Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Charge of the Spiked Brigade

I know there have been at least two different Hedgehogs visiting most nights but last night was the first time this year  I have seen two at the same time. Early on there was a bit of a kerfuffal while I was filming but it took place in a shady area where it was too dark for the camera to see. That ended with each hog going its own way. A short while later one returned and was quietly crunching dried mealworms when the second returned.

This time it was the charge of the spiked brigade and the first (Horatio I think) ended up sat in a water bowl:

As is normal only pride was hurt and once again each Hedgehog went its separate way. Once they had departed I put fresh water in the bowl and some more mealworms in the feeder in case one or more returned. It was about 4 a.m. when one dropped by for a quick snack before their dawn bedtime.

If you enjoy seeing and reading about Hedgehogs then I recommend a visit to the blog Twosie the Hedgehog where there is always plenty of hog activity.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

It looks as though I confused many last week. Wilma deserves a silver star for identifying a snail shell. In fact it was a close view of a rams horn snail I found in my garden pond. This one was quite large, at least 30mm across.

Image 11    Ramshorn Snail

As always - my thanks to all who made a stab at the identification.

Here is this week's Guess What:


Once again I found it difficult to think of a suitable clue so you will have to make do with this cryptic to work out what plant it is.

Clue:  Confused race amongst part of the hive.

No prizes, just for fun.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Hedgehogs, Great Tit

Apart from one night when no Hedgehog activity was spotted I normally have at least one tucking in to their favourite food - dried mealworms. There are usually several choices but they always head for the mealworms first.

For a while I have been trying to video some of the local birds while they have been singing but many things conspire against me. Not least being the camera spotting radar all birds have but I did manage to catch a Great Tit yesterday as it soaked up the Sunshine.

There was a bit more frog spawn yesterday morning and I did at least spot the frogs, unfortunately not in daylight when they seem to stay well hidden from view. I have only see them by torch light at night.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A bit of 7 Spot Rumpy Pumpy

7 Spot Ladybirds

The second clip in the video below was taken with the TZ7 on its zoom macro setting, not so clear as the standard zoom + macro setting but definitely gets in close. A bit wobbly as it was hand held.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

First Flutters - Frog Spawn

Yesterday as I was pottering round the garden enjoying the Sunshine a Peacock Butterfly fluttered across in font of me and landed on some gravel. It looked a bit worse for wear but it was another sign that Spring is with us at last.

First Flutter

This afternoon a Large White fluttered across the front garden but it didn't stay for a photo call.

Earlier today I looked at the frogs and frog spawn on Hedgeland Tales and left a comment to say I didn't have any yet in my pond. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I checked my pond an hour or so later and saw two clumps of Frog Spawn which had appeared out of the blue.

Frog Spawn  220311

Not a frog in sight though. I moved the spawn to the nursery pond as there are fish in the main one. A couple of hours later there was more spawn in the main pond but still not a frog in sight.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

A good week for gold stars last week. Four out of four correctly identified the photo of a crocus. Gold stars to Jan, Keith, Glo and Adrian. Well done to all.

Image2 Crocus

Now for the new photo: Guess What.

Image 11

Clue: You won't find this on a sheep.

No prizes - just for fun.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Perigee Moon - Hedgehogs

Last night I was hoping for some more video of the Moon as it was at its closest distance to the Earth for many years. To start with there were small dark clouds drifting across the Moon which would have been just what I wanted for video but there were telephone wires in the way. As luck would have it, by the time the Moon rose higher in the sky the clouds cleared so I took the DSLR outside for some still shots.

Super Moon 1

I tried many settings on the camera but the one thing I forgot was to set a low ISO so there are some artefacts on the picture. Also it is difficult to get great detail on the full Moon as there is little in the way of shadow on its surface.

Two Hedgehogs visited at various times last night. H, the one with one eye, was first. I think I will have to call it Horatio. Later another visited and ended up scurrying away after upsetting the water dish. (Seen at the end of the video) As that happened before I went to bed I was able to replenish the water supply which was just as well as both appeared again in the middle of the night.

Now I know why the water dish was empty a couple of mornings ago!
Snapshot from the video:
Clumsy Hedgehog

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Super Moon - Tonight

Tonight, weather permitting, you can see the largest full Moon seen for 18 years as it will be at its closest to the Earth since 1992. This short video was shot last night as the sky was clear.

Super Moon also known as Perigee Moon.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Nest Box, Hedgehog, Chaffinch

As ever there is plenty of tooing and froing from the Great Tits. No signs of nest building as yet but at least they are still both interested. The box is still used as a roost every night by one of the birds. A couple of times each day they will both briefly enter the box though much of the time one will wait outside on the fence in the background. That is also the time one of the birds does a bit of housekeeping, removing droppings and discarded feathers.

Most nights at least one, and sometimes two, Hedgehogs visit. Sometimes one will arrive soon after it gets dark but most visits are between 1 and 5 in the mornings.

There are a lot of Chaffinches visiting the feeders and searching for food on the lawn. This was by way of another practice in getting used to panning with the weight of the XL2 which is a hefty camera but at least I have now worked out the balance point for mounting it on the tripod.

Hope you enjoyed the short  video clips. Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you. I shall spend the day contemplating being another year closer to my seventh decade.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A Different Hedgehog?

When I looked through the captured video from last night I was surprised to see what appears to be a different hedgehog visiting. H had been missing for three nights but had arrived again the previous night. This one has reflections from both eyes where only one of H's eyes shows under the IR lighting.

The swirling changes in illumination are caused by fog drifting through the IR amd LED lighting.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

How time seems to fly. Here we are at the beginning of another week. Last week I showed part of a leaf. It was one taken from my large Buddleia Globosa plant - the one which produces an abundance of bright yellow / orange ball shaped flowers.

P1020222col  Buddleia globosa  Buddleia globosa

Congratulations and virtual gold starts go to Jan and Glo who correctly identified it as being from a Buddleia bush.

The new puzzle picture for this week is


which I suspect should be fairly easy but here is a clue anyway:
See us following a small crocodile.

No prizes, just for fun.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Yellow Flowers in Lincolnshire Yellowbelly County

On our walkabout yesterday I was struck by how many of the early flowers were yellow.


As for why folk from Lincolnshire are called yellowbellies, that seems to have been lost in time. There are several possible derivations listed on Wikipedia HERE.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Image Cropping with a Difference

The story starts with a visit to our alternative surgery to see the doctor I wanted. The route took me past a  privately owned lake. I have always regretted not visiting it when there was a tea shop and the lake was open to the public. On my outward journey I spotted two large white birds sat on the island in the middle of the lake. To me they looked like egrets but I couldn't stop to investigate.

On the return journey I was hoping they would still be there as I had the TZ7 with me. Unfortunately their camera spotting radar was in full working order and as soon as I had parked the car on the verge a short distance away they both took flight.

I decide to get as close as I could to the lake but on the only section which could be seen from the roadside only three ducks could be seen over the far side. I took a photo and finished the drive home.

Even at full zoom this is all that could be captured:

Ducks Image 1

This is where an idea arose for an experiment. A short while ago I found out about a program called 'Image Resize Guide' which has the facility to mark objects in a photo which are not to be reduced when the overall photo is. The program can be run as a stand alone or as a plugin. The paid for version can selectively remove objects as well as keeping the size of chosen objects. The free version doesn't have the remove ability.

I loaded the ducks photo, marked the ducks for keeping as they were and then gradually set the program to reduce the rest of the picture. I found it seems to work better if each direction (horizontal and vertical) are processed seperately. It works best where there is not too much detail round the marked subjects. This was the result of a couple of experiments:

Ducks Image 2

It is fascinating to watch as it picks random areas to remove. The result seems to lose clarity apart from the objects marked for keeping which would make sense as a lot of detail needs to be removed in the shrinking process. Also the program seems to pick areas with least detail to reduce more often so distortion sets in but at least the subject of the photo stands out better while keeping the essence of the complete scene. Who says the camera never lies lol.

One nice thing is that the program has several 'how to' videos to help you get started.

If you are interested in the program have a look HERE. It is a fascinating concept.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Sparrowhawk, Sunlit Starlings, Dunnock, Finches

I was just setting up a different lens combination when I spotted a Sparrowhawk sat just past the end of my garden having a good look round.

Starlings can look so dull and uninteresting until the sunlight catches them to show how their feathers can be multi coloured.

One or two Dunnocks are regular visitors to the Birdy Bistro. Sometimes they visit the bird table but more often they are searching in the shadows. This was the first time I used a new tripod with a fluid head so it was in the way of being a test shoot.

Finally there is always fun and games when Greenfinches and Chaffinches want to use the same feeder.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


We must be heading towards the high period of Sunspot activity which peaks approximately every 11 years. A caronal mass ejection from the Sun hit the Earth's magnetic field this morning. As far as I can gather it was a glancing blow so any resulting Aurora will only be seen from high latitudes.

There are two sites I have found which have live cameras where you can check for any Aurora activity.

The first is at the Canadian Space Agency site AuroraMAX where the picture is updated every 10 seconds. Wait for the page to load and then click on connect,

The second is in Alaska - The Aurora Live - run by the International Arctic Environment Research Project Group, National Institute of  Information and Communications Technology, Tokyo. There the picture is renewed about every five minutes.

Of course live pictures can be seen only at times when the sky is dark in those areas.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

House Sparrow

Monday was a cool but brilliantly sunny day. Several times when I went out of the back door there was a House Sparrow perched on the end of the gutter just above my head. He was chirping away so busily he hardly took any notice as I help up the TZ7 to take a few shots. The camera must have been less than four feet away while he stood out beautifully against a clear blue sky. I took a lot of shots - you wouldn't believe how many times he turned his head away just as I pressed the shutter!

House Sparrow

He even allowed me to take a piece of video. A bit wobbly as I was holding the camera above my head to get as close as he would allow.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

New Growth

The Sun actually stayed in view all day yesterday which gave a chance to have another look round the garden to see what was showing signs of life and what had succumbed to the harsh Winter. Quite a number of plants were showing signs of new growth.

Buds March 2011

Japanese Tree Peony  - background

Raspberry canes -  top left
Blackcurrant bush - middle left
Prunus cerasifera - bottom left

Pear tree - top right
Rose - middle right
Japanese Acer - bottom right.

Amongst the casualties it looks as though I have lost three out of the four lavender bushes which is a shame as they attract so many bees and butterflies in the Summer.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Last week it was certainly a photo of a worm and Glo deserves the gold star for suggesting a red worm. They are also known as tiger worms because of the coloured banding.  Eisenia Fetida are used in wormeries for turning kitchen waste into a rich compost and the specimen I photographed came from my wormery. I was surprised that they had survived the winter. When I looked near the beginning of the year I couldn't see any but there are now scores of them enjoying what they like most - rotting vegetable matter.

P1020171 Tiger Worm

On to this week's puzzle picture: Guess What.


Clue: not the part to attract butterflies and bees.

No prizes - just for fun.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Brief Encounter

Last night H the hedgehog was feeding as we were getting ready for bed. When I let Bobby out he had a quick look at H and lost interest when the Hedgehog didn't move.

H scampered off as soon as he felt it was safe to move but soon came back - several times. As I checked the night's redcording I was amused to see H had moved the food dish a couple of times to make sure he wasn't missing any tasty nibbles.

It has been another damp, cloudy day here with no sight of the Sun. I guess it's part of the ConDems cut backs.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Goldfinches, Greenfinches

There have been plenty of Chaffinches here all Winter but other finches have been much more scarce this year. Usually there has been the occasional single Goldfinch visiting and even less often there has been a couple so it was very pleasing to see a little group of five arrive one day.

Even scarcer this year has been the sighting of Greenfinches and it was quite a surprise to spot this pair quietly digging in to some free food.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Hungry Hedgehog

H continues to visit the feeding area several times every night. This from one of last night's captures from the video camera:

At the moment s/he has all the food to itself as I haven't seen any others about. The dish has kibbled peanut, crushed unsalted peanuts and dried raisins. Also available is a dish of water.

The Great Tit continues to use the nest box as a roost every night and most days I spot both birds making a brief visit during daylight hours.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Reading Test

Too dull and dismal for photography again today so I though I would pass on the following which a friend sent to me.

Only great minds can read this
This is weird, but interesting!

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to rsceearh at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! 

I found no difficulty reading it but I put that down to years of deciphering what 5 to 11 yr olds assume to be correct English spelling. lol. It did give my spell checker apoplexy though.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt - February

Here are my twelve photos for the February Scavenger Hunt.
All taken in my village.
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge any photo.

Looking left to right from the top:

A Bridge  (footbridge over a ditch)
A Round Clock (my garden clock)
A Musical Instrument (church organ)
Something with stripes (bar code)
Something Heart Shaped (graffiti)
A Big Lorry / Truck (filmed trying to use my driveway to turn)
Something Red (artificial roses)
A Park Bench
A Postbox
Newspaper Headline
Eyes (Bobby nodding off)
My Shoes (fitted with ice spikes)

Original idea from POSTCARDS FROM THE P.P. where each month a new list of twelve things to find are listed.
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