Friday, February 01, 2008


Click to enlarge

I've been missing in action for a few days, but I've kept my eyes open...

The weather this week has been (and continues to be) changeable to say the least. Beautiful sun one day, and the first licks of warmth from the sun if you find a bit of shelter out of the cold winter wind, and then the next day, gale force winds and driving rain.
The north east of England and Scotland are getting some pretty heavy snow now, and we in the south are bathing in the sunshine again...

Daffodils and Snowdrops** are coming up all over the place down here, and I've noticed the first big Bridge Spider (size of a 2p) on the office windows, a few Bombus terrestis Queens are on a winter move (NB Bombus terrestris, or the "Buff-Tailed Bumblebee" queens have an orangey-buff tail - but this does not mean they are one of the Red-Tailed Bumblebees which appear a little later in the winter / spring), and the odd Greenbottle fly is warming itself on any south-facing wall or fence.

Talking of fences, part of our back garden fence blew down again yesterday in the squalls, and the cable connector to the Blue Tit nestbox cam gave up the ghost.
I've (with the help of "Handykam", fixed that problem, with a replacement cable, and a new USB 2 Video capture device (bought from Argos no less)), and I'm all set again, to record 1 minute video clips from the box. Unfortunately, I have temporarily I hope (possibly permanently?) lost the ability to edit said videoclips from the nestbox, so until further notice, all nestbox clips will be exactly 1 minute in length...

A few of us were outside the office on a break yesterday, having a cigarette, when I heard a nearby Mistle Thrush give a hurried alarm call out of the blue. A quick scan, and we were all treated to the sight of a male Sparrowhawk unsuccessfully fly after a group of pigeons, thrushes and starlings - right by the office - wonderful to see.

And whilst I'm on the subject of birds of prey - one of our Peregrines returned to its town roost today.
I managed to take a photo or two - don't expect much I'm afraid - the bird was high on the tower, sitting on a kill, with its back to me. I'll sort out the photo when I get home (I'm at work now).

Sights expected this month?
Well, apart from the very nice sight of Venus and Jupiter being in conjunction (VERY close together) in the eastern pre dawn sky today and tomorrow, we have another Total Eclipse of the Moon to look forward to, in the wee small hours of Thursday 21st of this month.
Totality occurs at 03:26am if you're at all interested, and although we'll be darn lucky to have such good viewing conditions as we did in the crystal clear eclipse of March 3rd last year, we may get lucky again. I hope so (with my new camera) as we'll not get another total eclipse until December 21st 2010.

Then. of course, as February goes on, we'll get the first brave insects and bugs of the year, and as February ends, the possible start to breeding behaviour in earnest, by our birds...

Roll on Spring!

**The photo above is of course a Snowdrop. (Galanthus sp.)
These bulbs flower in great numbers in some spots between January and March, and all contain a chemical called "Galantamine". It is suggested that this is the substance that Odysseus used in Homer's legendary Odyssey, ("Moly") to protect himself from the nymph Circe's magic potion, which turned his crew into beasts...
I took the photograph in the office courtyard tonight.

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