Reed Bunting, Emberiza Schoeniclus
Mrs Sciencebase and I opted to follow the footpath from the RSPB Ouse Fen (Earith) car park to what we refer to as the “Clouded Yellow Field”, which is the patch where we saw that butterfly in numbers in 2022 and that leads on to Brownshill Staunch where I spotted the previously mentioned Sandwich Tern. Male Reed Bunting at RSPB Ouse Fen, perched on Rape plant It’s a nice stretch to stretch one’s legs. Lots of Marsh Harrier activity over the reed beds, Chinese Water Deer and Roe Deer to see. Calls from Sedge Warbler, White Throat, Chiff Chaff (all warblers). We could hear some Bearded Reedling calli...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - April 19, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Birds Photography Source Type: blogs

One good tern …
Yesterday, I spotted a Sandwich Tern, Thalasseus sandvicensis patrolling the open river lock at Brownshill Staunch on the Great River Ouse. It flew back and forth over a stretch of about 100 metres for 20 minutes or so before heading off downstream. The river cuts through the RSPB Ouse Fen nature reserve (I’d walked in from the Over end rather than Needingworth). I’ve seen several Common Terns and even a Black Tern on this reserve. But, a Sandwich seemed unusual so I posted my spot to the local patch’s birding WhatsApp group when I first saw it. There was a flurry of interest and one member, Richard Thoma...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - April 18, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Birds Source Type: blogs

Culling in the name of …
If you have even a passing interest in the natural world, you will have most likely heard the phrase “invasive species”. By definition, a deliberate or accidental release of a species to an area beyond its natural environment where it then multiplies and causes damage to that environment and the native wildlife that relies on it. I discussed the UK issue of invasive species briefly last year and in the context of Muntjac and Black Hairstreak butterfly too. Ecologist and conservationist Hugh Warwick tackles the issue in much more depth in his latest book – Cull of the Wild. Warwick is, as most of us are, ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - April 12, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Biology Environment Science Source Type: blogs

Famous Connections – a new parlour game
I’m sure someone will tell me this has been done, but having come up with a silly meme idea on Twitter, I was thinking of a game that’s a hybrid between Six Degrees of Separation and Mornington Crescent. Title: Famous Connections Objective: To be the last player holding all the chips Players: Four or more Materials: Ten chips per player, a designated referee, a timer Setup: Each player starts with ten chips. All players contribute one chip to the kitty Gameplay: The player deemed oldest/youngest/tallest/shortest begins the game. The starting player states a famous name from any field, real or fictional. The n...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - April 5, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Education Fiction Source Type: blogs

More Fenland birding
Having spent a couple of evenings watching Starling murmurations with hundreds of thousands of birds, it was time to seek out some Aves in smaller numbers. I had a quick look in at RSPB Ouse Fen (Earith) as it was bright and sunny on Saturday morning. I was hoping to that there would be a chance that the Cranes would be showing. They weren’t but there was a Great White Egret, as ever, and a Chinese Water Deer, I had only fleeting, distant views of a solitary Marsh Harrier. I headed out to Chain Corner to check on the Whooper Swans, a few on the water and one that flew right over me. Next on to a patch of flooded far...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - March 31, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Birds Source Type: blogs

Upgrading your photographic workflow
Back in February, DxO sent me a beta version of their PureRaw4 software to test drive ahead of the official launch in March. So, having used version 3 for years, I was keen to incorporate the upgrade into my workflow. I’ve pushed it to the limit with a high-speed, low-light photo of a Mute Swan landing on a lake. This is the final result, below you can read how I got there from a very noisy RAW file straight out of the camera. This is the final denoised and processed image – Mute Swan Landing The bottom line is that PureRaw4 does an excellent job of basically knocking out noise to the equivalent of about three ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - March 26, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Photography Source Type: blogs

Orange Tip – Anthocharis cardamines
I saw my first Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) of 2024 on 17th March in Cottenham patrolling a roadside verge (Broad Lane). Archive photo of male Orange Tip on Cuckoo Flower This was the first report for Cambridgeshire and Essex butterflies this year, apparently. I have to admit I’ve not kept a personal record of first sightings of this species, but the Cambs & Essex page does, so I can give you a list of previous years. 4 Apr 23, 24 Mar 22, 30 Mar 21, 26 Mar 20, 28 Mar 19, 17 Apr 18, 28 Mar 17, 8 Apr 16, 8 Apr 15, 24 Mar 14, 25 Apr 13, 26 Mar 12, 24 Mar 11, 11 Apr 10, 5 Apr 09, 21 Apr 08, 12 Apr 07. So, it l...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - March 19, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Source Type: blogs

Denoising with DxO PureRaw4
The kind folks at DxO let me have a copy of the latest version of PureRaw ahead of launch last month and so I’ve been using that to process my RAW photos from my camera for a few weeks now. It does an excellent job of basically knocking out noise to the equivalent of about 3 stops of ISO. So, if I were shooting birds in flight at dusk and the camera needed an ISO of 6400 to compensate for a short shutter speed, then PureRaw4 is giving me the photo as if I’d shot at ISO 800, which is a lot less noise than one gets at ISO 6400 on a 2/3 frame camera like the Canon R7, especially with my big Sigma lens zoomed in to...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - March 14, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Photography Source Type: blogs

PickBait
So much of what shows up on social media, Threads in particular, it seems, is what might be referred to as “engagement bait”. It’s often inane or perhaps an inflammatory comment, it could be a boring or open-ended question, a reboots of stuff from other places that might be years old, some cliched statement with no qualification, for instance. It all seems like a rather pathetic and lame attempt to boost one’s reach and gain attention, to get interactions for the sake of interaction. I won’t embarass anyone by sharing examples, they’re endless anyway and it would take weeks. The phrase &...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - March 8, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Social Media Source Type: blogs

What a beauty! An Oak Beauty
First Oak Beauty of the year seen in the garden last night (6th March 2024). It’s a quite stunning creature, isn’t it? Sharp-eyed readers will note this is a geometer moth. So-called because their larvae (caterpillars), known as inchworms in the US, move in such a way as to give the appearance that they are measuring the earth, geo-meter, inch by inch. This is a male Oak Beauty, you can tell from its enormous feathery antennae, which it often folds underneath its body to protect them. You might also be thinking it looks like a Peppered Moth but with more colourful and more pronounced markings. Well, the Peppere...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - March 7, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Source Type: blogs

What did you do during the Facebook downtime, Daddy?
In a recent incident that caught the attention of billions of users, a major social media platform (Facebook) experienced a widespread outage, leaving users unable to access their accounts for several hours. Many of them quickly migrated to their other social media accounts to gripe. Of course, as such disruption unfolds, initially users will perceive it as an individual issue, a problem with their phone or PC. We all occasionally get “session expired” notifications but are able to log back in to our apps, many people faced with this tried and were then told their password was incorrect and 2FA systems failed. ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - March 6, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Social Media Technology Source Type: blogs

This is Planet Earith – Starling murmurations
At the end of February, I got wind of there being very large numbers of Common Starling murmurating at a local nature reserve – RSPB Ouse Fen (Earith). I got a few photos on an evening visit. There were probably half a million birds, it was quite astonishing. I based my estimate on counts I’ve done of photographs of smaller flocks and extrapolating to the huge patches of sky that were covered with birds on the evening. I got some nice photos at sunset but my phone video was very smeary and low-res. So, a second visit was essential. Unfortunately, rumour had it that the numbers the next night were smaller, that...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - March 4, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Birds Source Type: blogs

Planet Earith – Starling murmurations
At the end of February, I got wind of there being very large numbers of Common Starling murmurating at a local nature reserve – RSPB Ouse Fen (Earith). I got a few photos on an evening visit. There were probably half a million birds, it was quite astonishing. I based my estimate on counts I’ve done of photographs of smaller flocks and extrapolating to the huge patches of sky that were covered with birds on the evening. I got some nice photos at sunset but my phone video was very smeary and low-res. So, a second visit was essential. Unfortunately, rumour had it that the numbers the next night were smaller, that ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - March 4, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Birds Source Type: blogs

What ’ s a skeuomorph, anyway?
A skeuomorph, derived from the Greek skeuos, meaning container or tool, and morphe, meaning shape, refers to a design element retaining attributes of older structures that are redundant in the current form. These elements serve to imbue novelty with familiarity, aiding users in understanding new devices or systems. They’re not solely functional; aesthetic considerations often prompt their use. There are lots of examples: pottery adorned with imitation rivets reminiscent of metal pots, lightbulbs mimicking candle flames complete with a flickering effect, and software calendars and address books resembling their paper ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - March 1, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Technology Source Type: blogs

Rinse your recycling
Rinsing food packaging before putting in your recycling bin is critical to making the process as efficient and as effective as possible. Efficient recycling processes can significantly reduce the environmental impact compared to producing new materials from virgin resources. Rinsing packaging helps reduce contamination in the recycling stream. Contaminated materials can lead to lower-quality recyclables, which may be rejected or require additional processing, thereby increasing costs and energy consumption. Higher-quality recycled materials fetch better prices in the market and have broader applications, contributing to a ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - February 29, 2024 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Environment Source Type: blogs