Today’s picture is another from Kevin’s colourful aquarium.
After the dreary weather of the last two days, today was a welcome change. It was dry, warm and pretty well windless. Dropscone was on a visit to the dentist so I went out for a gentle saunter on the new bike. I left myself a little time to look at the birds before I went.
I chose a familiar circuit by Falford, Gair, Chapelknowe, Canonbie and home and enjoyed the silent pedalling experience of the belt drive. It is sometimes so quiet that it leaves you alone with nothing but your thoughts for company, an unnerving situation. I stopped for a couple of bridges, one an old favourite at Between the Waters….
…and the other an unfamiliar one, one of a multitude of small stone bridges that carry the country roads across little burns. This one is between Springkell and Chapelknowe.
I took my time going round, averaging just over 12 mph for the 27 miles and it was lunchtime when I got home. I was about to have a shower and a good sit down when Sandy rang up from the Moorland Feeders suggesting that I joined him. This speeded up the ablutionary and alimentary proceedings and I was soon up at the feeders enjoying a positive whirlwind of birds flying in every direction.
Though I did have time to sneak a look out of the kitchen window while I was shovelling down the stilton and celery soup.
Sandy had been there for a couple of hours before I arrived and was in the middle of a combination of still and movie photography. I concentrated on getting my camera as close to a feeder as I could without disturbing the birds. They are obviously getting used to our tripods because there was no shortage of visitors to my chosen targets.
I looked at both seed and peanut feeders.
An accidentally captured woodpecker emphasised the difference in stature between it and a coal tit.
I turned my attention towards woodpeckers on purpose next.
These are the sharpest shots of a woodpecker that I have taken so far.
As we left the site, a bright glow of light could be seen to the west.
The strip of bright weather made Sandy think of starlings and he suggested another run down to Gretna. This looked like a good idea so after a cup of tea, off we went, The drive down would have been a treat in itself without any need to watch starlings so brilliant was the view of the setting sun across the estuary. We stopped for a quick picture…
I wish that we had had more time as there were splendid pictures to be had but the call of the starlings was loud.
There was still a last sunset shot when we arrived at Gretna.
There were plenty of starlings too.
As they assembled, we watched a hawk trying to get in among them.
Once they became more densely packed, it made off and left the starlings to do their thing.
All this takes place above a busy retail village and a main road.
It is quite surreal to see people going about their business without even giving the aerial ballet above a single glance. Of course, they have been aware of it every day for some time so it is no novelty to them. We waited until the birds had gone to roost and then I went back to the car. When we came out of the car park earlier, a lady carrying her shopping home had said to us rather sourly, “They may be a pretty sight to you but they are a filthy nuisance to us. I have to clean my windows every day.” I could see what she meant when I got back to the car which had been parked under their flight path.
Not a pretty sight.
If you want to hear what several thousand starlings sound like when they have gone to bed, listen to this. If you of a nervous disposition, give it a miss.
I had to wait for Sandy to join me and he explained that he had been waylaid by a reporter from The Scotland on Sunday newspaper and had been interviewed about his starling experience. We shall see if it makes it into the paper this weekend.
We returned from the starlings and went our separate ways for long enough to have our evening meal (potato, feta cheese, tomato and red pepper bake in my case) and then joined forces once again with Jean and went to the Archive Centre to do our weekly stint. I enjoyed my half pint in the Douglas afterwards. I only allow myself one unit of alcohol a week so it helps if it is good stuff.
No flying birds today as the starlings have already filled that role.
In a pleasing moment that shows that I am not the only idiot in the world, I was rung up during the day by a man who some months ago had booked a B&B in Langholm in December and had subsequently managed to lose the details. The poor fellow was having to ring up every B&B in Langholm to ask if perhaps he had booked with them. I felt great sympathy for him but it wasn’t us so he had to try again elsewhere. Such is life for the elderly.