Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Creepy-crawlies


Comma

Brimstone (mostly busy flying up and down at speed)


Watching ladybirds climbing up and down leaves is always amusing

Celandine

Blackthorn blossom

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Decomposition

This turned up on my doorstep last week. No, it's not a Dalek missing a few bits, it's a compost bin - an ecoMax 220ltr, to be precise.

It came from the Recycle Now website. Enter your postcode and they'll tell you which special discounts you're entitled to (different councils offer different products, but £8 is the going rate for a basic bin).

Now we just have to produce lots of veg peelings, teabags, grass clippings (no shortage of those, I tell you) and paper/cardboard scraps to keep it well fed.

Veg update

I'm sure you're all gagging to know what's happening to my vegetables. A brief summary...
  • Sweet peppers. Approximately six small seedlings (I haven't counted them recently) doing well
  • Coriander. Ditto.
  • Broccoli. Lots of seedlings doing OK. Some of their first leaves have gone a bit funny, but the second ones seem fine so far.
  • Chives. Seem fine to me. Plenty germinated.
  • Basil. Lots of little seedlings - they need moving into something bigger now as they're a bit crowded in their small pots.
  • Two new additions - Jalapeno and hot Thai chilli peppers. The Jalapenos have done better in the germination stakes than the Thais so far, but it's early days.
The 'vegetable patch' is still a shambles, as removing turf has proved TOO HARD so far! Will it ever be suitable for planting things in? Pass the rotivator...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mow, mow, mow your lawn

Having a biggish garden has brought new pleasures to my life. The main one has been the joy of lawn-mowing.

It might be a bit retro these days, but I have (thanks to my bargain-spotting mother) an old-fashioned Qualcast push-mower. A true bargain at half-price - £15!

While it's hardly stealthy, for a 'Panther', it's not as noisy as a petrol or electric mower, requires no fossil fuel or electricity to keep it going, and gets me a bit of exercise.

I've left long patches at the edges, for two reasons. 1. It's hard to mow right to the edge. 2. It'll be good for creepy crawlies that like to hide there.

The middle bit of the lawn doesn't have posh stripes on it yet, but I'm working on it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Back again

Here's a record shot of our Reed Bunting (it was taken through my scope and through the window!)


Having scrutinised it through the scope for a while, it's clearly a female. The head is far too brown to be that of a male and though the black around the face is quite distinct, it's still a female.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Blossom and birdsong

Chaffinch singing

Carrion Crow selecting nest material

Definitely not tropical

Climbing plant dangling

Orange flowers

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Monday, March 19, 2007

Buntings are here!

Well, to be more accurate, a bunting is here.

On Friday and Sunday we saw a Reed Bunting in the garden. It was foraging on the ground where I'd scattered some wheat (with House Sparrows, Pheasants and Jackdaws in mind).

I didn't manage to get a photo, but it's an interesting looking bird, midway between fresher, browner-looking plumage and the smart black head with white collar of an adult male (the brown tips to the feathers wear away in spring).

It was so brown that I started wondering whether it was really a female, as they can start to look very like males when they get old. Hopefully it'll hang around a bit longer and we can see what happens.

Friday, March 16, 2007

More garden stuff

Robin

Red Admiral

ladybird

Dunnock, the photographer's friend

Peacock nectaring on rosemary

More bees on blossom

muntjac

blackthorn blossom

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Blossom etc

Jackdaws. Break your twig from the tree...

Then take it back to your chimney


Bumblebee hovering at cherry blossom

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Monday, March 12, 2007

At The Lodge


Jackdaws looking shifty: 'borrowing' material from a squirrel's drey and then shoving it down a chimney

Chaffinch drinking


I like the blue and green colours of daffodil stems and leaves almost as much as the yellows


Two Commas out and about on another beautiful day

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Germination


The seeds I planted the other weekend are gradually showing signs of life. The broccoli (above) is doing best and is looking good already. The chives and basil have also made good progress, but I've yet to see any activity from the peppers, and there are shoots in only three of 12 pots containing coriander seeds. Ho hum. Patience is required...

Pheasants



Pheasants are still regular visitors to the garden...

Gardening

It's been a lovely weekend for a bit of gardening:

Skylark singing over the field

Shrub coming into leaf




Daffodils

Primroses (looking a bit pasty)

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Dig for victory

After moaning a lot about the state of the ground a few weeks back, I've got some more ground cleared for our veg patch. Measuring in at about 6' x 4' (about 1.8m x 1.2m), it's a tad underwhelming at the moment, but it's a start.

It's jolly hard work, you know. I stopped when I started getting blisters on my palms and my back started aching. It's very hard to maintain a good back posture while digging up turf.

While I was digging away (trying hard not to chop up too many worms), there were distractions. In the sugar beet field at the back, two Skylarks duelled in song. A Wren and a Chaffinch sang from next door and a Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed distantly, from across the road. While some birds were proclaiming the start of spring, there were remnants of winter in the sky, in the form of Fieldfares 'chacking'.

A good morning to be outside.

Sparrows


House Sparrows are still present in the garden for most of the time. Up to three males and one female have now been seen at once, though usually it's just a pair. We think they'll breed in the barn just down the road.

Starlings have also started to make regular raids on the bird feeders.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Insect photography starts here


The first insect photograph of 2007 - a Red Admiral which was floating around the gardens during a sunny spell.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Capercrazy

I've seen photos of oversexed male Capercaillies attacking people before, but not video. Thanks to Blogbirder (Alan Dalton), the world can enjoy this spectacle via the wonder of Google Video. Some great photos, too.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lunar eclipse: Part IV


22:39, just before totality at 22:44.

I'm glad it's over - it's pretty cold outside! Good to listen to the weird and wonderful sounds of the night. Out here that means foxes, owls, geese and assorted fowl.

There's a BBC news story about the eclipse here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6411991.stm

and other information and links here, on Travel Notes.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Lunar eclipse: Part III

At 22:00 you can see the hazy orange colour when looking through the scope, but it doesn't work on camera very well because the bright bits are, well, too bright.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Lunar eclipse: Part II


At 21:24...

Little and Tawny Owls, Moorhens, Greylag Geese calling.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece