Hard to imagine a better day

Today’s picture shows a lovely sunny day in Langholm this morning…

Esk

…so needless to say, we had made a plan to leave the town as soon as possible.  This meant an early visit to the producers’ market to stock up on fish, cheese and venison mince followed by a rendezvous with Sandy at Wauchope Cottage.  Our scheme was to visit an exhibition by the Dumfries Camera Club in Dumfries and then see what the day might have in store.  The scheme went well and the result was an absolute avalanche of photographs so those readers with busy schedules should make an excuse and leave now.

Everything about the day went well from the very start.  Fish, cheese and mince were readily available and the weather for our drive across to Dumfries was glorious.  The road as it approaches Dumfries offers one of the finest views in our area and either Sandy or I would have been happy to demonstrate this if there was anywhere to park beside the busy road to let us take a picture of it.  There isn’t so we can’t.

We arrived at the Gracefield Arts Gallery safely and enjoyed both the camera club exhibition and a cup of coffee there.  As far as the photos were concerned, for my taste there were too many that showed too much effort on the part of the photographer to create a striking effect and the results seemed rather cold and heartless.  I see the camera as an instrument of spontaneity which makes it essentially different from the necessary processes required to make a painting or other hand created work of art.  Nevertheless there were enough lively works to please and the coffee was excellent.  There was also a video presentation of entries in a nation wide wildlife competition and there were some brilliant pictures there which were more to my taste.

As we left the gallery, Sandy noticed this planting on a bank nearby…

host of daffs

…it may not look much now but if you look carefully, you will see that soon there will be a host of golden daffodils.  By chance, the second art gallery on the same site was showing an exhibition of tapestries so we enjoyed looking at some interesting work there.   Mrs Tootlepedal lingered longest inside and Sandy and I were able to enjoy these very ornate fascia boards on the front of the building while we waited.

ffascia boards at Gracefield

We left Dumfries and headed along the Nith estuary until we came to Glencaple where we paused on the old dock to enjoy the views of the river.

The Nith: looking upriver
The Nith: looking upriver

There is a surprisingly large boat parked at the dock.  I deliberately say parked rather than moored because it doesn’t look as though it is going anywhere soon.

Boat at Glencaple

I put on a couple of filters and tried to capture the sun shining brilliantly on the river downstream.

Nith downstream

We got back in the car and followed the river downstream until we arrived at the spot where it flows into the Solway Firth.  Here there is a little nature reserve which we had never visited before so we took this chance to explore it.

We were just admiring the view of the marsh when Sandy spotted an egret.  This is not a common sight round here.

egret

The walk through the nature reserve was delightful.  The path wound through an old oak wood.

Castle wood

It combined the ancient wood with views of the shoreline.

Solway

The sun was warm and there was little or no wind so the walk through the woods was lovely.

Catkins
These purple catkins caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye

And she also spotted these fine bracket fungi.

fungi

From time to time we emerged from the wood into more open spaces and it was easy to see the direction of the prevailing wind.

trees on Solway shore

After a while we decided that a visit to the neighbouring wildfowl and wetlands trust reserve at Caerlaverock might be worthwhile so we retraced our steps and set out to drive the few miles further along the road.  The fact that it has a little cafe was an additional inducement.  The reserve is currently home to 5000 over wintering barnacle geese from Svalbarden and as we drove along we kept an eye for any geese grazing in the fields.  We soon saw a few.

Geese grazing

We were just taking a few peaceful photos when, with a noise like a departing jet plane, a flock took off from a nearby field.

flying geese

They circled around in front of us…

flying geese

..before coming into land in another field.

flying geese

We got back in the car and after a shot while, turned down the road towards the reserve.  Soon another flock of birds caught our eye.

lapwings

This time though it wasn’t geese but lapwings and although they settled in field too far away for a good look, we could make out their distinctive crests.

lapwings

When we first came to Langholm, these birds were very common round about but changes in farming have meant that they are rarely seen now so it was good to get this sighting.  We went on into the reserve and enjoyed a welcome cup of tea and a bite to eat.  Then it was time to meet the birds.  It was not hard to see a few.

swan pond

They feed the birds at these ponds and you can just see the roof of the cages where they occasionally drive the birds for ringing.

From the start of our drive from Langholm, the hills of the Lake District had been showing very clearly and the bird observation tower also gave me a good look across the Solway to the English side.

Skiddaw

We walked down to the viewing hut beside the pond and had a look at the the geese, swans and ducks there.

goose

cygnet

swans

swans
I think the swans may be from Iceland

This was bird watching in luxury.

As well as the swan pond, the reserve has a large selection of fields and ponds stretching down to the Solway shore.

ponds at caerlaverock

Mrs Tootlepedal was giving another outing to the new hat…

new hat

…and it enjoyed the walk down the lane through the fields to the most far flung viewing tower.  On the way we passed an English longhorn.

longhorn
This is a recent arrival at the reserve

From the viewing tower we could see about 1000 barnacle geese grazing several of the surrounding fields.

barnacle geese

For reasons of their own, they all seem to point in the same direction and move slowly along in formation like some giant lawn mower at work.

barnacle geese

Every field had a flock.  There was even a deer among the geese.

deer

Far to the west and actually standing in the waters of the Firth, we could dimly make a huge windmill array.

windmill array

Leaving the tower, we walked back towards the car but at the last moment decided that we might as well call in at the swan pond on the way. It was a worthwhile visit.

swan
Some of the swans were camera shy

Evening was drawing on and many of the geese and swans flew off the pond in small groups to other haunts.  It made a great show.

geese and swans

swans flying

swans flying

swans flying

Tufted ducks….

tufted ducks

…and widgeons stayed where they were.

widgeon

Finally, we tore ourselves away and just as were leaving the reserve, the geese from the outlying fields began flying in.

geese coming in

The sky was criss-crossed with skeins.

geese coming in

It was a great spectacle.

The drive home was made interesting by an absolutely superb sunset behind us and some very interesting small compact cigar shaped clouds in front of us.  We were shot out by this time and so you will have to take my word for these.  We arrived home seven hours after we left without having felt that we had wasted a single minute of a beautiful day.  We shall keep it in our minds to cheer ourselves up when the weather turns nasty on Monday.

A perfect day was rounded off with a double helping of that fine Danish political drama, Borgen.  Heaven.

I’m sorry to have posted such a photo heavy blog but as Mrs Tootlepedal says, we did see a lot of stuff today and at least you haven’t had to look at the other hundred photos that I have thrown away.  Sandy says that he took about 300 pictures today so I am sure that his blog will repay a visit.

The chaffinches have had to make way for a larger flying bird of the day today.

flying swan solo

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

38 thoughts on “Hard to imagine a better day

  1. what an amazing and beautiful day you had.. I envy you.. love all the bird photos, so unusual to see swan and geese flying together.. and please tell Mrs. Tootlepedal that I really like her hat.

  2. … and to think that so many tourists to Scotland whizz through our area blissfully unaware of what they’re missing.

    Thanks for the mini travelogue. VisitScotland take note!

    1. It was more exciting that the usual garden shots but of course we had to pay money to see the swan pond so it’s not an everyday experience.

  3. Not one of the many pictures is “too many”! Enjoyed each one. My favourite is – aside from the wonderful birds – the one of the marvelously carved eaves boards, though they clearly would deserve some better tending. The derelict vessel however seems to be past any endeavours. Great post again.

    1. It’s not exactly derelict but it certainly is a bit neglected. I don’t know whether it is seaworthy or not. I am glad you had time to go through the pictures.

      1. Oh, Tom, for me your blog is every day a little like vacation. Takes my mind off the daily toil here a bit.

  4. What a plethora of splendid photographs to record your exceptionally scenic and bird full day.

  5. Well done Tom, beautiful captures!! What a grand day of birding! I was very lucky last year to photograph your Eurasian Wigeon which is quite rare in my area, we have the American Wigeon. It was a single EW hanging with a small flock of AWs. The EW sighting was a thrilling day for me!

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