Never a dull moment

Today’s guest picture is from one of my sister Mary’s walks. She was impressed by the disciplined formation of these gulls.

The seagulls do like to line up neatlyAfter a couple of tumultuous days of wind and rain, we were blessed with a day of peace today.  The wind dropped away to almost nothing and the sun shone and all was right with the world.  The temperature even played its part by keeping above 3° C and leaving the roads frost free.

It was still pretty chilly after breakfast so I had time before the thermometer crept up to a heady 4.7°C to look out of the window….

goldfinches
Goldfinches gather in the chilly morning light.
sparrow and goldfinch
The cold weather didn’t improve anyone’s manners.

chaffinch and goldfinch

robin….but in the end, I pulled myself together and set about getting the speedy bike out, pumping up the tyres, putting on several layers and arming myself with two bananas and a Kitkat chocolate biscuit.   I had had a route in mind but very fortunately Joyce, who works in the shop where I bought my bananas, told me that she had driven along part of it on her way to work and the farmer had been cutting the hedges so my chosen road was covered in thorns.

I changed my plan and after a quick stop to admire the larch trees at Mrs Tootlepedal’s manure mine…

larches in autumn….I headed over the hill and onto the road to Kirkpatrick Fleming.   I saw two interesting sights.  The first was Dropscone whizzing along past me in the opposite direction too quickly for me to get the camera out and the second was a large bunch of starlings in a tree.

starlingsI wondered if they had started to gather in large flocks at Gretna in the evening yet.

Dropscone told me later that he had done a thirty mile trip starting when it was still very chilly.  He had not wanted to come with me as he is suffering from saddle sores and thirty miles was his limit.

I pedalled on peering into the strong low sunshine and in the end turned down to Gretna and then crossed over into England.  My knee is a bit delicate and I was anxious not to put it under too much stress so I kept to flat roads.  I crossed the main line railway a couple of times and was impressed by the length of this goods train which was creeping up the slow lane near Todhills to let an express flash past.

goods trainIt makes the heart glad as a cyclist to see how many lorries a train like this keeps off the roads.

North Cumbria has many fine lone pine trees in its hedges.  This one was near Blackdyke.

Todhills pineI worked my way back to Longtown where I ate my second banana  just downstream of the fine bridge over the Esk there….

Longtown bridge…and then popped into our local bike shop to get an opinion on a rather loud and somewhat alarming bicycle noise.  The verdict was ‘nothing fatal’ so I pedalled on, passing this wonderfully bright gorse bush in a hedge on the way to Chapelknowe.

gorse buch
Not a common sight in late autumn.

From Chapelknowe, I took the direct route home and racked up 55 miles just as I came near the house.  Thanks to the light wind and the flat roads, I managed to keep up a respectable speed (for me)  and anyone with time hanging heavily on their hands can see the route by clicking on the map below.

Garmin 29 Oct 14After a late lunch, a relaxing bath and a quick look out of the kitchen window…..

greenfinch
A greenfinch glowing gently.

…I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a trip to Gretna (by car this time) might let us see some interesting starling flocks.  I was quite wrong about interesting starling viewing although the trip was quite good fun in itself.

The evening light was lovely.

gretnaWe did see a few small bunches of starlings but there was nothing to write home about.  The views were wonderful as we drove over and the Lake District hills looked striking in the dusk on the far side of the Solway when we got there.

Lake District
You can see a tiny flock of starlings in the top left corner of this shot.

There was quite a good sunset going on too….

sunset at Gretna…and to add to the excitement, there was a terrific traffic jam on the motorway which had been completely shut because of a lorry fire further south so the normally quiet road through Gretna was awash with lorries that had been diverted.   As we drove home, I took another sunset with the outline of stranded motorway traffic in front of it.

Gretna sunset The traffic jam was so severe that the party of singers in our Langholm choir who come from Longtown were delayed on their way to the choir two hours later.

The moon was out in a light haze by the time that we got home.

autumn moonWe had time for our tea before going to the choir.  We had a very well organised and useful practice tonight.  As we have two concerts coming up in early December this was definitely a good thing.

Believe it or not the rather grainy flying bird of the day is not a chaffinch.

flying greenfinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

25 thoughts on “Never a dull moment

    1. It was one of those that was a even deal better in real life than in the picture. It needed a tripod and a long exposure to do it justice. It was breathtaking when I first saw it.

  1. Great pictures Tom! Lot’s of birds to see! 🙂 Here is all the opposite, most birds are on the move to southern places with warmer weather.

  2. Exquisite photographs. As usual there are always two or three that I fall in love with but in this case there are at least 10 more. The Greenfinch is splendid. I hope you do get to see a murmuration of starling soon. It must be incredible to witness.

  3. Wonderful pictures from Gretna. Very glad you were able to manage such a long ride in the morning, in spite of your bad knee.

      1. Yes. Can get the XCountry train from Motherwell to Edinburgh then get the train to Galashiels. Plenty of day rides especially in the summer when the days are long.

        When I have gone down there in the past with the bikes we had to cycle long distances to arrive at the border towns and stay overnight. From next year we can arrange day rides to the area instead.

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