Thursday, 29 June 2017

My Halo

Spent some time setting things up for my amateur radio activities.
First job was to install a new transceiver. An Icom IC-7410 (new to me that is, s/h actually though to look at it you wouldn't think it had ever been used and saved me £500 on a new one) It is taking some experimentation learning to drive it:

DSCN7399 IC 7410

For most of the bands (frequencies) my aerial is a 14.5m length of wire:

DSCN7403 wire aerial

which is made to match the transmitter with an auto tuner: (the black box on the wall)

DSCN7404 auto tuner

At the side of the blog is a list of my latest contacts.
This is taken from the logbook I am keeping on QRZ . com which is one of the ham radio sites where I can look up details about any of the people I talk to:

QRZ logbook

M1BTR is my amateur radio call sign.

What about that halo? Well, I haven't been particularly good or godly.
It is the name given to aerials which are, usually, rectangular.
This is the one I put on the mast today for working one particular band (6m) as my tuner doesn't work on those frequencies;

DSCN7401 6m halo

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Escargot for Breakfast (video)

Song Thrush using a gravelled part of the garden as its anvil to crack open a snail shell:

Sound track:
Psychedelic Crater, Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Monday, 26 June 2017

Tiny Planets

Not a lot of note going on hereabouts at the moment, at least probably not of interest to others. After a break of a couple of years I have set up some of my amateur radio gear again. I spend some time listening to what is going on and have the occasional chat with fellow hams around Europe.

Also I got round to reading, books that is. I used to read every night but haven't been able to for many years as my concentration would keep wandering and I would end up re-reading the same bit over and over.  My first love is SciFi and similar. I have just finished Miss Spelled (Witch Cozy Mystery) by Morgana Best. Just couldn't put it down. Twas a brilliant mixture of magic and murder mystery written in the first person. It was a free book from Kobo eBooks. My iPad is loaded with dozens of books I have downloaded from various sources over the past few years. Now I'm looking forward to actually reading some of them. Next will probably be a set of short stories, either John Wyndham or H G Wells as I have both waiting in the wings.

Pleasant surprise. I often hear a Chiff Chaff when we go walkabout round the back of the church. Today, for the first time, I heard one near the bottom of my lane. Couldn't see it though. As we strolled along the lane it kept moving.

Saw the first garden damsel flies today. One male blue tail and one female though they were at opposite ends of the garden.

I wrote the following over a year ago but never got round to publishing it.

As you are probably aware I love playing with apps which manipulate photographs.
I took this photo to see what the tiny planet apps would make of it:


Standard tiny planet view, from two different apps;



Tunnel view:


Crystal ball view:


Back to tiny planet to give a different aspect on a Sparrowhawk:


Well, I enjoyed seeing what would happen to a couple of bog standard photos anyway.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Zoo Quest in Colour

I wonder how many of you in the UK watched 'Zoo Quest in Colour' on BBC4 recently. The original 1950's David Attenborough programmes were b/w as they were broadcast before the days of colour television and were ground breaking in showing wildlife from many parts of the globe.

Recently the original film stock was found and behold, it was shot on 16mm colour negative film. Quite a bit of that, sometimes alongside the original broadcast b/w, was shown and I must say the quality, sharpness and naturalness of the colour is astounding. If the programme is repeated it is well worth an hour and a half of your life to watch it. Personally I think the colour quality beats much of today's digital offerings. Some fantastic macro shots where the cameraman had to make his own extension tubes as that was a new idea for film making.

The programme is punctuated with interviews with David and Charles Lagus, the cameraman, who explain how they set about the three ventures which made up the Zoo Quest series. A fascinating insight into the making of early wildlife documentaries.

Some info on the BBC site here.  Don't know whether it works for those outside the UK.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Magpie and the Egg

When I made my Penny Poo check in the garden this morning I saw two Wood Pigeon eggs on the ground under the tall Leylandii then promptly forgot about them until:

DSCN7389 Magpie

I have seen a Magpie around the garden these past few mornings and today I watched as this one started one side of the garden and make its slow, cautious way across to one of the eggs.

DSCN7390 Magpie with Wood Pigeon egg

Once the Magpie had flown away I went to see the result:


As is her habit when I do anything around the garden, once I had moved away Penny had to go and investigate to see what was so interesting:

DSCN7394 Penny

I'm not sure whether the eggs were blown from the nest in yesterday's blustery winds or helped on their way by the Magpie. Either way I was pleased as the Wood Pigeon population around the village is increasing rapidly. Every street lamp in the village seems to have a layer of WP guano under it.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Can't Beat Home Grown

For the first time I have been growing some early (Vibrant) strawberries in planters in the greenhouse.
Lovely jubbly:

DSCN7384 Early Strawberries Vibrant

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A Weird Night

With so much wet and windy weather there is not much to report recently.

Last night was one of the weirdest I have had for many a long year.

1) Woken up apparently to the sound of Penny yelping. Got up to find her sleeping peacefully.

2) Later: Weird dream / nightmare. Mother comes in my bedroom. Ignores me and walks past to stare at a fireplace just past the end of the bed. She keeps bending and looks as though she is examining something but I can't see what. I wake up screaming.

3) Still later: Dream father comes in my bedroom. Ignores me and climbs a dusty wooden staircase to a dark doorway. He looks furtive as he checks to see if anyone is watching before slowly opening the door. I wake up sweating.

4) Even later: Wake to the apparent muffled sound of something bouncing off the roof and landing in the gravel in the front garden. Get up again to check. Nothing seen.

I very rarely remember any dreams so two vivid weird ones in one night was disconcerting to say the least. Both my parents passed away many years ago. Needless to say the fireplace, staircase and door do not exist in real life.

To bring things back to normality here is a frog I disturbed a few days ago:

DSCN7378 Common Frog
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