They made me do it

Today’s picture is another from Mrs Tootlepedal’s visit to the south.  It shows a lock on the River Thames near Marlow.  I have given it a big size because I thought it was a great view.


The weather was a bit more normal for the time of year today up here and I was well wrapped up for the morning pedal with Dropscone.   He had his heart monitor on.  This enables him to check whether he is still alive as we go round and I am happy to say that he did survive the run.  It has the side effect of stopping him rushing up the hills as he has a maximum heart rate target so we went round at a comfortable speed.   We were pleased to be able to get a better class of conversation with our coffee and scones now that Mrs Tootlepedal has returned.

The builders are getting on with the roof and today saw the new sarking boards put into place.

sarking boards

We hope that having the boards actually meeting the end wall will be a good thing.

There were some birds about too.

chaffinch flying

Winning the prize for the greatest contrast in size between head and body

In the afternoon, we were delighted to welcome our daughter Annie who has come up to help Mrs Tootlepedal with some organisation.  She looked pretty perky for someone who had flown back from Los Angeles yesterday.  She was remarking on the beautiful sunlight in the slightly misty weather that she had enjoyed on her journey north and we decided to take a quick trip in the car to enjoy it ourselves.  Unfortunately, by the time that we had got organised, the sun had sunk too low in the sky and the effect was lost.  Since we were in the car I mentioned the word Gretna and they made me go down.  Annie has never the seen the starling show before and she was absolutely stunned by it.

Because everyone always tries to get pictures of the patterns the starlings make in the sky, it is not always easy to get an impression of the whole show from their photos so I tried tonight to show how it develops.  You start with small groups of starlings flying towards Gretna from all directions.

group of starlings
This is a typical group

You stand around thinking, “Well this isn’t very exciting.”  Then more and more groups arrive and within a few minutes, the sky is teeming with birds.

big group of starlings

We are standing watching this in the lorry park of Gretna Motorway services.  It is a glamorous spot.

lorry park

As the sky filled up with birds, the lorry park filled up with lorries.  As you can see in the picture above, the flock is very fluid and often breaks up into smaller groups going off in opposite directions.

When the merge together again, the effect is marvellous as each time they come together, there are more birds.  The main bunch is joined by small groups throughout the display.

split groups of starlings

There were two buzzards circling around among the starlings tonight making their plaintive cries.

You can see them below the flock

As the evening grows darker, the starlings become more concentrated and the flock grows blacker and more striking.

concentrated starlings

Finally, with a great deal of chattering, all the many thousands of starlings make a concerted rush for their chosen roosting spot in the trees.  It is imposssible to believe, even as you watch it, that so many birds can fit into so few trees.

roosting starlings

I put the camera onto video to capture the last of the stream.  They travel at enormous speed and that combined with the furious chatter make it a very exciting thing to watch.  We were within 50 metres of the roost today.

In the evening, I went to Carlisle to play recorders and we had a strenuous evening of playing.   The high spot for me was a set of Holborne quintets which we played right at the end of the evening.  We enjoyed a slice or two of ‘friendship loaf’ with our tea.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

4 thoughts on “They made me do it

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