Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Magpie Visitor

This Magpie visits the bird feeders from time to time.

It always has the food to itself as all the smaller birds stay away until it has flown away.

Friday, 17 September 2021

South Thoresby Warren Revisited

In 2009 I explored the newly opened nature reserve known as South Thoresby Warren. The reserve was originally a field which over the years became a sand pit, then a landfill site and finally an established nature reserve. I had been meaning for a long time to revisit to see what it is like now. Yesterday I got round to making the sort 11 mile trip to have a look.


This photo was taken in 2009


Yesterday this is now the view


Lots of brambles and teasels. Last time the only visitors were myself and Bobby, the lurcher companion I had then. This time I met a couple walking with their two dogs. We had a short chat while I made a fuss of their dogs and they, the dogs, did their best to encircle me with their long leads. They seemed to be regular users of the reserve and explained it was not looking at it best this year. Most of the land in on a rise and is suffering from lack of rain. Normally there is an abundance of fruit on the brambles but not a single one now.

I did spot a couple of small tortoiseshell butterflies


The plentiful supply of teasels should attract various finches


The rough hard ground made for slow walking and as my hip joint was complaining I left the wooded area for exploration on a future visit.


I had taken the main A road to get there but decided to use the country lanes on the way home. A much more relaxing driving experience.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Spotting the Spots

As the sky was pretty well clear of clouds yesterday I thought it a good opportunity to photograph the Sun. I tried at midday as that meant I would be looking through the least amount of the Earth's atmosphere to give the clearest possible photo. Unfortunately that meant the Sun was very high in the sky and I couldn't get a proper view through the camera viewfinder with the camera pointing up at such a steep angle. I tried again at 3 p.m. and this time managed to line the camera up without too much difficulty. When visiting the excellent SpaceWeather web site I noticed there were several Sunspots showing. How many would my simple equipment capture?


All of them, well, all the major parts of each visible Sunspot. Sunspots are numbered consecutively as they are observed. They are give an AR number. (AR = Active Region)


Some regions start small and then peter out so it is possible that there can be gaps in AR numbers of those in view at any one time. Even with a 400mm telephoto lens the Sun takes up a small section of a photograph so the above are cropped sections. The most important safety feature used when directly observing the Sun is the use of a Solar filter which is designed to cut the brilliance down to a safe level.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Hot and Hotter

Yesterday turned out to be as hot, if not more so, than forecast. My weather station temperature records peaking at 27.8C:

Temperature 2021-09-07

By taking short working sessions with cooling off periods in between I manage to treat most of the front of the workshop. As that area was facing South I can vouch that it was ****** hot working there but the job needed doing.

Bird Feeders 2021-09-07

That is also a view of my new bird feeding area. The birds were taking good advantage of the water avilable.

Today the air temperature peaked at 29.1C so I didn't spend much time outdoors. What I did do was to take some photos using the Seek Thermal camera which plugs in the iPhone. Here are some composite photos (screen shots to be exact) showing how various areas and items look to the human eye and what temperatures they have reached in full Sun.

Screenshot 2021-09-07_15-27-33-770

Screenshot 2021-09-07_15-27-33-770

Screenshot 2021-09-07_15-25-28-576

I found it interesting to see which things / materials were hotter than others. Thermal colours range from black for the coolest areas of any photo, through blue, green, orange and red. White is for the hottest areas of each thermal photo.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Going Batty and Waspy

For many years I had a bat detector but the last time I tried it it refused to work. I binned that and thought about a replacement. As I don't always have bats visiting the garden was it worth the expense of buying an all singing, all dancing replacement? One look at the prices made it easy to say a definite No! What I did find was a kit for a basic detector at a much more attractive price. The thought of a kit sounds like there could be lots of fiddly construction. Not with the Haynes Bat Detector Kit. The main circuit board is already fully built which is as well as I have never got on with soldering the modern tiny surface mounted electronics bits. In effect all one has to do is plug in some wires and mount the parts in the correct place. The only extra item needed is a 9V battery.


As you can probably work out the cost is kept down by using a cardboard box rather than plastic. Initially I though this would be a bit flimsy but no, it is quite sturdy to hold. The front is printed and looks very professional:


ON/OFF and volume control on the left. On the right a control to adjust to the ultrasonic frequency you want to detect. Expensive detectors often have the frequency range printed for different types of bats but the type of signal and pattern detected can usually indicate which is which. The instruction manual which accompanies the kit has lots of information about how to test the built kit is working by pointing it at many everyday objects which emit ultra high sounds. LED TV and monitor screens are a good starting point. Near a closed but running microwave oven is another source of emissions. I checked them all and the Bat Detector worked exactly as expected. All I need now are some local bat visits - preferably just outdoor ones. I say that as some years ago I had one fly indoors.

Waspy? Well. The apple feeder didn't seem to be attracting any birds, though it is early days yet. I did peel a strip on the apple hoping that might help. What are the only takers I have seen so far?


Should have guessed that would happen. I will keep the experiment going. When natural food for birds is scarcer and Wasps have died off or hibernated maybe some Winter Thrushes and Blackbirds will show an interest.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Will They Use It?

From time to time I have seen some feeders designed to hold an apple for those birds which like them. Here it is the Blackbirds which really go for them when I put some on top of the fruit cage. The, though albeit not too expensive, cost of buying such a feeder has put me off as there is no guarantee the local birds will use one. One day as I was browsing for ideas for 3d printing on Thingiverse I happened on a design for one. It can be seen HERE. All I had to do was download the .stl files and use Ultimate Cura to produce the gcode file for my 3D printer.


It is in three parts. The main body plus two sections of perch. I didn't have any glue suitable for PLA plastics so I used hot melt glue to hold everything in place. I fixed the apple in place by inserting an oval brad nail from each side.

Only time will tell whether the birds will be attracted to it and enjoy a bit of apple. The only reservation I have about the design is the short length of the perches. They seem to be too short for a Blackbird to balance on. I will print some longer perches if need be.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Twoo is That Visiting?

I have recently changed all my surveillance / security cameras to a wi-fi setup. One camera now points towards the bird table and, as with all of them, is set to record when anything in its sight moves. This morning I checked the recordings from this camera and was surprised to see an owl had landed on top of the bird table.

I have seen a mouse scurrying about in that area in the past so I guess that is what attracted the owl.

Now I can see how much the camera covers I intend to increase the number of bird feeders in that area. The wi-fi cameras are connected to their own base station which is also a recorder. Real time coverage can be watched on a monitor and any movement is automatically recorded. Unfortunately it didn't seem to detect the moment the owl flew away.

Copying the saved file to a USB stick is easy. Unfortunately the version of .avi used is unrecognised by all but one of the Mac video player apps I have. That app doesn't have the facility to convert videos to another format. In the end I have to use Quick Time Player to screen record while Total Video Player played the .avi! Even the Mac version of HandBrake didn't recognise that video format.
P.S. Finally found a new version of HandBrake which does the job.
Related Posts with Thumbnails