Tuesday 25 January 2011

Felling three large Sycamore - video

This really is the last job this winter... These trees were bigger than I've trained to fell, and as they were also near our neighbour's barn we paid our friend Tim to come and fell them.

Felling large Sycamore

We had a bit of a mix up on who was bringing what kit, so a bit of improvisation was required, but Tim's great at that kind of thing. We used our Tirfor 516 winch on one of the trees, in conjunction with wedges and a sledgehammer. The others came down more easily, just with chainsaw and the wedges.

Here's the video of it all. You'll see I had to make a fairly sharp exit after operating the winch, although once the tree was down I saw I could have remained where I was, but it's not the kind of risk you take!

Here's a few still pictures to go with it:
Felling large Sycamore

Felling large Sycamore

Felling large Sycamore

Felling large Sycamore

Felling large Sycamore

As you can see, they were pretty big trees, and we need to go back later to finish clearing them up. They had rotten parts at their centres, so it was definitely good to get them down, given the proximity to the barn. We'll probably get several cubic metres of logs out of them, so they'll be put to good use.


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Monday 17 January 2011

Working in a different woodland

This weekend I went over to visit our friends Rich and Penny and work in their woodland. We're actually doing a swap - Rich will be coming to help me put some solar PV panels on our roof in a couple of months - but it was also fun to go and see their wood and work in a different setting.

Part of their wood is a bit hillier than ours, and has more of a stream in it, enough to warrant a foot bridge (under construction):


and a bridge to drive over too:

It was along the side of the stream we were working, using a tirfor winch to pull some large chestnut away from the stream as they were felled.

We had a nice spot for lunch each day, and it didn't even rain on us!

Under another tarp, I saw a nice shave horse Rich had made, and a lovely Hazel chair Penny had done as well:


We should be back in our own wood just for a day in the next week or two, to deal with those two big Sycamore near the neighbouring barn. We've actually just started burning the Sycamore from a year ago, having exhausted our 2-year seasoned supply. Next year I think we'll get right through the winter on 2-year old wood though.


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Friday 14 January 2011

Herring Gull and Starling through a telescope

Here's a few pics I took from the back garden, of birds on nearby house roofs. It was interesting watching a herring Gull close up. It was about 50m away, and had no idea I was watching it, so it was behaving naturally. From a distance they look like they're just sat there, being bored, but through the telescope it was clear that they were always on the lookout for something interesting, craning their necks to get a better view:

DSC_6148 Herring Gull through telescope

DSC_6147 Herring Gull through telescope

Here's one on another chimney, also about 50m away:
DSC_6132 Herring Gull through telescope

From the look of the feathers, this one's only just become an adult - there's still some traces of the brown juvenile feathers around the head:
DSC_6112 Herring Gull through telescope

DSC_6117 Herring Gull through telescope

This one was doing some preening as well as looking around:
DSC_6123 Herring Gull through telescope

I got a few pics of a Starling too:

I'm not sure what it was finding in the chimney pot:
DSC_6163 Starling through telescope

This one was also preening:
DSC_6164 Starling through telescope

and then having a good shake afterwards to get the feathers straight
DSC_6156 Starling through telescope

Finally, I took a photo to give you an impression of the level of magnification being used. Here's some trees, and I've not cropped the picture at all. From looking at a map, I think they are about 600m away:


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Tuesday 11 January 2011

Astrophotography - the Moon and Jupiter

For the first time in months I got the big telescope out in the back garden and took some pictures, of the Moon and Jupiter. Here's a colour one of the moon:

moon 09Jan2011 iso400 COL

I did a couple in black & white as well:
moon 09Jan2011 iso100 BW

moon 09Jan2011 iso200 BW

They were all taken by connecting the SLR camera directly to the telescope, with no lens in between. The telescope is a Skywatcher newtonian reflector, 200mm diameter and 1000mm focal length. That means it's like connecting a 1000mm F5 lens to the SLR! I actually took about 10 photos and stacked them using Registax to get a sharper image.

I took some more pictures by recording video using my Panasonic FZ8 compact - this is used with an eyepiece in the telescope, allowing you to try different magnifications, but it's a lot harder to focus. The video is again processed using Registax. Here's a close-up of some craters on the moon:
moon 09Jan2011 craters

A couple of Jupiter, using different settings in Registax:
Jupiter 09Jan2011a

Jupiter 09Jan2011b

and another of Jupiter at a higher magnification, but a bit blurry - the "seeing" wasn't that great, the view was shimmering a lot due to turbulence in the atmosphere:
Jupiter 09Jan2011c

Anyway, very pleased to get these pics of Jupiter, they're my first. Hope to get some more another time. Finally, here's the SLR camera next to the telescope tube, just for scale:


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Sunday 9 January 2011

Coppicing volunteer day

Yesterday we had a volunteer day organised by Rother Guardians of Butterfly Conservation, widening a ride to let more light in. You can read about it here.



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Tuesday 4 January 2011

Felling leaning Sycamore with a Tirfor winch and chainsaw

Yesterday we did one of our last couple of jobs in the wood this winter. A year ago we'd had to leave some heavily leaning trees, but now we have a decent Tirfor winch, we decided to finish them off. Here's the trees:


We used the winch and a steel rope to do the pulling, but also had another rope attached to help control the tree as it fell. Here's a video of the first one coming down, including our neighbour Francis helping out with his pole saw:

The other ones didn't come down quite so neatly, heading off sideways, but thanks to the rope that was attached in addition to the winch cable there was no damage done. This is one of the problems with Sycamore - the hinge is extremely weak and separates when the tree moves just a small amount. Here's the view afterwards:

There's one more job to be done during January - the two large Sycamore on the edge, further down the hill. Our friend Tim will be felling them for us, and we'll do the rest of the work once they're down.


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Sunday 2 January 2011

Telescope SLR pictures

A short while ago I posted some pictures of birds taken using a telescope. Well, that was the small telescope, which is 90mm diameter, but has a focal length of 1250mm. This means it acts like an f14 1250mm lens, so with the SLR connected that's about 25x zoom, and that's just too much for the diameter, so the pictures come out dim. So I'd been using our compact camera with that telescope, and got some reasonable pictures.

Today however, I finally got my big telescope out of the loft for the first time since we moved, set it up, corrected the collimation, and took it out in the back garden see how it was with the SLR. Bear in mind this was at 3:50pm, so the light was fading fast, but I managed to get a few pics of starlings in a tree about 50-60m away:


That one's cropped, but here's a full frame, so you can see what's possible:

It works better as it's 200mm diameter, with a focal length of 1000mm, so it gives about 20x zoom and acts like an f5 lens. It's also easier to use the SLR with, as it has a port to connect it directly.

We've also been at the wood, clearing up some last remaining jobs, like this large edge Sycamore:


There's a few awkward Sycamore that we left last year, but now we have a decent winch, we're going to tackle them in the next few days. There's also a couple of Sycamore to come down that we're going to get a friend to fell, as they're bigger than I've trained for. We'll then process them on the ground.


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