Making the best of it

Today’s guest picture is another cheerful  contrast from San Jose to our gloomy weather.  It was sent by Gavin and shows his granddaughter and a friend in a neighbour’s lovely garden.  The drawback is that he was told that it can cost up to $200 a month to water the garden in the summer months.

San JoseIt was very grey here today but at least it was dry when we got up and reasonably warm too.  After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to see Matilda.  She had another gift for her grand daughter in her bag.  Who knew that there was a black sheep in Shaun the Sheep’s family.

shaun mark 11The conditions didn’t look very inviting but I pulled myself together and set out to do three seven mile repetitions up to Wauchope School and back in the shortest time that I could manage.  I haven’t been pedalling too hard so far this year so I thought it was about time to put myself and the knee to work.

garmin stats 12 Mar 15The result was reasonably satisfactory.  The wind was a lot less strong that it has been recently and this let me get a steadier tempo going both uphill and down.  There is very little climb of note on the route so it was just a question of putting the head down, breathing heavily and trying not to cry.

I was diverted by passing (going the other way) not only Dropscone but also Scott, the minister, who had both got up earlier than me and were near the end of their respective rides.

I would like to be able to get the speed up to 15 mph before too long but I will have to get fitter first as the effort left me feeling quite tired for the rest of the day.

I was very pleased to have several visitors when I got home.  The first was a tree sparrow.

tree sparrow
Hard to believe but I am pretty sure that these are both the same bird

And the second was a redpoll practising looking severe (and succeeding).

redpollThey were followed  by Dropscone, Scott and Sandy.  We enjoyed a cup of coffee and a biscuit or two.  Dropscone had cycled 21 miles and the minister 26 miles while Sandy had been up to fill the Moorland bird feeders so there was a feeling all round that the coffee and biscuit were well earned.

Our usual avian visitors were as argumentative as ever.

siskin and chaffinchAfter lunch, I sat and tried to do the crossword but as I kept on falling asleep and dreaming about clues that weren’t there, I didn’t make much progress.  I stirred myself and di some singing practice until  Sandy came round by prior arrangement with a view to a walk.  It had started to rain in a determined sort of way so we decided that a walk was not on and instead we got into his car and went up to the Moorland Feeders’ hide where at least we would be dry.

Pretty well all of the seed that Sandy had put in the feeders in the morning had been eaten by the time that we got there.  That didn’t leave us with many birds to watch so I filled one feeder again and moved it and some peanuts up to near the hide.  We sat and waited to see what would happen.

It didn’t take long for the birds to notice and we were royally entertained for the next hour.

There were dancing displays by chaffinches…

chaffinches…massed great tits on the peanuts….

great tits…a pair of greenfinches causing the chaffinches to circle the feeder looking for a space where there were no greenfinches…

greenfinches and chaffinches…which was hard to find.  Greenfinches are quite dominating among the other finches.

greenfinches and chaffinchesWe were able to take some pictures in spite of the rain and gloom because the birds were so close to us but I had to put the the ISO up to 6400 which explains the rather fuzzy photos.  It was easier when the birds sat still.

chaffinchchaffinch

great tit and coal tit
These are a coal tit and a great tit

There were blue tits and dunnocks about too but they wouldn’t pose for me.  And of course there are always pheasants.

pheasant
This one has darker plumage than most.

The high spot of the visit was a fly past by a much larger bird.  I was so busy watching it glide effortlessly down the glade that I almost forgot to photograph it and only got it at the last moment.

raptorWe need expert help but after some consideration, Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that this is a hen harrier because the tail isn’t split like a kite.  I know it isn’t a good picture but any suggestions will be gratefully received.

The little birds weren’t alarmed by it at all.

The hide was brilliant as we were dry and warm and close to the birds while the rain poured down outside.

When I got home, I made good use of a wet day by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  Then I had a relaxing bath and finally managed to finish the crossword without falling asleep.

Mrs Tootlepedal got safely back from Edinburgh and almost immediately went off to a WRI night at Ewes.  I went up to the Archive Centre to find once again that the BT wi-fi hotspot is not functioning properly so I came back home again and put another week of the paper into the database here.  Once again, I am up to date.  Hooray.

The flying bird of the day is a Moorland feeder chaffinch creeping up behind a goldfinch.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

31 thoughts on “Making the best of it

  1. Its a pity that photography cannot yet capture scent as the smell from these flowers in San Jose is just wonderful.

  2. I find the method of putting my head down, breathing heavily and trying not to cry also gets me through a lot of life’s difficult patches 🙂 that redpoll looks like they could benefit from a bit of deep breathing, too 🙂

  3. I’m not an expert on the raptors of Scotland, and I hate to disagree with Mrs. T, but I don’t think the bird in question is a hen harrier. They have a longer, more slender tail with a distinct white band around the base of it. Also, they are more slender overall, and have more slender wings as well. It looks like a member of the Buteo family to me, probably a common buzzard as they are known there.

      1. (Predictive text keeps putting apostrophes in where apostrophes should not be.)

  4. Warmth and rain. Fifty years or so ago when the outbuildings at Cronksbank Farm were kept in good repair by grandparents Jack and Lizzie Mitchell, the peat house stored, as the name suggests, peat. This was burned to provide warmth and as a byproduct, a pleasant aroma in rooms where it was used. The peat house was simply a corrugated-tin lean-to that adjoined the farmhouse. When it rained, the roof reverberated the sound of raindrops. The southern view was a gauge for incoming or retreating inclement weather. Mist contrasted with sunny vistas down the Tarras Valley and beyond.

  5. Looks like a Common Buzzard, they can be tricky to tell apart but the easiest way to tell if it is a harrier is the white rump (thus the name ringtail) Harriers also have a more slender appearance in general. Buzzards can be very variable in colour too, this one has a gingery tail but it is wrong shape for a kite. C

  6. Lucky you seeing a tree sparrow. Can’t remember the last time I saw one at all, let alone in my garden.
    That phenomenon of dreaming while thinking you’re awake happens to me when I’m reading in bed. Makes for some very weird plots!

  7. I often start dreaming when I think I am awake – it is a skill that can only be acquired by people once they attain middle-age, along with sleeping while sitting upright with a pen in hand and looking as though awake.
    I also think it is a Common Buzzard – they have wide tails, short necks and ‘fingers’ on the end of their wings. The bird photos are very good. How lucky to have Tree Sparrows!

  8. You made the most of a gloomy day. Wifi problems seem to be doing the rounds at the moment. I’ve heard several people complaining of the same thing and oirs has had a temperamental few days too.

  9. I would give those people with the high water bill Robert Nold’s excellent book, High and Dry! Excellent set of bird photos today. It’s so funny when you catch them arguing. I’m catching up, so don’t feel you have to answer all my comments 😉

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