Today’s picture is of a brand new peony which has appeared in the garden.
It was a calm pleasant day and ideal for bird ringing so I had a quick breakfast and Sandy kindly picked me up at 7 a.m. and we went off to see what Cat was up to at the moorland feeder station. As we arrived, we could see a hot air balloon hanging in the air to our south but it was too far away for me to get a usable photograph and the light wind blew it further off. Cat had been hard at work before we arrived and there were birds ready for ringing.
She had four onlookers to take an interest in her work (and any nearby wild life).
Cat gave us a running commentary as she ringed the birds on how to determine the age of the birds and their stage of moulting. This is quite a complicated business involving counting feathers and careful looking at subtle changes in colouration. It has to be pretty obvious before I can make a reliable judgement but I could tell that this was a young blue tit.
It will get bluer as it gets older.
Cat had two sets of nets and the walk down to the second set looked a bit too strenuous for a couple of old geezers like Sandy and me so we sat in his car while the others trekked through the jungle.
Between the two nets, there were a fair number of different birds.
Cat was able to assess its muscle and fat which is looked at to see when they will be fit to migrate.
Among the new birds was the appearance of possibly the most stupid woodpecker in the world. This was the little chap that was ringed yesterday. He hit the same net no less than three times this morning. I think he deserves a medal.
Cat, who is not so judgemental as I am, thought it might by hunger and inexperience that was taking him to the same place time after time so she left the nets up for a while to give him a chance to get some peanuts in peace.
The midges were severe and old legs get tired so when it was time for toast and coffee, Sandy and I repaired to Wauchope Cottage and left the youngsters to it. It had been a very interesting morning.
After coffee, I had time for a walk round the garden to admire Mrs Toot’s white flower display…
… then help with the constructive destruction of a spirea and shred the results and then Mrs Toot and I cycled up to the Town hall to go round the local Art Club’s exhibition. It is a good club and as always there were some very nice paintings on show, including some by my archiving friend Jean. Having feasted my soul on art, I returned home to feast the body on a cheese toastie.
The Langholm Common Riding takes place on the last Friday in July and on the Saturday two weeks before that, the cornet and his mounted followers ride to Bentpath and back over the hills. I went up to the Auld Stane Brig to wait for them. It was a beautiful sunny day by this time and the cattle in the field next to the road where looking for shelter and refreshment.
Two smartly clad sisters were intending to do much of the same journey as the riders but on foot.
Just as I was expecting the horse to arrive, the sun went in. Typical.
The cornet has a right hand man and a left hand man to assist him with his duties and to avoid confusion, I should explain that his right hand man is on his left as we look and his left hand man is on the right.
They turned off the main road and took a lane that leads up to Becks Farm and the hills beyond. I went up the hill on the opposite side of the valley so that I could take a long view of the ride out.
I had plenty of time to look around while I was waiting for the ride out to progress and the intermittent sunshine made for some pleasant prospects. (IMHO as they say.)
When the riders had disappeared from sight, I walked home. I saw a solitary orchid which the sheep and cattle had somehow missed.
While I was waiting for the horses’ first appearance, someone had remarked rather disapprovingly that the council was letting the road verges get overgrown. I am not complaining.
I met George pedalling vigorously up the Manse Brae on his spiffy new bike.
And I took this view of Pool Corner as I got to the town. You can just see the cut that feeds the dam that runs behind our house in the top left corner.
Although my legs and feet were a bit sore with all this standing and walking, I managed to find the energy to mow the front lawn before settling down to watch Bradley’s ongoing battles in the Tour de France. I have paid Eurosport a fiver for the privilege of watching it on my computer. Fortunately we have discovered that Mrs Toot can watch simultaneously on hers so there is no ugly pushing and shoving for the best seat. Watching the tour is both peaceful and exciting at the same time. A good trick.
After having spent a good day outdoors, I was happy to be indoors when it started raining heavily later in the afternoon. Luckily the rain had stopped by the time the horsemen appeared on the top of Castle Hill. I took the best pictures I could in the gathering gloom while standing my garden.
Although they have taken a long time to go round the ride, they have spent some time in the hall at Bentpath in eating, drinking and making merry on the way.
I meant to take advantage of the good weather today by going for a cycle ride but, in the end, I thought that I had done enough.
Today’s flying bird is a rather fuzzy redpoll, glad to get back to freedom this morning.
Note for concerned readers: owing to my continuing inability to type Mrs
Toot[dleals’s Tootelpedals Tootleplads Tootle[pedal’s name without typos, she has graciously consented to be abbreviated to Mrs Toot. She is a good sport.