I got up this morning to a chorus of bird tweets and when I looked at the walnut tree, it was full of siskins again. Dr Barlow, my fund of all knowledge about birds, tells me that they will probably be a new flock passing through rather than the old flock returning. She had come round to pick up another pair of dead siskins. We had visitors yesterday who thought that there was siskin disease about near Inverness but Dr Barlow, who looks at serious bird websites, says she hasn’t heard of this. She is going to investigate further. I gave the bird feeders a good clean just in case.
Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work at 8 a.m. and I had a leisurely plate of porridge while waiting for nine o’clock and Dropscone who appeared dead on time. We had another relaxed pedal round the morning run following Dropscone’s regime for keeping his heart rate within set limits. It’s a regime I heartily approve of, especially on a day like today when my legs were sadly short of oomph.
I did some work on preparing more of the heritage DVDs until Mrs Tootlepedal returned from work. After a quick lunch, I took her into Carlisle to catch the London train to visit her mother again. She phoned me later in the evening to say that the patient has moved back to the orthopaedic ward from the cardiac ward which is step in the right direction.
It was a very grey day and although the return of the siskins meant a day of hyper-activity at the feeders, poor light means that the pictures are not of good quality. Being me, I have posted some here anyway.
As a break from endless birds, I took this picture of a frog. The freezing mornings don’t seem to have discouraged them and I could hear them croaking away when I came in late this evening. I spent a little time sieving compost for the new season and I also fed the worms in the wormery for the first time for a bit, now that the warmer weather is on its way. The worms look fit and well but then so did a small group of wild worms I found outside under a straw bag in a small puddle on a concrete drive so I can’t take any credit as a worm farmer, they look after themselves.
The goldfinches must be a bit fed up. Having got rid of the siskins , they were the kings of the nyger seed feeder but all that has changed again.
As you can see, I took a lot of bird shots in spite of the poor light and then of course I have to spend a lot of time preparing them for this blog and discarding the other 40 that I didn’t use (“Thank Goodness for that!” says Dropscone, who thinks there are too many bird pictures on the blog already and not enough pastries). That seemed to take up the rest of the afternoon.
After a delicious meal of spicy kidneys in red wine and cream sauce, I once again strolled along the road to the Buccleuch Centre. Tonight the treat was the RSNO in a concert of music by Mozart. The concert was in two parts, the first half a wind serenade and the second a symphony.
The wind serenade was for thirteen, two oboes, two clarinets,two basset horns, two bassoons, a contra bassoon and four French horns. Just seeing and hearing a contra bassoon would have been worth the price of the ticket alone but in fact the whole piece was superb. The Bucceuch Centre has a rather dry sound which takes away some of the gorgeousness of the tone but this is amply repaid by being able to hear the ensemble in fantastic detail. The conductor had gone to great lengths to make the rhythm interesting and he certainly succeeded. You can often listen to these Mozart wind pieces and all you get is a glorious sound but all sounding rather the same. Tonight we got vivid characterisation of the music and a huge variety of tone, attack and rhythm without any exaggerated effects at all. Far from being routine old Mozart, it was extremely exciting. I should say that it was lovely to listen to as well.
As always with music of this type, the only down side was having to sit for 50 minutes without being able to leap to your feet and shout “Yippee” at the end of movements or applaud nifty work by the second clarinet. It makes a concert much harder work for people with bad backs and short attention spans like me than they should be.
The second half had a modestly sized string orchestra with two oboes and two horns for Symphony 29. Once again, the clear sound in the hall was a great bonus. You could hear every note that every player played so that the orchestra sounded like a string quartet at times but a string quartet of enormous power and verve. At one part of the final movement the whole band boiled and swirled in unison like a New Zealand mud spring with music spouting out of it in great explosions of sound. The performance was so energetic while still being highly musical that I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it. If you get a chance to go to hear Christian Kluxen conduct Mozart, take it.
And I am back again tomorrow night for an American bucket band. What joy.