Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Curioser and Curioser

Just had an email purporting to come from YouTube saying an attempt had been made to change my password. Out of curiosity I tried to log in and it worked. Needless to say I did not use any links in the email - I am far too wary to do that. All the videos are there but none of the thumbnails exist. People looking at my blog pages with YouTube videos will just see the title of the video and a drawing of a camcorder but clicking on the play arrow seems to work. Maybe Adrian was right when he mentioned hacking as a possibility.

Let's hope they stay available which will save me weeks of work.

Thanks for all the encouragement from those who commented on my last post.

Another curiosity - Honey didn't arrive until after 2 a.m. She either overslept or found food elsewhere. She didn't eat as much here as she usually does. As a test I have successfully uploaded this to my YouTube account. Now we will see how long it stays in view!

YouTube pulled my account

All my nature videos have disappeared. I log in this morning to find my YouTube account has been permanently disabled. The only videos I had uploaded were the home made nature clips used on this blog. No music was used so there were no copyright issues. No sex, no violence apart from a few birds arguing. All filmed by me using my own equipment in my own back garden.

To say the least I am gutted and absolutely disgusted. No communication from YouTube just months of work vaporised.  Thanks a bunch YouTube for wrecking my blog for no good reason.

Just how does it look when each video now comes up with the caption 'removed for terms of use violation'? As far as I can see this casts a shadow on my reputation. What can one do though with large anonymous organisations which seems to have no route for questioning or appealing against their actions?

For the moment this has killed my enthusiasm in maintaining this blog. All that hard work down the drain. A blog which now looks a complete mess to any visitors. Quite honestly I could sit down and weep.

I have managed to get some of the latest on to Flickr but looking back there are another 85 to do to get my blog back as it was before YouTube behaved in such a high handed manner.  That will take quite a while!  Many will have to be reworked as Flickr has a 90 second limit on the length of video clips.


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Goldfinch Mayhem

It used to be so peaceful when I had just two Goldfinches visit. They sat calm and prim, one each side of the small feeder. It has become a different story as their numbers have increased. Not long ago I added a larger feeder for them and all was reasonably peaceful.

This morning when I took the cameras to the kitchen I counted at least twenty Goldfinches, most on the feeders, some on the lawn and a few at the bird bath. There are not enough perches for so many visitors and it is pure mayhem as they squabble to find a place to eat.



Even the other birds, like this male Chaffinch, are finding it difficult to get a look in as the Goldfinches spread over most of the feeders.


Unfortunately the sound of them squabbling wasn't captured on the video clips as the back door was shut and the one facility lacking from my camcorder is the ability to plug in an external microphone. The video is a normal speed .....

One Goldfinch had the answer to the lack of perch space - hang upside down ....

Several Goldfinches bided their time by taking a drink from the bird bath.


I think I will have to make a trip to the local garden centre and buy another thistle seed feeder. It is a good job I have a delivery of seed coming today as the feeders are being emptied at an alarming rate.

I have read that Goldfinches can congregate in flocks of up to one hundred over the Winter months but I think I will be more than satisfied with twenty or so!

Monday, 28 September 2009

The Spider and the Ladybird

While I was wandering round my pond with camera in hand hoping to spot a dragonfly I had seen earlier I spied a ladybird flying across the pond. I was pondering the possibility of taking a photo of it in flight when it suddenly came to a halt, caught up in one of the many spider webs.

I watched for a while to see if it would break free while the spider sat patiently in the middle of its web. There was no escape as the ladybird was stuck fast and the spider eventually approached its prey very cautiously. Once the spider was next to the ladybird it attached many silk threads and used its legs to spin it round at quite a fast rate, all the time encapsulating the ladybird in a silk cocoon. When the spider was satisfied that its next meal was going nowhere it ambled back to the centre of the web.

At one stage I contemplated fetching the camcorder to show how deftly the spider could spin its prey round but that would have meant missing most of the action so I made do with a series of still shots. I was surprised how many threads the spider was producing at once. One of the photos, unfortunately not in focus, showed about ten threads all being spun at the same time.

Spider and Ladybird

Not the nicest of things I have photographed but then nature isn't always nice and cuddly and all creatures have to eat.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Life by Day and by Night

Daylight brings the usual feathered visitors to the garden. It is hard to remember it is only a few months ago that I used be jealous of those who had regular visits from Goldfinches. Then I managed to entice a pair which visited for a while. Next came four adults with their youngsters. The other day there were sixteen squabbling for a place on the two feeders. It is great to see the juveniles are maturing as they moult their head feathers and show the first signs of the lovely red which will adorn their faces..

Juvenile Goldfinches

The fat waddling Wood Pigeons are very greedy but useful at clearing up seeds left by the smaller birds. I cracked up looking at the expression on the Sparrow's face. I could just imaging it saying,

"Move over fatty, give others a look in!"

Move Over Buster

 Although it is beautifully sunny outside the temperature is still fairly low so Bobby, my poor old 'delicate' Lurcher, prefers to sunbathe indoors.

Sunbathing Indoors

By night Honey the Hedgehog continues her visits. She is definitely getting through more food each night and I am sure I can see her putting on weight. That is good as Hedgehogs need extra fat reserves for the Winter hibernation period when their natural food is in short supply.

 Hedgehogs are not the only night visitors. Cats, moths and the odd rat make an appearance.

I had to have a long think about Mr. Ratty as I wanted him to have his own special supper but I needer to work out how to put it out safely where there was no chance of Honey coming across it. I found the right place in the end and was pleased to see that Ratty had helped himself last night.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Friday at the Flicks

It is noticeable that some of the older juvenile Goldfinches are now starting to gain the adult red feathers on their heads.

The fruit is rapidly disappearing from next doors elder bushes. Not surprising when you see how fast a Starling or two can eat the berries.

While the Dunnock is looking for food for its young it is showing itself more in the open. I was very lucky this normally retiring bird stayed out in the open long enough to get some video.

Finally Honey the Hedgehog continues to visit every night. She is eating more from the dish as she builds up her fat reserves ready for the Winter hibernation period.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A Dunnock and Some Geese

I have had the good fortune to see a Dunnock visit the feeding area several mornings recently. It usually stays in the shadows looking for any seed dropped by the regulars. Then I spotted this one resting for a short while on the camera cables. I assume by the markings that it is a young Dunnock so the adult I see could well have been feeding it.


Just as I was preparing my evening meal I heard the unmistakable sound of geese on the move. The sound was only just noticeable so I expected they would pass some distance away so it was a surprise when two formations each of about twenty birds flew almost overhead. Luckily I had grabbed the camera just in case and managed to grab one half decent shot. By the direction they were aiming they could have been heading towards the Wash.

Geese in Flight

There are some birds I don't expect to hear after dark. Last night it was a pheasant's distinctive alarm call at 9.45pm. Maybe something had disturbed it, possibly a fox.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Waste Not - Want Not

When I look through the previous nights video captures it is interesting to see who will be the first early morning visitor to help themselves to any food Honey has left in the dish. This morning it was a very cautious Magpie. It checks carefully to make sure no one is watching before snatching a couple of tasty morsels.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Honey's Supper Interrupted

The night before last Honey didn't arrive until just before midnight. Last night she was back on the early shift spending about nine minutes stocking up with the dried mealworms, crushed unsalted peanuts, sunflower hearts and raisins.Then she nipped across to the water bowl for a long drink. No sooner had Honey walked back for her second course when one of the local cats walked through the feeding area. The moggy took no notice of Honey but by the way she wrinkles her nose Honey was not too happy. After tucking her head down for a while Honey decided to vacate the area. Mind you, she was back twelve minutes later to carry on where she left off.

This cat seems to visit the garden a couple of times each night. It wears a collar so I assume it is not a stray. When I saw that Honey had disappeared for a while I let Bobby out so the moggy didn't stay for long.

Monday, 21 September 2009

200 and Still Waffling On

Back in January this year, when I first took the plunge to start this blog, I had doubts that I would find much to write about but here I am at entry number 200 and still waffling on about the goings on around my garden. I have been surprised by the number of visitors and the very kind comments left by many. A big thank you to you all.

There is not a lot to report at the moment. I took some photographs yesterday of the few plants which are still in flower. My white Hibiscus bush has been in continuous bloom for over a month. I don't think I have ever seen so many flowers on it.


The small standard rose is showing its second flush of red flowers.

Red Rose

Under that is a self seeded yellow flowering plant which I have to cut back from time to time otherwise it would take over the whole garden.

Yellow Flower

One small weeping standard bush in the front garden is a mass of red berries. It is another I have to cut back otherwise the trailing branches layer themselves and start rooting.

Red Berries

The petals on this flower are hardly noticeable but has been attracting dozens  of hover flies and still attracts scores of wasps - right next to the front gate.


 Well, that is about it for number 200. Another 114 days and the blog will be one year old.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Time to Eat

Which bit shall I eat next?
Which Bit Shall I Eat Next?

We are in the Messiest Beak Competition.
Mesy Eaters

Today I am having a packed lunch.

Nothing like a snack of dried mealworms and a slurp of fresh tap water to keep a Hedgehog going.

 Most of the IR LEDs on the camera have been covered over and a lamp with five blue/white LEDs fixed above the feeding area.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Friday at the Flicks

They are back. One adult and two juvenile Magpies have returned to the garden. The only time of day to see them together is just after first light. Here one juvenile is clearing up seed left over from the day before.

The Goldfinches continue to visit as a group but now instead of the youngsters chasing the parents for food the parents are tending to hog the old feeder and chase the youngsters away.

The Blue Tits are regulars again. This one enjoying a sunflower heart.

Last night Honey was still feeding when Bobby went out to say a quick hello. I don't think Honey was too pleased as she left in a hurry returning later to finish her meal.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Automation, Chaffinch with Caterpillar

For over a year I have wanted to be able to let the cameras record through the night but only when there is something worth recording. My set of cameras record all night so it can take ages to check through to see if there has been any animal activity, even at the maximum speed of 18x.

At last I have got 'Round Tuit'. I obtained an ex-demo recorder and fitted a couple of spare 80GB drives from defunct computers. Eventually the aim is to connect the feeding area and the nest box cameras to the recorder which will automatically start recording only when something moves. At the moment only the feeding area camera is connected while I test the system out. Connecting the rest means a virtually new re-wire and the replacement of one nest box camera which has failed.

Not a lot happening last night. A couple of visits by Honey, a couple of visits from an unwelcome feline and the early bird catching not a worm but left over mealworms.

Some in colour when the white lights are on or the Sun is up. The rest in black and white. Another aim is to have hoggycam in colour all the time.

I spotted a male Chaffinch near the bottom of the garden. It had caught a caterpillar and seemed to spend a while looking round. Maybe he was looking to see if any hungry young ones were waiting for a meal. The light levels varied quite a lot as clouds dashed across the sky.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Darn it - Just too Late Again

Honey, yes I am pretty sure it is Honey who is visiting each night, made a slightly later appearance than usual yesterday. She was still eating when Bobby went out for his last tour of the gardens. As always he made a beeline for the feeding area. Too late, Honey had made a dash for cover.

Darn Too Late

He had to make do with a quick sniff at the dish. The action was caught on video.

I had taken a camera out with me and the flashes can be seen on the video as I took a few photographs. Honey had only gone as far as burying her head, ostrich style, in a nearby fern.

Go Away Im Hiding

You can see how well the varied tones on the hedgehog's spines would make Honey almost invisible in the shaded areas under a hedge. Perfect camouflage.

On checking the recording for last night - Honey was back eating within six minutes of being disturbed. Dried mealworms are a real magnet for Hedgehogs!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Hungry Greenfinches, Hedgehog Visitor

A while ago I had a clip of a parent Goldfinch being pursued by two hungry youngsters. Early yesterday morning I watched another adult Goldfinch trying to cope with three youngsters who were following from branch to branch calling and fluttering.

Later in the day the same thing happened to a parent Greenfinch. It had gathered a crop full of seed from the feeders and descended to the lawn pursued by three hungry little ones. Unfortunately the clip is not very long as Bobby chose that moment to get out of bed and go in to the garden. I quietly told him to "come here" but he stopped in the doorway and the birds flew away.

My one visiting Hedgehog paid its usual visit soon after dark, I wonder what happened to the large one as I haven't seen him for quite a while. Two visits were made to the feeder but last night the water dish was ignored.

Not that it went without water. After the second session of mealworm scoffing it wandered towards the path at the back of the building. There it decided to have its drink from the dish I leave out for Bobby. Then it scurried at full speed along the path and disappeared from sight.

This morning I checked through last nights recordings to see if any other hogs visited while I was in the land of nod. Unfortunately not! Just the same one making more return visits for mealworm snacks.

I switch off the white lights when I go to bed so the late night video is just lit by a few IR LEDs in the camera.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Walkies and a Hedgehog Visitor

Yesterday was another scorcher. I spent part of the morning installing some extra lighting for hoggy cam. In the afternoon we went for a leisurely stroll down a local lane. There wasn't much in the way of wildlife to see as I think most was sheltering from the heat.

A lone Wood Pigeon sat in tree taking no notice of us as we walked past.

Wood Pigeon

At one stage a small frog hopped across the path and disappeared in the long grass. Fortunately Bobby hadn't spotted it .


Most of the thistles have gone to seed but every now and then there would be a lone late flower.

A Lone Thistle Flower

On the way back home we pass the now defunct village post office (how to kill the heart of a village in one easy lesson). Denis and Marion still have lovely hanging baskets though.

Hanging Basket Hanging Basket

A couple of the trees that the council planted some years ago are groaning under the weight of their crop of brilliant red berries.

Tree with Red Berries Red Berries

Red Berries

Bobby loves his walks and never refuses to go but by the time we were wending our way home he definitely had that expression which said, "It's too hot for me" and " Is someone going to carry me?"

It's Too Hot For Me When is Somebody Going to Carry Me

After a saucer of cool milk and a quick snack he got himself in his most comfortable position for a well earned doze letting plenty of fresh air cool his tired paws.


As I said at the start, I had rigged up a couple of modern 12V white LED lamps. They are a lot brighter than I thought they would be. I had fixed them to shine across the feeding area where the Hedgehogs visit. The idea was to have enough light to keep the camera in colour. At the same time I had masked off most of the IR LEDs in the camera. When I first switched the new lights on last night I wondered if the brightness would put off any hogs but the lure of dried mealworms still worked. I need to experiment with the position of the lights as they glare if the hog gets right in front of them but on the whole they are doing the job.

A few short extracts from last nights visit.

It wasn't just Bobby who slept well last night. Normally I wake up two or three times in the night but I only woke once very briefly otherwise slept soundly until the radio came on at 6.30 this morning.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Flicks and Flutters for Friday

One of the Magpies has returned to the garden area after an absence of several weeks. Even when it cannot be seen I know it is there. It seems as though it chatters and chunters to itself all the time. For a while I have been trying to film it but Magpies are so shy here they disappear at the slightest movement. At last I managed to film it through the kitchen window and the sound which was coming through the open back door was just recordable.

As well as the visiting Goldfinches there has been an increase recently in the number of Greenfinches making regular visits to the feeding area.

One Hedgehog continues to visit soon after dark. Here it is seen tucking in to its favourite dried mealworms followed by a drink of water, a good shake and a wander off to the rest of the garden.

For once I watched what the hog did next. It wandered along the edge of the lawn in the direction of the pond stopping every now and then to snuffle out something to eat. Probably small beetles which make up the main part of a hedgehog's diet. It stayed still long enough for me to take its portrait.

Hedgehog Visitor

If it had been Honey she would have run away at full speed. Henry always stayed put but this one seemed smaller than Henry so it may well be a different hog.

That was the flicks (a slang word for moving pictures) now for the flutters. I actually took a real camera with me on our afternoon perambulation to the cricket field yesterday in the hope of seeing some dragons but as is normal when I take a camera they had all disappeared. There were many seven spot ladybirds in evidence on the brambles which was good to see as I understand they are under threat from the invading harlequins. Also in evidence were a few butterflies.

An area at one end of the field always has a magnificent crop of thistles. Many had already gone to seed and were dispersing in the breeze.

Thistle Seeds Blowing in the Breeze

Those still in flower were attracting numerous Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies

I was fortunate enough to spot a couple of Comma butterflies. A variety I never see in the garden.


Also spotted was what I think is a Speckled Wood.
(Thanks Roy for confirming the identification)

Speckled Wood

Apart from flies and wasps by the score the only other life spotted was the usual crop of bumble bees which still visit the lavender bushes in my front garden.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Time for an Autumn Clean Out

Spent this morning giving the Blut Tit nest box a clean out.
Took the box down. Here you can see one of the side windows I added to give some light for colour pictures during the day. The windows are cut from a plastic milk bottle.

Blue Tit Nest Box

Unscrewed the roof and tipped out the old moss which a Blue Tit had abandoned last year and gave the inside a good clean out.


Removed the camera and gave the lens a gentle clean as it was giving murky pictures. Refixed and checked the camera was working properly and looking in the right direction.

Blue Tit Nest Box

Gave the inside of the box a dusting of Bird Box Dusting Powder and added a thin layer of chopped dried grass, then positioned the waterproof membrane which sits under the wooden roof. This is an extra I added so any water leaks would run away from the camera.

Blue Tit Nest Box

Last job was to screw the roof back on and fix the box back in position on the back wall of the shed amongst the artificial ivy. Reconnected the camera. A quick test showed all was well.

Tit Nestbox

Job Done!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Here Be Dragons

A frustrating morning. Couldn't settle to much as I had my annual check up at the local hospital this morning. I knew there were road works on the way and in the end it took nearly twenty five minutes to drive the four miles. Seen early for the ultra sound scan but had to wait ages in the queue for my Xray. Decided to use a different route back which meant driving through the town but I forgot the chaos in the narrow streets on market day. Now I have to wait until the end of December before I find out the results.

I was ravenous by the time I got home just after mid-day as I hadn't been allowed to eat anything since the night before and was only allowed to drink water.

After a hurried ham sandwich and a mug of coffee I took a tour round the garden. Once again there was a Common Darter Dragonfly flitting about which gave me a few photo opportunities.

Common Darter Dragonfly

The small sections of coloured pigment on the wings actually give a little extra weight which helps the dragonfly control its wings.

Common Darter Dragonfly

There was also a Common Hawker flying around which flew between my legs twice while I waited to see whether it would settle. Needless to say it was being awkward and didn't stop once before it left the garden.

Here, especially for Shysongbird, is a poem I found:

“Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Through crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson

During our afternoon walk down the lane there were several Common Darters and some lovely looking brambles but why is they are always the opposite side of a three feet deep ditch?


Finally a Greenfinch at the bird bath. Another dribbler but this time the water was dropping straight back in the bath so no bib needed this time Glo.

Ringed Greenfinch

It was only when I enlarged the photo that I noticed the ring on its right leg. I think this is one of this years brood so may have been ringed fairly locally.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Demon Eyes and Other Visitors

I expect that Dunnocks visit the garden fairly frequently but I only spot one every now and then as they tend to stay close to shelter. It was very dull the other day when I spied this one on the garden fence in the shade of overhanging bushes.


During a brighter session I spotted a Chaffinch having a drink from the bird bath and later a Goldfinch sitting in the sunlight giving its feathers a good preen.

Another of the bird sown Sunflowers has now opened fully and is being visited by various insects including this Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.

One or more adult Hedgehogs continue to visit for a snack of crushed unsalted peanuts, dried mealworms, Sunflower hearts and raisins. Yesterday a new day / night camera arrived so I fixed it in position to try it out. It is in a fairly low position and the intense reflections from the hog's eyes gives it the appearance of a spiky demon.

Today I have moved the camera a bit higher to see what difference that makes. I will not know the results until after dark tonight.

Thanks to all who left kind messages regarding the loss of Hope, the young Hedgehog. They were much appreciated.

As no Hedgehog seems to have made any visit to the hedgehog house I am contemplating moving it to a different spot. I wonder whether the dead pine needles in that area of the garden put off the hedgies as they have soft feet and probably find it uncomfortable walking in that area.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Sad News to Report

It is with a sad heart and misty eyes that I have to let you know that Hope, the little Hedgehog who went to Hedgehog Care, has passed on to Hedgehog Heaven.


R.I.P. little Hedgehog.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Wash Behind Your Ears

Look son, if you want a girlfriend next Spring you have to learn to bathe every day. Don't forget to wash behind your ears.
Goldfinches at the Bird Bath

Aw, ma. The water's cold.
Goldfinch at the Bird Bath

Brrrr. I'd better get this over with or I'll never hear the end of it.
Goldfinch at the Bird Bath

Can I come out now Ma? I've washed behind my ears.
Goldfinch at the Bird Bath

Hedgehog Visitor:

The lighting for the feeding area has been flickering for a while since rain got in the fitting so yesterday I reset the camera to switch to black and white at night and made some temporary Infra Red lighting. I thought it would not be strong enough but as it turned out it was a bit too strong. One Hedgehog visited before my bedtime last night and another about 1.30 a.m..

Changes in picture quality were caused by me fiddling with the software!


On the morning walk I was taken by surprise. As we approached the first field which has just been ploughed and harrowed I spotted a group of nineteen geese gleaning any left over grain. I think they were Canada Geese. Nearly half of them appeared to be juveniles judging by their smaller size. I only had my mobile phone with me and though the camera is good on very close subjects its wide angle lens did no justice to the photo. With only 3 mega pixels it could not be cropped much.
I tried to get a bit closer but as I crept towards the group they slowly wandered away.

Geese in Field

Unfortunately that was the best shot I could get of a sight I had not seen before in the thirty plus years of walking that lane. Often see them overhead but not on the ground.
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