Sunday, 30 June 2019

Painted Lady and Feeding Time

A Painted Lady spent ages feeding on my Lavender bushes.
It never stopped moving so I only managed a few record shots.

Painted Lady DSCN9712

Painted Lady DSCN9716

The first I have seen since the last big influx in 2009

I have many House Sparrow families around the building.
Here a fledgling was being fed.



As I lifted the lid of my green waste wheelie bin I spotted


a small black beetle which I managed to photograph before it ran away.
Size about 8mm and much shinier than the photo shows.
So far I have failed to identify it.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Juvenile Blue Tit

It was a pleasant surprise to see a juvenile Blue Tit visit the feeders this morning.

Temperature steadily rising out there. About 24C at the moment.
Cooler in here with the air conditioner running.

Spotted a Painted Lady in the front garden. First sighting of one for ten years.

Friday, 28 June 2019

The Singing Aerial

Sat on my 6 meter band halo aerial:

Sorry about the heavy breathing.
Forgot to stay away from the camera when not using a directional microphone.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Home From Home

Sort of ......
Last Friday, after another disastrous blood test which showed things had got worse again,  I was sent to A&E in Grimsby. This time I was pre booked to see the right department but still had a long wait in reception before things got going. The upshot was this was to be my 'home from home' for the past five days.



That was just the first port of call. Three different wards. Each ward with a different consultant. Blood tests by the dozen (at least it felt like that to my pincushion arms). After lots of fluids and yucky medication they got things stable in the end. I am back home and now have a fridge shelf holding meds to be injected three time a week until I receive an appointment with a kidney consultant at another hospital.

Nursing staff were first class and, believe it or not, so was the food.
 Grimsby menu
Plenty of choice and everything I chose was perfectly cooked.

Penny had stayed at home and excellent neighbours frequently visited her and took her for walks.
She went bonkers when I arrive back this evening. I nearly got my skin licked off.

Friday, 21 June 2019


It is quite rare to see gulls close up in the village.


Herring Gulls, I think, by the size and colouring, though silent so possibly Common Gulls.
I often see them soaring high over the village or following ploughs in nearby fields.
Yesterday two of them spent a few minutes flying around just above roof height and occasionally swooping down to ground level on the footpath just beyond my fence. Must have been something tasty there but I didn't see them fly off with anything.

Wednesday evening saw me having to visit A&E in Grimsby. Very high potassium levels again from the morning blood tests. The A&E department was overflowing with customers so not a fast process, but efficient once they got going. Total time from booking in to leaving was about four and a half hours so I didn't arrive back home until after midnight.  Lots of tests showed the potassium levels were already lower but this time the cause has been found - a side effect of one of the prescribed tablets I have been taking at night. A pity Louth hospital didn't spot that three months ago though to be fair Grimsby has a much larger hospital with specialists in a variety of departments. Maybe now we can get things back to normal with a change of medication.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Latest Arduino Project

It has been quite a long time since I last had a tinker with an Arduino project. The last one was a weather station with digital readout. That never reached its final stage. All was going well until the day I updated the Arduino IDE (the program used to program an Arduino). The update went badly wrong. It kept reporting errors and wouldn't recognise the instruction I had written previously.

Recently I decided to delete all the old IDE files and install the latest version from scratch. Then a new weather station project on the Instructables site caught my interest. It uses a 3.5 inch full colour TFT display to show the readings in graphical form. The display used is designed to fit on and use with an Arduino Mega. It has a resolution of 480 x 320 pixels.

I found one for sale on eBay direct from China for less than £8 which included postage. After 10 days it arrived. I also had to purchase the tiny unit which actually measures temperature, air pressure and works out the relative humidity. I already had an Arduino Mega.

The sensor module, sensor is the tiny metal box top right

As always there were other 'libraries' of instructions to install which enable access to the sensor and TFT display. It took a while to find the TFT library files but I discovered a set on the Rinky-Dink Electronics site. They installed and worked perfectly.

Once the program was installed and tested I made some alterations to the original. As well as the graph the most recent readings are now shown numerically just above the X axis. Also I had to alter the range of values on the Y axis to suit the possible range of local readings. At first I thought the pressure readings seemed to be far too high but checking on the Met Office site showed it to be within 1mbar. More accurate than my commercial weather station!


The display shows up to 36 hours of data (one new reading every 6 minutes) which makes it possible to see weather trends. The above was taken after a 26 hr test run with the unit in the conservatory. When the screen is full the graphs are scrolled from right to left by one pixel with each new reading. Maybe I will change the timing to every 8 minutes so as to display the trend over 48hrs.

Obviously to be of any use the detector needs to be outdoors in a suitable container. Ideally, once I've finished tinkering, I  will have a go at designing and 3D printing a suitable box to hold the Mega and TFT display.

I am so delighted with the possibilities of this colour display I have ordered another one  to experiment with. Screen refresh is slowish so not suitable for displaying video for example.

Thursday, 13 June 2019


Recent flooding in my back garden had gone down nicely - until more rain arrived late yesterday.
Over an inch of rain in eight hours and still steadily precipitating this morning.
I've seen it far worse than this in the past.
Fortunately the lawn is lower than the building so not a danger to property.


Not all bad though.
Blackbirds love it as it forces the worms to the surface

Just the sort of morning to have a bit of a change to my usual breakfast.
Instead of my daily Weetabix I cracked open a tin of country vegetable soup.
Sliced a burgerless burger bun and covered the slices with Pro Active spread.
Dunked in the hot soup - lovely jubbly.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Hot Lips Revisited

Last April I wrote about the Salvia Hot Lips I had bought.
I was disappointed at the time that the flowers were completely red in colour.
It was pointed out to me it takes a while for the plants to mature and show their true colour.
Now they are looking as I expected:



Quite a startling combination of pure white and brilliant red.
All being well they will probably continue flowering right through the Summer.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Wet, Wet, Wet

Today Lincolnshire seems to have taken the brunt of the wet weather.
Possibility of a month's rainfall to be dumped on us in a couple of days.
Quite a few trees down, blocking roads.
A great long list of roads closed by flooding.
Fire and rescue inundated with calls to pump out flood water.

These about sum it up locally:


Overflowing drain

At least one more day, maybe two, of rain to come this week.
To think a few of days ago there were calls for farmers to take less water from our local rivers as levels were so low. Now many have burst their banks.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

A Few Wildflowers

... from our visit to South Thoresby Warren.

Hope the IDs are correct.


Clover DSCN9635

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot Trefoil DSCN9637

Scarlet Pimpernel

Scarlet Pimpernel DSCN9672

Doves-foot Cranebill

Doves-foot Cranebill DSCN9683

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

South Thoresby Warren

How time flies. It has been ten years since I first visited and wrote about South Thoresby Warren, Lincolnshire. This piece of land was once a sand quarry, then used for land fill and finally made in to a small nature reserve open to the public. Yesterday it was a toss up as to whether I cut my grass or we had a trip out. As it looks as though the weather is going to become changeable with showers forecast the trip out won.

 South Thoresby Warren

We both enjoyed a stroll round the shorter route, just having to double back at one stage as we were heading out instead of round. I sampled the sights and sounds and Penny sampled a whole lot of new odours.

South Thoresby Warren

The reserve consists of a mixture of open grassland and a small wooded area. New native trees are being added.

For a change I made the photos I took into a slide show with a soundtrack of sounds recorded while we had a short rest on one of the benches provided.

As there was a stiff breeze at times there is some wind noise and a few flowers moved too much for sharp photos. Disappointing in that I saw not one mammal, a few birds rushing about, and just one bee.


The only insect which stayed still was this beetle I found resting on the car door on our return.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

The Hitch-hiker

We had just returned from our early morning walk.
As I was about to undo Penny's harness I spotted the hitch-hiker.


A Hawthorn Shieldbug

Hawthorn Shieldbug DSCN9627

It stayed long enough for me to take the Nikon out of my shirt pocket and take a few shots

Hawthorn Shieldbug DSCN9628

A bit of a morning for close encounters.
I had spent a while watching Swifts hurtling overhead, sometimes diving down to just a couple of feet above my head as they careered past on their endless hunt for flying insects. They were still feeding their young but didn't land on the nest. Just hovered next to it for a brief moment to hand over the food before setting off again.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Not Long to Wait

In May last year I planted a Callistemon citrinus (bottlebrush plant) in the front garden.

Callistemon Citrinus DSCN8374

I wondered how well it would grow outdoors. In just one year it has grown to


Recently I've been keeping an eye on it to see whether it would flower this year.
Yippee! Two branches are showing buds. Unusual in that the flowers are produced part way along new growth.
Why it is called a bottlebrush plant will, I hope, become evident when the flowers open.


Many years ago I had one flowering in my old conservatory but one hard Winter it disappeared.
How long the outdoor one lives could depend on how severe future Winters are.
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