Friday, 31 July 2015

Friday at the Flicks - Bathing Starling


No matter what the weather or the temperature the Starlings always take advantage of any water to have a good shower every day:

I don't know what is going on with YouTube. This is the second time recently they haven't automatically picked out a thumbnail for a video. I had to upload my own.

File size can vary wildly with videos. In camera this clip was 340MB. Once loaded in iMovie and the title added it was only 80MB when saved. Processed it with Final Video Converter Pro which squeezed it down to 20MB.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Filling in Time

During the present spate of dreary, drizzly weather I spent some time experimenting with the various ways of using the fill facility in Serif Affinity Designer:





Photo Scissors was used to remove the original backgrounds and provide a transparent area so each photo could be placed on a coloured layer.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Micro Moth

Spotted this small moth (about 10mm long, wingspan about 18mm) hiding in the gap by my shed door. For once I was able to identify it - Dipleurina lacustrata

 2015-07-29-11.47.09 ZS 2 PMax

 2015-07-29-11.40.32 ZS PMax 2

These fly in June and July. The larvae feed on various mosses and lychens growing on tree trunks, rocks and walls.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Raptors at the Village Show

Tucked away in one corner of the village school playing field was an exhibition of birds of prey from a local country park.

Apart from this Barn Owl I didn't manage to catch which raptors the others were:




I seem to remember this one is a Canadian Red Tailed Hawk:


Once again I used Photo Scissors to eliminate the background and added the colour in Serif Affinity Photo.

The onlookers were given a closer look at each of the birds in turn:

Stealing the limelight, though, was this baby:

I will have to make a visit to Rushmore Country Park, near Louth in Lincolnshire, to identify them. A visit has been on my Round Tuit list for years as it is less than four miles from home so I really must get round to visiting in the near future.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Monday Mystery - Guess What



Congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star go to Adrian and Wilma who worked out last week's mystery photo was a close view of a hammer:

DSCN4824    DSCN5037

Maybe more people will have better luck identifying this....
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.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Cutting out a Rose

This rose bloom looked beautiful but it needed the clutter removing to show it at its best:


Load in Photo Scissors on the Mac. Mark in green the part wanted. Mark in red what has to be removed. Check and make any adjustments where the program makes a mistake. Crop and save the rose as a PNG with a transparent background:

Photo Scissors

Pop that in Serif Affinity Designer. Flood fill the background with a dark colour. Tidy up any remaining small errors around the edges of the rose. Save the end result:


Total time taken about fifteen minutes.

The new title piccy was produced in Serif Affinity Designer while I was learning how to use layers and how to cut bits from photos and paste them in a new picture.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Helping Others With Microfinance Loans

On a chance visit to The Weaver of Grass blog I read a post about charities and their methods of raising money. That brought to mind one of the ways I use any small amounts of money I may have spare to help others. A few years ago I found out about two sites which make loans to people in poorer countries which help them to improve their lives. The money may be for extra livestock, seed, stock for market stalls or small shops, repairs, etc.. The money is repaid to my account over a number of months and I can then re-use it to help more people. No interest is paid to me.

I think this is a novel way to help people help themselves, not just a handout but a way of helping them to improve their lot in life. How it works is you open an account with each / either organisation and transfer some money. After that you choose when to loan the money and which person / people to lend to. Once your received repayments pass the minimum amount needed for a microloan you can relend the money to someone else.

Which are these organisations?

The first is Kiva. This one works in dollars and microloans are made in multiples of $25. Each of my contributions is a part of the amount of money a person requests.


The other is LendWithCare which works in UK pounds and microloans are made in multiples of £15.


With both organisations their sites list the people who are requesting loans, a bit about their background, what they want the loan for and what they will do with what they purchase. I look through and pick which I will contribute to. Both suggest a small extra amount with each microloan to help with their expenses. This is voluntary and I can add as much or little as I wish. Both keep me informed and let me know when repayments are received. I get the occasional email from them but these are kept to a minimum.

There is always a risk that a borrower will not be able to fully repay a loan but my experience so far has shown this to be a very, very rare event. The organisations have agents in each country where they work and vet the prospective borrowers to minimise any risk.

What I like about this method of helping others -
I choose where my money is going.
I know what my money is being used for.
The money gets to be reused.
No unknown siphoning off any of my money to enhance the lifestyle of fatcat administrators.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Friday at the Flicks - Bees


A large flowering bush overhanging from next door has been attracting scores of honeybees and bumble bees.  This is the first time I have been able to see clearly how a bee uses the hooks at the end of its legs to hold on to a flower as it moves around.  Also the influx of tiny Pollen Beetles can be seen.

I have a feeling that the bee I found earlier in the week which I couldn't identify may have been a genetic aberration as I couldn't find any photos with anywhere near the same markings.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you and if you live in the South East of the UK don't get too wet!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Playing With Serif Affinity Photo

I wanted to be able to abstract a subject from a cluttered background.

Started with:


and after an hour or more experimenting ended with:


I need to practice working with selections and layers as I seemed to spend ages going round in ever decreasing circles and back tracking through most of the things I had done.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A Few Real Cars

One of the attractions at the annual village show was a display of classic cars. I had expected maybe half a dozen but there was a whole line up of them. I love cars which look like cars, each with its own distinctive design. These days I find it very difficult to tell what make some cars are as so many look alike to me.


At some similar shows I have been to the owners have put up small signs with details about each car but I didn't spot anything like that so here are a few which caught my attention.






Nearby was an immaculate looking Harley:


A latecomer was a classic Ford with a few modifications. Not least of which were the large rear wheels and a 4+litre engine.



Finally there was an opportunity to enter a raffle to win a short ride in a rather snazzy looking Ferrari:


All the owners had obviously given their vehicles a lot of TLC to present them in showroom condition.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Mystery Fly

I regularly have to change the water in Penny's outside water dish as all sorts of bugs keep using it as their personal swimming pool. Most are too small to be a problem but some larger specimens need to be removed before Penny enjoys an unexpected extra added meat flavour to her water.

This evening this beauty was doing an imitation of a doggy paddle:



I don't remember having seen this type of fly before and its identification is evading me at the moment. Size is about the same as a hive honey bee, about 9mm long. Its large eyes, thick legs and colouring ought to make it easy to identify but Google isn't helping one little bit this evening, even when I uploaded a photo to help.

I tweeted a photo to Africa Gómez at Hull Uni who writes Bug Blog. She suggests it is probably a honey bee. The give away being the enlarged rear femur where they carry pollen.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Monday Mystery - Guess What



Congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star go to Adrian and Ragged Robin for correctly identifying a plant sprayer.


The virtual Midmarsh Silver Star to Wilma who thought it was an oil can. I used to have one which looked very much like the one in the photo.

DSCN4828    DSCN5022

Here is a close view of another everyday object.
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 possibly a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Aliens Have Landed

There are only three entries locally for the village Scarecrow competition.
Here are the other two:



There are a few more in the adjoining village. I hope they are still on view when I get round to hunting them out. Looking at the list of entries there seems to be two sections to the competition. Just a scarecrow and a scarecrow combined with the garden as a whole.

Today I had a wander round the village show which is held on the school playing field so there are a few blog entries to come from that over the next week.
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