Tuesday 8 February 2011

Bricked Computer and Great Bustards

That's a new word I've learned this weekend ( well a new use of a word I should say). Our computer was 'bricked'. For anyone as out of touch as me that means that it was rendered totally useless... as useful as a brick. It had all started so well too. The computer being an impressive five years old was getting a bit (well a lot) slow, the fan was constantly whirring away and a couple of crashes a day weren't out of the ordinary. It was therefore time for action. We decided to give it a good clean and also to format it and reinstall the operating system. All was going well until we realised we'd lost most of the drivers in the formatting and whilst trying to get the various hardware working again my son George managed to switch off the display adaptors, we couldn't even get the DOS prompt on the screen. "It's bricked" he declared!

Bear with me ....birds coming up shortly...

After 48 hours with no computer, moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms were beginning to develop ( I nearly did some housework) well in me anyway, the kids have their own computers which I'm banned from touching. Charming! (especially as I'm always having to turf Martha off mine). We were about to give in and order a shiny new one when we thought of a cunning plan. We disconnected then re-connected the internal power supply hopefully making the computer 'lose its memory' and 'think' it was new and being powered up for the first time. It worked, and it did indeed forget it was 'bricked'. Another 24 hours later and its back up and running, though I'm not sure for how long because all that dirt and fluff around the fan wasn't so much hindering its performance as soundproofing it! It now sounds like a hovercraft!!
Five years worth of dust. That furry thing in the bottom right is the fan housing! Yuk!
Nothing a vacuum cleaner an air duster and a team of software experts can't fix though.

So to birding, which I wouldn't be able to share with you without the co-operation of the above chuck of old metal and wires. On Sunday me and Bun popped over the border into Dorset to twitch the Great Bustards which are wintering on fields near The Fleet. Yes, I know we can't tick them! We can count them though. There were two! ( Sorry!) I know they are introduced birds but its still nice to see a new bird 'in the wild' so to speak. They certainly didn't disappoint, what magnificent beasts they are! When we arrived at Moonfleet Manor Hotel I was just turning the car around when Bun spotted them silhouetted on the brow of a hill in an adjacent field. I parked the car and just when we were walking over to a good spot to view them from a Buzzard flushed them. We had a brief flight view of one of them as they dropped out of view over the ridge. "No problem", we thought. They'll be just on the other side. They weren't, we couldn't see them anywhere. It's amazing how easily such enormous birds can just seem to vanish. We caught up with them eventually several fields away. Bun spotted them when he noticed some Red-legged Partridges, put his bins up for a closer look and  the Bustards were there too. They were right on the edge of the field on a small bank but were superbly camouflaged, you just couldn't pick them out with the naked eye, even though you could see the Red-legged Partridges easily enough. They were both sporting lovely pink wing-tags ( numbers 1 and 15) and apparently they have radio transmitters too. We weren't close enough to see the aerials on them though. They were extremely wary and knew we were watching them, so even though they were pretty distant they stood still long enough for me to digiscope them reasonably successfully.

 I like the Red-legged Partridge in the bottom left, looks like it's hiding from them.

There were also a couple of nice flocks of Brent Geese on The Fleet and in the neighbouring field, two of them stood out from the crowd, having some characteristics of Black Brant  namely dark backs and very white flank patches. They didn't however have the broad neck band one would expect. Hybrids?
That's them swimming away to the left. See what I mean?

We were back on patch by lunchtime and so I had time in the afternoon to take Rex for a walk along the River Coly. I was hoping to see a Dipper, or some Siskins or Redpolls but I saw nothing but lots of other dog-walkers. Sunday's not the day for birding on the Coly. In a recently cut back hedgerow I spotted this exquisite little nest. 
 Doesn't it look cosy?

I really do marvel at the work which goes into nests like this, I'd guess this one's the work of a Dunnock. On the way home I spent a while looking at the estuary and took a couple of photos including this one of a  Black-tailed Godwit yawning (well it looks like it is).

Finally, yesterday I saw the gorgeous male Black Redstart at Seaton Hole again. He kindly posed for a few photos. Must be in a good mood as due to the warmer weather, he was certainly doing very well for flies, they were everywhere!

This could have been the best photo I've ever got of a Black Redstart..
If I hadn't taken this...
 I think a plain background makes a big difference, needless to say I'm very pleased with this! :-)


Anonymous said...

Get your hoover and use the hose to get rid of the dirt around the fans. Your crashes are very likely to be caused by overheating.


Karen Woolley said...

Erm... thanks Paul. But didn't I just write about doing just that!? Or am I going totally mad?