Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Bobby Says Hello

to a Hedgehog. (The meeting has been slowed down as it was so short.)

Hedgehogs have been arriving singly for a few nights now so I assume the mating was successful at some stage last week.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Congratulations and virtual gold stars go to Adrian, Jan and Keith who identified the close shot of a raspberry. The one fruit which has done astonishingly well in my garden this year. Unfortunately the same can't be said for my blackcurrants which, though large, are hard and crunchy this year.

Red Image 2    Raspberries

On to this week's puzzle picture.

Guess what:

 Clue:  "Avez-vous un cuppa?" 

No prizes, just for fun.

Garden Wildlife Update

The juvenile Moorhen continues to visit early mornings, breakfasts on seeds scattered from the feeders, has a swim in the pond and then disappears for the rest of the day. Hopefully I managed to take some video of it performing a tightrope walking act on the cables to my shed. Quite a feat with oversized feet.

The Blue-tailed Damselfly season has started in the garden pond. I spotted three males and one couple yesterday. This short heat wave seems to have brought them out.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Snuffling Hedgehogs, Juvenile Moorhen

Hedgehog mating is a very long winded process. It takes days of snuffling for hours on end each evening for the male to persuade the female to lower her spines so he can mount her. This is very short clip from the first night taken with the Lumix TZ7. The only lighting was a hand held LED torch. The original video for this episode and the next were very dark so I had to do a lot of processing in the video software.

On the second night I didn't have the torch as Bobby and I watched for about 20 minutes. The hedgehogs were under a set of four LED lamps. We were about two metres away and the Hedgehogs took no notice of us at all.

They were much later arriving on the third night so this was captured by the video camera. The result has been speeded up and you can see how the male spends all his time going round in large circles and returning to the female while she just carries on eating. No sound this time. You will see that at one stage it is a case of two is company, three is a crowd.

The same activity was still going on last night, the fourth, even in the pouring rain.

Yesterday's visit by a juvenile Moorhen was more than a bit of a surprise. I had had an adult visit a year or so ago but that didn't stay very long. This youngster is different. It spent a long time investigating every part of the pond, even walking up and down the little waterfall. It was another surprise to see that it is still here this morning joining the other birds at the Birdy Bistro. I did manage to take some video yesterday as can be seen here.

 Shirl, Shirl's Gardenwatch, asked me about the LED torch. Here it is next to a pound coin for size comparison. Instead of one bulb it has about thirty LEDs, works on three AAA batteries and gives quite a bright light, to the human eyes anyway. Its main help at night is allowing the TZ7 to focus faster and more accurately in dim light. It doesn't help much with video but was better than nothing

LED Torch

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you - no knowing what will turn up.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Another Juvenile in the Garden - Moorhen

I don't know where they are all coming from but it is getting more interesting in my garden by the day. This afternoon it was what I am pretty sure is a juvenile Moorhen. According to my reference books it should be as it is lacking the bright red to the top of the beak.

At first it was wandering round the bottom end of the garden.

Juvenile Moorhen

Then on two occasions I spotted it going for a swim in my garden pond:

Juvenile Moorhen in my Garden Pond

I tried taking the video recorder outside but it decided to go and hide. I don't know what Bobby is going to make of it when he goes outside but I guess he will scare it away.

Juveniles - Great Spotted Woodpecker and House Sparrow

A few days ago when I looked at John's site (Hedgeland Tales) and read about the Great Spotted Woodpecker I left a comment that I had only seen one in my garden, at least a year ago and only a quick glimpse. Well - an hour or so later you could have knocked me down with a feather. From my kitchen window I can see the top of a telephone pole which is just past the end of my garden. There are foot rests near the top for workmen to rest on and I saw a bird fly to one of those. Most birds will land on the metal bracket but this bird landed on the wooden pole. Gradually it made its way to the top and stayed long enough for me to get my second look at a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Juvenile Great spotted Woodpecker 2

Juvenile Great spotted Woodpecker 1

Update: My thanks to Adrian and Jan for pointing out that this was a female not a juvenile. I must learn to turn the music volume down when trying to identify things, maybe I'll concentrate then!

From time to time some of the seed scattered from the feeders self sets like this corn. Some I let grow to see if any birds will eat the seeds. This morning it was an adventurous juvenile House Sparrow which decided to investigate it.

Juvenile House Sparrow 1

Juvenile House Sparrow 2

You can make out the 'baby' yellow at the back of the beak, especially in the first photo.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Another Night of Snuffling

Once again at bedtime the two Hedgehogs were on the feeding area and once again they took no notice of Bobby or myself. As last night Mrs. H was totally engrossed in scoffing the dried mealworms while Mr H kept up the 'walk round in circles and nose touching' routine.

One of the rare occasions where you can see how long a Hedgehog's legs are.
Snuffling Hedgehogs 3

I managed to take several photos and some video clips.  Not the easiest of things one handed as I was holding on to Bobby's collar with the other. He wouldn't attack but was desperate for a closer look at his spiky friends.

Snuffling Hedgehogs 5
At one stage three was a crowd when another Hedgehog appeared. As soon as Mr H noticed the intruder was sent on his way with lots of loud squeals - from which I'm not exactly sure as they were out of sight at that moment. Once the intruder had been sent back under the fence to next door's garden Mr H went back to the serious business of courting his chosen mate. Not that she seemed the slightest interested though there was no aggression from either of them.

Snuffling Hedgehogs 4

We spent about 20 minutes watching from about 2 metres away. In the end Mr H hurried off and was followed by Mrs H who seemed to go chasing after him.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Snuffling Hedgehogs

About 10 p.m. last night I noticed another Hedgehog encounter where one charges at the other and pushes it away from the feed dish. They disappeared from the view of the camera so I didn't think any more about it. When I let Bobby out at bedtime he, as usual, went straight to the feeding area to check for his spiky friends. Nothing at the dish but he heard two hedgehogs snuffling away in the shadows nearby.

I had my LED torch so I could see them touching noses as they snuffled away. As I nipped in to fetch the Lumix I expected they would be long gone by the time I got back but this time my luck was in. They were so engrossed in this part of their mating ritual they took no notice of me, the torch light or the camera flashing.

Snuffling Hedgehogs 1

Snuffling Hedgehogs 2

I also managed to take a short piece of video with the TZ7, just with the illumination of the torch, so that should be ready for Friday at the Flicks.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Congratulations to Jan, Glo and Wilma for gaining the virtual gold stars last Monday. Yes, it was a close view of one of the ball shaped flowers on my Buddleia Globosa bush. It should be attracting many butterflies but they are a scarcity this year so far.

yellow 2    Buddleia Globosa

Buddleia Globosa

 Just on the right of the photo above is the end of my fruit cage which has a connection with this week's mystery photo.

Guess what:
Red Image 2

 No prizes for a correct identification - just for fun.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Hedgehogs

If the Hedgehog food dish is empty then it is always worth checking underneath in case anything fell through the mesh. Not the easiest thing to do when your spikes get caught in the holes.

I have seen Hedgehogs charge at each other on many occasions but this one seems to have succumbed to food rage when it caught another eating what it thought was its private stash of free food. A real Hedgehog temper tantrum as can be seen in the first half of the clip. Both ended up with a share of the food and each went its separate way in the end. The only injury seems to have been to pride.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Young Hedgehog

This young Hedgehog usually arrives before dark sets in and helps itself to most of the dried mealworms in the dish. One night when I noticed it was there I went out with the camera and as long as I kept my distance it carried on eating, though with one eye on me. The flash from the camera did not bother it at all. Sticking to its nose are bits from the crushed unsalted peanuts.

Young Hedgehog 1

Younh Hedgehog 2

There are at least two regulars and there may be as many as four. It is hard to tell. If you think of Hedgehogs as timid little creatures then you are in for a shock when you see Friday's video. I have seen Hedgehogs charge each other in the past but what was caught on camera was a  Hedgie Tantrum and really took me, and the opponent I think, by surprise.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Total Lunar Eclipse on June 15th

For sky watchers and Lunar photographers there will be a total Lunar eclipse on 15th June. Unfortunately the ony continent which will not be able to see it is North America but it will be visible from the rest of the world. This will be the longest Lunar eclipse for 11 years and will last 100 minutes with the Moon in the shadow of the Earth.

Further information and timing can be found by clicking on the following:


All we need is a clear sky!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Congratulations and virtual gold stars to Glo, Wilma and Matron who recognised the close shot of a cone. I am not sure of the variety. I do know the tree was bought by previous owners of the property next door as a Christmas Tree many years ago. At the end of the festive season it was planted in the garden.

P1020559    Cones

How will you get on with this one I wonder.
Guess what:
yellow 2

Clue: Come to the butterfly ball.

Great Tit Update.
Glancing out of the kitchen window early this morning I was rewarded with a short glimpse of an adult Great Tit being followed by three youngsters. They are already strong accomplished fliers. I wonder if the fourth youngster was with the other adult. I hope so.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Friday at the Flicks -- STOP PRESS - All Fledged

I could see how restless a couple of the Great Tit babies were getting this morning so I thought today might be the day when they flew the nest. They didn't pick a great day what with the rain and thunder here but they all made it to the wide, wild world.  I didn't notice until it was too late that the second clip in the video was recorded at a fast rate. I slowed it down but it became a bit on the jerky side.

As it was raining I only managed to get a few shots of number three at the entrance hole. I did see number two fly but it was too fast for me.

Baby Great Tit 1   Baby Great Tit 2

I hope to see them around the garden in the near future.

Friday at the Flicks - Great Tit Babies, Young Hedgehog, Baby Blue Tit

The baby Great Tits have continued to grow rapidly and it gets very crowded in the nest box, especially when both parents arrive at the same time.The youngsters keep preening and exercising their wings and every now and then one will have a look out of the entrance hole. You can just see a head appear at the entrance after a bit of wing flapping. They should start to fledge in the near future.

An early visitor each night is a young Hedgehog. Too big to be from this year's brood so I would imaging it was born last year. It doesn't matter how well I mix up the dried mealworms, crushed unsalted peanuts and peanut nibbles, the mealworms always disappear first.

I don't know whether a local pair of Blue Tits only raised one baby or only one survived but this one was being fed by both parents. I watched for a while and didn't spot any other babies at the time. It may look as though I speeded up the film but the parent really was that fast when trying to break up a sunflower heart so it would be small enough for a young beak to manage.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife wherever you are.

While I am in a video mood - today's Giveaway Of The Day is what looks like a great program for adding watermarks to video clips. It is only available, fully working and free of charge, today from the GOTD site. If you see Video Watermark Pro shown at the bottom right of this page just click on it to go to the GOTD site.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Daytime Meteor Shower.

Today and tomorrow is the peak activity from the Arietid meteor shower. Most of them arrive during daylight hours but if you are an early bird some can be seen about 45 minutes before sunrise. This shower can be seen in both hemispheres and details can be found on the spaceweather site HERE.

During the day you can listen to them on the spaceweather radio site HERE. There is an audio feed from  the USAF radar in Texas. You will hear a lot of white noise with the occasional ping as the radar signal is reflected back from a meteor entering the atmosphere.

Great Tit Babies.

Recently Ma GT has had difficulties sleeping in the nest with four fidgety babies and usually ended up balanced on the rim of the nest. Last night she must have slept elsewhere as the babies were left alone. I was slightly worried in case Ma had had an accident and was relieved to see her return this morning to tidy up the nest and feed the youngsters.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Last week's puzzle picture appears to have been more difficult than I anticipated. There were a couple of winners of the virtual gold stars. Well done Wilma. Yes it was a zip fastener. A good job you didn't change your mind completely Jan as your first thought was correct. The bit in the corner was part of the bit you pull to zip / unzip. The actual item was a case which held an LED torch.

rectangle_New-Out99994    P1010629

Hopefully this weeks macro will be easier:
Guess What:

Clue: No ice cream in this one.

No Prizes. Just for fun.

Great Tit Nest Update.
It cannot be long now before the babies leave the nest. It is certainly getting crowded in there and it is probably a good job the other two eggs didn't hatch.

Still from the video camera:
Four Baby Great Tits

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Wing Exercises, Stock Dove, Making Hay While the Sun Shines

Now the Great Tit chicks are fifteen days old they are often seen preening their wing feathers and having a good flap in the nest as they prepare for the day when they leave the security of the nest box.

Regular visitors to the garden are several Stock Doves, easily recognised by the iridescent neck feathers which glint in the sunlight as though they were made of coloured foil.

Stock Dove 3

Stock Dove 2

Stock Dove 1

During our afternoon stroll round the village I noticed that one field had been harvested and the remaining cut stalks were being made into those enormous round bales which can be seen stored in many fields in the county. This was the first time I had watched the machinery used to make the bales. The video is a bit noisy with the breezy conditions and a bit wobbly as the TZ7 was hand held on full zoom with the action taking place on the far side of the field.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Friday at the Flicks - Feeding Time for Starlings and Great Tits

I thought that the brat pack (Adult and Juvenile Starlings) had largely moved on but they were back again yesterday. The two inch mesh round the bird table is just large enough for Starlings to get inside. Even though some of the youngsters can pick up their own food they still expect to be fed by the parent.

I have tried a few times to film the parent Great Tits arriving at the nest box. The female usually flies straight to the entrance but the male normally stops a couple of times which gave me a chance to capture a bit of video. The outside sections of the video are at half speed as things happen so fast.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you. Writing about observing wildlife reminds me that for UK residents there is an RSPB "Make Your Nature Count" week starting tomorrow.

As with the Big Garden Birdwatch the RSPB is requesting that we spend one hour any time in the next week counting the birds which land in our gardens. They also want to know about other wild creatures which visit our gardens, not the numbers of them, just the fact that they visit. Full details can be found HERE on the RSPB site.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Baby Great Tits now 12 Days Old

Just a quick snapshot of the nest. The chicks now have their eyes open and are getting quite plump.

Great Tit Chicks 12 Days Old

They flex their wings from time to time and use them to lift themselves higher when food arrives. All four chicks seem to be progressing well.
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