer had access to many of the things which had been free. That I don't mind but did think it underhand there was no warning in the notice about the update. Fortunately I still had the original installation program so wound my version back to the old free one and left suitable comments on the App Store. That version is no longer available on their site. First time I have had to use the Mac Time Machine backup in earnest. Good job I update my backup every day.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Wet and Steamy

Friday was a washout with rain for most of the day:

Rainfall 2015-05-29

For one brief period the Sun made an appearance and turned roofs and paths to an outdoor sauna...


... before it quickly clouded over and eventually staring again with rain.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Friday at the Flicks - Feeding Fledgling Sparrow


 For a while the fledgling House Sparrow sat on some trellis while papa fetched food. I don't think the youngster was long out of the nest as I could still see the yellow marking along its beak.

Have a great weekend observing nature around you.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

House Sparrow Feeds Youngster.

Plenty of broods visiting the garden this year but it has been noticeable that many only have one or two fledglings. This time it was the turn of a male House Sparrow. At one time the baby had settled on a garden cane. In their own way they are just as agile as Blue Tits.




Papa was gathering bits from a nearby feeder which contains a mixture of peanuts and large suet sticks. Some video tomorrow.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

An Unexpected Flash of Colour

The rarer garden visitors always appear when least expected with a camera being in the wrong room. Nipped through to the kitchen and spotted bright orange/red down the end of the garden. A male Bullfinch. Only the second time I have seen one visit. Grabbed the camera and, of course, it was nowhere to be seen. Hung around, watching and hoping, and spotted some movement near the back of the greenhouse. A female Bullfinch. This time I was able to grab a few shots before she vanished:



I carried on watching and you could have knocked me down with a feather when two appeared together including the brightly coloured male:



Only record shots as the light was fading but seeing them seems a good enough reason to allow the odd dandelion to go to seed. I did wonder whether the paler coloured one was a juvenile. It did seem to be taking food from the male but the head should be brown on a youngster.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A Short Trip Out

Bank Holiday Monday I decided to brave the traffic flowing to the coast and headed into the Lincolnshire Wolds. Many have the impression that all of Lincolnshire is flat and that description certainly applies to the narrow coastal plain where I live and to the Southern part of the county. Not mountainous the Lincolnshire Wolds are full of undulating and steep sided valleys carved out by glaciers in the various Ice Ages which covered most of the country.

5.75 min video from when I turned off the A16 heading for the Bluestone Heath Road. That was the theory but with my usual fantastic navigation skills, just after passing a cyclist, I went straight through the crossroads where I should have turned left:

Much as I tried it seems very difficult to show the full effect with photos but here are a few from the vantage point where I stopped on a wide verge to let Penny stretch her legs and brave a cool breeze. Where conditions had been bright and Sunny before setting off they soon turned duller with thick cloud cover. To rescue some colour and contrast these photos were tweaked using the Contrasted Light_14 filter in Simply HDR.

The battle wagon parked up:

Views from this point:




5.5 min video. Part of the return journey on the A16 turning right at the roundabout at the top of Kenwick Hill where the road drops off the edge of the Wolds down to the Lincolnshire coastal plain:

I found the Honda Jazz somewhat noisier with wind and road noise than the Mitsubishi Charisma but to make up for that it gave me 54.4mpg over the 30 mile round trip.

Sad to read that Lincolnshire's narrow roads are becoming more dangerous again. This month, with a week to go, has turned out to be the worst for several years with 14 RTAs. Unfortunately six of those have ended with fatalities. No so long ago two of our roads were listed among the most dangerous in the country.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Macro on Monday - Answer

Hi folks, sorry but for various reasons I don't have a new macro for this week but here is the update on last week's mystery photo:


Great that everyone identified the macro shot of a dandelion seed head. Congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star to Adrian, Wilma, TexWisGirl, ImaBurdie and Ragged Robin.

Pictures01    DSCN4501

Hopefully I'll manage to find a new macro for next Monday.

Sunday, 24 May 2015


Blogger may be trying to show the wrong version of today's post as I had to edit it after finding I had misread an identification and edited the title. Hopefully the correct one will show after / below this one.

A Pretty Shock

I had decided to give the nursery pond a good clean out. Having moved one plant to the main pond I had just lifted the larger plant out and was removing the half log surround when I spotted something fly away. It didn't fly far enough for my liking and landed in the plant I wanted to move.

Can you spot it?


Maybe not yet as I stayed a good distance away for the first shot. Once I was reasonably certain it had settled and wasn't going to make any sudden movement I leaned a bit closer and zoomed in to take a few closer shots. This is the best one cropped:


An Angle Shades moth. ( Phlogophora meticulosa) Length about 1.5 inches and wingspan of  just over 2 inches. (35mm x 50mm). With my feelings towards larger moths, pretty as it was, I didn't stay close for very long. Not too bad when they are outdoors and still. As long as it doesn't decide to find its way indoors.

Crazy isn't it? A butterfly that size and I would be trying to creep as close as possible but with a moth I have this instant reaction of wanting to flee as fast and as far away as can be. If it was indoors I wouldn't be able to stay in the same room.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Where's My Share Then?

Supper time. Madam, seemingly asleep on her blanket by the front door, I sneak out to the kitchen to finish off a small pork pie. Quiet as I try to be the next thing I know there she is looking mournful and doing her best to look under nourished and half starved.

Where's my share then?:


Me: "You're fat enough already":


Ah well. Who can resist that silent look of hurt and disappointment?:


Both satisfied we go back, settle down, carry on listening to my favourite internet radio channel - ROK Radio, British Comedy Channel. Mainly old programmes recorded off air so with variable quality. Even many of the advert fillers are from years ago, along with occasional songs and music from post war years.

I love the old comedy when comedians didn't think they were funny unless they used expletives in every other sentence. I hate it when broadcasters like the BBC say that some modern programmes contain 'strong or adult language' when what they mean is foul language which only encourages younger listeners to think that's the normal way to speak to everybody all the time. Over the past 70 years I can't remember one occasion where I heard a relative or friend use such language and personally I object to it being beamed into my home.

Two other internet radio channels I like are - British Comedy and Goon Show Radio. In fact I've only just discovered that has lots of free, ad free radio channels; classical, country, 70s 80s pop, relaxing nature sounds and so on.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Friday at the Flicks - Baby Snail

Spotted this small garden snail last week gliding its way across the green wheelie bin. Love the way those eyes on stalks can look in different directions:

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

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Stay There While I Find More Food

Yesterday was not a good day car wise. Twice I had a real struggle trying to engage reverse gear. Not nice in a tight parking space close to a car in front when that's the only direction mine wants to move. Took it to my local garage this morning fearing a gearbox or clutch job. The most probable diagnosis was clutch. Had to leave it there as it finally refused to recognise reverse at all. As it was due for a service and MOT test the consideration was would it be worth having all that done on a 17 year old car. So I had a look at the cars for sale and liked the look of a very reasonably priced used Honda Jazz. Test drove that in the afternoon and found it to be to my liking. A bit of a change from a Mitsubishi Charisma but with my low annual mileage it will do the job for £100 a year less in road tax.

Not much opportunity for nature photography with poor weather and clatting about with car, changing insurance, etc... Did manage one photo of a parent Starling setting off having just fed one of its brood:


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Brat Pack Arrives

Tuesday has been a mixture of Sunshine and heavy showers. Also it has been very noisy with the arrival of the Brat Pack - the first batch of fledgling Starlings which spend all day calling and nagging their parents for food, food and more food:

Fledgling Starling

Monday, 18 May 2015

Macro on Monday - Guess What

A bit delayed this morning. Madam achieved her ambition of catching a squirrel when I let her out in the back garden early this morning. Normally they are too fast. Now I know why she practices hurling her cuddly toys in the air nearly every day. Unfortunately before I could call her off the squirrel ended up with a broken back. I called the RSPCA but by the time they arrived it had passed away. Which was probably the best thing for it. Penny ended up with a bitten lip so I'll have to keep an eye on her.



Full marks all round this week. Congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star go to Adrian, Wilma, TexWisGirl and Ragged Robin who all correctly identified the cropped view of a snail.

DSCN4480    DSCN4479

This week we have a macro photo.
Guess What:

As always 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.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

I Wonder Who Lives Here

Spotted a few days ago in the village churchyard. I can't say I have noticed this nest box before now. It is not very large but does have a large entrance hole which something has been trying to enlarge:


Could it be for a woodpecker. The hole is about 45-50mm which is about right. A couple of weeks ago I could hear one pecking away during our early morning perambulations. Unfortunately the bench seat which was nearby has been removed for some unknown reason. Maybe to be cleaned and treated after several years in all weathers. Maybe stolen, like the lych gates were a few years ago. Otherwise I would have sat for a while to see if it had any visitors.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Friday at the Flicks -- Pond Snail + Bird Table

A few days ago I noticed the pump feeding the pond waterfall had slowed to a trickle so it was time to give the pump filter a good scrub out. Once I had done that and switched it back on the flow was back to normal. Glancing at the waterfall I could see two pond snails had taken advantage of the reduced flow to climb up and were feeding on the algae. When I started videoing one it was fighting a losing battle trying to stay in place against the now roaring torrent of water flowing past it:

As mentioned earlier I set up the Toshiba X-Sports camera next to the bird table and grabbed some video clips of a few of the regulars:

What a kerfuffle - YouTube didn't make any thumbnails for the bird table video so off I went a-googling. Eventually I found it is possible to upload ones own photo for a thumbnail but only after the channel has been verified. That is easy, just a question of getting a verification code either by automated voice or text message. Once done I uploaded a photo and all was well.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Crane Fly on the Kitchen Window

Spotted a Crane Fly on the outside of the kitchen window. Grabbed the 50D with 70-200 zoom lens + Raynox DCR-250 macro conversion lens to photograph the insect from inside. I only used ambient light which was failing rapidly as flash would just have reflected back from the glass.

Balancing my hand and the lens on a Honeydew melon which brought me to just the right height I took a few shots. The final three I then process in Zerene Stacker and spent a while in Serif Affinity Photo beta to take out about a hundred blemishes from dust on the window which were littering the background:

2015-05-14-19.02.15 ZS PMax2

This is the uncropped view which isn't too bad for hand held without extra lighting and at 7 p.m.. The out of focus green of the lawn made quite a good background.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Bird Table (Toshiba X-Sports)

'Twas a good start to the day, bright though not particularly warm:


I decided to have a session with the Toshiba X-Sports next to the bird table and grab a few still shots as well as movie:


Today, just a few of the still shots, all cropped.






As before I put my feet up in the Summerhouse and controlled the camera from the iPod Touch while my supervisor did what she does best:


I'll probably put together some of the video clips for Friday at the Flicks.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Insect House

Glorious day yesterday, lots of Sunshine with a pleasant breeze. 

 Sun 2015-05-11

 Maximum temperature 21.5C

 Temp 2015-05-11

To pass time while I was waiting to go for an ultrasound scan I looked through the latest catalogue from CJ Wildlife. I thought about buying a new insect house to replace one I bought a few years ago but decided to look into building one myself. I gathered a few materials and then had another look at the old one. Though it had deteriorated it wasn't a very big job to repair it. The sides were warped. A couple of L angle brackets soon fixed that. Part of the roof had rotted away. That was quickly replaced and covered with some damp proof barrier to make it more waterproof.

I found a new place to mount it where I could easily keep an eye on any activity as it had previously been mounted out of the way in a too sheltered spot:


The only change I made was to the bottom section which was originally just an empty space with a 'holy' door to close it off. I chopped short lengths of old bamboo and filled the space with those but only to half the depth..


It didn't look as though it had ever been used by bees or lacewings, just the occasional spider, so it will be interesting to see whether a new position will attract any home hunters.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Macro on Monday - Guess What


There were two possibilities for last week's puzzle photo.


My congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star go to Ragged Robin who chose the correct one. It was a close crop of a Toad which Penny found in the garden one wet evening.


Virtual Midmarsh Silver Stars go to Adrian, TexWisGirl and Wilma who thought it was a frog. The warty skin was the give away in the photo:

DSCN4441    DSCN4442 Toad

On to this week's puzzle picture.
Guess What:

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