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The B picture

I have got a great many potential guest pictures of the day on hand at the moment so if I don’t use them all, I apologise.  Today’s is a starfish which our son Tony spotted while out on a walk recently.

starfish

We had a wildly different and exciting day today…..no, I am fibbing there.  We had a very similar day to the previous days.

I rose, had a leisurely breakfast, read the paper and did the crossword and then graciously changed from nightwear to daywear and had coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal (and a toasted tea cake in my case).

It is a gentle rhythm and designed to stretch time out so that I don’t have to spend too long each day wondering what to do.

I did some compost sieving, woodshed tidying and new path construction and followed that with a walk round the garden.

Florally, it was a mixed day.  Although another dog tooth violet had come out, it was cold enough  to cause the tulips to purse their lips…

garden flowers

….and although light blue grape hyacinths have joined the darker ones, the magnolia blossoms haven’t enjoyed the chilly weather much.

New flowers have appeared and this was my first sighting of a vinca…

vinca

…and another plum blossom or two popped out to see what the weather was like.

plum blossom

I sat on the new bench and watched a bumble bee with a very red rear end visit cowslips…

bee on cowslip

…and dicentra.   I think it may be a red tailed bumble bee but I am open, as always, to correction from knowledgeable readers.

Later in the day, I saw what I think is white tailed bumble bee on a different dicentra.

bee on dicentra

I also watched a female blackbird taking nesting material into a hole in our front hedge while the male blackbird looked on.

blackbirds nestying morning

From time to time, he had to get active though in order to defend his territory.

blackbirds sparring

Inside the house, one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s pot plants, a gift from our friend Alison Tinker, has perked up a lot and produced some very pretty little flowers.

indoor plant

There is nesting going on all around and we watched this jackdaw taking nesting material into a handy chimney pot on Walter Street.

jackdaw nesting in chimney

After lunch, I went for my permitted exercise.  As I had walked yesterday, I cycled today.

The wind was noticeable but not strong.  It was coming from the east, so I cycled north on the main road towards Hawick, hoping that although it would be a crosswind, it might help me more on the way back than the way out.

As I was cycling up a familiar road, I didn’t stop to take pictures until I had done eight miles.  I was at the head of the Ewes Valley then.  The road looks as though it should swing round the the left here but in fact…

road below mosspaul

… it veers sharply right and then goes up a narrow valley until it reaches Mosspaul.

The view at Mosspaul may not look much but it very significant as it marks the watershed that divides the east and west of Scotland.  Behind me, every stream and river runs eventually into the Esk and then into the Irish Sea, while ahead of me, they all end up eventually in the Tweed and then flow into the North Sea.

mosspaul col

Looking to my left at Mosspaul, I was again struck by how mathematical the countryside here is.

mosspaul geometry

I headed on over the col and down into the valley of the Teviot.

Regular readers will know that I like a tree on a hillside.  This is a good example.

mosspaul tree

I stopped when I got to the new bridge that crosses the Teviot…

teviot bridge

…and then headed back to Langholm, hoping for some assistance from the wind.

The wind duly obliged for a lot of the way home and my average speed improved a lot.

On my way back up the hill to Mosspaul, I was intrigued by this place name and stopped to look around.

phaup cottage

Research tells me that the name Phaup is the local pronunciation for Fawhope.  As this means  small upland valley or hollow enclosed at the upper end by green hills or ridges, I think that the central picture in the panel shows that the cottage is well named.  The bridge takes the main road over the Phaup Burn.

I scooted back down the hill from Mosspaul to Langholm and crossed the Langholm Bridge near the end of my journey.

 

Langholm Bridge

The thirty four mile outing took me over 100 miles for the week and was most enjoyable.  The road surface was mostly good and sometimes very good.  There are no steep hills on the way so I got into a very steady pedalling mode and bowled along cheerfully.

When I got back, I had a sit out in the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal and we watched another bee….

bee on hyacinth

…and the nesting blackbirds.  The female was busy taking material into the nest in the hedge while the male sat on the yew tree and watched.  Mrs Tootlepedal seemed to think that this made some sort of point but I couldn’t see what she was getting at.

blackbirds nesting evening

She also pointed out a new and pretty tulip but the cool evening air had caused it to shut up shop for the night so I will look at it again tomorrow.

new tulip

It had been a cool, grey day with the east wind not helping so it was galling to hear the weather presenters on the telly going on and on about what a lovely warm and sunny day it had been in England.  However, it does seem that it will be warm here tomorrow, so we are looking forward to that.

Two distant flying ducks are the flying birds of the day.

two ducks flying

Today’s guest picture comes from Dylan, the son of Marianne, our son Tony’s partner.  He spotted a big bee among some fine blossom.

dylan's bee

We had a day of wall to wall sunshine here.  Once again the wind was brisk and somewhat chilly, but if you could get out of the wind, it was very pleasant.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day hunched over the computer doing rather dull administrative work for the community buy out group, and that left me at a loose end as far as the garden went.

I did go out into the garden a lot and I did do some rather unfocused and desultory work but my chief interest was to see if I could spot a butterfly or two in the sunshine.

Not a single butterfly fluttered by, but I did see some other things, like this first dog tooth violet flower of the year…

first trout lily

…and lots of tulips wide open to the sun…

tulips panel

…and an almost complete drumstick primula and some cheerful lamium flowers.

primula and lamium

I went round to the (corner) shop and on my way back I didn’t see any oyster catchers but I did see a profusion of Lady’s Smock which has sprung up on the bank of the river.

lady's mantle esk

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is another Cardamine or cuckoo flower but we still haven’t heard any cuckoos.

I noticed that the heron which keeps watch over our pond seemed to have its spring plumage on today…

painted heron

…and I suspect that Mrs Tootlepedal has been been busy with her paint brush.

One thing that you can say about our handsome heron is that it won’t be a threat to this frog which appeared in the pond this morning.

frog april

Although our feeder is not at all busy, there are quite a lot of birds about.  This jackdaw looked as though it was holding on tight in the brisk breeze…

plum[p jackdaw

…but a sparrow on a stalk looked much more stable.

sparrow on stalk

There were a lot of sparrows about and this was my favourite of the day.

sparrow on branch

I made some tomato soup for lunch and then managed to get myself organised to take my permitted exercise in the shape of a walk.

Because we are not supposed to drive to somewhere to walk, I am following in my own footsteps a lot these days but when the weather is as nice as it was today, that is no great hardship.

I went up the road to the Auld Stane Brig and popped down to look at the Wauchope Water on my way.  It was very peaceful in the shelter there…

peaceful wauchope

…and the water was rippling gently over the stones.

stones underwater

Up on the hill past the bridge, it was a different matter which this tree summed up rather well.

balsted tree

As I walked back down the track, I saw a bird.  If anyone tells me that this is a thrush and not a meadow pipit, I shall be very disappointed as it really does look like a meadow pipit to me.

meadow pipit

I walked through the Kernigal wood again

four walk views

…but this time, I kept going and took the track down to the river at Skippers Bridge and then walked back along the Murtholm and up the track to the Stubholm. I had hoped to see bluebells but I didn’t spot any and had to make do with other welcome signs of spring on my way.

four sping branches

A reader asked me if the new larch needles were soft or bristly and I can report that they are very soft at this stage of their development.

I came down through the park and walked along to the bank of the Esk to see if the oyster catchers were back.

There were no oyster catchers but I enjoyed these sculptural buds….

blossom buds

…and a pair of goosanders fishing in the river.

two goosanders

I met my friends Bob and Nancy out for their walk beside the river and they told me that I must have just missed bluebells on my stroll as they had seen some very near to where I had walked. I will go back soon and have another look.

When I got home, I had a cup of tea and a toasted tea cake, and followed that with a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She saw the thing that I had been looking for all day, a peacock butterfly.

peacock butterfly

The butterfly flew off, Mrs Tootlepedal went back in to do some more computer work and I checked on some more birds.  A jackdaw flew up on to our roof and revealed that it was the bird with the white wing feather.

flying jackdaw white

A dunnock stopped racing and chasing round the garden for long enough for me to take a portrait…

dunnock on hedge

…and then set off again.

I don’t lead a wildly exciting life at the best of times but the present situation is even less exciting than usual and there seems to be nothing to think about that offers pleasing prospects so I apologise if the run of posts at the moment are a bit lacking in zest.  Like toilet paper and yeast, zest is in short supply just now.

But I did get a very handsome starling for the flying bird of the day with its wings catching the evening sun.

flying starling

Today’s guest picture of a nicely posed very fancy daffodil comes from my Highland correspondent, Jenni.

jenni's daffodil

By co-incidence, Mrs Tootlepedal showed me a fancy daffodil in our garden today.   She is not quite sure why she is growing this one as she….

fancy daffodil

…much prefers plainer sorts.  We do have a variety of ‘plainer sorts’ in the garden too.

four daffodil panel

We had another generally fine day but still with that chilly wind, so unless the sun was shining, it felt quite cool in the garden.  Luckily the sun shone quite a lot.

I had my usual morning of coffee and crossword but I spent quite a lot of time in the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  After some active gardening days, I had run out of things to do, so I mostly stood around gormlessly while Mrs Tootlepedal did arcane things with a trowel and bucket.

This left me with time hanging heavy on my hands so I took far too many picture with various cameras and lenses.

There were insects in daffodils….

insects in daffs

…and attractive blue flowers.  I especially like the tiny flowers on the Brunnera with even tinier buds.

hyacinth and brunnera

I sat in the greenhouse to get out of the wind and admired Mrs Tootlepedal’s peas growing in a gutter.

peas in gutter

Then we did a little work on the new path that has appeared since the second kitchen waste bin was moved to its new position.

kitchen waste bins

Why do you need two kitchen waste bins? So that one can rot down peacefully while the other is being filled up again.  This makes emptying the bins a much more simple proposition than if you only have one bin.

The first plum blossom has appeared, which is exciting.

first plum blossom

Looking very closely at flowers is generally exciting too.  This doronicum has go a lot going on.

doronicum close up

There was nothing very  exciting about this dicentra but I do love the very rich colour it has on close inspection.

colour on dicentra

My macro lens peered at a tulip, the dark inside of a fritillary and the very curious goings on in a Euphorbia.

three flower close ups

Unfortunately I had put the macro lens away before I saw this bee.  The bird lens did its best.

bee on hyscinth

It was happier with a jackdaw though.

brooding jackdaw

After lunch, I took another picture of this tulip…

pink tulip

…and then I had a lie down in bed and read a book for an hour.  Hanging around at home and not doing much turns out to be quite tiring.

Then I pulled myself together and went off for a bike ride in a stiff breeze.

For a warm(ish) and sunny day, the wind made things feel cool and I was glad to still have plenty of layers on.

As I was going round my customary 20 mile Canonbie circuit, there was nothing fresh to look at so I looked at some familiar sights….

tree at bloch

..on my way…

two canonbie cows on the march

…just to prove to myself that I had been out for a ride.

The light was nice though so I stopped on the Hollows bridge and looked….

esk bank at hollows

…over both sides.

esk at hollows

I like this little corner near Irvine House.  It comes to life when the sun is in the right place.

Irvine house

We had been promised clear skies in the evening so I was very much looking forward to getting some shots of the full moon tonight as it is one of those big moons when it is near to the earth.  Owing to one thing and another, I forgot to keep a check on the time and by the time that I did look out, it was too late.  The moon was there but so were a lot of passing fragmented clouds which teased me with the possibility of seeing a clear moon but then hid it again.

If I had been half an hour earlier, I would have had a clear view but I had to settle for some unintentionally arty shots instead.

pink full moon 1pink full moon 2pink full moon 3

It was an impressive sight, even with the clouds.

The flying bird of the day is another passing rook.

flying rook

Footnote:  Mrs Tootlepedal told me that the clouds had gone so I went up and had another look when I had finished the post.  The moon was high up by now and a lot smaller to look at but it was in clear sky.  Better late than never (but only just).

pink full moon 4

 

Tea cake time

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  It shows a view of her garden from an upstairs room.  She tells me that her grass is left long to encourage wildlife and it has been sown with wildflowers which she hopes will appear later in the year.

venetia's garden

After yesterday’s glorious warm weather, it rained overnight and today was colder and even windier at times than yesterday.  But it didn’t rain.

This didn’t discourage the tadpoles who are now into independent swimming.

tadpoles on lily leaf

The tulips weren’t very keen on opening wide though, but they still added interest to the garden along with a very pale fritillary…

six garden flowers

…while pulmonaria, lamium and berberis added more discreet colour.

We had a leisurely morning with a little sporadic gardening and time to watch birds, sometimes through the window, sometimes in the garden…

chaffinch, blackbird, sparrows, bee

…and sometimes while sitting in the warmth of the greenhouse like these two sparrows on the fence. Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the bee on the rosemary while we were in there too.

After some lawn edging, time wasting, music making, cooking, laughing at a poem which my friend the cello playing Mike had sent me and looking at promising tulips…

new tulip

…I went out for a late afternoon permitted walk.

The river is exceedingly low after weeks with little or no rain….

esk very low april

…but no one is currently wishing for more rain after February’s exceptional rainfall.  Or at least, not out loud.

I walked through the town and then up the Kirk Wynd and onto the golf course.  It is a good golf course because if you are playing badly, which I almost always was, there is a selection of fine views to take your mind off your foozled shots.

view f Potholm Hill ridge

The greens are getting some green back onto them after the greenkeeper’s dramatic treatment, and as there are no golfers on it, the course is looking very well maintained.

golf course green

I enjoyed a final view from the course…

view up ewes from golf course

…and walked out onto the open hill, passing gorse, lichen and fresh hawthorn leaves on my way.

lichen gorse hawthorn

From Whita Well, I followed the track along the contour of the hill.  It was a lovely day, although I couldn’t see the Lake District hills as the Solway plain was covered in mist.

track toi quarry

The lovely day got a little less lovely as I went along the track because the sunshine retreated up the valley….sunshine up the valley

…thanks to this annoying cloud which hovered straight above me, leaving sunshine to both the north and the south.

clouds over whits

Dropscone had been this way on a walk lately, and he told me that he would have sent me an arty picture of a pylon if only he had remembered to take his camera with him.

So this is for him.

whita pylon square

And this one too, as I didn’t know which angle he would have chosen.

whita pylonn diagonal

Looking  south from the pylon, I could only just make out the windfarm at Gretna which shows how hazy it was down there.

gretna windfarm from whita

That dark cloud over my head was soon blown away though, and I walked back down the hill  in glorious sunshine again as i went through a little birch wood that has grown up in recent years…

birch wood on Whita

..and the sun lit up the floor of the wood as I joined the main track back to the Round House and Langholm.

jenyy noble's wood

I turned down the opportunity of a sit down on the bench at the Round House…

roundhouse bench

…and walked down the track that goes through the little oak wood…

oaks below round house

…past this fine tree…

oak tree longwood

…and ontothe old railway line.  I got to the path that leads steeply down to the road at Skippers Bridge…

steps down walk 7

…and the bridge drew me into yet another photograph.

skippers bridge april

At this stage, I realised that I was going to be late for tea if I didn’t get a move on so I got a move on.

The tea arrived on the table just as I arrived home.

At about three and a half miles, it was another walk which packed a lot of variety into a short outing.

During the afternoon, I had prepared the dough for a set of lockdown teacakes. The supply of ginger biscuits has run out and we need something to cheer us up in these troubled times.

They went in the oven after our evening meal and came out looking like this.

lockdown tea cakes

We test drove one or two and they seemed pretty cheerful to us.

The flying bird of the day is a starling, whisking across the garden in the strong wind this afternoon. (Too fast for my camera.)

flying starling

 

Pushed back

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  His dogs take spring seriously in East Wemyss.

daffy dog

Finally the warm weather arrived in Langholm and when we got up we wondered if the the warmth would bring the tulips out.

It did.

And in the end, the race to be first tulip out was a dead heat.

first tulips

The bergenia was flourishing too.

bergenia

It may have been warm but it was windy too and as the forecast suggested that it was going to get windier as the day went on, I took my permitted exercise fairly early in the day.  It would have been better if I had been earlier still, as it pretty windy by the time that I got out.  The wind was coming from the south so I thought I would try to see how far I could persuade my legs to go before they got fed up.

This turned out to be 15 miles straight down the A7.  The wind was very gusty and I thought that I might be in danger of being blown off course if I went on, so I agreed with my legs and turned across country to came back via the Brampton to Longtown road.  It was not busy.

empty Longtown Road april

Notice the verges mowed to within an inch of their life with no wild flowers showing at all.

With the wind now behind me, I did the next ten miles at 16 mph and had no trouble in getting up the gentle hills back to Langholm on the A7.  They were not busy either.

empty A7 april

I had hoped for more miles but in the end I was content to settle for 30miles in pleasantly warm conditions.  If I could get the same warmth next week with half the wind, I would be even more pleased.

I was back home in time for lunch for which Mrs Tootlepedal had made an extremely nourishing soup.

On a normal sunny, warm day in April, I would now have gone out for an interesting walk but, having taken my permitted exercise, I was stuck in the garden for the rest of the day.

There are worse places to be stuck in.

I had taken a picture of these cowslips before I had gone out in the morning and I took another one now just to show how much the light changes the colours that you see in the flowers.

cowslips in light

The sun picked out some old friends, including the last of the crocuses..

celandine, crocus and rosemary

…and the good light brought out the best in the cardamine.

cardamine

I see that the cardamine is called the cuckoo flower because it is supposed to come out as the cuckoo arrives but I think that we will have to wait a bit before we hear that familiar call.

Mrs Tootlepedal found a delicate skeleton of a leaf and draped it across her sleeve to show it off for me.

skeleton leaf

I mowed the middle lawn and then needed a sit down so I tested all the benches in the garden in turn, hoping that garden birds would visit me.

I saw a sparrow getting ready to build a nest.

sparrow with nest material

But I had to get up and walk around to see this small tortoiseshell butterfly warming up its wings.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she had seen another smaller brown butterfly, but it didn’t return so we couldn’t check it out.

The dunnocks were very noisy and active again, but this one paused in a tree long enough for me to take a picture.  It was off chasing other dunnocks a moment later.

dunnock in pear tree

I sat on the new bench for a while but no interesting birds (or any birds at all) appeared, so I had to make do with the view of the newly mowed lawn adorned with fresh tulips among the daffodils.

view from new bench with tulips

Then I mowed the front lawn for the first time this year.  This involves squashing a lot of moss but there were some blades of grass here and there so once again I hope for the best.  The lawns may, with luck, look respectable by the end of June.

I wandered around looking for new flowers and found that the lamium was nearly there…

lamium buds

…but lacking any other novelty, I went back to looking at the tulips and daffodils.

tulip and daff backlit

The magnolia was brightly back lit by the afternoon sun…

magnolia backlit

…and it has one or two flowers out.

magnolia flower

I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and enjoyed the view…

view from kitchen window

…and then I went inside and upstairs to take the same view from above to give a more general picture of what is probably peak daffodil time.

middle lawn early april

The garden tidy up continued as Mrs Tootlepedal moved the second kitchen waste compost bin to a new position but I felt that it would be too exciting to have a picture of this in the same post as new tulips, so that will have to wait for another day.  (OK, I forgot to take a picture.)

We now have two aubretias out….

two

…and having recorded them, we went in for a cup of tea and the last of the ginger biscuits.

It was still a lovely day, perfect for a walk but we did our bit and stayed at home.  A collared dove kept an eye on us.

collared dove

Instead of a walk we had a six way meeting including  my three sisters, my brother and Mrs Tootlepedal and me through the medium of Zoom.  We are all, except my brother who uses it for a language class meeting, pretty new to this so it took sometime before we were all on screen and able to talk.  Then we had to learn not to all talk at the same time but in the end, we managed to have quite a cheerful conversation with added banter.

A lightly boiled egg for our tea finished the active day off.

The flying bird of the day is a rook which flew high over the garden while I was testing one of the benches.

flying rook

Not here

Today’s guest picture from our son Alistair, shows that Matilda needed a parasol to cope with the bright sunshine in Edinburgh today.

matilda parasol

We didn’t get any sunshine here at all.  What made things more annoying was incessant talk on the radio about not letting the good weather tempt us to go out and have fun and break the lockdown.  Just poking a nose outside the back door was more than enough to show that it was quite cold enough for us to need no encouragement to stay inside at all.

I took some pictures of birds to prove that we were visited by one chaffinch, two siskins and three greenfinches in the morning.  (I was waiting for four turtle doves but they didn’t appear.)

chaffinch, siskins, greenfinches

Then I settled down to some serious time wasting which lasted until lunchtime. (I was helped by a good supply of ginger biscuits and a knotty crossword.)

After lunch, I did some desultory fiddling about in the garden and couldn’t find anything new to photograph, so I took a daffodil picture…

morning daffodil

….and sat on a bench waiting for something to happen.

The resident blackbird turned up looking rather cross…

blackbird not shouting

…perhaps because he didn’t think that I was paying enough attention.

blackbird shouting

I was sitting under the Forsythia.

forsythia

I went in and put the cello and piano parts for the first movement of a Mozart divertimento onto the computer and cheered myself up by playing along with the result.

In fact I cheered myself up enough to ignore the chilly wind and get my cycling gear on and go out for a pedal.  I had chosen the best part of the day because it warmed up  a degree or two and the wind dropped a bit as the ride went on.  I enjoyed a tour round my familiar 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

The economic slowdown has brought some benefits to cyclists as the roads were extremely quiet and the views were quite a bit clearer than usual.  I could see details of the Lake District hills across the Solway….

skiddaw from ryehill

…and a bit of colour and some features on the hills on the other side of the Eden Valley.

pennines from ryehill

Both sets of hills are about 35 miles to the south of us as the crow flies.

I don’t know whether this fallen tree near Ryehills has appeared in a post before, but it struck a chord with me today.  I thought that I knew exactly how it felt.  Things have just got too much for it and it needed a lie down.

resting tree ryehill

My three favourite trees at Grainstonehead are still upright…

three trees grainstonehead

…and when I looked between two of them, the clearer light let me get a good view of the old Liddle railway viaduct a mile away up the valley.liddle viaduct

The savage cutting of the roadside verges and thrashing of many hedges mean that there is not a lot to look at as I cycle past but a few things caught my eye as I went along.

will, dandelion, butterbur and anemone

The patch of butterbur at the Canonbie bridge is very striking.

The landslip on the old road near Irvine House has left a slight better view of the river.

river esk irvine house

My Garmin record tells me that the temperature was over 10°C (50°F) by the time that I went cycling and it did feel a little warmer than it has been, but the cold wind made me glad that I was still dressed for winter pedalling.

When I got home, I found that the jackdaws were creeping about pecking the lawn again…

two jackdaws

…but the condition of the lawn is so poor anyway that it doesn’t upset me.

I like these little daffodils with their windswept petals.  They seem to suit a windy day.

evening daffodil

The tree peony is still reaching up to the heavens, in supplication perhaps for some sunshine.

tree peony raising hands

We don’t have a lot of new flowers but we are getting more of fritillaries and grape hyacinths every day…

fritillary and hyacinth

…and there are encouraging signs of buds on the clematis by the front door.

clematis bud

The red tulips have still not come out and it looks as though they may be pipped at the post by a late surge from a couple of yellow tulips outside the kitchen window.

yellow tulip early

There is a lot of good stuff being offered for free at the moment by arts companies that are closed to the public.  Having had a play from the National Theatre a couple of days ago, we watched Handel’s Acis and Galatea from the Royal Opera and Ballet company today.  They are streaming Cosi Fan Tutte next week.

No flying bird again but a strikingly green starling perched on Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree in the early evening is the standing bird of the day.

green starling

Watered down

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She didn’t have to go far to find this cheerful pieris as it is at her own front gate.

Mary's front garden

We are in no rush to go anywhere or do anything these days, so I had my usual morning routine of a leisurely breakfast followed by a close reading of the newspapers and doing the crossword.  With careful time management and a suitably difficult puzzle, this takes me nicely up to coffee.

It was very cool again and still grey but the wind had dropped a bit so it wasn’t too cold when I went out after coffee to have a look round the garden.

There were a few more flowers out on the drumstick primula….

nearly drumstick primula

…but the tulips were still in a state of suspended animation.

nearly tulip

On the other hand, the scillas don’t seemed to have been upset by the lack of warmth at all.

scilla april

The garden task of the day was shifting some old compost bins.  They are relics of the time when the council was keen to encourage home composting and these bins were available at very reasonable rates.

The two bins in the foreground have been migrated from near the drive to the back corner of the garden to join a rather battered friend.  One of them was promptly used as a home for all the grass sods that we took off the top of the paving stones round the woodshed yesterday and the day before.  Mrs Tootlepedal will dobtless find a use for the other.

three bins

They had been lying unused for a bit but there was still a small amount of good compost at the bottom of one of them and it quickly found its way onto a veg bed.

new compost on veg bed

I went in to make some beef and tomato soup for lunch and by the time that we had had our midday meal, it had started to rain lightly.

Before the rain came, I had seen a hedge sparrow….

dunnock on ground

…and after the rain started, I saw a house sparrow.

sparrow in rain

There was an encouraging trickle of birds back visiting the feeder and we saw a siskin…

siskin april

…and a chaffinch today.

chaffinch swallowing

They were overseen by a pigeon.  I always think that the person who originally designed pigeons must have been an apprentice, as they definitely got the proportion of head and body quite seriously wrong.

doubting pigeon

While the rain was still very gentle, I had a walk round the garden and enjoyed the freshness of the leafs on a Philadelphus, water droplets on foliage…

april garden panel

…and encouraging growth on an espalier apple and the silver pear.

A little more colour was added to the garden scene by a dicentra in the back border.

dicentra back border

The resident blackbird was a bit annoyed when I caught him in an unguarded moment….

blackbird wings splayed

…and returned later on for a full studio pose.

blackbird in filmstar mode

I spent most of the afternoon not going for a cycle ride because it was cold, wet and gloomy.  But I didn’t spend all the afternoon not cycling because I spent quite a lot of time not going for a walk either.

In the end, I watched more birds and was pleased to see a goldfinch…

goldfinch april

…a dunnock, which rudely turned its back on me…

dunnokc watching out

…and a blue tit.

blue tit april

The dunnocks were highly entertaining as there was a lot of furious action as they chased each other round the garden.  We seem to have at least three on the go.  I read on the RSPB website that they have very variable mating habits according to the supply of birds and food.  We may be watching any of the following.

  • A male paired with a female (monogamy)
  • More than one male paired with the same female (polyandry)
  • A male paired with more than one female (polygyny)
  • ‘Pairs’ with two males and two females (polygynandry)

Meanwhile, the jackdaws were pecking at the lawn again.

mottled jackdaw lawn pecking

I did find time to put another parish magazine from 1968 on the the Archive Group website.  Sandy does the scanning and OCR and then formats the HTML so my part of the task is quite simple.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s shrewd purchase of the brisket of beef paid off when it made its third appearance in a row, this time as the basis for a mild coconut flavoured curry on a bed of rice.  It will make its final appearance as cold meat for lunch tomorrow.  Money well spent.

We passed a quiet evening insulated from any bad news by watching Gardener’s World and The Repair Shop.   It was very peaceful.

The sparrow on the feeder below was almost the flying bird of the day but I was half a second too late.

nearly flying sparrow