Monday, January 19, 2015

Got my blog back!

I have not blogged here for some considerable time, but when I checked not long ago, I could not access my blog. It redirected to Neoworks, which used to show flags from all the countries my visitors came from.

When I googled the problem I spotted somebody's video showing how to restore the blog. It worked thanks to this Indian guy (by the sound of his accent). His demonstration solved my problem in only a few clicks. I am very grateful.

Maybe I will pay more attention to this blog in the future. It needs updating. Watch this space!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


All parents know that it is sometimes hard work to raise children. Most parents have gone through tough periods questioning the whole situation. Spare a thought for our feathered friends, like this blue tit parent. The parent looks completely exhausted, ragged and rough trying to feed several chicks. And remember, they go through this every year of their lives.

Can you spot the parent?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Winter meets spring

We spent a long Easter break in southern Sweden and enjoyed seeing the snow gradually disappear. But it took some time for the ground to absorb it all, making the landscape resemble a lake district more than anything else.

When we returned to Germany last Sunday, it was 2 degrees Celsius when we set off and 22 (!) when we arrived here. 20 degrees’ difference in one long drive. Unbelievable!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

And I thought it was just ...

... an ordinary heron in winter clothes!

I had seen this white bird with a yellow beak in some fields and also in and around a small lake in the forest. It could not be a stork, was my first reaction. Then when I spotted it standing in the shallow lake my guess was that it was a heron, but in winter white somehow.

After having taken a few shots of it, I looked it up in my European bird book and discovered it must have been a Great White Egret. But there was something odd about it. It should not really be here at all, since it belongs more to south-eastern Europe.

However I have the evidence it is here, and has been here for some time as well, out of season and out of its area. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Back Garden Wildlife

The other day I was left frustrated by my rather outdated computer. It is not that old, but you know how technology ages at the speed of light it seems.

I had spotted a buzzard in trees just outside our garden several times, but had not been fortunate to have the photo equipment set up. But the other day was different. I took over 500 (!) pictures of a beautiful buzzard perched on a branch overlooking the garden.

There were shots of him scratching himself with his sharp talons, preening his feathers with his beak and even yawning showing his tongue! Then what happened? My PC buggered it all up!

Trying to transfer the images to the PC, it managed to corrupt the files and destroy all of them. I nearly cried!

Today luck was on my side. I snapped a gorgeous sparrowhawk in the same tree as the buzzard earlier in the week, and I also got a good shot of a little siskin looking miserable in the snowfall.

I feel happier now!


Friday, March 08, 2013

Mobbed by Mallards!

(Yes, mallards, not ducks.)

I bought a new full-frame DSLR a couple of weeks ago, a Nikon D600, which turned out to have some teething problems, a strange phenomenon that some reviewers on Amazon had reported.

After having taken some images (30 or so) the shutter had splattered oil spots on the sensor, which is like the heart of the camera, resulting in stains on every picture in exactly the same places. Dust could apparently also be activated by the shutter and end up on the sensor.

Since we were going on holiday to Sweden, I insisted the camera shop give me a new one, which they did after a hell of a lot of arguing. I did not have time to wait for them to send it to Nikon for cleaning.

So, guess what happened with the new camera? Yes, that one as well! So when we returned from holiday I handed it in to get it cleaned by Nikon, because apart from this technical teething problem, I very much like the camera. If you google it you will understand. However I managed to get some decent pictures, among them this mallard mob image.

We were walking in the lovely sunshine when we reached a pond. I estimate the number of mallards in excess of 200, and they must have been starving, because they came streaming at us from all directions. And boy were they loud. It almost felt like a Hitchcock moment.

There was no time to do any fancy settings, just time to snap away in auto mode, but I think the result was quite good, reminds me of a Bruegel painting.

The spots are not visible with so much going on in the picture, but they are there, believe me. I only hope that Nikon will manage to clean it up and that it will not happen again. We shall see.
And here is an immediate update:

The prediction had been for a two-week wait, but I could actually collect the cleaned camera after only one week, and I have not seen any spots yet in several shots I have taken into the grey sky.
I now have to photograph thin air, white walls and suchlike every now and then to check for oil spillage on the sensor. Fingers crossed!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Now That’s a Scarecrow!

Maybe you did not know, but scarecrows used to be just that, real crows to scare off crows and other unwanted, opportunistic scavengers. This is how some farmers still do it in France, however cruel, unethical and non-pc it may seem to some people. (Don’t worry,they shoot them first.)


Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Bit of a Splash

AA Pic of the Week 125 w

Out for a Sunday walk the other week I saw these people basking in the autumn sunshine having coffee or possibly hot chocolate, because this place serves a wonderful cup (or pot) of cocoa.

There was a screen of water jets coming up from the fountain, so I thought I would take some pictures of the water with people in the background. At the time I did not, although perhaps I should have, think about the fact that the people were in bright sunshine and the water in the shade. But unwittingly I got a rather strange-looking picture. I have not edited the image at all. I think it looks like I have splashed blue paint on a photograph.

Sometimes photos come out in the most surprising way, giving you an effect you did not envisage. I learn all the time!


Sunday, November 06, 2011

Insatiable Alsatian!

On our walk last time we lost the chicken farmer’s sociable dog to a high-energy chase of a poor little wild boar. Evidently our furry friend could not get enough of us, because when we next tried to sneak past the corner to the farm, he spotted us yet again, and this time from about one hundred metres.

He did not jump at all or push his nose into your side, but he just gently brushed against my leg as he caught up with us. Then we were stuck with him, for over an hour. He simply trotted along as if he was our dog.

Alsatian paw prints

He got his paws wet in the ditches along the narrow country lanes, and he crossed the road to explore everything he could smell, hear or see.

Alsatian 1

He was often behind us, but liked to be in the lead, in front of us, as if he had taken us for a walk.

Alsatian 2

We felt like his flock, especially when he turned round to check that we were keeping up with him. Cars passed, slowing down for the three of us looking like a couple taking the dog for a walk after lunch. After a while I started to feel quite comfortable with the dog quietly moving around us. It almost started to feel normal, a quiet country feel.

When we reached our turning point he just looked at us …

Alsatian 3

… and followed us all the way back again. Just as we got to “his” corner, I thought for a second his thirst might lure him home, but no.

Luckily for us, our neighbours were out cutting some hedge, so we managed to sneak in while he was distracted by their activity. Then he quite simply adopted them instead and laid down next to them with his head between his paws in, what looked like, a very comfortable position. And there he stayed for quite some time.

It was not the first time the chicken farmer got a phone call to come and collect his dog, who really likes company. Not much of a farm guard dog, is he?


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Alsatian Chasing Baby Boar

Bracken  Road

Autumn apple  Field

On our first full day in France we thought we would go for a normal, quiet country lane autumn walk. It was very windy, but the sun was quite strong, so the top layer of clothing came off pretty quickly. As we were coming towards the end of our hour-long walk, we passed the chicken farm wondering if the guard dog, who patrols the grounds, would come pestering us like he has done in the past, following us all the way home.

I thought we had made it without him spotting us, but no. All of a sudden you could hear him breathing next to you. (This is not the time to be afraid of dogs for sure.) As he came up to me from behind, I tried to ignore him, but he said hello, I suppose, by nudging my elbow with his nose. Then he just followed us as usual, sniffing around like dogs do.

All of a sudden he went into the ditch sniffing particularly intensively, and quickly moved into the field where maize had stood before. There he stopped and “froze”, staring into the high grass between the fields. He had spotted something.

Then started a playful chase, if you are the dog, and a scary “run-for-your-life” chase if you are the baby boar! They ran this way, that way and back again, across the road and back yet again. At one time the playful dog grabbed the little boar by the neck and then let him go again. The little wild boar had probably been “separated” from his parents because of the farmers’ Sunday hunt in the area. Gun fire and hunting horns had been heard all through the day. So being picked up and tossed around a little by a friendly playmate was not such a bad alternative!

Boar Chase

(Boar trying to escape on the right. Apologies for image quality, but I was 150 metres away by this time!)