Sunday, April 26, 2015

Automated Bird Photography

Regular visitors may well remember my home brew motion detector which I sometimes use to photograph birds visiting the pond waterfall. This time I set it up to monitor any visitors to the bird bath:

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Essentially the set up consists, in the background, a room type passive IR detector which activates a relay which in turn activates a wireless release for the camera. That is powered by a 12V gel cell.  In the foreground the Canon 350D with Sigma zoom lens set for auto focus mounted on a tripod. The camera being fired by a wireless receiver. Camera was fixed at 1/500 shutter speed with auto exposure.

This time there were many false triggers (over 60 birdless shots binned), maybe moving tree shadows and also me or Penny walking within range, but I managed a few captures. It is a question of things being set up at the right time as the birds tend to arrive at fairly set times of day. Unfortunately I had to cut the session short when it started to rain heavily.

Blackbirds.
Male:
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Is that a growth or a ring on its leg?

Females:
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Starlings:
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Dunnock:
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Great Tit:
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I can see I will be having some automated sessions throughout the Summer. I keep searching for a decent quality, cheapish camera which would allow externally triggered video. I don't think the trail types are as good quality as they make out and anyway  I want something with a zoomable lens.





Saturday, April 25, 2015

Super Poop

Maybe best not read while eating.

Glorious day Friday. Lots of Sun. Temp up to 20C
Got the grass cut nearly a week early as rain is forecast to arrive Sunday and the whole of next week threatens to be cool and wet. Before cutting the grass I spotted a pile of poop:

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By far the largest I had ever seen in the garden. What sort of creature could have produced it? From the size thoughts tend to go towards a mammal of some sort but you would be wrong. Twas a bird. Not a vulture or eagle (which we don't have here). No - believe or or not it came from a Wood Pigeon. The main time you are likely to find this size of pigeon poop is when they are nesting. According to one site I read, pigeons have what they called a built in cesspit where they can store waste products until they find a suitable time and place. So the birds can incubate eggs for long periods without having to leave the nest. The result being the sort of poop I found in my garden.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday at the Flicks - Hungry Hedgehog

Yesterday I got round tuit and zoomed in HoggyCam to give a closer look at any Hedgehogs outside the Hedgehog House:



After I had captured this video the Hedgehog was back less than 10 minutes later to scoff more crushed unsalted peanuts, have a quick drink from the bowl of water, then disappeared into the house to guzzle the peanuts in there. At the same time a mouse kept rushing up and gathering any scraps left behind. When it had eaten most of the available food Hedgie had a long drink and went on its way.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Easy Come, Easy Go

For quite a few years I had a small clump of Snake's Head Fritillary growing in the rockery. Suddenly last year they failed to appear and seem to have vanished without trace. About the same time a white Fritillary appeared out of nowhere in the front garden:

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Now it has been joined by some Snake's Head variety:

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Neither of which have I planted.  It is possible mice have been burrowing under the rockery and eaten the bulbs or they may have been eaten by Scarlet Lily Beetles which I have seen in the garden in the past. As for the new ones in the front garden - I can only think that birds have self sown them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Wolf in the Grass

A wolf spider that is.  In fact dozens if not scores of them. I doesn't matter where I look around the gravel or long grass around the edge of the lawn I can guarantee to see lots of these small brown spiders making for cover:

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To give an idea of size, the wood is about 3/4 inch (20mm) wide.

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This group of spiders are unusual in that they can tolerate others close by unlike most which are solitary. With the vast number of wolf spiders around there must be a wealth of insect life to feed them all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I am Oliver

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I have had a standard version of this for about three years. Can't say it has come to much. In spite of the label saying they are tolerant to -30C new growth on mine had died back each Winter so I've moved it to a spot where it gets the Sun for longer each day and should be a bit better sheltered from any cold winds.

At the moment it has catkins which looked interesting enough for a bit of focus stacking. First I tried taking some hand held photos but they were pretty useless so in the end I set up the 50D with 70-200 zoom lens plus Raynox macro lens with LED ring light on a tripod:

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The results made using Zerene Stacker:

2015-04-20-11.44.34 ZS PMax 2

These two with a bit of added colour emphasis in Serif Affinity Photo Beta:

2015-04-20-11.06.07 ZS PMax 2

2015-04-20-12.37.13 ZS PMax 2

Not fully in focus but still quite nice.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Macro on Monday - Guess What

MoM3

STAR03

No one managed a correct identification for last week's mystery photo but Ragged Robin deserved a virtual Midmarsh Silver Star for the suggestion that it might be a tube for a bee 'hotel'. It was a close photo of some bamboo edging and these short tubes are often used to make artificial insect homes.

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Here's hoping that this week's close shot of an object is not quite so difficult to identify.
Guess What:
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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.
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