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More macro mania

Today’s guest picture shows a sophisticated big city London heron spotted by my sister Mary in Regent’s Park on her way home from tennis.

Mr Grumpy, London styleOur good weather continues but each day sees the wind getting a little stronger which probably means that the end is near.  As it is the autumn equinox today, it would not be too surprising to get some autumn weather soon.   It was chilly enough this morning for a heavy jacket and some gloves when I went out with Dropscone for a cycle to Gair and back,  Dropscone had had a busy weekend and was in gentle cycling mode which was more than fine with me and we enjoyed our outing.

We were just having our coffee and scones when the minister turned up at the perfect moment to get the last scone and the last cup of coffee.  That sort of timeliness takes a lifetime of practice to develop.

He was in his working clothes and he told us that he had been out earlier than us for his ride…..and he had gone a bit further too.   We were impressed but we didn’t show it in case he got big headed.

After they left, I put the macro lens on the camera and went out to look for small things to photograph.  I didn’t have to look hard.  The sun had come out and there were several red admiral butterflies sampling Mrs Tootlepedal’s flowers.

red admiral butterflies

Some new and some a bit second hand by the look of them.

Butterflies are more complicated than they look at first sight.

red admiral butterflyBut they look lovely when they spread their wings and enjoy the sun.

red admiral butterflyDuring the day, I kept my eye out for bees and hoverflies.  The sunflowers were always busy.

hoverfliesI think that this one was on a rudbeckia.

hoverflyOne thing that the macro lens has shown is just how furry bees are.

bee on sunflowerI didn’t spend my whole day bug hunting.  I did some dead heading and turned some compost.  Mrs Tootlepedal has now used all the compost from last year which was in bin D, so we have turned the late compost from last year from bin C into bin D and we are in the process of turning this year’s compost from bin A into the now empty bin C.  “What happened to bin B?” you ask.  It is not such a good bin as bin A and it started to get filled when it looked as though bin A would not be enough to hold all the material that has come from the garden this summer.  When bin A has been turned into bin C, bin B will be turned into bin A.  I know that readers will be very interested to be told about all this.

We do the turning a little bit at a time to avoid wrecking ourselves but each lot of compost will get turned twice before it is used.  In  an ideal world we would turn it every three or four weeks but we can’t manage that and it is surprising how much even two turns speeds up the process.

In between the flies and bees, I saw a blackbird.

blackbird

After a rush when young families appeared, blackbirds have been scarcer lately.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went across the road to help our neighbour Liz prune a cherry tree and while she was there, I spent a little time trying to catch a flying insect of the day….

flying beeflying hoverfly….and found out that I would need perfect light, a very high ISO and probably a faster shutter speed than I have available to freeze the wings.  But it was fun trying.

I am enjoying the unexpected flowers on a fuchsia bush that had previously appeared to be unable to flower.  The insects enjoy the pollen too….

fuchsia…but not while I was watching today.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back, we went for a cycle ride.

We had a steady turn up the Wauchope road to the bridge at Westwater.   I took Pocketcam with me but the light, though generally sunny,  was a bit strange and the pictures didn’t turn out well.

View from Wauchope School

The view back towards Langholm from above Wauchope School

View from the bridge

The view from the bridge. This hillside was clear felled not long ago and is recovering well.

We arrived home, with perfect timing, just in time for a nice cup of tea at four o’clock.

I shifted a little more compost after tea and then watched the birds for a while.  I was pleased to be able to catch a glimpse of a dunnock or hedge sparrow.  These are often in the garden but they scuttle around on the ground and are hard to photograph as the camera’s autofocus finds their dull brown colour tricky to pick out.

dunnockThe seeds in the feeder are going down very slowly at present but even so, this chaffinch found it necessary to be rude to a sparrow in spite of there being several vacant perches available.

chaffinch and sparrowI was expecting my flute pupil Luke to come but he was poorly so I had the evening to myself.  I wasted it watching telly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch in the absence of any more exciting visitors.

flying chaffinch

With song and a smile

Today’s guest picture shows a fine iron bridge over the Regent’s Canal in London.  My sister Mary took it as she strolled along the tow-path a week ago.

Regent's canalAfter a succession of rather grey mornings, we had a beautiful sunny day today and when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I should have taken advantage of the weather by going for a bicycle ride.  I should have but I didn’t as my legs were sulking.

Instead I spent a morning of creative lounging – sitting in several different chairs, wandering about the garden in several different directions and eating several slices of toast with different toppings.  This, added to some dead heading and a little compost turning, filled the morning very nicely.

The dead heading can be a bit tedious but it is worthwhile and there are many colourful corners in the garden which have kept going very satisfactorily as a result.

cosmos and marigolds

Cosmos and marigolds

The marigolds have done really well and don’t seem to have minded the absence of rain for the last few weeks.

marigoldSome flowers have taken advantage of the good weather to restart blooming.

geum

A geum by the bird feeders

Others just keep on going.

nasturtiums

Nasturtiums by the front door.

lamium

Lamium in the back border

Mrs Tootlepedal’s packet of sunflower seeds is turning the heads of passers by as they grow taller and taller.

sunflowers

She has clumps all over the place.

This was my favourite today.

sunflowerI saw not just a single robin standing on the dew covered lawn after breakfast….

robin…but another one nearby.

robin

I very rarely see two at once.

They didn’t chase each other off so I take it that they must be family.

The hedgerows and verges are full of berries and seeds at the moment and this is saving me money as the stream of visitors to the bird feeders has slowed to a trickle.

chaffinch

A sparrow is indifferent to an approaching chaffinch.

There is a much greater supply of smaller flying objects though.

peacock butterfly on marigold

A peacock butterfly on a marigold before coffee.

red admiral on sedum

A red admiral on the sedum before lunch.

I got mildly excited with my new lens.

red admiral on sedumBees and hoverflies abound.

hoverflies on poppies

A gang of roving hoverflies on a poppy

The pollen on the poppies seems to be right at the base of the petals and I can often see bees swimming round what I think are the pistils and  doing the side-stroke to get at it.

bee on poppyThey have to wiggle furiously which I suppose helps the fertilisation of the plants….and is fun to watch too.

The new lens is rather addictive and I spend a lot of time bent over double with my nose near to my knees.

hoverfliesBut as a commenter pointed out, you see things when you put the camera card in the computer later in the day which you would never see with the naked eye.

hoverflyI am very lucky that Mrs Tootlepedal has provided me with so much to look at on a lazy day.

In the afternoon we combined shopping for much needed supplies of fish and cheese with a Carlisle Community Choir practice.  Our usual musical director was not there but he had organised an excellent substitute and we had an enjoyable and useful two hours under her direction.  It was slightly embarrassing at times as there were one or two exposed – and high – tenor solos to be got through but we did our best.

We gave fellow choir member Jeremy a lift down and he told us that he is doing a 170 mile coastal cycle ride with friends from Newcastle to Edinburgh  next weekend, taking three days.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that the good weather holds for him.

By the the time that we got home, the light was going and we went in to cook our tea and slump in front of the telly for some undemanding Sunday evening TV programming to let us wind down at the end of an eventful and exciting week.

The flying chaffinch of the day shows us its full wingspan.

flying chaffinch

Peaking

Today’s guest picture was taken by my brother recently when walking part way along the Ruapehu round-the-mountain trail in NZ.  They are obliviously very keen on board walks there.

Ruapehu Round the Mountain partial tramp Sept 2014 - 11My day today, like all Gaul in the time of Julius Caesar, was divided into three parts.  The morning was spent cycling, the afternoon, recovering from cycling and the evening at a concert.  More or less the perfect day.

The cycling was a real treat and just what the doctor ordered to take my mind off the referendum.  Scott, the minister, was back on his bike after a short illness and was anxious for a decent pedal so I suggested a 50  mile circuit with three steady climbs and he agreed.  We met after breakfast and set out to the north into a noticeable wind.

Garmin 20 Sept 14The route took us up the A7 which was quiet enough on a Saturday morning to making pedalling a pleasure.  Scott is fitter than I am and was good enough to do the bulk of the leading into the wind so I was able to tag along behind his not insignificant frame, well sheltered from the breeze.

In this way, we got up to the top of the first of our three major hills at a good speed. We stopped there so that I could take a portrait on the minister being just that little bit closer to God.

About 800 feet closer in fact.

Scott at MosspaulSadly, the Mosspaul Hotel, once a cycling hotel, is shut again.  It seems like a hard place to generate customers these days.

Once over the top at Mosspaul, we had a gently downhill run to Hawick where we stopped for a banana where the Slitrig Burn disappears into a tunnel.

Slitrig BurnOur first hill had been just a taster of what was to come….

Garmin 20 Sept 14 elevation…and we needed a bit of fuel before following the Slitrig Burn….

Slitrig Burn…up to the Whitrope summit at 1214ft.

This is a beautiful bit of country and the views make the climb a pleasure, helped on this occasion by a following wind.  The gradient is very even when you get to the final climb so it is a matter of finding the right gear or the right pace and just going steadily.

There was not much view at the summit as we almost had our heads in the clouds.

Scott at WhitropeThe road from the top of Whitrope down into Newcastleton is a joy, 10 miles and 800 more or less uninterrupted feet of descent.

We stopped at Newcastleton for a cup of coffee with a squashed fly cake (Scott) and a toasted tea cake (me) as once again we needed a little fuel for our last challenge, the ten mile road across the moor to Langholm.

This involves climbing 800 feet back up to a 1112 ft summit in 4 miles…..

Langholm Moor……and then promptly losing 500 feet and having to climb a last 200 feet before plunging giddily down the side of Whita and back into Langholm. With the aid of strong hearts, good legs and a following wind, we achieved all this at just under 12 miles an hour, by far the quickest that I have ever done this section of road in recent times.

It was a treat to do this journey with Scott, as with his help on the upwind section and his speed down the long hills, he kept me going quite a bit faster than I would have gone if I had been  by myself.

As a side note, I recorded the ride on a  Garmin device and Scott used Strava on his phone.  The Garmin website says that I did 2700 ft of climbing.  When I look at the same ride on my Strava account it says that I did 3015 ft of climbing and Strava then claims that Scott did 3500 ft.  I shall obviously have to use Strava!   The elevation read outs from these GPS devices are not very reliable.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had also put the morning to good use and had been working hard in the garden.   Sometimes the frequently wet weather gets to gardeners round here and they get a bit low but two warm and dry summers have set Mrs Tootlepedal’s enthusiasm for improvements alight and given some decent weather next year, the results should be a delight to see.

There is quite a lot of good stuff in the garden at present thanks to the present good spell.

sedum

Two types of sedum are flourishing.

cotoneaster and Virginia creeper

Cotoneaster and Virginia creeper make a colourful show. The Virginia Creeper has lasted far better this year than last.

honeysuckle and Fuchsia

Honeysuckle and Fuchsia berries.

poppies

And almost perfect pink poppies

Our autumn raspberries are fruiting so well that I am being forced to eat plates of raspberries and cream every night but I am bearing up very well in spite of this.

The birds were as cheerful and polite as ever.

bird feederLate in the afternoon,the light got a bit better and this gave me the chance to look for an insect or two.  They were not hard to find.

poppy

Some did try to hide.

poppy and insect

Some were small but perfectly formed.

red admiral butterfly

A red admiral shares the sedum with the inevitable bee.

Finally the sun actually came out and that made life easier for me.

Astrantia with bee

The astrantia is very popular with bees.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went along to the Buccleuch Centre to listen to Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, two of the most accomplished and charming musicians and raconteurs you could hope to meet.  They play accordion and fiddle in a traditional but very sophisticated style and interweave the music with well polished humorous routines.  They have the huge added bonus of having a sound engineer who is not deaf and so they are not over amplified, a rare thing these days.

They come to Langholm fairly regularly and many of the tunes and quite a few of the anecdotes and jokes are old friends but they come over as fresh as a daisy so no one complains.

In between the pedalling, the resting and being entertained, I did catch a flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

Down

Today’s guest picture shows the suitably decorated head and shoulders of William Wallace.  This is a giant statue on a hillside  in the Scottish Borders.  It was taken by my friend Bruce, who was on a tour of the borders.

WallaceIt was a grey day today both meteorologically and spiritually.  In spite of not really believing in my heart that the Yes vote would win, last night’s referendum defeat was still very galling as it seemed to both Mrs Tootlepedal and myself that here was real opportunity to improve life for everyone in Scotland, an opportunity with many risks and a cloudy vision but nevertheless a real opportunity.  That opportunity has gone, perhaps for ever.  It is a gnawing disappointment.

The weather did nothing to lighten my mood, with thick clouds excluding any glimpse of sunshine all day.  Only the arrival of Dropscone with some of his traditional Friday treacle scones stopped me from crawling back into bed and hiding from life once Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to visit the world’s greatest baby.

I was taking a day of rest from cycling as I have had a busy time in the last month thanks to the dry weather and I managed to make a start on tidying up my office, which has got into quite a mess recently.  My tidying mostly consists of moving unclassified heaps of stuff from one place to another and staring at them and is consequently not very productive…but at least I tried.

I did take a quick walk round the garden.  There was an immense amount of dead heading to do but it is a worthwhile labour as cosmos, poppies, rudbeckia and marigolds are all still flowering freely.

marigoldThe rather chilly weather had slowed down the many bees on the sedum.   This made them an easier target than usual.

beeIt was so grey that catching a flying bird was hard work and I took this one just in case it got even gloomier later in the day.

flying chaffinchAfter lunch, I went off to the Tourist Information Point at the Kilngreen where a single brief visit from a couple of tourists was all that I had to keep me amused.  After I locked up, I went down to the waterside to see how Mr Grumpy felt about the referendum result.

heron

I agree.

The gulls and ducks were firmly planted on the bank of the river and I was just wondering if a passing flock of crows would  do for the flying bird of the day shot….

crows…when some obliging gulls got up and flew slowly past me.

gull

This is an uncropped picture, showing how close the gulls were to me.

gull

I cropped this one.

I shot a sitting duck as I left for home.

mallardI should add that there wasn’t much water to stand beside today as the rivers are lower than ever.

Langholm BridgeWhen I got home, I was busy in my office getting some more things sorted when a strange noise drew me out into the street.  It was two men riding Silent Velocettes  They had stopped to talk to Mike Tinker who was passing with his daughter Liz.Silent velocettesIt was my friend Bruce and his son Kevin.  I didn’t have time to question them closely but I will be interested to find where they had got these wonderful 150 cc bikes with four-stroke, water-cooled, horizontally opposed twin-cylinder engines.  Bruce told me that he had ridden one of these in his youth.

They were much used by police forces before the ‘Panda’ car superseded them.

This cheered me up quite a bit.  I walked round the garden with Mike and Liz after the motor cyclists had gone on their way.  Liz is a professional gardener so it is always interesting to look at the garden through her eyes.  She enjoyed Mrs Tootlepedal’s poppies.

In the evening, I put on a bow tie and went off to sing with our choir at a fund raising concert in the church.  It was basically a showcase for the young singers in the town and we are fortunate to have a lot of talented youngsters at the moment who have been encouraged and developed by our local youth theatre group.  The choir was in the programme to provide some mature contrast and in fact we sang quite well.  This was as pleasing as it was surprising as we had not had a lot of practice.

The talented youth were very good and considering that the concert was far too long at two and a half hours, the time slipped by remarkably well, a tribute to their skills.  We were on in the second half and Mrs Tootlepedal arrived back from Edinburgh in plenty of time to join in.  As the concert raised £1000 for church funds, everyone agreed that it was a splendid affair.

One of the obliging gulls is the flying bird of the day.   It is not the sharpest bird picture I have ever taken but it was a very grey day.

gull

A visit to Annan

Today’s guest picture of a magnolia in bloom, taken in NZ where my brother has just been skiing, shows that spring is round the corner there at the same time.  This was sent to me by Jennie, who lives in the north of the South Island.

magnoliaWe are headed in the opposite direction meteorologically from her of course but not quite yet as our spell of dry and warm weather continues.  The wind has started to get up a bit which may be heralding a change but Dropscone and I had no need for overshoes or rain jackets as we set off for the morning run to Gair.

After his record of two punctures in his last two rides, Dropscone was hoping for the best today.  He had discovered a small thorn in his tyre and as a result had put a different tyre on for this morning’s ride and this turned out to be a sound decision as we skimmed along with not a hint of a hiss of escaping air.  There was a bit of puffing from me though as we had to work hard into the wind on the way home to get the average up to our target of 15 mph.

Our post ride coffee and scones became a very sociable affair with the arrival of first Sandy and then Scott, the cycling minister, who had both been voting in the referendum.  Luckily I had made a big bucket of coffee and had some supplies of Selkirk bannock on hand so we were all fed and watered.

Once peace had returned, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took an old exercise bike round to a friend who is also going to get a knee replacement and badly needed some way of building up her muscles before the operation. We combined this with a visit to the polling station to cast our votes too and then I had some time to wander round the garden.

poppy and rose

Our steady supply of poppies has been joined by a late white rose.

sweet peas

Sweet peas continue to lurk along the vegetable garden fence.

fuchsia

Further along the fence, a traditional fuchsia is visited by a small flying object.

clematis

In the back border, a clematis runs riot.

As a marker of just how dry it has been, one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s rhododendrons was looking so poorly that she thought that it was dying but a really good watering was enough to bring it back to life.  If it doesn’t rain soon, we will have to start checking out shrubs more carefully.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help with the driving for the disabled and  I waited for the arrival of Sandy as we had agreed to go for a photographic outing.  After considerable debate, we decided to take up Sandy’s suggestion of a  visit to the old port at Annan, a town about twenty miles from us. Neither of us had visited it before so we were interested as to what we would find.

As the river was low and the tide was out, what we didn’t find was any water.  There were boats though….

boats at Annan  port….both ancient and modern.

trawlerThis rather ugly fishing boat at a small boatyard in the port was built in Stranraer in 2013 and seems to be under repair here.  It would probably look a bit more elegant of it was actually floating.

There was not a lot to detain us on the waterless dockside so we decided to cross the River Annan by a modern bridge built in conjunction with Sustrans as part of the National Cycle network and go for a walk on the other side.  The bridge looked a little grimy as we approached it…

sustrans bridge….but once on it, it looked rather smart…..

sustrans bridge…especially in black and white.

In spite of the shadows on the bridge, it was another hazy day and rather flat for taking photographs.  Looking up river as we crossed, we could see the old bridge taking the main road into the town.

Annan town bridge…and a selection of rather distant but interesting bird life.

heron and goosanderLooking downstream, we could see the bridge carrying the Gretna to Dumfries railway line.

Annan railway bridgeFor a bridge enthusiast like myself, this was a real treat.  Crossing the Sustrans bridge, we were directed by this curiously wrought signpost….

signpost…onto the path along the river.

riverside path, AnnanWe headed downstream and looked back at the railway bridge with the new bridge behind it….

Annan railway bridge

A fine five arched bridge to admire.

….and even had the bonus of another tiny bridge to cross as we went along.

little bridge, AnnanWe were not likely to starve as we walked as there was a profusion of blackberries to pick and eat.

bramblesThe crop has been so good this year that even the most dedicated jelly maker couldn’t pick them all.

We noticed that we were being accompanied by a ghost railway in the woods beside the path.

ghost railwayIt must have led to the large boiler making factory that we could see in front of us.  We got almost as far as the factory before my knee suggested that turning for home would be a good idea.  We had to keep a sharp eye out for low flying cyclists as we went along…

cycling sign…but we negotiated those that we met quite safely.

In spite of the weather feeling like late summer (we were walking in shirtsleeves), the trees know that autumn is coming…

autumn trees at Annan…but they are changing in a rather half hearted way and unless we get a colder spell soon, I fear that we won’t get much vibrant autumn colour this year.

Our return walk took us through the hidden sixth arch of the railway bridge….

Annan railway bridge…and back to the car.

I snoozed gently as Sandy drove us home and we polished off the remains of the Selkirk bannock with our cup of tea when we got back to the house.

In the evening, Sandy and I went to the Archive Centre and put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the database.  These two weeks took us to the end of 1887 and the putting of another year to bed is always a moment of satisfaction.  Less satisfactory is the fact that the data miners are already two months into 1888 and my in-tray is piling up.

We retired to the Eskdale for our customary after-archiving refreshment and raised a glass to the our absent friend Jean.

The requirements of voting and going to Annan left me with no time to catch a flying bird today but as I have already exceeded my daily limit for blog pictures, this can only be a source of relief for busy readers.

Getting a hiding

Today’s guest picture was taken by my brother on his recent skiing trip.  It was sent to me by my sister Susan because it shows Mt Taranki in NZ under whose imposing slopes she lived for several years.

Mt TaranakiOur unusual spell of dry September weather (the driest for fifty years they say) continued today and Dropscone and I set out on the morning pedal to Gair in good heart.  This serene sentiment lasted for seven miles until Dropscone drew to a halt with his second puncture in three days.  The MTRS was called out and he turned to trudge back up the hill while I continued for the rest the ride.

When we met for coffee and scones, he revealed that the day between the two punctures had been spent playing golf as badly as he has ever played so it has not been a good start to the week for him.  The punctures are a bit of a puzzle as he recently bought some supposedly puncture proof tyres.  Still, things can only get better.

I am currently the Wednesday volunteer for refilling the Moorland Project bird feeders so after a shower, I drove up to Broomholmshiels, accompanied by Mrs Tootlepedal who was hoping to do some constructive raptor watching while we were there.

We filled the feeders but there was a marked absence of interesting birds of any sort to watch.  I snapped a great tit just for the sake of it…

great tit…and we came home.

The garden was more rewarding.

Fuchsia

My favourite Fuchsia is going great guns.

The garden is full of insects

The garden is full of insects.  Every flower seems to have a friend.

butterflies

The good weather is getting the butterflies to settle a bit instead of endlessly flitting about.

peacock butterfly

This peacock butterfly has lost a chunk of its lower right wing.

peacock butterfly

And this one has lost the tip of its left wing.

While I was getting my lunch ready, I got a phone call from fellow camera club member Mel  inviting me to come up and see her new hide which she has set up to photographs birds at her feeders.  She lives just out of town and promised me a steady supply of nuthatches.

This sounded exciting so I had my lunch, cycled up to her house, greeted Maggie….

Maggie…and settled down on a stool in her shelter.  This was an economically priced shell shaped wind breaker with a modest camouflage netting draped over the front.  Mel assured me that the birds would not be put off by it and she was quite right.  There was a steady stream of visitors to her feeders.

blue tits

Blue tits

coal tits

Coal tits

And yes…..

nuthatches

Nuthatches

I was using my 200mm zoom lens which shows how close the hide is to the feeders.

blue titMel has a bird table with bread and coconuts as well as the seed feeder and this attracted a passing robin.

robinI put my 2x teleconverter onto the 200mm zoom to try to get a more intimate portrait of a nuthatch.

nuthatchThey are beautiful birds.

Being in the country and surrounded by fields, Mel has more to see than just birds….

black rabbit

I hope it is lucky to have my path crossed by a black rabbit

…though not everything that passed by was peaceful.

hercules

A tree hopping Hercules military transport plane.

I spent a happy couple of hours watching birds, roaming around the grounds and being entertained to cups of tea and slices of two sorts of cake.  Mel has extended an invitation to me to go up again and I will certainly take this up.  It is surprising to find how different the visitors to feeders are in the middle of the town and in the country only a mile or so away.

When I got home, the bee and butterfly population in the garden again attracted my camera lens.

peacock butterfly

A peacock butterfly with a full set of wings.

Red admiral butterfly

A red admiral butterfly with an attendant bee

astrantia with insect

A bug eyed monster enjoying a feed on an astrantia

After tea, we went off to a practice for Langholm Sings, our community choir.  We are singing three songs in the middle of a concert in the church on Friday and we have not had enough time to practice new material so we polished up two old friends and are doing our best with the Chorus of Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco for the third item.

It is the date of the referendum for Scottish independence tomorrow so depending on the result, this chorus may have special resonance when we sing it on Friday.

The result seems finely balanced according to the pollsters and considering that every national UK newspaper and all their Scottish editions have been campaigning for a no vote and only one Scottish newspaper, a Sunday heavy, has come out for the Yes side, it is a remarkable tribute to the Yes campaign that things are so exciting.  I personally will be voting yes as I think this might be a real opportunity to escape from a moribund political system for something better.

One of Mel’s nuthatches doing a ‘Look Ma, no hands’ routine is flying bird of the day.

flying nuthatch

Back to normal

Today’s guest picture shows my brother Andrew skiing on Mt Ruahepu in New Zealand.  He gets about.

Skiing at Mt RuapehuAfter the excitement of yesterday’s grand day out, we were back to normal today, dead heading poppies, wandering about the garden, watching birds, cooking, cleaning and ironing.  (You can guess which of those things I took most part in.)

We started the day by clearing a large backlog of ‘stuff that needed to be looked at sometime’ that had been lying on the kitchen table.  Some was thrown away, some dealt with by writing cheques and delivering envelopes and some was filed in the proper place.  This made us feel very virtuous.

I went out for a celebratory walk round the garden.

The poppies hadn’t got any less lovely while we had been away and the buzz of interested insects around them was distractingly loud.  Almost every flower seemed to have a friend.

Shirley poppyI did find three that hadn’t attracted any company.

Shirley poppy

Some were still showing the results of last night’s rain.

A bee on the sedum looked as though it had got a bit wet too.

bee on sedumMy new lens makes it more easy than using the zoom lens to take shots of several flowers at a time.

Shirley poppyI used the 300mm zoom to take this picture of some berberis berries though as it does better in blanking out the background.

berberisIt’s horses for courses however and the macro lens came out again for a shot of the white clematis.

white clematis…and two bonus roses which have just come out.

rosesI was very pleased to see a robin posing in front of the kitchen window.

robinA goldfinch looked rather unsure of whether visiting the feeder was a good idea.

goldfinch I made some lentil soup for my lunch and then I ate some lentil soup for my lunch.

After lunch we went shopping to replenish the store cupboard and then, as it was a pleasantly sunny day, we went for a fourteen mile cycle ride round the Barnglieshead triangle.

I had Pocketcam with me.

Kerr

The rough pasture has gone brown.

Ryehills

Some of the trees are just starting to turn too.

Barnglies

We weren’t surrounded by mountains but our way was still beautiful.

Bloch

Looking homeward as we passed Bloch Farm

As you can see, this was the second day running that we have enjoyed perfect conditions for cycling.

When we got home, I spent some time chasing butterflies.

peacock butterfly

The purple phlox is very popular with this peacock butterfly

There was an unusually furry yellowish bee on a nearby plant.

yellow beeI also went stalking bees on the sedum.  This wasn’t too hard as there must have been twenty or thirty tucking in.

bee on sedum

Very hairy knees.

bee on sedum

Stained glass window wings

Owing to differing commitments, there was no recorder group tonight and I was both disappointed to miss playing  and pleased as I was happy to have a quiet night in.

As a change from the eternal chaffinches, the flying bird of the day is a rather blurred robin.

flying robin

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