Monday, 21 August 2017

That Bathroom Window + A Holey Egg

The outer glass of the bathroom window has a sort of 'hammered' finish and looks like this when viewed from a distance. The trees, grass and greenhouse can just be made out along with a white plastic chair near the bottom right:


When looked through from a few inches away the curvature on each indentation gives some interesting patterns:


I often see broken egg shells on the ground but this one was perched on top of the garden fence. I think, from the markings and its size (21mm), this is a House Sparrow egg. I wonder what raided the nest and rested it on the fence while it carried out the dirty deed.


Thanks again to Ragged Robin for identifying the Vapourer Moth in my last post.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Bathroom View

Not often I get to see the underneath of a moth.
This one was on the outside of the bathroom window.
The surrounding patterns are formed by the window glass.


I went outside to try to photo a top view but, alas, it flew away.
All I got was a brief glimpse of chestnut brown wings each with a white spot.

Many thanks to Ragged Robin for identifying this as a Vapourer Moth.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Hanging Around

Spotted in the garden:


Not sure whether it was a Common or Southern Hawker dragonfly.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Friday Flutter


In the wars, again. Hurtling after something at the bottom end of the garden she managed to scratch the cornea of her right eye. Another emergency trip to the vet. More medication. Two lots of eye drops twice a day. One to kill any bacteria and the other to help heal the cornea. Plus anti-inflamitory medication to add to her food. Follow up check-up next week to see how things are progressing.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Monday, 31 July 2017

Clouds - Time-lapse

I've been promising myself to get round to making another time-lapse video of the passing clouds. To give a reasonable length of time to take the stills I have to wait until we return from our mid-morning perambulation. In this day and age it would be foolish to leave expensive camera equipment unattended even in the back garden. Problem is, the clouds often evaporate during the morning as the heat from the Sun increases and I don't always have fully charged batteries ready for a lengthy session.

Anyway, today I got round tuit and set up the modified Canon 1200D. The one which sees more IR and UV than normal which is why the green trees aren't.  1000 jpg exposures later I managed, with a struggle, to convert them to a video:

The cameras I usually use tend to run out of battery soon after the 700 exposure mark but this one still had about half left even after a couple of hours taking a shot every ten seconds.  I usually shoot the clouds as they retreat. Don't know about you but I find the time-lapse approaching clouds feels more foreboding, sinister in some way.

YouTube cut off the sound at the end. I had slowly faded it after the final part of the video but YT chopped that bit off. Must remember to put a plain colour filler in next time.

I've been playing a lot with my Amateur Radio gear. Had my first confirmed contact with a station in Brazil which really made me 'well chuffed'. 6039 miles with just 25W of power using a digital mode. Nearly got my first direct contact in the USA last night. My call was received and acknowledged but the conditions deteriorated rapidly so a full two-way contact wasn't made. I've talked to American amateurs in the past but that was by sending my signal up to an amateur satellite and having in re-broadcast.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

A Handy Bug

Or to be exact, a bug on the hand.
When we went walkabout a couple of days ago a little bug decided to hitch a ride:


A closer crop:
Small Bug

A pretty little thing. Looked more colourful in real life, whatever it is.
Haven't got round to trying to identify it as yet.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Spots, Little and Large

Saturday was a day for spotting spots.
First was a Gatekeeper butterfly which obligingly settled on some pond plants for a while:


Both under and top of the wings have two little white spots in a black circle:



It was just the right weather for looking up as well as down.
Moving from the tiny to the ginormous:


As it came into view recently Sunspot AR2665, the largest seen this year, was observed to be growing rapidly. The dark centre is larger than the Earth.

A closer crop:


Gentle reminder folks: looking or pointing a camera or telescope straight at the Sun is a definite NO NO unless you are using a filter designed for that purpose. The Solar filter I use reduces the strength of the Sunlight something like 10,000 times to make it safe to point the camera at the Sun. I wrote about it here.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Nature Diary Date (UK)

In case you hadn't noticed the many BBC promotions for this new nature programme:

BBC 4  Tuesday 11th July  9.00 - 10.30 p.m..
The British Garden: Life and Death on Your Lawn

Chris Packham explored how wildlife copes in suburban gardens through the four seasons.

Monday, 3 July 2017

A Damsel in the Garden

First male Common Blue Damselfly I've seen around the garden pond this year:




To me they always look as though they have some blue insulation tape wrapped round their tail end.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Tiny Green Beastie

Having trimmed back part of an ivy bush I was cleaning the hedge trimmer when I spotted something tiny and green crawling under the handle. It was difficult to photograph there but eventually it found its way down to the lid of the wheelie bin:



As it was no more than 10mm in length I didn't even notice the hairs until I had the macro lens really close. Those, I thought, should make it easy to identify. Wrong. I gave up after looking at well over a hundred green caterpillar photos and not one was a match.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

My Halo

Spent some time setting things up for my amateur radio activities.
First job was to install a new transceiver. An Icom IC-7410 (new to me that is, s/h actually though to look at it you wouldn't think it had ever been used and saved me £500 on a new one) It is taking some experimentation learning to drive it:

DSCN7399 IC 7410

For most of the bands (frequencies) my aerial is a 14.5m length of wire:

DSCN7403 wire aerial

which is made to match the transmitter with an auto tuner: (the black box on the wall)

DSCN7404 auto tuner

At the side of the blog is a list of my latest contacts.
This is taken from the logbook I am keeping on QRZ . com which is one of the ham radio sites where I can look up details about any of the people I talk to:

QRZ logbook

M1BTR is my amateur radio call sign.

What about that halo? Well, I haven't been particularly good or godly.
It is the name given to aerials which are, usually, rectangular.
This is the one I put on the mast today for working one particular band (6m) as my tuner doesn't work on those frequencies;

DSCN7401 6m halo

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Escargot for Breakfast (video)

Song Thrush using a gravelled part of the garden as its anvil to crack open a snail shell:

Sound track:
Psychedelic Crater, Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Monday, 26 June 2017

Tiny Planets

Not a lot of note going on hereabouts at the moment, at least probably not of interest to others. After a break of a couple of years I have set up some of my amateur radio gear again. I spend some time listening to what is going on and have the occasional chat with fellow hams around Europe.

Also I got round to reading, books that is. I used to read every night but haven't been able to for many years as my concentration would keep wandering and I would end up re-reading the same bit over and over.  My first love is SciFi and similar. I have just finished Miss Spelled (Witch Cozy Mystery) by Morgana Best. Just couldn't put it down. Twas a brilliant mixture of magic and murder mystery written in the first person. It was a free book from Kobo eBooks. My iPad is loaded with dozens of books I have downloaded from various sources over the past few years. Now I'm looking forward to actually reading some of them. Next will probably be a set of short stories, either John Wyndham or H G Wells as I have both waiting in the wings.

Pleasant surprise. I often hear a Chiff Chaff when we go walkabout round the back of the church. Today, for the first time, I heard one near the bottom of my lane. Couldn't see it though. As we strolled along the lane it kept moving.

Saw the first garden damsel flies today. One male blue tail and one female though they were at opposite ends of the garden.

I wrote the following over a year ago but never got round to publishing it.

As you are probably aware I love playing with apps which manipulate photographs.
I took this photo to see what the tiny planet apps would make of it:


Standard tiny planet view, from two different apps;



Tunnel view:


Crystal ball view:


Back to tiny planet to give a different aspect on a Sparrowhawk:


Well, I enjoyed seeing what would happen to a couple of bog standard photos anyway.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Zoo Quest in Colour

I wonder how many of you in the UK watched 'Zoo Quest in Colour' on BBC4 recently. The original 1950's David Attenborough programmes were b/w as they were broadcast before the days of colour television and were ground breaking in showing wildlife from many parts of the globe.

Recently the original film stock was found and behold, it was shot on 16mm colour negative film. Quite a bit of that, sometimes alongside the original broadcast b/w, was shown and I must say the quality, sharpness and naturalness of the colour is astounding. If the programme is repeated it is well worth an hour and a half of your life to watch it. Personally I think the colour quality beats much of today's digital offerings. Some fantastic macro shots where the cameraman had to make his own extension tubes as that was a new idea for film making.

The programme is punctuated with interviews with David and Charles Lagus, the cameraman, who explain how they set about the three ventures which made up the Zoo Quest series. A fascinating insight into the making of early wildlife documentaries.

Some info on the BBC site here.  Don't know whether it works for those outside the UK.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Magpie and the Egg

When I made my Penny Poo check in the garden this morning I saw two Wood Pigeon eggs on the ground under the tall Leylandii then promptly forgot about them until:

DSCN7389 Magpie

I have seen a Magpie around the garden these past few mornings and today I watched as this one started one side of the garden and make its slow, cautious way across to one of the eggs.

DSCN7390 Magpie with Wood Pigeon egg

Once the Magpie had flown away I went to see the result:


As is her habit when I do anything around the garden, once I had moved away Penny had to go and investigate to see what was so interesting:

DSCN7394 Penny

I'm not sure whether the eggs were blown from the nest in yesterday's blustery winds or helped on their way by the Magpie. Either way I was pleased as the Wood Pigeon population around the village is increasing rapidly. Every street lamp in the village seems to have a layer of WP guano under it.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Can't Beat Home Grown

For the first time I have been growing some early (Vibrant) strawberries in planters in the greenhouse.
Lovely jubbly:

DSCN7384 Early Strawberries Vibrant

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A Weird Night

With so much wet and windy weather there is not much to report recently.

Last night was one of the weirdest I have had for many a long year.

1) Woken up apparently to the sound of Penny yelping. Got up to find her sleeping peacefully.

2) Later: Weird dream / nightmare. Mother comes in my bedroom. Ignores me and walks past to stare at a fireplace just past the end of the bed. She keeps bending and looks as though she is examining something but I can't see what. I wake up screaming.

3) Still later: Dream father comes in my bedroom. Ignores me and climbs a dusty wooden staircase to a dark doorway. He looks furtive as he checks to see if anyone is watching before slowly opening the door. I wake up sweating.

4) Even later: Wake to the apparent muffled sound of something bouncing off the roof and landing in the gravel in the front garden. Get up again to check. Nothing seen.

I very rarely remember any dreams so two vivid weird ones in one night was disconcerting to say the least. Both my parents passed away many years ago. Needless to say the fireplace, staircase and door do not exist in real life.

To bring things back to normality here is a frog I disturbed a few days ago:

DSCN7378 Common Frog

Monday, 29 May 2017

Tiny Green Bug

When I went to clean out one of Penny's stainless steel bowls a few days ago my attention was caught by a tiny beetle scurrying round it. In the sunlight it was shimmering green or blue, depending how the light caught it:





To say the least it was very difficult for the pocket Nikon to focus as it rarely stayed still and at maybe 6mm long it was a very small target.

The nearest I can get with identification is the Green Dock Beetle Gastrophysa viridula.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A New Garden Youngster

As I was clearing out some of the long grass next to the garden pond I spotted something brown move:

young toad

Usually I disturb frogs but this time it was a pleasant surprise to see it was a young toad:

young toad

This is the first young one I have seen.  My guess would be it is about 2 years old.
I have never spotted any toad spawn in the pond but they could well have joined the frogs.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A Lucky Escape

Once again while cutting the grass I was startled as one of the garden frogs broke cover:

Common Frog

Common Frog

It was a good job this little beauty had jumped out of the way of the mower.

One photo I forgot to use last time.
A view across the Lincolnshire farmland from the footpath round Covenham Reservoir. Difficult to tell from this photo is just how steeply the ground falls away around the edge of the 218 acre reservoir which is man made and part built above ground level. The footpath is about 20 ft above the surrounding countryside:


Monday, 22 May 2017


Following the torrential rain of Saturday, Sunday started beautifully sunny and reasonably warm. I decided it was time for a trip to Covenham Reservoir hoping there would be some sailing action to watch. We arrived getting on for 2 o'clock but the first boat was only just being launched:



We went for a walk along the footpath which circles the reservoir to see what wildlife was about.
Not a lot really, at least not along the area we walked. My joints are no longer up to walking the full 2+ miles it takes to walk right round and Penny was getting quite warm even though it had clouded over.

A few ducks:

and the odd gull:

no Wagtails this time, maybe later in the year.

I kept my eye on the only bit of activity:



As we were about to leave it looked as though there would be more activity later on:


but it was time to go back to the car and let Penny have a well deserved drink of water.

Finally a short part of our journey back.
Leaving the reservoir car park and travelling through the two villages called Covenham. They are adjoining and each has its own CofE church.

Some information about  Covenham can be seen on the GENUKI site.

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