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Archive for March, 2013

Today’s picture from my brother Andrew shows an impressive glacier at the Homer Tunnel in New Zealand’s South Island which he visited a couple of weeks ago..

The Glacier at the Homer Tunnel

Although we had to get up an hour earlier because of the clock change, it was brilliantly sunny so we noticed no difference in the light.  The birds enjoyed the early morning sun as well.

siskins and chaffinch

Two siskins and a chaffinch improving their tans.

Two chaffinches

Two male chaffinches

The bright sun couldn’t make up for the fact that it was below zero though and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I retired back to bed until the day warmed up enough to cycle.

I felt that I needed to have a pedal because my spreadsheet told me that I still had twenty miles to go to get to the 300 miles for the month which is my minimum target.  I was a bit surprised because I thought that I had already reached the target but a computer cannot lie, especially when it is a spreadsheet.  By 11 o’clock the temperature had reached 3° and I put on as many layers as I could and set out to pedal round the morning run.  The east wind had sunk a bit to the south and I reckoned this was the most wind friendly ride that I could find.

The council have been busy filling in many of the potholes on the route and the worst bit of road has been resurfaced.  This, added to the dry weather, made the roads quite agreeable to cycle along and I enjoyed myself although my legs complained every time I hit a bit of steep uphill.

When I revisited my spreadsheet to add the mileage to it, I discovered that I had failed to change the number of days that it was adding up from the 28 in February to the 31 in March and that I had already exceeded the 300 miles before I set out today.  Garbage in, garbage out as they say of computers.  I didn’t regret going for the ride though and if my legs had felt better, the conditions would have been pleasant enough for a longer trip.

While I had been out, Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the gardening fulfilling a long felt need to tidy up a border outside the kitchen window.

Gardener's tools

She was pleased to have done something that had been on her mind for some time.  I admired the work and the hordes of birds which descended on the feeder as soon she had come inside.

chaffinches

brambling mania

mixed bag of birds

mixed bag of birds

This was a fairly typical scene as long as there was any seed in the feeder.   The seed goes down at an alarming rate and if we don’t get some warmer weather to encourage growth in the fields, trees and hedges, I will have to win the lottery.

I was very pleased to see a rare visitor to the garden.

thrush

This is the first thrush that I have photographed in the garden since I started three years ago.  I am not saying that there hasn’t been a thrush in the garden in that time because they are fairly common round here but this is certainly the first one that has come to the feeders while I have been watching them.

thrush

It came under the feeder and picked up a little food but didn’t linger.

There was a very puffed up chaffinch there too.

chaffinch

It always amazes me when they actually fly off.

After lunch, I went into the garden to sieve some more compost.  I have nearly emptied one of our compost bays and this will give me the chance to turn the other two bays.  I did a moderate amount of sieving and then went and spiked a bit more of the front lawn.  This is nearly finished too but will need top dressing.

I rationed myself to a short period of gardening as last time out, I did too much and had to take more time than I wanted to recover.

I did take the opportunity to look at the crocuses which were making a good show in the sunshine.

crocus

crocus

crocus

They come in various shades of blue.

Mrs Tootlepedal purchased and planted out  50 winter aconites and they have taken well.

winter aconites

We can only hope that some at least will come up next year as they are hard to establish.

I spent the rest of the afternoon making bread in the bread maker (preparation time: 2 minutes, cooking time 2 hours) and some tea cakes by traditional methods (preparation time: three hours, cooking time 13 minutes).    You can see why I usually use the bread maker.  It makes very nice bread too.

We were visited by a stately wood pigeon in the late afternoon.

wood pigeon

I took several flying birds during the day.

flying chaffinch

Photographic note: I took this at f8 which gives a bit more depth to the picture but didn’t let me get it as sharp as I would like.

brambling

This one was at f6.3

The flying bird of the day though was a chaffinch showing that it can get a seed from the feeder without stopping at all.

flying chaffinch with seed

 

 

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Today’s picture is a cheery blackbird that was serenading me as I walked round the garden this morning.

blackbird

As you can see, the sun was very much in evidence today, although a few flakes of snow did fall on me while I was pedalling.  It was still very chilly (2°C) but the fact that the wind had dropped a bit and that the sun was out persuaded me to don enough layers to make cycling comfortable and take the speedy bike out for a run.   I set out up the Wauchope road on a ‘suck it and see’ basis as I was not sure how I would get on but things turned out well and I did two six -and-a-bit mile out and backs to end up with a very satisfactory 25 miles at a gentle pace.

The sun shone for the most past but it was a patchy affair as this picture of the Minsca windmills shows.  They are all the same colour but some were in the sun and some were in the shade.

minsca windmills

The fact that they were pointing directly at me meant that I had to face the wind on my way back but it was far less strong than it has been lately and I enjoyed the ride and finished with no ill effects.

There were plenty of bramblings to be seen when I got home.

bramblings

During my pedal, I passed Mrs Tootlepedal at her manure mountain and she gave me an encouraging cry of, “Allez Tootle” as I whizzed by.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal was going to a colleague’s hen party in Carlisle so I was very happy to find that Sandy fancied a photographic trip.  He came down and we set off over the hill to Newcastleton.  The day was sunny, the road was clear and as an added bonus we hadn’t gone more than a mile or so before we saw four wild goats unusually close to the road.  Naturally we stopped.

wild goat

Here’s looking at you, kid.

As we drove on, we passed several more groups of the goats on the moor.  Feeding must be hard for them to find because they don’t often come so far over and so near the road.

We dropped down into Newcastleton and turned north on the road to Hawick.  Having met the wild on the moor, it wasn’t long before we encountered the woolly in a field.

alpaca posing

It was an alpaca posing

There were two alpacas in the field and they were as interested in us as we were in them.

alpacas

I felt that I should try to do justice to the very fetching eyelashes on the white one.

alpaca eyelash

The goats and the alpacas were incidental pleasures as our main target for the trip was to be found a few miles further north at the top of the hill.

Whitrope summit

Here, in the middle of nowhere, a small band of enthusiasts are painstakingly and slowly  restoring a short section of the old Waverley Line that once ran from Edinburgh to Carlisle.

They have coaches…

railway coach

(here’s one with Sandy showing the scale…)

coach

…and they have a railcar which gives short trips for visitors in season.

railcar

..and they have all sorts of things lying around.

Wagons, locos, signals and signal levers.

Wagons, locos, signals and signal levers.

Some vandal had piled a load of breeze blocks in front of a great photo opportunity.  Unforgivable.

saxa salt

They even had a bridge to spare.

bridge

They told us that this is a listed building!

Two of the dedicated men gave us a warm welcome and showed us their first class carriage from the inside.

carriage

Very snug

They invited us to have a good walk round so we did and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

platform

Older and newer signs on the platform

station

Looking up the line to the station.

 

odds and ends

Odds and ends. They collect anything that’s going.

The coach in the background is part of their exhibition and we were allowed in to look at that too.  It had some fine photographs from the collection of our friend Bruce who is a great railway enthusiast.

Sandy

Sandy leaving the exhibition coach

As we walked along the line, which runs on top of an embankment, we could look down and see the road which we had driven up.  It is one of my favourite roads for cycling and driving.

Whitrope road

We were offered a cup of tea but we didn’t have time to stay so we thanked them and went on our way.  We hadn’t quite finished with the railway yet though as we took the opportunity of an empty road to stop and take a picture of the Shankend Viaduct a mile or two down the hill.

shankend viaduct

shankend viaduct

Soon we had reached the bottom of the hill and found ourselves among extensive fields of pigs, both great and small.

pigs

And not long after that we were in Hawick and ready to turn on to the main road to take us back to Langholm.  Sandy had an evening appointment in Carlisle so we had no more time to linger though a couple of sparkling snow clad hills did detain us for a moment near the county boundary.

Roxburgh hills

I managed to sneak the faithful Kangoo into the left hand picture.

We arrived home safely after an excellent 50 mile round trip with a tremendous variety of scenery to look at as we went along.  After a pause to eat a tasty home-made chicken curry, I popped out on my slow bike to give Arthur some computer assistance in e-mailing four fairly interesting photographs to his son.  This may have been my last chance to use the cycle lights for some time as the clocks go forward tonight and even if we don’t have spring,  we definitely will have British summer time tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch and in the bottom right hand corner of the photo you can clearly see two snow flakes.  I hope that these are the last we shall see until next winter.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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My sister Susan returned to the UK from NZ this morning but here is a recent picture of her admiring Lake Te Anau to prove that she was there.  It was taken by my brother.

Surveying Lake Te Anau

She has been banned from mentioning what the weather was like while she was in NZ.  At least we had some sunshine today and it was enough to lift our spirits in the face of continuing cold, windy conditions.

I felt quite a bit better today, although not quite up to cycling yet.  Luckily I had other things to do instead.  I looked out of the kitchen window of course.

chaffimch and brambling

great tit

Later on in the morning, Sandy and I went up to the Moorland feeders as it was my turn to fill the feeders up.  We had to watch out that we didn’t step on a pheasant while we were at the feed bins because one was so desperate for food that it was snapping at our ankles.  Sandy tried to persuade it to eat from the hand…

sandy and friend

…but it wasn’t quite that tame.

When we had finished filling up, Sandy took his remote control out and set up his camera to point at a peanut feeder on the left side of the clearing.  He was hoping to get a good clean woodpecker shot as the light was fairly good.  As my battery was low, I kept my camera in hand.  The woodpeckers arrived in force but sadly for Sandy. they all stuck to the right hand side of the clearing.

triple woodpecker

After a while, Sandy got fed up and moved the camera round so that it was pointing at one of the feeders on the right hand side.  The woodpeckers disappeared and didn’t come back.

This is Sandy setting up his woodpecker scaring equipment.  It works very well.

This is Sandy setting up his woodpecker scaring equipment. It works very well.

We sat for quite a time and I watched some blue tits and a robin on a feeder near me….

robin and blue tit

…but in spite of the sun, it was freezing and we got fed up of waiting for the woodpeckers to reappear so we got up and left before we turned into ice statues.  I did get one picture of a woodpecker before Sandy’s camera scared them away.

woodpecker

The ways of weather are obscure.  Last year when we had a lovely spring, the air was always rather murky and the Lake District hills were mostly hidden from us.  This year, the wind has been coming from the same direction and the weather has been worse but the air has been much clearer and we have been able to see the hills frequently.

lake district from feeders

35 miles to the top of the hill as the crow flies.

We got home and went our separate ways for lunch.  After lunch, I had some business to do for the Archive Group and for the choir so I was kept busy at my computer.  When I had finished, I glanced at the weather map and it claimed that soon the coast near Gretna would be bathed in sunshine.  I thought that this would give us a wonderful opportunity to catch some snow capped hills gleaming in the late sunshine so I rang Sandy to see if he would like a trip to the seaside.  He had been gardening and was happy to take a break so we drove off to Gretna.

The hills were clear as a bell in the distance as we drove down the A7 and there were acres of blue sky in the direction that we were heading.  All was good.  As is all too often the case though, clouds had come to cover the snowcapped peaks and the sun had gone in by the time we got to the shore.    It was also very chilly in a strong wind.  Such is life.

There were plenty of curlews whipping along the shore in little flocks…

curlews

Too far away and too quick for a proper shot.

…and there was some sun on some of the lower lying hills across the water.  Since we had gone to the trouble of getting there, I took some pictures anyway.

lakeland hills

penine hills

lakeland hills

In the end, Skiddaw did pop its head out of the clouds but didn’t catch any sun.

Skiddaw

Not quite the sparkling white set against a blue sea that I had hoped for.  In fact the Solway was a rather sullen grey.

solway

You can see the fast running tide against the sandbanks.

Just as at the Moorland feeders, the cold wind beat any desire to wait for the sun to come out and we were soon in our way home, stopping to shoot a cloud and some of the missing blue sky.

cloud at Longtown

The Solway plain is a splendid place for cloud watching.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been at work in the afternoon but as she had been on a muck collecting excursion and done some gardening in the morning, she wasn’t tempted to do any more gardening in the chilly evening air so we closed the doors, pulled the curtains and shut the cold out.

She settled to her embroidery and I played about with a masking plug in for my photo editor which I have got on a 30 day trial.  I had taken a photo of a crocus in the morning and I used my new toy to play about with it.  The original picture is in the left frame. You can see the result of masking in the middle frame and some footling about with it in the right hand one.

crocus mangling

What fun.  Mrs Tootlepedal asked why I wanted to mess around with a flower that was perfectly pretty as it was.  Good question but a man needs some occupation.   I am impressed by the ease of use of the masking plug in and I will probably buy it when the time comes.

The flying bird of the day was a chaffinch.  It was nice to catch it in the sunshine.

chaffinch

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Today’s picture shows that very rare thing, a patch of blue sky over our garden.

blue sky

Not only did we get some (not much) blue sky today but we didn’t get any snow either so the day was counted for me as a definite improvement on recent efforts.  Dropscone, who went round the morning run in lonely splendour, said that it had seemed just as cold and windy for a cyclist as ever when he joined us for coffee.  He was particularly welcome today as he brought three Eccles cakes with him as well as the usual scones.

I hadn’t gone cycling because I am feeling a little tired at the moment and the prospect of pedalling 21 miles in a freezing cold 20 mph east wind did not appeal.

I did go out into the garden and do a carefully moderated session of lawn spiking and compost sieving.  Spring,  however, remains on hold and apart from the snowdrops, a few early daffodils and some crocuses, nothing is even looking ready to flower yet.

Having said yesterday that few greenfinches are visiting, I was proved wrong (again) by a steady influx of them today.

greenfinches

greenfinches

It would be interesting to know where they were yesterday.

I am encouraging the chaffinches to adopt more artistic poses at the feeder and I thought that this composition was not a bad effort.

artistic chaffinches

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work again and I thought that I would try a little gentle pedalling.  Our ride yesterday was well sheltered so I went round the same route again today.  After I arrived back in town, I felt perky enough to go round for a second lap.  This time I stopped to take a picture or two.

Esk

The Esk was very low when I crossed Potholm Bridge

goosanders

There was enough water for two goosanders though.

They are very shy birds and always paddle off as soon as I get the camera out.

Milnholm Farm

Milnholm Farm, built on a promontory onto the flood plain.

lamb

This lamb seemed to be full of life.

oystercatchers

Two oystercatchers among the lambs.

I had thought of doing twenty miles but after ten miles my legs had had enough and I bailed out and headed for home.  As soon as I got home, the sun came out and I watched some very active siskins on the feeder.

siskins

They don’t take to sharing very well.

siskins

In fact they don’t take to it at all.

siskins

There were moments of peace.

siskins

The sun was so tempting that I had a wander round the garden to see if it had encouraged the plants.  It hadn’t.  The golden box plants provided some rich colour though.

box

And the row of blue crocuses did at least open up their petals.

crocuses

Mrs Tootlepedal is worried that the tulips behind the crocuses may not flower even though they are looking quite healthy.

I read in the paper today that the British population of starlings has collapsed drastically.  At least there was one here today.

starling

I really admire birds’ ability to balance.

I was going to check if there were any ducks about when a passer by, seeing me with camera in hand, asked me to be sure to catch her best side.  I think that I managed to comply pretty well.

Irene

Irene:  you can see that in spite of the sunshine, we still needed to be well wrapped up.

We live in a cheerful neighbourhood.  Mind you this robin looked uncharacteristically grumpy today.

robin

I was unexpectedly tired by now so I went in to have a relaxing bath.  This usually does the trick but today, I got out of it even more tired than I had been when I got in.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I had intended to go to a charity quiz night in Canonbie this evening but I was absolutely knocked flat and I had to cry off and sit doing nothing at all for a couple of hours before I could even summon up the energy to look at the pictures that I had taken during the day.  I don’t know where the tiredness came from but I am hopeful that it will disappear again in short order.

Today’s flying bird is a chaffinch waiting for the siskins to give it a break.

chaffinch

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Today’s picture shows the famous clipper Cutty Sark perched rather uncomfortably on top of a new visitor centre at Greenwich.  It was seen by my sister Mary who took advantage of a little sunshine to take a boat trip down the Thames today.

Cutty Sark

We too had a little sunshine but we had to look very carefully to see it among the frequent snow flurries.

snow

I took one look at this and when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work, I retired to bed again as I am feeling a bit tired at the moment.  I rose gracefully just in time to offer Sandy a cup of coffee and a biscuit.  (Mrs Tootlepedal has considerately acquired another three hundred of the little Belgian caramelised biscuits that she gave me for my birthday as the first consignment have finally disappeared.   This is the gift that keeps on having to be given.)

While we sipped and nibbled, a positive blizzard arrived and in minutes the garden was covered in a white sheet of snow.  By the time we had finished our coffee, the blizzard had passed, the birds were back on the feeder and the garden was back to its normal greenness.  The weather is very odd at the moment.  Dropscone rang me in the evening to say that only thirty miles to the west, he had been driving through snowdrifts as high as his car.

The chaffinches were in good order in spite of the conditions and obliged with a little formation flying to entertain the crowds (Sandy and me).

chaffinch formation flying

After coffee, I went to pay my bill at the corner shop and on my way home saw that the mallards were about on the dam.

Drakes

Two hopeful males

mallard

The reason for their presence.

The residents further along the dam have created the charming little waterfall you can see in the picture above to provide the sound of running water to accompany their al fresco meals in the garden.

greenfinch

The greenfinches are not nearly so numerous now as they have been but one or two visit every day.

 

brambling

We still have plenty of bramblings about.

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived home from work at lunchtime and after we had eaten, she suggested a bike ride.  The snow had stopped and the wind was not too strong so I agreed and we went along the Langfauld to Potholm.  Our five and a half mile  route took us along a forest track for part of the way…

forest track

…and we were sheltered from the winds by the trees and the hill behind them.  We passed a lonesome pine but the ridges were not blue.

pine

As you can see, there was more than a hint of blue sky about but by the time we had crossed the river and turned for home, the weather had changed yet again…

whita through light snow

…and snow had started to fall.  We felt really sorry for the tiny lambs who have just been born into these unforgiving conditions.

lambs

They can probably stand the cold as long as they don’t get wet as well but they could really do with some sun on their backs and some grass for their mothers to eat.

We got home safely as the snow didn’t amount to much in the end and I was enjoying a sit down when Sandy rang and suggested a quick trip to the Moorland bird feeders.   Always keen to shoot a woodpecker or a pheasant, I picked up a camera and got a lift from him up to the site.

The feeders were empty when we got there so we spent a moment or two filling them up and by the time we had finished, another blizzard had arrived and we were forced to sit in the car to see out the storm.  Once again, it didn’t last long and we were soon out and sitting behind the hide.   I don’t think that I have ever experienced so many days with snow falling and seen so little snow on the ground at the same time.

Tinnis

You wouldn’t think that it had been snowing like the clappers a few minutes earlier.

The birds didn’t take long to get back to business.

great tit

chaffinches

As always, there were a lot of pheasants creeping about under the feeders picking up fallen seed and I took pictures of a male and a female which I have put together here.

pheasants

(A click will bring you an enlarged version of a picture.)

The pheasants are learning new tricks and after seeing a female on a perching feeder recently, we saw a male on the same feeder today, looking definitely out of scale.

pheasant on feeder.

We hadn’t put any fresh seed on that feeder and he didn’t stop long before trying to find a better place.

diving pheasant

There were the usual woodpeckers to be spotted.

woodpecker

A sample.

We didn’t stay long because even though the snow had stopped, it was extremely chilly sitting still.  We were able to catch a glimpse of more snowy conditions in England to our south before we left.

snowy hills

Sandy dropped me off and we ate our respective teas before meeting up again to pick up Jean and go to the Archive Centre.  For some reason we weren’t able to access our database tonight so Jean and I had a turn at taking the information off a microfiche of the newspaper and recording it for later entering into the database.  This is hard work and I should say more often than I do to the people who do it on a weekly basis how much I admire their industry.

After our work, we broke with tradition and retired to the Eskdale Hotel for our post-archiving refreshment.  It was very comfortable and quite a bit cheaper than our usual haunt.  We may be going to found a new tradition.

I  noticed during the day that several bird pictures seemed to have a vertical theme so I have combined pictures from the garden and the Moorland feeders into a little unhinged triptych.

vertical birds

A change is as good as a rest as they say.

The pheasant nearly made flying bird of the day but I thought it was more diving than flying while this chaffinch was certainly doing its best.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s picture, kindly sent to me by Keith (Tuckamoredew) from Canada, shows that they have trees amply covered in fungus there too.

fungus

We had more of the cold, windy, grey weather that has been our normal fare for some time now.  When I got up, the walnut tree was full of jackdaws adding to the gloom of the scene.

jackdaws

Once again, Dropscone was hardy enough to go for a morning pedal but yesterday’s chilly ride and been enough for a me so I gave it a miss today.  He added to his merit by carting a bag of scones round with him in his knapsack and we enjoyed them with a cup of coffee.  While I was waiting for the scones to arrive, a robin kept me company.

robin

Checking the feeder from below…

robin

…and from above.

The morning was punctuated by flurries of very lightweight snow and I was happy to spend a lot of time staring out of the window rather than doing anything useful.  The theme for today was wings.  Whenever I looked out, there seemed to be chaffinches and/or bramblings extending their wings.

If wings are not your thing, look away now because there are too many pictures of them here.

chaffinche and bramblings

chaffinches

chaffinch and brambling

chaffinches

Indiscriminate winging

Indiscriminate winging

community winging

Community winging including a greenfinch.

brambling back

The parade of wings was interrupted by the intrusion of a predatory cat, handsome but unwelcome.

cat

It soon resumed again.

chaffinches in snow

As did the snow

feeder flying

feeder flying and conversation

There was time for a little conversation too.

I have put this large number of similar pictures in just for the record to show how desperate the birds are for seeds in the present long spell of cold weather.   The flowering currant below was fully out on the same day last year.  What a difference.

flowering currant

I had to go to the dentist for a check  but fortunately had no work to be done thanks to sound work with the toothbrush (or good luck).

After lunch, the sun made an occasional appearance among the snow flakes and we were able to to some gardening.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to get some more manure and spread it where it would be productive and I sieved a couple of barrowfuls of compost ready for her to use when needed.  I also finished top dressing the half of the front lawn that I have spiked and even got the light mower out to trim a new bit of lawn, more to cut off intrusive bulbs than any straggly bits of grass that might have poked their heads up.  Still, it was lawn care so my day was all the better for a bit of that.

It was still very chilly and I soon retired indoors again and did some overdue work at the computer to warm up.

The next time that I looked out of the window, the flying birds had finished their business and a sole fluffy chaffinch was the only bird in sight.

fluffy chaffinch

We all feel like that about the cold.

In the evening, I took Susan to Carlisle where we enjoyed ourselves playing with the recorder group.  By and large we played pieces that we could cope with but Roy, our librarian, brought out a couple that taxed us beyond our limits.  I always think that it is a bad sign when you are puffing away and the music is so dense and complicated that you can’t tell whether you are lost or not.  On the other hand we played one or two of the pieces well and got extra enjoyment from that.

You will not be surprised to discover that the flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

chaffinch

 

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Today’s picture, sent by my sister Mary from her morning walk, shows a couple of ducks resting in a puddle.  They have had more rain in London than we have had here.

Ducks asleep in a puddle,

We had another day without rain but to make up for that,  a very light snow was falling when we woke.  So light was the snow and so strong was the wind that the flakes were often falling upwards instead of downwards.  Undeterred by all this, and the two degree temperature, Dropscone and I set out on the bikes for three seven mile repetitions up and down the Wauchope road.  We certainly learned what wind chill was when we faced into the fresh breeze from the east. It was not one of the rides that will be counted among my favourites.  Still, 21 miles is 21 miles and although I wasn’t pleased to be doing it, I was pleased to have done it.  I certainly wouldn’t have done without the motivation of  Dropscone’s appearance.

Dropscone’s scones were more welcome than ever.

I had a bit of business to do after my shower and I didn’t get much chance to stare out of the window but as always, I found a moment or two to spare.

The chaffinches were in threatening mood.

chaffinch

The greenfinch was not to be shifted though.

chaffinch

Once again, the chaffinch didn’t take the greenfinch on and veered away.

My business took me up to town to post a parcel and as I arrived home, I saw a duck on the bank of the dam.

duck

It was looking about and quacking in a half-hearted sort of way and I soon saw what might be making a single duck quack sadly.

duck pair

We usually get ducklings on the dam each year.

After lunch, I stopped to admire the large number of goldfinches in the plum tree,,,,

goldfinches

This was just a small selection of them.

…before setting off with Mrs Tootlepedal to visit an exhibition of paintings collected by a local doctor and his wife over the years.  His wife has recently died and the exhibition was held in her memory.  It had a lot of very good pictures in it, some by local and contemporary artists and others by artists both living and dead from the UK and France (where they had a second home).

I went on from the exhibition to play some baroque trios with Mike and Isabel while Mrs Tootlepedal went home to put in some more work on her current embroidery.   The music making was excellent fun and to add to the enjoyment, we were interrupted by a phone call from my flute pupil Luke’s grandfather to say that he had discovered that Luke had passed his grade examination with distinction.  Isabel had been his accompanist during the exam so we were both very pleased with the outcome.

I drove home and by the time that I arrived a little sun had broken through the clouds so I nipped back out into the garden to record these primroses while the going was good.

primroses

Strangely, while other flowers have been reluctant to appear, these flowers have thrived in spite of the cold and snow.

In the evening, Luke came for his lesson and we are going to try to do justice to a trio for two flutes and BC (provided by my computer) by Loeillet which will be a challenge but Luke is up for it and I am sure that he will make a serious effort to master it.

After the lesson, I had my tea and then Sandy arrived to pick me up for the last meeting of the Liddesdale Camera Club of the season. This was the occasion of the judging of the best picture from all the competitions throughout the year and I am happy to say that Sandy deservedly carried off the first prize in the print section with his picture of the rainbow taken from the White Yett.  He tells me that he has posted the pictures that he took on our walk yesterday and I am sure they will be worth a visit.

I am very grateful that Sandy persuaded me to join the camera club as it has broadened my outlook photographically a lot and made me much more self critical which can only be a good thing.  I hope that once the light has improved, I will be able to post some classier images among the frogs, flowers and chaffinches which are my staple fare..

Here’s a flying chaffinch meanwhile.  Using a technique that I learned tonight, I have slightly darkened the outer sections of the picture to place more emphasis on the subject in the centre.  More practice required as ever.

flying chaffinch

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