Monday, 31 August 2015

Monday Mystery - Guess What



My congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star go to Glo and Adrian who recognised the chestnut seed case, from a local Horse Chestnut tree which shed a whole bunch of them in recent strong winds.

 DSCN5195    DSCN5191

This week it is  small part of my latest 'toy'
Ignore the dark reflection of the camera.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.

No prizes but possibly a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

A Surprise Visit

Not long ago I was bemoaning the lack of visits by Long Tailed Tits so it was a really pleasant surprise when a small group suddenly appeared at the feeders. For once the camera was already set up:



 I think this is the first time I have seen them mix with other birds and the Blue Tits seemed to keep staring at them as if they couldn't work out what these Humpty Dumpties with long tails were:


Even the House Sparrow seemed to be saying, 'Who invited you to tea?":


As usual they only stayed a short while before moving on as a group.


I hope they don't leave it so long before their next visit.

Pony and Trap with Trailer

On our afternoon walk round the block I spotted a pony and trap in the distance:


As they grew nearer I could see it had an added trailer:



The driver stopped opposite us and we had a short chat.
The trap is original and he had made the trailer. It was its first outing:



The girls and Jack Russell looked really happy, thoroughly enjoying their trip out to the corner shop for ice creams:


It was good to see that passing drivers were being considerate and moving slowly giving the pony a wide berth. Also the pony was obviously used to traffic.

I was invited to have a ride. An offer I would have taken up if Penny had been at home but I wasn't sure how she would react being so close to a horse, or the Jack Russell.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Friday at the Flicks - Blue & Great Tits + Clouds


Blue and Great Tits are often seen eating from the bottom of the peanut feeders:

Another Toshiba X-Sports timelapse of clouds:

Toshiba Camileo X-Sports, 1 photo every 5 seconds. Total 1056 photos before the battery ran out. Processed as a video using free Mac app Zeitraffer then in the free version of Video Pad.   Soundtrack - royalty free music 'All Fall Down' from Purple Planet.

Have a great weekend observing all aspects of nature around you.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Coal Tit

I had removed the mixed seed feeder once there was enough natural food for the birds. Also it prevented the hoards of Starlings being able to scatter the seed all over the place. I put it back up on Tuesday and it wasn't long before it was in use. One of the first to arrive was a Coal Tit, the smallest of the tit family:



As it was visiting very frequently I imagine it was taking sunflower hearts to hide for later in the year. I have often watched them taking sunflower seeds and hiding them in cracks in old tree stumps or in the bark of trees.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Lonely Flutter

On our early morning perambulation on Saturday I spotted this Brimstone butterfly resting in the middle of the footpath. I guess it was warming up in the rays of the rising Sun and stayed in place while I got the iPhone as close as I could:

Brimstone IMG_1054

I only see those occasionally round here so it was an opportunity not to be missed.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Not Many to the Pension

Just as we reached the point where we cross the main village street a rather swish sporty car pulled up. We crossed over and I signalled to the driver that I would like to photograph it to which I received a thumbs up:



An immaculate Lotus exige. The range of models starts at £54,500 so I don't think my pension will stretch to owning many of those. In fact it probably wouldn't even stretch to insuring one. Top speed around 170mph, 0-60 in 3.8seconds. A bit on the speedy side for my reaction times these days.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Monday Mystery - Guess What



A full house last week. Congratulations and virtual Midmarsh Gold Stars to Adrian, Bonnie, Wilma, Roy, The Weaver of Grass and Ragged Robin who all worked out that last week's mystery photo was a close view of a bunch (hand) of bananas:

DSCN5145    DSCN5148

On to the new mystery photo
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.
No prizes. Just for fun and possibly a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Furious Activity High and Low

With the sky looking pretty clear at times yesterday afternoon I decided to take a few shots of the Sun as I knew there should be a batch of active Sunspots visible:

Sunspots 220815 IMG_3127

A reminder that you should never look directly at or try to photograph the Sun unless you use a solar filter designed for that purpose.

We had been 'promised' electrical storms would follow the recent high temperatures, which peaked here at 25C, and the forecasters were not wrong. This is a short video screen grab from the real time lightning maps at

Quite an active evening with up to 160 strikes per minute over the country. I have the map set up to show strikes up to one hour old. Newest are yellow and as time passes the colour darkens.

Each new lightning strike (cloud to cloud or cloud to ground) shows as a red circle, the white circles show the movement of the sound wave (thunder). The site covers many parts of the world not just the UK. I was relieved and disappointed that the storms were nowhere near me.

Relieved as Penny really hates the thunder and I'm not over keen on close lightning strikes. Disappointed as there was no photo opportunity and I have a lightning detector outside which hasn't had a chance to prove it works as yet. It can detect lightning from about 25 miles away and an indoor display shows the number of strikes and whether the storm is moving closer, overhead, or moving away. (Not that I need any electronics to tell me an electrical storm is overhead!)

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Harrowing Time

Yesterday I decided we would have a look at the field which was being combined a short while ago. I had expected to see it ploughed so was quite surprised to see that the straw had all been removed but the stubble was still showing:


A closer look saw there was activity on the far side of the field.
A disc harrow with a hazy view of the Lincolnshire Wolds in the background:




Notice the road wheels above the harrow. Once the whole thing is rotated 180 degrees they enable it to be driven on roads without damaging the surface. Also the discs can usually be raised to a vertical position to take up less width on our narrow country lanes.

A short bit of iffy video hand held in one hand at full zoom:

A bit of nonsense playing with a cinemagraph type program.
Resolution is poor as the program doesn't save unless I pay about £100 so I took a GIF screen grab. If in b/w it would look like something from a silent comedy movie.

Bouncy Tractor photo Bouncy Tractor.gif

I don't remember seeing harrowing before ploughing, assuming it will be ploughed soon.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Starlight Board Camera

I decided to invest in a low light board video camera to see how much it could see at night;


It works on 12V and has a 1/2 inch CMOS sensor producing 800TVL (TV lines) and comes with two 3.5mm wide angle lenses. One with IR filter and one without. I used the one without and a small amount of digital zoom. Stated sensitivity is 0.00008 LUX. Size is near 1.5 inch (38mm) square.

Fading daylight:
Snapshot Cal 150807_0000

Snapshot Cal 150807_0007

For comparison this is what the Nikon could see about the same time:
Screenshot 2015-08-08

Set it up looking through the kitchen window. Connected to the MacBook via a EzCap video capture device and saved some video every so often. With such a wide angle lens the bats look very small but the camera saw more activity than I did with the naked eye. Easier to see them with the video at full screen. As can be seen by the final clip it gets very noisy when the light level get too low.

I may be able to improve things. The camera comes with another board which has five push buttons. Once plugged in the main board it gives access to a menu to control video gain, contrast, etc..  There are various ghostly apparitions reflected in the window - me and an automatic light which detects movement in the kitchen.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Tuesday Was A Complete Washout

Yesterday it rained, and it rained, and it ........  Never really heavy, sometimes so fine it couldn't be seen but still soaked clothes in a short time. (Time scale on the graphs is from midnight to midnight):

Rain 180805

The people who have installed solar panels around the village won't have been getting a great deal of use from them either. A Sunny day will give around 1000 watts per square metre:

Sun 180805

Still overcast this morning but hopefully we will get back to blue skies later in the day.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Two Way Clouds - Timelapse Video

Monday morning started with some interesting cirrus cloud formations:


Later on I set the Toshiba on my sturdy tripod in the back garden:


A bit of overkill with such a tiny camera on that tripod!

As before I set the Toshiba to take one picture every 5 seconds until the battery ran flat. This time it took 1126 photos which were downloaded to the MacBook, processed as a video in the free Mac app Zeitraffer and then cropped and title added in iMovie.

Cirrus moving northwards and Cumulus moving southwards:

I always find it fascinating the way the winds at different levels can blow in different directions. That can be seen clearly in this video. There is some flicker as the exposure is automatic and can change from photo to photo.

Soundtrack is royalty free music 'Slow Dissolve' from Purple Planet.

The Met Office have a useful pdf file for identifying cloud types HERE.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Monday Mystery - Guess What



Congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star go to Adrian for recognising the bird seed feeder from last week:

DSCN5091    DSCN5093

Maybe this week's close view of an everyday object will be easier to recognise.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.
No prizes, just for fun and maybe a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

X-Sports Timelapse Clouds

It's ages since I last used the Toshiba Camileo X-Sports camera so I though it was time to blow the cobwebs off it and grab a bit more timelapse. I wanted to see how long a battery would last. I made sure one was fully charged. The camera was set to take a shot every five seconds and placed on a mini tripod in my bedroom window. Bits of the window frame and building show as the Toshiba has a very wide angle lens.

The disadvantage of shooting through glass is reflections which show on the brighter sections but as I knew I would be out for part of the time it was running I didn't want to set it up outdoors.

The battery lasted about 1.5 hours with those settings. In that time it took 989 photos.
The camera saves each main photo but also a thumbnail for each one. I found this a problem last time as I only wanted the full size ones for processing as a video. How to get rid of the thumbnails? It was a while before it dawned on me to sort them according to size. Then it was easy to see which were the small files and delete them.

The stills were processed as a video using the free Mac app Zeitraffer (German for timelapse). It just makes either an mp4 or mov video. That was then processed in iMovie to crop to 16:9 and tweak exposure as the originals were too dark.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Itsy Bitsy Spiders

This one, about 10mm total size, was spotted on the side of a water butt as I filled my watering can. Four focus stacked photos:

2015-08-15-13.34.39 ZS PMaxC

The next was on a plant at the edge of the garden pond busily wrapping up its supper. A bit smaller than the other one. As it was constantly moving these are individual shots.

In the first shot you can see the silk from its spinnerets and the way the web is being twisted as it rotates its meal, especially if you enlarge the photo:



Who are you looking at?

Itsy-Bitsy Spider

The itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain
And the itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again
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