Away with the birds

Today’s picture really does show the last rose in the garden on its last legs.  So we bid farewell to the yellow rose of Wauchope until next year.  (I haven’t the heart to dead-head it.)


It was another good day for cycling so I made extra porridge and had two slices of toast to fuel up.  While I was getting ready to go out, I noticed that the goldfinches this year seem to have taken to neglecting the dry, new seeds in the feeder and tucking into the damp seed in the catching tray.

goldfinches in the tray

There’s no accounting for taste but it suits me as it is much better to get the fallout eaten than sprinkled on the ground beneath the feeder.

It was a fine day as I got my gear on and as there was a light wind, I chose a route where it would blow me gently back home.  I stopped as I passed Pool Corner to take a picture of the young larch trees on Meikleholm Bank.  They almost look like candles blazing when the right light stikes them.

young larch trees

This picture doesn’t do full justice to the striking effect that I saw as I pedalled by but the eye doesn’t notice the house, the electric wires, the street signs and the lamppost in front of the trees.  The camera is unforgiving and sees them all and only lets me take a small uninterrupted fraction of the scene.

The sense of well being engendered by this fine view lasted all of thirty seconds because it began to rain as I went up the Manse Brae out of town and continued to do so for the next ten miles.  It wasn’t very hard and it was quite warm so I pedalled on hoping for a change.   I went through Waterbeck and as I came over the hill looking down to the Solway shore, I was pleased to be momentarily dazzled.


It’s a poor picture but it was good news for me as the silver line behind the row of trees was the Solway reflecting bright sunshine.  I left the rain behind me as I pedalled down to Gretna Green, where I stopped for a banana and a healthy fruit bar.  There was no one visibly getting married so I took a picture of this imposing sculpture outside the wedding room.

Gretna arms

There must be a big fellow buried under the paving if his arms are that size.  I am not an artist in any way so may be I may be missing some deep meaning but the flying finger at the top of the hand grip seems rather bizarre to me.   I would be happy to receive a suggestion as to its significance.

As I looked behind me at Gretna, there were several substantial bursts of rain coming up so I changed my intended route and came home via Canonbie and managed to stay in the sunshine all the way home.  Unfortunately the forecast wind betrayed me and blew across and into my face as I came up to Langholm from Longtown.  I stopped on the old A7 just north of Canonbie to capture this view of Byreburnfoot and the River Esk.

River Esk at Byreburnfoot

You can see that most of the colour has gone from the broad leaved trees now.

It ended up as a forty mile circle and considering the rainy start it was a very nice morning out.  The feeling of pleasure was enhanced by meeting very wet roads as I came into Langholm which told me that I had managed to miss a heavy shower.

I was delighted to look out of the kitchen window while I was making a cup of coffee and see a the first brambling of the autumn in the garden.


I think these are very handsome birds and I hope to see a lot more as the month goes on.

The chaffinches have completely overcome their indifference to the seed feeders and are lining up to get on board.

incoming chaffinch

I learned my lesson from the past few days and instead of lingering over a lunch and being caught by the early sunset, I went straight back out as soon as I had had a cup of coffee and changed my clothes.  I had promised Cat Barlow,as a thank you for her showing me the bird ringing, that I would fill the feeders over the weekend at the moorland feeding station.  Of course I took my camera with me to see if there were any woodpeckers about before I disturbed the birds.

I tucked myself in behind the bird screen and almost before I settled down, I saw a woodpecker coming straight towards the hide.  It perched on a branch not more than six or seven metres away from me.  As quietly as I could, I pointed and clicked.

female great spotted woodpecker

I didn’t have much time for it soon flew off to a feeder which I couldn’t see properly. The feeders were extremely busy with tits and finches.

great tit greenfinch
They seem happy to share these big feeders with each other


The feeder in the picture above is very close to where I was lurking but it was fully used all the time I was there. It didn’t take long for the woodpecker to reappear on the other side of the clearing.


As far as I can remember, the birds are always ringed on their right legs so this doesn’t seem to be of those that Cat has caught.

You can see that it is a female from the picture below which shows no red on the top of the head.

female woodpecker

It didn’t stop for long and was soon replaced by a great tit doing a woodpecker impersonation.

great tit

I was pleased to be able to recognise a tree sparrow after Cat’s capture.  I have never knowingly seen one before though I might well have seen one without recognising that it wasn’t a common house sparrow.

tree sparrow

Greenfinch populations have been reduced by a disease but there are plenty around here.  Here’s one sharing a moment with some friends.

greenfinch and friends

There was even one finding something interesting to eat in a puddle.

greenfinch in puddle

And this one, with a chaffinch too, had been steadily eating since the woodpecker had flown off from in front of me about 30 minutes earlier.

Greenfinch chaffinch steady eaters

The light was fading so pausing only to take a picture of the larches at the bottom of the clearing….


…I refilled any feeders that needed it and got ready to go home.

Within thirty seconds of me getting over the gate, a greenfinch was back on the same feeder.  This one looks as though it expects a bad winter. The string on the left of the picture is for guying Cat’s poles for the nets.


As I went, the sky to the west looked interesting.

evening sky

When I got back to the garden, there was just enough light to show that even the Japanese anenomes have now given up the ghost.

Japanese anenomes over

We just have to sit tight and wait for spring.


After a phone call to Mrs Tootlepedal in which we indulged in a little competitive “I had a really bad night’s sleep” talk, I made myself a feta, tomato and potato bake for my tea and sat down to watch Strictly Come Dancing.  It seems to have been quite a full day today unlike the last two.  I am hoping to sleep well.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

8 thoughts on “Away with the birds

  1. That finger looks to be pointing to a direction. Perhaps a significant place to visit or to the North etc.
    Your pictures of the birds are always great to see. You have such colorful finches!
    We’ve had our first snow! It has already melted (thank goodness)! Do you get snow? We average approx. 150 to 200 inches of snow each winter. By Christmas we will be shoveling most every day!

    1. It’s pointing at some retail outlets across the road so perhaps it is giving the punters a significant message.

      I like our finches a lot. The chaffinch is not given the recognition it deserves.

      We don’t usually get a lot of snow but for the past two years we have had snow early and then because of the unusually low temperatures, it has hung around for a long time. We don’t get anything like your depth.

      1. is pointing away from the ominous smithy, indicating to get out there before it’s too late 🙂

  2. Well, a bad night all round, Cally and slept badly too! I hope you did as well as I did on Saturday night.

    Lovely pictures especially the woodpeckers.

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