Sandra and Jim come up trumps

Today’s guest picture, from my sister Mary’s camera, shows some very smart chaps going to defend the Queen from something or other.

Horseguards in The Mall

It was a grey and dull day when we got up, not much good for photographs but excellent, as it turned out, for cycling.  The temperature was very comfortable and the wind was extremely light.  When Dropscone arrived for the morning run, he kindly agreed to my suggestion of yet another trip to Gair (although he prefers the traditional route) and we were able to get there and back at a respectable rate of knots.

After coffee and scones, Dropscone departed and I had a few minutes before Mrs Tootlepedal returned from a church choir practice.  I spent them staring out of the window of course.

The feeder was busy.  There were a lot of siskins about and when I looked there were four siskins and a goldfinch nibbling away.  I turned away for a moment and lo and behold, when I turned back,  there were four goldfinches and a siskin instead.

siskins and goldfinches
Both pictures taken at 11.20 am

There is never a dull moment in the Tootlepedal household.

I looked away again to watch a perching goldfinch…


…and when I turned back this time, a sparrow and a greenfinch had appeared.

sparrow and greenfinch

I went out into the garden too.

The spirea shows that it was a damp day
pond skater
A pond skater was enjoying the very still conditions and appeared absolutely weightless.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal appeared.   While she had the last of the coffee, I watched a blackbird father and his demanding child.


At least one of the young blackbirds has grown old enough to feed itself.

Foraging for fallen seed.

As it was such a good cycling day, Mrs Tootlepedal and I  went off for a pedal ourselves up to the Collin Bridge and back.   The conditions were so benign that we achieved a season’s best time for the nine miles without even trying.

I had time for a shower and a light lunch before packing a recorder and my flute and going up to the town to play some music with Mike and Isabel.  With trios by Mozart, Telemann and Quantz on the menu, we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and generally, but not always, managed to start and finish at the same time.  (This is the second golden rule of music playing.  The first is for all the players to be playing the same piece.)

By the time that I got home, the weather had improved and the afternoon was pleasantly warm with a hint of sunshine. This was a perfect chance to mow the front lawn so I took it.  The moss is enjoying the warm spring.  This is not good.

There were good things about though.

golden bee
This golden bee was getting stuck into the pulmonaria.

I have been much struck by a beautiful plant in the border by the road.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is a Euphorbia Myrsinites, the myrtle spurge.

Euphorbia myrsinites

I find it strangely other worldly.

By this time, the day had become so pleasant that I had an idea.  I had met Jim and Sandra at last night’s concert and they had issued a very pressing invitation to take a camera up to look at their bird feeder which, they assured me, was constantly being visited by nuthatches.

I got my long lens out and cycled up the hill to their house.  They have a lovely view over the town.

View from Whitaside
The sun was in the wrong direction for the camera to do it justice today.

As is almost inevitable in these cases, Sandra told me when I arrived that the nuthatches had been much scarcer today than yesterday.  Indeed I stood for some time in her kitchen watching great tits…

great tit

…blue tits…

blue tits

….even robins…


…but no nuthatches.

After a while Jim took me into the next door garden to see what he thinks is a warbler building a nest.  He showed me the nest, neatly lined with a feather and sure enough we saw the nest builder coming back with another feather in its beak.

nest builder

It goes without saying that while we were watching this bird, a nuthatch had come to the feeder and Sandra rushed out to tell us.  We hurried back, fearing that we had missed the chance to see it but we were in luck.

nuthatch at whitaside

A nuthatch arrived, took a seed and  left……and then reappeared so frequently that we think perhpas it was two nuthatches who must be feeding young nearby.

Sandra’s feeder is right outside her window but the nuthatches paid no attention to us at all.

nuthatch at whitaside
Coming in…
nuthatch at whitaside
….and going out loaded up

I had a great time watching and clicking away and Jim and Sandra have kindly invited me and Sandy to come up again to have another look, an offer which we shall certainly be taking up.  There are a lot of benefits in having a house right on the edge of the town.

Although the nuthatches were still coming and going, I had to leave  to get back in time for a flute lesson with my pupil Luke.  He is making good progress and showed me his report from his recent successful grade examination.    The most pleasing aspect of his progress is how much his breathing has improved recently and as this is something that he can only do through constant practice, it shows how seriously he is taking his work.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to go to a performance of a choir in Gretna of which she used to be a member.  This was their final performance as sadly the choir is  now closing because of a lack of members.

All in all, a day with two pedals in very light winds, two opportunities to play music and a chance to to watch nuthatches as well must be counted as one of the very best sort of days.

The flying bird of the day, seen in the gloomy morning,  was one of our resident goldfinches.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

21 thoughts on “Sandra and Jim come up trumps

  1. Just a word to say how much I enjoy your daily pictures of the birds, flowers and country side. It is so pleasing to know that this country still has this sort of area.

    Many thanks Arthur Monery

  2. Lovely photos as always – the robin could be a Christmas card except you’d have to photoshop some snow in! I have never seen a nuthatch and would love to. I have also made a note of the Euphorbia Myrsinites – it is wonderful!

  3. That pond skater, was it actually on the pond when you took the photo? It looks like it’s on a sheet of glass or something. Phenomenal to me! The story of the goldfinches and siskins trading places made me smile. Glad you had such an enjoyable day and that you got to snap some pictures of the nuthatches.

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