Monthly Archives: May 2011

Starling investigates the blue tit nestbox

It must be pretty tough being a blue tit. Yesterday there was a magpie sitting on the roof. Today a starling tried to get in through the front door. The blue tit youngsters must still be in there (I saw an adult with food) and presumably the starling can hear them chirping inside. If the image below is going to be typical then leaving home for the blue tits is going to be a dramatic business.

I don’t know if starlings predate blue tit youngsters but I’ve no reason to assume they don’t. The starlings have been keeping an eye and a claw on the nestbox all day. I wonder how this one will play out …


rude boys

I’ve worked out that at 3 fat blocks, twice daily, I could easily get through 42 fat slabs a week. That’s alot of fat, and a lot of money, so they have to do with a fraction of that. Even so, every time I blink, the feeder is empty. It seems to be mainly the starlings feeding their squabbling lazy youngsters …

Although the food is there for the taking the starlings prefer to screech to the adults to have the stuff physically shoved down their throats …

Although, occasionally, they still manage to look cute.

The screeching and squawking comes to an abrupt halt however. Not because the fat has run out, but because the heavies arrive …

you wouldn’t want to mess with that stare.

Here’s today’s slideshow …


housekeeping script to remove dead images

I use mnemosyne daily to learn plant identification and make heavy use of images. All the images are stored in ~dougie/.mnemosyne/images and are referenced from the .mnemosyne config file in ~/.mnemosyne/default.mem.

Sometimes I delete cards that I don’t like, are poorly phrased, or have something wrong about them. This doesn’t delete the corresponding image.

I need to write a shell script to scan the default.mem file and extract all the filenames for the image jpegs, then check whether they exist. No, hang it, that’s the wrong way round. Although that would be useful too as sometimes I delete an image but not a card.

Ah, so it has to be a two-way script. Checking for orphans both ways. Are there images that are not in cards? And are there cards that reference images that aren’t there?

I should probably also wait until version 2.x of mnemosyne hits the streets in case there are any layout changes.

top of the box

On a windy day like today the webcam nabs thousands of images (over 7000 today, I’ve seen it as high as 20,000). This is a pain and no amount of tweaking of the settings seems to be having much effect.

What is noticeable though, is how much more time the adults seem to be spending on top of the box.

Cyanistes caeruleus
Blue Tit surveying its territory
I haven’t sat outside today so I don’t know if the chicks are still in there. Perhaps this is a prelude to fledging? There are certainly lots of young starlings and house sparrows around so the blue tits must be ready to leave home soon.

Every year I miss the moment. I doubt this year will be any different!

housekeeping script to keep jpegs manageable

This crops up periodically and it surprises me that with all the free tools you get with linux that there’s nothing (that I can find, at least) that will allow me to keep a folder tree within a manageable size. I did write a shell script to do this but I’ve lost it. With a webcam using motion often triggering over 5000 images a day (four times that if it’s windy) I need to have some automated housekeeping to purge the older images.

I think what I had before was something that had a user-definable value (e.g. 5GB) and it would iteratively recurse a directory tree, deleting the older directories until the space taken up dropped below the threshhold. There are problems with this (e.g. accidentally Tagging or touching an old jpeg) that causes the directory time stamp to be updated. But all these thousands of jpegs are piling up and I’ll have to address this sometime soon.


I thought it’d be easier this evening. I wore drabbier clothes, and poured flatter beer. I draped the cover over the mini-greenhouse and huddled against its backdrop. I practically disappeared.

But the alarm calls of the blue tits where very insistent tonight and they were not for feeding. Time after time I heard the chicks calling for food and observed the adults doing a bodyswerve. Then Rosie, my big fat black cat came along and decided to curl up at my feet, and things were not looking good.

I saw both adults, and witnessed one getting so fed-up at the abortive attempts at returning to the nest that it ate the supper itself (quite tasty it looked too).
Blue Tit with supper

Guilt gained the high ground, and I decided to call it a night. I was perplexed that the birds would be more spooked tonight, when, if anything, I was drabber and more familiar. I was also interested to see both adults together. How do they manage to produce the alarm calls with their mouths full? Then as I lost interest in them, they lost interest in me, and suddenly decided I was no threat.