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Monday, 2 February 2015

Getting There!! - beginning of February, 2015

My computer problems are, hopefully, now resolved.

The reason for the problem I had with running Corel is still not certain, but it seems that Corel now acknowledge a problem with Corel running under 64-bit Windows 7 - although I have been doing this for years! It's possible that an update to Windows, or even an update to my A/V software, sealed the fate of Corel on my PC. Anyway, the experts at my local facility couldn't resolve the problem.

The solution was, with any luck, the installation of a later version of Corel software. I'd been contemplating replacing my PC for a while and, as this software is quite expensive and not transferable to another machine, I decided to take the plunge and buy a new purpose-built PC to replace my 4 year old m/c. This is now with me, and I've spent much of the past five days building up the software on my new machine, and transferring files across. For those interested in the technical bit, I've had a m/c built with an Intel i7 quad processor, 16 Gb RAM, and 500 Gb SSD (solid state drive). I've had added to this the 500 Gb and 1 Tb drives from my old PC. Research and discussions with others indicate to me that, for photo processing, a high-end graphics card is superfluous so, initially, I will trial using on-board graphics only - so far, so good!.

As well as now having Coreldraw X7 (full suite), I've taken the opportunity to update other software, including Microsoft Office (it was about time I updated my 2002 version!).

Whilst all this was going on I've also been busy with preparation work for some construction work in the house which is (hopefully!) starting tomorrow. Whilst this is happening (my only involvement should be supervisory!), I should have time to process a months worth of photos, and prepare a proper blog post.


It's now well over a month since I made a post with any news, other than that of woes with my photo editing software. So here goes!

The Owls

In reality, it's been a very 'slow' period for owls, as far as my observations are concerned. This is partly due to weather conditions and pressure on my time, but also partly due to concerns about the welfare of the owls. Last year I lost a number of Little Owl sites as the year progressed. Some of these were located right beside roads, where they could be observed from the comfort of the car. Whilst the owls didn't seem to be in the slightest bit concerned by my/our presence (Titus was with me for much of the time), and in reality these possibly fell victim to passing traffic, predators, or died of natural causes, there is still a nagging doubt that our observations could have contributed to their departure. I am, therefore, backing-off with my observations of birds that are close-by. I believe this to be essential, particularly as the birds are now starting to strengthen their pair-bonds prior to mating and (hopefully) breeding.

To put things into perspective, January 2014 was my best ever month for Little Owl sightings, with 52 sightings over 15 sites. January 2015 was one of my weakest ever, with only 18 sightings over 6 sites!

I do have some images, however, which I hope to be able to share with you soon. 

The Garden

2013 was a record year for me for garden birds, with a 'never to be beaten' 37 species seen - or so I thought! This, I believe, is not too bad for a small suburban garden, when I only count the birds that actually put a foot down in the garden or on its boundaries. 2014 actually ended with 38 species seen!

On the 2013 list, but missing from 2014, were Redstart, Rook, and Mistle Thrush. Seen in 2014, but not 2013, were Jackdaw, Jay, Whitethroat (all garden 'firsts') and Grey Wagtail (a very welcome first sighting since we filled in our pond in 2010).

2015 has started well, with daily visits from Pied Wagtail (also for the first time since 2010) and Grey Wagtail and, more recently, Redpoll and Brambling . We're currently up to 26 species, and regularly getting 16 to 19 species each day - yesterday it was 23 species! Hopefully, we'll be adding Siskin to the list in February (when they usually arrive).

I might have some images to share at a later date, but the light's been pretty bad!

Other Birds

Very little to report here as my only 'general birding' this year has been a very enjoyable excursion to Rutland Water with Titus on 22nd January. The highlights of this visit were five very distant Smew (2m, 3f), good numbers of (distant) Pintail, and six distant Snipe.

That's all for now. Thank you for dropping by. I'm expecting there to be a proper post with images by the end of the week! In the meantime, here's one from the garden yesterday.

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - our garden on 1st February, 2015


  1. Welcome back Richard,pleased to hear and see things returning back to normal.
    I see you ticked five Smew,that must have been amazing,we would love to see one.

    1. Thank you, John. It's great to be getting back to normal - or maybe even better than normal!

      These were the first Smew I've seen for many years, so I was highly delighted to see them - even if they were a long way away.

      Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

  2. I'm here again and being a pain. Why bother with Coral or Paint Shop? They are to all practical purposes unsupported. I Know as you have said before that it would mess with your work flow but alter your work flow. Get an up to date computer and get it to work with posh editors. There are plenty of good free ones but even Adobe is cheaper than a lens.
    PC Specialist build mine and I think they are top notch.

    1. It's not just an issue of changing my work flow, Adrian. I've got all sorts of things set up on Corel, which I'd lose and have to start over again after a long learing curve. Life's too short. Corel ask £475 for Coreldraw X7, but they offered it to me at £400 as a favour to an old customer. I told them that it was no favour at all as I could buy it from Amazon at less than £310! The new machine really flies, compared to the old one.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Dawn. They are not usually so obliging as this in our garden, and tend to hide in dense undergrowth!

  4. Hi Richard: It's great to hear that your computer problems seem to have been resolved. I am sure that we are all looking forward to your next post and we are very glad that you are back in blogger land, so to speak. Great picture of the wren, by the way. The only wren that I have ever had in my garden, and it's just one sighting one time, was a House Wren. I put up a nest box about four years ago of the size I thought would be perfect for House Wrens, and in a good location too, but so far they have spurned my hospitality!

    1. Hello David. I was a bit excited when that Wren emerged from inside a dense Hebe and sat on the head of the stone owl just about 3 metres from where I was sitting in the conservatory with my camera, probably only 3 metres away. Sadly it was only there for about 3 seconds. Sorry to hear that your attempts to seduce a House Wren have so far failed - don't give up! Whilst I feed the birds (to the extent that, on harsh days, the garden looks positively Hitchcockian) I've not done anything else to entice them to the garden. We didn't encourage nesting when we had the cats. I must admit that, lately, my thoughts have started to turn to perhaps building some nest boxes for use in the garden.

      Best wishes to you both - - - - Richard

  5. I'll have to admit a lot of the tech went over my head I'm looking at my laptop and feeling a bit envious :-) as for your list I'm now jealous too, fabulous shot of the Wren and glad the greywagtail is still hanging around.

    1. I'm hoping that the new PC will last me a while, Doug, but it's ridiculous how quickly these things become obsolete. I was really excited about yesterday's bird tally. Today hasn't been too shabby, with 20 species (however, I have been a bit busy and away from the window) - but I didn't see Wren, Brambling, or Nuthatch today.

  6. Glad you got your computer issues resolved. You certainly havegot a lot of daily birds in your garden, a lot more species than myself. Fantastic shots of the Wren.

    1. Thank you, Margaret. The downside of so many birds is that I'm currently getting through about 2 kg of birdfood a day! I'm buying 2 x 25 kg sacks of sunflower hearts at a time!!!!

      Best wishes - - - - Richard

  7. Richard, slowly but certen things are getting alright with your computer. Great to read that you get an amazing amounth of species of birds in your garden. Having a terras on the 2th floor I get all together 6 species of birds and a mouse who likes the sead as well.
    Sorry to read things with the owls are not so good.
    Love the capture with the owl and the capture with the Wren.

    1. Thank you, Roos. The problem with having so many birds visiting is it makes it too easy to sit at home enjoying them, and not going out into the bigger world!!

      Best wishes - - - - - Richard

  8. Glad you are back Richard :-) You are very lucky to get so many different species of birds in your garden. I am hoping too for the return of the Siskin :-) I get at the moment: Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit, Long-tailed tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Wren, Goldfinch (only one seems to visit) Blackbird, Robin, Songthrush, Pheasant, Sparrow. It seems selfish but cold weather does bring in more birds into the garden.

    1. That's not a bad list you have there, Linda! Song Thrush is quite rare in my garden - maybe only two or three times a year, and none so far this year. I've only ever seen one Pheasant in the garden and that was in 2011. The trouble with having so many birds is the cost. I'm careful to buy good quality, but in bulk at the best prices, and spending around £60 a month on bird food at the moment! It will probably drop off to about £20-£30 a month in the summer.

      Best wishes - - - - - Richard

      A tip - nyger seed always used to be stated as the best thing to attract Goldfinches. Over the past three or four years they've stopped coming to the nyger and are now totally greedy for sunflower hearts (on trays or in feeders)! I still put out nyger, but if the Siskins don't show any interest this year I shall totally abandon putting it out as any other birds that used to favour it have switched to sunflower hearts too.

    2. I stopped putting out the nyger seed four years ago because I was getting fewer Goldfinches and Siskins and the nyger seed was not being eaten. They do seem to prefer the sunflower hearts. I forgot to add to my list the Nuthatch.

    3. Thanks for the confirmation re the Siskins, Linda. It means that I can now free up my feeder poles for two more 'ordinary' seed feeders.

      Nuthatch is only an occasional visitor to us - but we did have one 20 minutes ago!


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