Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Lincolnshire - The Yellow County

People born in the county of Lincolnshire were traditionally know as yellow bellies. Usually pronounced yeller bellies. The derivation of this has been lost in the mists of time though there are several theories. See the Wikipedia entry.

Round here the county has assumed a yellow tinge as it is the time when the many fields of oilseed rape are in full flower:




For some this is not a good time as the rape flower can bring on some peoples' hay fever. I don't get affected at this time but later when it has been cut and left to die down and dry. In  damp weather the fungi which grows on the cut stems brings me out in sneezing fits.

When I was manoeuvring to get a better view of the field I spotted this little beetle glinting in the sunlight.


A search brought up a page on the Nature Plus section of the Natural History Museum site where someone had asked about the same beetle. It would appear to be a carabid beetle of the genus Amara. Carabids are ground beetles which destroy many insects pests. One of the good guys.

Everything is progressing to plan in the Great Tit nest box with both parents bringing a constant supply of grubs for the ever hungry babies. I'm still not sure how many babies - definitely seven, maybe eight.. Will try to get some more video tomorrow.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Simon King Wildlife

Many UK viewers will know of Simon King from his TV appearances but did you know he has several streaming video sites?  They are all accessible by clicking on the link below::

From the home page choose the map which can be zoomed and scrolled to find the cameras as they are in different parts of the country.

With luck you will be able to watch otters, foxes, badgers and a kestrel nest. It all depends on the time of day and when the creatures make an appearance. One way of finding out when something happens is to follow Simon King on Twitter. Though I rarely tweet I do find Twitter very useful for this kind of information.

Simon also has a YouTube channel with over 100 videos to watch. You can access it from his home page.

Monday, 28 April 2014

How Many Chicks Now?

With so many tiny birds in the nest it is difficult to count them. I haven't spotted any unhatched eggs so there could be eight chicks though so far I have only managed to count seven.

Both parents are doing a grand job finding the right kind of food for their ever hungry offspring, with mama alternating between brooding and finding food. Notice the way a chick turns bottom up after eating, seen in the third section of the video. This lets the parent collect and dispose of the waste products.

I missed managing to upload anything yesterday as my internet connection suddenly vanished soon after 10 in the morning and I didn't manage to get reconnected until about 9 p.m..  Fortunately I was able to get a slow connection with the iPhone to monitor Zen Internet's fault report page. Apparently it turned out to be a broken fibre cable somewhere in the Manchester area of the country.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Four Hatched, Four to Go

Switched on the nest box monitor to find four of the Great Tit eggs had hatched. Both parents now working hard to feed their offspring. PaPa was having a good long look.

Notice how the adults are very careful to use the edge of the nest so as not to stand on their babies.

Friday, 25 April 2014

A Newt Comes Calling

I was locking up last night when I noticed a young newt by the back door. It was very obliging and waited while I grabbed the Nikon and took a few photos:




This one was not quite fully grown and I assume one of the offspring from the newts which live in the garden pond.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

At a Snail's Pace

After a nice meal at the Wagon and Horses, South Reston, it was a case of an unscheduled visit to the vet. Penny is having trouble with her gums and teeth yet again. After an examination we came away with a lighter wallet and a two week supply of anti-biotic tablets. Next was to get the grass cut as rain was forecast for the evening.

First thing this morning the short wet grass seemed to be covered in slugs and snails but by the time it was light enough for photography the slugs had all found a safe hide-away. Just a few snails were left slowly making their way across the grass.



Photos and video were taken with the Nikon Coolpix S9050

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Bottoms Up

Mrs Great Tit's nest is so deep she has to stand on her head to turn the eggs:

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Dunnocks, Great Tits and Hedgehogs

Three videos today:

I though I had spotted the occasional bird inside the Hedgehog House and suspected it may have been a Dunnock as I have often noticed them investigate underneath my shed. I set the recorder to watch inside the house during daylight and there was the proof:

A Dunnock helping itself to the left over crushed peanuts put in the Hedgehog House for any visiting Hedgehog.

The female Great Tit continues to spend long periods incubating her eggs with the male bringing occasional tasty morsels:

Yesterday evening I was taken by surprise when I noticed two Hedgehogs in the Hedgehog House:

One was only interested in eating. I'm not sure whether the other was feeling amorous or just wanted to get out.

Monday, 21 April 2014


A couple of nights ago there was a nice red Sunset:


What caught my eye was the way much of the cloud looked as though it was moving in different directions. At one stage some seemed to be curling back on itself:

Cirrus uncinus?

In another direction part seemed to be moving in opposite directions.
The streaky parts seemed to be moving West to East but the whole cloud formation was actually moving from North to South:



Typical high altitude Cirrus cloud formations.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Early Bird Gathers the Peanuts

Two mornings running one of the earliest bird visitors has been a Magpie arriving before 6 a.m. to gather any left over peanuts which were put out the previous night for the Hedgehog:

Mrs Great Tit is spending long periods on her nest looking after the eight eggs:


As well as the pair of Stock Doves there are several others which are daily visitors to the garden. For the first time I have a pair of Robins making several visits along with a pair of Greenfinches and a pair of Dunnocks.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Stock Doves

Every morning this week a pair of Stock Doves have visited the garden. They spend most of their time under the seed feeders feeding on any seeds scattered by the smaller birds:

Stock Doves IMG_0771

Unfortunately I wasn't able to video the pair together but did manage a short clip of one:

Even without direct sunlight the metallic like neck feathers can be seen clearly and are an easy way to identify which type of dove it is.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Stretch Spider and a Dandelion Clock

Frost on the ground first thing this morning but fortunately it soon melted when the Sun got up.

There are lots of these Stretch Spiders which build their webs between the vertical leaves of my pond plants. I tried to get in close while this one was in the middle of its web but every time it made a dash for its hiding spot where it stretched out along the underneath of a leaf but still kept one leg attached to the web, just in case there was food about:

Stretch Spider IMG_7721

As children we used to blow on the seed heads of dandelions, the game was to tell the time by how many goes it took to blow all the seeds away:

Dandelion Clock IMG_7754

Both photos are hand held macro shots.

Great Tit;
The egg count has finished at eight and Mama is spending long periods on the nest with Papa bring a tasty grub to feed her every now and then.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Another One

Mrs Great Tit spent some time yesterday sitting on her eggs so I thought she had finished laying but this morning there are now eight. The pair are going to be kept very busy if they all hatch out.

Great Tit Nest 0014

Friday, 11 April 2014

Now We Are Seven

Snapshot this afternoon when Mrs Great Tit left the nest for a while:

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Mr Great Tit Feeds Mrs

Mrs GT still spends a lot of time out of the nest. This seems to be normal behaviour until the last egg is laid. She visits occasionally, usually with a bit more nesting material, and turns the eggs. If she keeps adding to the nest she will be banging her head on the ceiling before long.

Today was the first time with this pair I have seen the male bring some food for the female, just before she settled in for the night.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Hedgehog Sleep Over

Last night the Hedgehog went in the hedgehog house about 10.30 p.m.:

It spent some time snuffling out the food I had put in there. Eventually it settled down and dozed a few times, leaving about 3 o'clock in the morning.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

How Many Eggs?

It is always difficult to spot how many eggs the Great Tit has laid so far. In this video clip at least four can be seen with possibly the faint outline of a fifth:

The Hedgehog visits are erratic at the moment but last night saw a brief visit from one. Although slugs are part of their natural diet it sniffed and then ignored the one creeping across the paving slab. The crushed, unsalted peanuts were obviously tastier:

I have been a bit lax in writing recently. Partly due to abysmal photographic opportunities with thick cloud obscuring the Sun for much of the time. Partly I have been concentrating on a new project. 15 to 20 years ago I used to grow orchids in the bay window of the utility room but the room became a general store and unused for most of the time. The orchids didn't like any other places I tried so I gave up.

I did try building a terrarium for them but at that time lighting was expensive to buy, and run. Recently I have looked in to the possibility of starting again. I found out that some indoor growers use a vivarium as a substitute terrarium. They are reasonably priced so I invested in one. Also modern LED lighting designed for plant growing is much cheaper and uses much less power so I have spent a while gradually gathering all the items I need. So far it is looking good and I will put up some photos in the near future.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Egg Laying Started

Mrs Great Tit has been busy this week. She continued building up the nest and lining it with lots of fur or hair she has found.  A couple of days ago I thought I could see three eggs but it is difficult to tell as they are usually tucked well in the nest but one can be seen at the start of this video clip:

It has been an awful week with most days featuring low cloud and a sea fret making it feel really cold and damp outdoors. Today is the first time the Sun has managed to break through but only for a short while.
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