Saturday, 31 December 2016

Friday, 30 December 2016

My New Buddy

For a couple of weeks a female Blackbird has usually flown in to greet us when we returned from our mid afternoon walks. She usually lands on top of the fence a couple of feet away, watches and follows me knowing that I will be putting some food out for her.


She has gradually become bolder and will now feed a few feet away from me. For this bit of video I crouched down about three feet (1m) away. She watched me for a short while and then tucked in to some mini suet sticks:

I try to get a bit closer each day and hope she may end up taking food from my hand.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Sunrise Christmas Day 2016

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Blackbird and the Robin

I'm always trying to find ways of making some of the bird food available only to smaller birds. I have this wire cage in which one is supposed to hang a feeder but in practice it is very inconvenient and quite a faff when the inner feeder needs topping up. I decided to just plonk it over a feeder tray and see what happened. Some of the larger birds can get their heads through but at least it slows them down. The smaller birds can hop inside and help themselves. I can get interesting, and amusing at times, when different sizes arrive together:

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Clear Sky at Last

I've lost count of how many overcast, dull days we have had recently. This morning started partially cloudy but soon cleared to give a welcome blue sky and brilliant Sunshine. Around breakfast time I noticed the Moon was visible so took advantage to take a photo:


And a bit later one of the Sun to see if there were any Sunspots:


No. None that I could see anyway.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Squirrel Nut Feeder

I have been enthralled reading Shirley's accounts of Red Squirrels visiting her garden. See Shirl's Gardenwatch.  It was interesting to see a simple suggestion of using a clothes peg to hold up the lid on a nut feeder until the squirrel got used to lifting the lid itself. Of course I had to try out the idea myself. Unfortunately we do not have the attractive native Red Squirrels in my part of the country. I have to make do with the imported Grey Squirrel.

First job, find the nut feeder I though I had. Long search, nothing. Then I remembered the one I had was plastic, well squirrel chewed and had a fixed lid. So, make one or look for something to convert. Another long search eventually turned up an old wooden nest box which I set about converting:


Now I have to wait for a squirrel to visit and find the new food stash and see what happens.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Friday, 9 December 2016

Friday at the Flicks - Blue Tits


This was just a bit of practice with the free Mac video editor - MovieMator
As MovieMator crashed ever time I tried to add any titles I had to finish the video in iMovie:

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

We Belong Together

Looking at this photo you might think the Robin was keeping an eye out for any predator:


Actually I had been watching a pair of Robins for a while. It was a fair bet that two Robins close together in the same garden meant a possible breeding pair. This pair kept moving from place to place. Whenever the female rested the male would start displaying, bowing down and then lifting his head to show the full effect of his red breast. When this photo was taken the female was perched on a wire above his head.

I was hoping to catch the moment when the male offers food to the female. I have seen it once in the past but if it happened this time it was out of sight.

Wordless Wednesday


Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Grey Acrobat

Earlier in the year I took down the pole which was holding the seed feeders and replaced it with a rope. The Grey Squirrel had been finding it too easy to get at the bird food and was eating a disproportionate amount. This way I hoped to slow it down somewhat. It took a few goes for the squirrel to work out the best way to approach the new set up but it soon became adept at balancing:




This morning I managed to grab a short piece of video before it disappeared:

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Frost



2016-11-29-11.19.18 ZS PMax2
5 focus stacked photos

2016-11-29-09.47.53 ZS PMax2
13 focus stacked photos

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Sunrise Contrails - UFO?

First real frost of this Autumn, almost clear sky so the only things to show any colour at Sunrise this morning were the contrails of commercial aircraft:



Recently I have been watching a series of TV programmes about UFO sightings which reminded me of my only experience of something I couldn't explain. Many years ago while driving home along the back roads at night during a thunderstorm I saw an orange coloured ball some distance ahead hovering maybe 50 feet above the ground. It seemed to stay in the same place for a while and then quickly rose straight up and eventually vanished. I've always assumed it was some phenomenon connected with the electrical storm. Maybe an electrically charged ball of plasma. Reports of these being spotted have occasionally been mentioned. Who knows, but I can imagine some would have put it down to a sighting of an alien craft.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Sunspot 2612

For a change Friday was a beautiful Sunny Autumn day here, just a few wispy clouds making it ideal to take a new photo of the Sun:


Sunspot 2612 can be seen towards the edge at about 8 o'clock.
Sunspot activity follows an 11yr cycle. We are now past the last maximum and their numbers will decrease over the next four or five years.

A gentle reminder that you should never look directly, or point a camera, at the Sun unless you are using a solar filter designed for that purpose. This is the one I adapted for use on the 70D:

Sun Filter 02

Saturday, 26 November 2016


A very brief video capture of a Heron heading towards my garden pond in the early hours of this morning:

Friday, 25 November 2016

Wooly Munchers

Sheep are back in the usual field munching away.
There are two different types.
The whiteish ones, which I think may be Cheviot, were laid back and just watched us:




The black ones, which look to me to be Hebridean, tended to remain hidden and retreated rapidly when we got too close to the fence for their liking:



Of course my identification could well be faulty as there are several white sheep which look very similar to me.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Yellow is the Colour

Fascinating the way the flowers of Faucaria Tigrina seems to change colour as they open:


Am I going to see an orange or red flower at last?
No chance:


Friday, 18 November 2016


Can't let this week go by without a few photos of the Moon:

Nikon S9050:

Canon 70D:


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Last One For This Year

Flowering Lithops that is, not blog post. You don't get away that easily.
Just enough heat and Sunlight recently for the second of the white Lithops to flower:



This is Lithops Hallii in a 2 inch (50 mm) pot.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Friday at the Flicks - Grey Squirrel


It's a while since I spotted a Grey Squirrel at the feeders.
I don't think this is the same one which visited several times earlier in the year. That one had a very distinctive large bald spot half way along its tail. It is possible the fur re-grew if it has been changing its coat for the Winter. Not sure whether it has a cast over its left eye or whether that was just the way the IR lights were reflected:

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Monday, 7 November 2016

Full Spectrum

These photos were taken with a camera which has no filter in front of the image sensor, just plain glass. That way it responds to the full visible range from UV to IR:



Finally for the 2nd photo I used the channel mixer in Affinity Photo to make separate adjustments to Red, Green and Blue levels:


Almost an 80's postcard effect.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

White Stones + Robin Investigates

Fortunately there has been enough Sunlight and heat these past few days for the first of my Lithops (Living Stones) with white flowers to come in to bloom:



I wonder whether there are any with red flowers. Certainly haven't seen any advertised. What I have done is to buy some seeds of a couple of Lithops varieties I have not seen for sale as mature plants. Not tried growing them from seed before so we shall see what we shall see.

Robin Investigates
I was in and out the back door so I had left it open. As I came back in I heard a suspicious rustling sound. On investigation I spotted a Robin disappearing in my bedroom. It had flown in the conservatory, through the kitchen, along the passage, in the living room and then to the bedroom. I shut the living room door to block that escape route and keep Penny out of the way. Opened the front door, which opens from the living room. Crawled in the bedroom on all fours so as to get past the Robin so it could fly over me back to the living room. Of course it went past the open front door to the other end of the room so more crawling to persuade it to fly in the right direction. Fortunately it did and flew out of the door. Phew!
Why not open the bedroom window? I have net curtains which would have to be moved, window unlocked, etc. which could have panicked the bird more than me slowly moving around. The Robin didn't seem at all upset but just flew generally in the direction I wanted and an open door was a larger target for it to aim for.

Friday, 4 November 2016

On the Move

Just arrived home from our afternoon walkies when I heard the unmistakeable sound of geese. As my garden is surrounded by high trees with just a few gaps I waited patiently so see whether they would come in to view. Whilst waiting I took the pocket Nikon out to try my first attempt at any sort of bird flight shot with it. As it is auto focus only and will not take a photo unless it thinks it is in focus I didn't hold out much hopes, especially when trying to get a distant subject in view on the LCD screen. The geese weren't very loud and I only expected to see the usual group of half a dozen or so. Unfortunately while they initially appeared to be heading towards me the group suddenly turned to the North going away from me but did at least come in view long enough for a couple of shots at maximum zoom:



Too far away to identify which type of geese but pleased to get the first flight shots of any sort with the Nikon. BTW if I had been guessing at the total number I would have said 30 or so but a quick count showed there to be over 50 birds in this group.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Pebble Tray

This is the propagator tray where my Lithops (Living Stones) live:


There is a heating element built in the bottom of the tray which is controlled by some electronics which switch on when the temperature drops below 10C and off again when it rises above 12C.  I switched that on a couple of days ago as yesterday saw the first frost of Autumn followed by another this morning :


There are a couple of Lithops with white flowers trying to bloom. I just hope we get enough Sunlight to encourage them to open. To give an idea of size - the Lithops plants are in 2inch (50mm) pots.
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