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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

Today we observe Earth Hour, from 8:00 to 9:00 PM, local time. nhpaweather is going offline during that time, and the lights will be out. I feel this is appropriate to post here, since most birders care about the environment. I urge everyone to sign up and participate. You can view the wiki page or the Earth Hour web site for more info.

Posted by Dave at 11:40 AM
Categories: Backyard Birding

Monday, March 24, 2008

Eagle's Nest

I took a couple of pictures of the eagle's nest. Unfortunately, my 18X lens was not up to the task. But you can see how large the nest is! I uploaded an image to the Picasa web. I also uploaded an image of a downy using the higher zoom.

I went for a bicycle ride tonight and saw a couple of robins. I knew they are around, but I haven't seen any in my yard, as of yet. Speaking of bicycles, it is time to register for the Pedal To Preserve farmland bicycle ride. It is June 7th, so you have time to get in shape! There are 6, 20 and 51 mile courses. This is a fun ride, and well worth a trip to this area!

One other note- The recipe that I published for making suet calls for adding sugar. That is no longer recommended. You can find that post by selecting February in the Archives, and look for the Waste Free post.

Posted by Dave at 7:19 PM
Edited on: Saturday, March 29, 2008 11:44 AM
Categories: Backyard Birding

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I received some nice captures from folks viewing the Downy Cam. I had hoped to find distinguishing features on these captures, but the resolution isn't good enough. So I tried zooming the camera in a little. It was really good timing! I finished adjusting the zoom and walked to the other computer. It took what, 10 seconds? I see a bird sitting on top of the suet cage. So I walked back and aimed the camera a little higher so I could try and get a capture. But what for kind of bird is that? I looked through the guides, but I didn't see anything that looked quite right. My best guess was a mockingbird, but the body seemed too round, the chest color seemed off, and I couldn't find any pic of a mocker perched like that. Fortunately, it came back. I was able to have a much better look at it, and now I am 99% sure that it s a northern mockingbird. Anyway, I think it is a pipe dream to hope to identify individual downys, even with the higher zoom. After I get a few pics I might zoom back out.

In addition to the starlings, cowbirds and the mocker that showed up this week, I also saw a blue jay. The Wingscapes camera caught a few images of the blue jay, but they were not very good. Some people have reported seeing robins, but I haven't seen any so far this season.

I bought a hummer feeder, and plan to put it out in a couple of weeks. I know they require a lot of care, and I wasn't planning on buying one, but I had a moment of weakness. :) I might plant some bushes or vines to attract hummers, because I don't feel real optimistic about attracting any, otherwise.

Posted by Dave at 11:44 PM
Categories: Backyard Birding

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I've had the Wingscapes camera for a week now, so I thought I'd give my first impressions. First off, I think it is a good product. If you saw my images, you may be wondering if I am off my meds, but I have a good idea of why the images came out the way that they did. The camera is well built, with two clamps to keep the door closed and water tight. The camera can accept up to a 4 GB SD memory card. The camera is highly configurable, and comes with a remote.

The remote is the same size as the remote entry for my car- it even comes on a key chain! There are two buttons on the remote, one for a .jpg and one for a video. I don't know how far it reaches, but I can trigger it from inside my house, and about 35' away. Using the remote does not affect the camera setting. The remote is nice, but the main trigger is motion detection. You can set the sensitivity for motion detection, but it works fine for me at the default.

The manual tells you to put your subject in direct sunlight, as it does not come with a flash. I don't think the direct sunlight is necessary providing you do no have the subject darker than the rest of the scene It has a manual focus, but since the camera stays fixed, this is not an issue, either. My main gripe is with the accessory mounting arm. It mounts onto a pole on one end, and holds the camera on the other. Thing is, my feeder extends towards the camera, so the minimum focus is not close enough. This is what did in most of my images. I hope to find a way to move them farther apart. One such idea is here, where I bought my camera and mounting arm. I should mention, the camera comes with straps to mount it to a tree, the mounting arm is not needed.

I bought a 4 GB card from newegg.com. This is over kill! After two days I did not fill up one GB at the max resolution, but had hundreds of images to sort through. I set it to record videos one day, and again, it was less than one GB. The file size of the videos was a little under 4 MG. It would take a LOT of videos to fill a card, and I would not want to sort through them! I put a video online here, if you want to see a sample. (I did reduce the file size.) You can set the amount of time between videos. For the .jpgs, you can set how many to take when it detects motion, and how long to wait to detect motion again.

I put some images on the Picsaweb site, including brown-headed cowbirds. I still have not seen any of those, so I would not even be aware that they were around. (Not that I want them around.) It also caught the female cardinal on some pics. I haven't seen her lately, and I was a little worried something had happened to her.

My main complaint with the camera is the batteries. Now a days, cameras come with small, lightweight, rechargeable batteries. This uses gigantic "D" batteries. The day after I installed it we had a very windy day. I had a gust of 55 MPH! The pole for my feeder did not bend over, but it was leaning a bit. I replaced the pole with some heavy duty ones that I had for my weather station. The camera itself is not heavy, but when you add the batteries and stick it out at the end of the mounting arm, it will make a lightweight pole lean.

Bottom line, I am really hopeful that the camera will catch good images of birds that I do not see. For unattended pictures, this is the best that there is.

Posted by Dave at 8:04 PM
Categories: Backyard Birding

Thursday, March 06, 2008

My Eagles

A friend came up to me at work today and said, 'I see your eagles made the paper.' Hmm? I thought perhaps he was talking about the pro football team? But he was talking about a pair of bald eagles nesting just outside of New Holland! Who knew? I thought you would only find them near a river. Here is a link to the story.

I received the new seed storage containers. They are pretty much what I was hoping for. They are the same thing that I use to fill the feeders, only much larger! I got two of them, and I was able to put almost all my seeds in them. I have some BOSS( black oiler sunflower seeds) that I didn't mix in. I don't plan to buy anymore of them, once I've use them up. I found a good local source of sunflower hearts, and a shelled mix, which I plan to use from now on.

Skip is on the ball! He sent me a couple more captures of the downys. Here is one. I have been seeing more of them lately, but I still think there is only one pair. Be nice to see two males, or two females, at the same time! Update! Skip caught a downy in flight! See it here.

edit- Note to self, do not put apostrophes in URLs!

Posted by Dave at 8:35 PM
Edited on: Friday, March 07, 2008 5:21 PM
Categories: Backyard Birding

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Downy and Web Cam Upate


The weather page now lists the latest entry to this blog. You won't miss an update if you are a regularly viewer. It is in the news section on the left.

Downy and Web Cam Update

The woodpecker treat seems to be very popular. When I looked the other day, all that remained was the plastic ribs, so I put up a new treat.

I removed the chain on the suet cage so it would not swing as much. Doing so also allowed me to zoom in a little. Today I caught a female downy on the treat. So much for my, 'the female likes the suet and the male likes the treat', idea. I also replaced the suet with another block of homemade. I haven't seen anything eating the suet lately, but judging by how fast it is disappearing, something most definitely is! I received the new pileated suet cage, but as I feared, the tail prop acted as a sail. If I can find a good way of fixing it so that it does not swing, I will put it out.

edit - I caught her on the suet today.

Seed Storage Update

I ordered a pair of 32 quart storage containers here. This was the best my search turned up. There were a lot of alternatives that looked more attractive, but none were very cheap. These seem more practical, with the dual pour spouts. We'll see.


Today I saw the male cardinal on the new hopper feeder. I do not have a good way to get pictures of that feeder. A web cam points at it, but the optics are not good enough to really tell what kind of bird is feeding. It tempts me to try the Wingscapes camera there. Since that feeder is pole mounted, I could use the mounting arm and point the camera right at the feeder. That should minimize false triggers, which is the main complaint that I saw about this camera. Well, that and the cost!

Posted by Dave at 3:12 PM
Edited on: Sunday, March 02, 2008 12:01 PM
Categories: Backyard Birding