Busy people warning: long post with far too many pictures.
Today’s picture is of poor quality but shows the arrival in our garden of the first bee of the year. Hooray. Here’s to many more we hope.
As well as the bee, we also had a visit from bird ringing expert, Cat Barlow who arrived with her nets just after breakfast. After some thought, she erected the nets between the plum tree and the feeder.
In the right hand picture, the net is up and you are looking straight through it. You can just see the top of the net if you look carefully. Once the net was up, we retired and waited for birds to arrive. There was soon plenty of action at the feeder in spite of the net….
…and some birds found the net a useful vantage point.
Luckily, other birds found their way into the net and over the course of two hours, Cat released and ringed 35 birds – siskins, chaffinches, redpolls and goldfinches.
Here are some birds in the hand…
…and here are some personal portraits….
As always, Cat was most methodical and the birds were carefully dangled while waiting to be weighed, measured, sexed, aged and released.
She only found one bird that had been previously ringed. It hadn’t been ringed by her and she is going to find out where it came from.
She furled the nets carefully and will come again tomorrow to see what turns up then.
Two birds that waited until Cat had gone were a jackdaw and a brambling.
The jackdaw would have been a handful but she was disappointed not to have netted a brambling. She will be even more disappointed when she sees this picture of another arrival shortly after she had gone.
Although I have never seen one before, I am pretty sure from the ‘Easy guide to birds’ book that this is a blackcap. I certainly hope that it will visit us again as it is an attractive bird.
Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy morning, starting with helping to read the local newspaper into a recorder for distribution to the blind and following that with a couple of hours at work.
After lunch we decided on a cycle ride but our wishes did not coincide so Mrs tootlepedal set off on an 11 mile ride, including a stiff climb on a forestry track and I set off on yet another ride up to Wauchope schoolhouse and back. This time though, I added a 35 mile circuit in between the out and back sections. I visited Gair, Robgill Tower…
…Rigg, Gretna, Milltown of Sark and Tarcoon on my way. It was a beautiful day with a light 10 mile an hour wind; the circuit was undulating without being hilly so it was never boring and as a result I enjoyed myself a lot. I took things very easily and ended up doing the 41 miles at just over 14 miles and hour which was very pleasing. This was my longest outing of the year (by a mile) and I will need to go further soon as I am booked in for a 60 mile event in a month.
Still, I was perky enough to be able to mow the drying green when I got home. It was such a lovely evening that I rang up Sandy and asked him if he would fancy a walk along the river. He was just back from work but he was keen and soon arrived with the suggestion that we should go down to Longtown and walk out along the banks of the River Esk there instead of our usual stroll along the river in Langholm. I was intrigued because I have never done this walk and so off we went.
The walk along the river bank lets you have a good look back at the bridge over the Esk. It feels rather narrow and poky when you drive over it but viewed from below, it is a different story.
The walk along the river was a delight. The path is good and the scenery excellent. Looking north over the river you can see the monument on Whita Hill above Langholm…
….looking south, you can see Arthuret Church, perched on its mound, looking more like a castle than a church….
…and looking west you can see the river flowing towards the sea through green fields.
There was plenty of bird life about with a heron, goosanders, swans, gulls and grey wagtails all in evidence. I took many, many pictures but I have setted for this grey wagtail, which Sandy spotted, as a representative.
Beside the river on our left, we passed an area of ponds in a hollow. They look as though they were old gravel pits but they have been allowed to develop into a very natural appearance now.
Our walk took us right round them and we were able to enjoy flocks of martins flitting around us as well as a small collection of swans, geese and ducks in one of the ponds.
Everywhere we looked, there was a photo opportunity.
Having gone round the ponds, we returned to the river bank for the walk back to Longtown. By this time, the sun was getting low in the sky…
…and a flock of swans in a nearby field were getting ready for bed.
To look at the Longtown bridge from a distance, you would not think that it divides the town from an industrial estate and that a main road with heavy traffic crosses it.
We got safely back to the car and I was very grateful to Sandy for showing me this lovely walk. I will certainly do it again and I feel sure that Mrs Tootlepedal will be with me when I do it.
All in all, it was one of those days which lifts the spirits immensely. The only down side was that I took about 200 photographs during the day during the ringing, the pedalling and the walking and I have had to discard 175 of them. Still, you can’t have everything.
The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch to reflect the golden sunshine of the afternoon..