Sunday, 29 March 2015

Birds of Prey at Warwick Castle

A couple of weeks ago we were at Warwick Castle with my family, and saw a brilliant display by some birds of prey:

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The show started with this Verreaux's Eagle Owl (if I have the name right...) zooming in from the woods to land on the handler's arm:

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After the owl had done its stuff, a Bald Eagle came out ot play, and put on a great show by flying between the handler near the audience and another one up on the battlements of the castle:
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Finally, we had a Steller's Sea Eagle, which is the heaviest eagle in the world:
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Check out the size of the bird's feet! Its toes are almost as thick as the handlers' fingers!
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There's also lots of peacocks roaming around - I guess they are too big for the eagles to tackle, though earlier in the day we did see one of the display birds having a go at catching a duck!
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Finally, one non-bird-related photo - we also saw this huge trebucet fire a flaming ball across the field!
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Oh, and there was a castle to explore too, of course!
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Mike

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Friday, 20 March 2015

Spring in the woods and chainsaw sculpture

Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently, I've been busy with work, visiting these exciting organisations, and also making stuff like this:

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Spring is fast approaching, with buds swelling on the Sweet Chestnut for a few weeks now:
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Bluebell shoots are also pushing up:
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And I got a nice picture of a bumble bee a couple of weeks ago, sunning itself on one of our log piles:
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I'm pleased to see this pipe is in use again:
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It may not be obvious, but once you look at the base of it, you can see that a bird has been busy filling it with moss to make a nest:
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The exact same thing happened last year too, as you can see in this video:


I've also been trying a new way of making my chainsaw-carved wooden stools. First, you need a wooden board with some holes drilled in it:
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Then, you put it on top of the log the log which will become the stool, and drill through the holes - only going in a short distance though!
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Then, bolt the board to the log:
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Turn it the other way up...
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And start your chainsaw sculpture, as shown in this video I made a few years ago. Here's the end result:
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All that needs doing then is to remove the stool from the board, and trim a slice off the end to get rid of the screw holes:
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And there you have it, one piece of simple chainsaw sculpture!
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All I need to do now is find a use for all the sawdust and offcuts...
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Mike

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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Stools for schools and other odds and ends

A local school recently asked if I could supply them with various items of wooden seating to use in the small area of woodland they have access to. Of course, I was delighted to supply them with what they needed!

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I took the opportunity to try out a new idea for making the benches. I started with a couple of slabs trimmed from coppice stumps, and used the chainsaw to cut a V-shaped notch into each:
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I then used these to support the log being made into a bench, which gave two immediate advantages - first, it stops it rolling around, and second, it elevates it a bit, so you don't have to bend down so low when working on it:
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The next step was the usual one, as shown in my video on how to make a bench, cutting notches for the feet in what will eventually be the underside of the bench:
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Now for the next new bit - rather than setting the bench on its feet to cut the seating area, I rotated it a quarter turn:
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I then pushed the feet into the notches, just to check they were exactly vertical:
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Then, I was able to walk along with the chainsaw, using it to slice a thin layer off to make the seating area. This is easier to do in a straight line from above than doing it from the side with the saw horizontal, and much more comfortable too!
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The only downside was that having the saw at an angle tended to leave more chain marks on the wood:
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But they quickly disappeared once I put the bench horizontal and did a quick skim over with the trailing edge of the chainsaw bar:
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And I was left with a rather nice bench!
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The school wanted some simple log stools as well, so I selected some suitably-sized logs to cut up and transported the results with my log trolley:
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I even managed to get it all into the trailer and the car in one trip!
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Here's the end results, delivered to the school field:
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In other news from the woods... the Bluebells are growing, having had the first shoots pop out the ground in the second half of January:
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And this hen pheasant has been following me around. She nearly ate some bird feed from my hand! Far too tame for her own good I think...
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Back in Rye, we did get a light covering of snow one day in January, but it only lasted a couple of hours and there was no time to go to the woods and photograph it there...
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I've also been playing around with my Carry Freedom Y-Frame bike trailer, and now have it set up to run on my mountain bike. I tested it out hauling about 25kg up and down a hill, but I'm not convinced I'll be bringing all next winter's firewood back this way...
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Talking of firewood, the insulation I installed in our dormer roof a few months ago has certainly done the trick - it looks like we might be using about 30% less firewood than before!

Till next time...

Mike

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