From dawn till dusk (nearly)

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.

bee

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.

setting up the net

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….

feeder
You can see the net behind the feeder

…and some birds found the net a useful vantage point.

redpoll
A redpoll with a good sense of balance

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…

birds in hand

…and here are some personal portraits….

portraits

As always, Cat was most methodical and the birds were carefully dangled while waiting to be weighed, measured, sexed, aged and released.

dangling equipment
Colourful bird bags
weighing scales
Probably a chaffinch in the weighing tube looking at the weight of 19 grams.

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.

jackdaw and 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.

blackcap

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…

Robgill Tower
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.

Esk Bridge at Longtown
Probably the finest bridge in our area.

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…

Monument

….looking south, you can see Arthuret Church, perched on its mound, looking more like a castle than a church….

Arthuret Church

…and looking west you can see the river flowing towards the sea through green fields.

Esk

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.

grey wagtail

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.

ponds at Longtown

ponds at Longtown

ponds at Longtown

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.

ponds at Longtown

Everywhere we looked, there was a photo opportunity.

ponds at Longtown

Sandy on the bank
There was a dyke round the ponds along which we walked.

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…

sun

…and a flock of swans in a nearby field were getting ready for bed.

swans

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.

Longtown bridge

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..

goldfinch

 

 

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

21 thoughts on “From dawn till dusk (nearly)

  1. The bird portraits are great. After reading one of your previous posts I wondered why the bird tagger didn’t raise her nets in your yard. I love the lighting in the photo of the pond with mountains behind it.

  2. Wow, you had a glorious day. Love the picture of the goldfinch. 41 miles is a great ride for this time of year.

  3. Some beautiful scenery and a larger variety of birds that usual, what’s not to like? When you begin your posts with a warning about being too long with too many photos, I know that it will be a post that I enjoy even more than usual.

  4. Not too many pictures at all, thank you for some lovely views and a particularly good flying bird. It will be interesting to find out where the previously ringed bird came from, if you remember put it in the blog when you know. Well done for the long cycle ride. Hope you don’t feel too tired today.

  5. What a day! You must be very pleased with your close ups. You also must be a man in a very good shape. Converting your miles into kilometers means you did about 66 km in just about 3 hrs? Really well done, and on top of that a long walk! Wow! We had to take out our Michelin Great Britain and Ireland atlas (bought when cruising Scotland some years ago) to see if we could follow your rampage through the villages, and we could. Maps, pictures and words can sometimes trigger one’s imagination. As we do a bit of cycling ourselves we can easily picture the harsh winds, and the warm ones, steep tiring uphill, stunning views and charming villages as if we were right behind you. 🙂

  6. When I’ve read : “Busy people warning: long post with far too many pictures.” I was ready for at least 100 pictures but you have here just a few, 34. Ha, ha.
    I like very much your little birds.

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