Scaling turkey mountain


Today’s picture, taken with and sent from Granny’s iPad through a miracle of technology, shows my daughter Annie in her smart and self knitted winter hat.   She would brighten anyone’s day up.

annie's hat

It was a day that needed brightening.  I had gone to sleep with a howling wind whistling round the house and I woke up with rain hammering down.  I went back to sleep again.  By the time I eventually got up, the rain had stopped and the wind had died down quite a bit.   This was lucky as the wrong newspaper had been delivered and I was able to take it back to the paper shop and get the right one without getting wet or blown away.    Still, it was a grey and blowy day and I was grumpy as I wanted to enjoy some gentle cycling.

It was too grey to take good photos so I took a general shot for the record…


I kept on expecting the rain to start again as had been forecast but it didn’t so I pulled myself together, threw off the grumpiness, tucked my trousers into my socks and set off to do a bit of bicycling.  I was pedalling along, stopping to take the odd photo….

blasted tree

…when I got to the four mile mark and the forecast rain arrived.  I didn’t want to get soaked as my cold is still lingering on so I turned for home, fortunately with the string wind behind me now.

I took my wet clothes off, got changed and was just sitting down for a really good grumpy afternoon in the arm chair when the phone rang.  It was Sandy, suggesting a quick trip to the Moorland feeders.   I looked out of the window.  The rain had stopped of course now that I had finished cycling so I agreed and a few minutes later, he arrived to pick me up.    This really cheered me up as otherwise I had been looking at a wasted afternoon.

We got to the feeder station, got the cameras out and it started to rain quite heavily.  We got back into the car and spent some time looking at birds out of the car windows.  There were plenty of birds to watch.

great tit
A great tit perched on a nearby branch.

We could hear the pheasant shooters banging away not far off but this lady pheasant seemed unconcerned as she scuttled about picking up seed dropped from the feeders.


It is hard to know what pleasure can be got from shooting hand reared and  regularly fed birds driven towards you by beaters but it is big business so someone must enjoy doing it.

As we sat rather sadly in the car, we could see a lightening of the cloud cover down towards the coast and on a whim, we set off to search for a sunset near Gretna.  We aimed for Browhouses which is right on the shores of the Solway.  It is definitely a wide open space.

The view from Browhouses

Looking across the water, we couldn’t see the Lake District hills but we could see an exceptionally fine range of clouds sitting firmly on top of the them.

solway clouds

They came in various shapes and sizes.

solway clouds


solway clouds

solway clouds

Changing colour as the sun went down.

solway clouds

I had hoped for a sunset and we certainty got one.

Browhouses sunset

As the sun sank, we set off for Gretna in the hope of seeing a starling (or two).  On our way back to the main road, we stopped to admire an enormous puddle in a field.

Browhouses puddle

It was more like an inland sea than a mere puddle.  As I was admiring it, Sandy tapped me on the should and said, “Look at that.”  I looked.

starling pylon

It was a starling covered pylon.  Then he said, “Look at that.” Once again, I looked.

starling wires

More starlings.  We didn’t have to go to Gretna, the starlings had come to us.  We had a wonderful half hour enjoying a completely different view from our previous visits.  The birds were covering a field directly in front of us and every now and again they lifted off like a magic carpet.

carpet of starlings

The air in front of us was full of flight.


More birds came out of the west.

starlings and clouds

The cloud kindly pointed them out to us.

Even to old starling watchers likes ourselves, this was a fabulous experience and we enjoyed every minute of it.


browhouses starlings

Other starlings were joining in from the east and soon there was the usual cloud of birds doing their aerobatics.

browhouses starlings

We saw them fly off to roost and headed on to Gretna, not to watch starlings this time but to purchase inexpensive headgear from Gretna Village shopping outlet.  We were both in the position of having lost perfectly good woolly hats lately so we didn’t want to spend too much on a replacement and we found just the thing.    It was lucky that we had gone sunset hunting because there were very few starlings in the place where they had previously been gathering near the shops and where we would have looked for them.  Then, thoroughly satisfied with our excursion, we headed back to Wauchope Cottage for a cup of coffee and a biscuit.

Sandy kindly agreed to help me deal with the turkey mountain by staying for tea so I bodged up a quick curry, which made quite a dent in the the turkey supply, and we sat down to eat it.

Sandy eating curry
The perfect dinner table: a curry, a glass of wine, three photographic books and two cameras.  What more could you want?

After tea, we posed for the phantom cameraman to show off our new headgear.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Tweedledum and Tweedledee showing themselves to be fashion icons once again.

When Sandy got home, he rang me to say that the clouds had cleared over Langholm and a full moon was to be seen.  It was true and I went out and saw it.

full moon

It didn’t last though and it was raining again before I finished typing this.

I haven’t put a flying bird in today as we have had thousands already and too many photos.  In the end,  a day which had promised to be a real stinker turned out to be an absolute cracker and it was all down to Sandy ringing up at exactly the right moment.  That’s what friends are for.  Not only that but tomorrow is going to be a full minute longer than day.  Whoopee.



Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

27 thoughts on “Scaling turkey mountain

  1. Bright and adorable daughter. Her hat picture made me smile.

    I have a bird question. We are visiting the NC mountains and a bird watching friend told me there are far fewer birds here this winter. She was wondering why? Others have noticed as well.

    1. We have a had a population crash in some species over here too. I don’t know about you but we had two long, cold winters in a row which didn’t help and the changes in global temperature are having an effect. Bird populations react to food availability and food is affected by the weather and farming practices although sometimes diseases can hit particular populations too. Autumn ploughing and early hedge cutting can make life difficult for birds relying on seeds and berries.

      1. Our mountain winter was warm last year, and so far this year as well. That makes me wonder if, as you suggest, growth patterns are changing food availability? While visiting my friend last week, we noticed the phlox was already blooming. Typically, that won’t happen until March.

  2. Good job seizing the small window of opportunity for a quick pedal. 8 miles is better than none.

    Great cloudscapes and a really excellent starling sequence.

  3. Tweedledum and Tweedledee is my favourite photo of the day, although the sunsets and clouds are lovely. And the moon.

  4. Excellent starling photos. We have them here, too, but I’m rarely out late enough to see them, I think. And…love the tuques!

  5. Well, what a day! Even the weather was good at critical moments. I loved all the woolly hats and the sunset and starling pictures were splendid. So glad that you had such a good day.

  6. Nice caps with all the more nice smiles beneath them. And absolutely wonderful starling shots. Congrats!

  7. Absolutely amazing photos of the starlings! Also enjoyed reading about your biking, it seems like we share pretty much the same interests when it comes to bikes and birds.
    Wish you all the best for 2013 – among your birds and on the bike- 🙂

    M & R

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