Unexpected treat

Today’s guest picture is from another visit earlier this month to mainland Europe by my brother.  This time his wife and he were in Bruges where they saw this 11th Century hospital across a canal.


After an early breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal left for Edinburgh where she lent a helping hand with Matilda.  She took a number of fetching photos of our granddaughter but since Matilda is only a week older than when the last fetching photos appeared on the blog and hasn’t changed all that noticeably to the outside world in that time, I am going to wait for a while until I post another.

As I looked out of the kitchen window after breakfast, I saw this bird on the peanuts.


I couldn’t identify it for certain and wonder if any knowledgeable reader can help.  Is it a young blue tit?

Because of Mrs Tootlepedal’s early start, I had time to look round the garden before Dropscone arrived.  Two pale but striking flowers caught my eye.

Astrantia and Trifolium
 Trifolium and Astrantia

My day proper started with an agreeable twenty two mile morning pedal with Dropscone to Gair and back.  After a slow start to let my creaky joints settle down, the warm temperatures and light winds helped us to squeeze our average speed up to 15 mph.  This is the speed that we deem to be satisfactory and our satisfaction was compounded by some excellent Friday treacle scones.

After Dropscone left, I went out into the garden to do some watering of the seedlings in and around the greenhouse, to mow the middle lawn and to take a picture or two while I was out there with a camera in hand.

There are delphiniums in many beds and in many shades of blue.
The roses are in fine fettle in the dry, sunny weather at the moment.
coral peony
A new coral peony has come out to replace the one that has just gone over.
pink peony
And a pretty in pink peony lit up a shady spot.
rugosa rose
A rugosa rose provided more light amidst the dark surroundings.

Three young starlings appeared in the garden today looking for food.  This one looked a bit cross about the poor menu.


I have got five different cheeses in my cheese box at the moment so I had a bit of each of them with some home made bread for my lunch and then went off to the Tourist Information Point at the Kilngreen for my regular Friday spell of duty.

My first customers were actually waiting at the door as I arrived.  They were an American father and son who were touring northern Europe.  They were so polite and interesting that I was happy that I was able to help them to pinpoint a small memorial erected to celebrate the clan Little, one of our local families.  They were descendants of a Little family which left the Scottish borders for Ireland and ended in American after the great famine of the mid eighteen hundreds.  As they expressed it to me, they felt that no-one on the USA actually comes from the USA and so they were pleased to be able to see the place where their family had its roots.

Visitors to the TIP were few and far between over the next two hours but interestingly one couple told me that they had stayed in Langholm some years before at a very nice B&B run by a couple of cyclists.  I was a bit embarrassed that I had not remembered them as it was our B&B that they were talking about but as they had not recognised me either, we called it a draw and agreed that it was hard to recognise people out of the context of the place where you had met them before.

One welcome visitor was Sandy who combined a visit to keep me company with a visit to Jean, our friend who lives nearby and who is still not very well.

When it was time to lock up, Sandy drove us up onto the Langholm Moor to see if there were any hen harriers about.  We are told that there are no less than ten harrier nests on the moor which as far as I know is eight more than there are in the whole of England.  However our only glimpse of the bird was a distant one, perched on a ridge and well out of suitable camera shot.


However, our trip was not in vain.  A local bird watcher, Kenny was on hand and he was able to point out some young merlins perched on a rock.  They were easily visible with his glass though too far away for a good photograph.


The real surprise was a short eared owl which was flying around quite freely in front of us.  I have never knowingly seen one of these birds before so this was a treat.  I snapped away but I would need better equipment and a steadier hand that I have got to get good pictures.  I have out several in just for the record to show that I really did see it.

short eared owl

The owl got into an argument with a merlin at one point and there was some spectacular action.

owl and merlin

At one point a second owl appeared.

short eared owl

It was carrying prey and it flew around and then  perched on a rock with it.

short eared owl

It was just too far away for my camera but it was very good just to be there and watch.  It occasionally took a good look at us.

short eared owl

Trying to find something a little closer to photograph, I noticed a small moth near the car.  It was one of those days though and I couldn’t get a sharp focus on it either.


It seemed to have borrowed a pair of rabbit’s ears.

When I got home, I had time to mow the front lawn, do a bit more watering in the garden and look at the photos that I had just taken before Mrs Tootlepdal returned from Edinburgh and Mike and Alison came round for their regular Friday visit.

Alison and I had a good play, although there were the occasional moments when the music sounded more like Stockhausen than a baroque flute sonata really should.

I would have liked to have got a good enough picture of the owl to make it flying bird of the day but it was not to be and Crown Princess Margaretha will stand in as non flying flower of the day instead.

Crown Princess Margaretha









Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

28 thoughts on “Unexpected treat

  1. Any day when you see harriers, merlin, and short-eared owls is a good day, whether you get great photos or not. Besides, your excellent flower photos made up for your having to stretch your equipment for the birds.

  2. Glad you are enjoying some nice weather – we have been in the pits for the past several days now with too much rain and too many clouds. How awesome to see the owl in good light! We catch glimpses of them now and then in the northwoods but usually we only hear them deep in the night, so your experience would be a real treat. Your crown princess definitely deserves the name, it’s a real beauty.

    1. We are in the middle of a very welcome spell of high pressure. It can’t last but it is very welcome while it is here, especially as it has lasted for several days. Usually our weather is quite changeable in summer.

  3. Well, that was amazing to see a short-eared owl and be able to photograph it in the mindst of its activities.

  4. Distance issues notwithstanding, the owl is beautiful, and I do like the grumpy starling! A beautiful photo of my favourite coral peony with the overlapping leaf . . . lovely.

  5. What a wonderful post! Thank you, I’m pleased I caught up with it. So many raptors – how lucky to be able to go to the moor in this area. Superb flowers too. Peonies are stunning flowers. Yes it is, in answer to your ID question.

  6. We sometimes get short-eared owls here. They look like cross cats to my mind. They are day-flying owls and only live where there are plenty of voles to eat. Yes, I agree, it is a young blue tit. The flowers are beautiful.

  7. The owl shots are very good for being so far away. How lucky you were to see them so well. We see Short-Eared Owls hunting at dusk in the winter, which makes photographing them pretty impossible. I love the moth-like flight of the Short-Eared.

  8. You wee very lucky to see the owl and merlin in action like that and your flower pics are lovely as always.

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