With a spring in my step

Today’s guest picture shows what can only be described as a host of golden daffodils.  They were spotted by my sister Mary on a walk through St James’ Park.

St James's ParkWe enjoyed some perfect weather for the first day of spring here today and on a day when I really should have been cycling all over the place, I went walking instead.

My first walk was round the garden of course.  There were new flowers.

hellebore
A handsome hellebore, a gift from our neighbour Liz, last year.
chionodoxa
A charming chionodoxa

The pond is now so full of frog spawn that there is hardly any room for the frogs.

frogWe are promised some very chilly nights soon so I hope all the work has not been in vain.

Later in the morning, I gave my new knee and dodgy ankle a test by ascending on foot to the summit of Warbla.   This is not quite mountaineering as it only involves a gentle one and a half mile stroll up a very good track….

Warbla….to the dizzy heights of 900 feet.

Still, it was the longest and highest climb that my new knee has tried and I was very pleased to find that it didn’t mind at all and worked perfectly both on the way up and coming down.  I have been doing calf stretches on the advice of my physio and these seem to have been very helpful for my ankle which had no complaints either.

Thanks to the high pressure and the winds from the east which have been keeping our weather fine and dry, there is quite a lot of air pollution about and in spite of the fine weather, the views were distinctly hazy but I snapped away regardless.

warbla sheep
One of the thousands of reasons that our hills are generally treeless.

The view from the summit is generous.

Langholm from Warbla
Pocketcam’s view of the town
Langholm from Warbla
The big camera’s version of the view
Holmwood from Whita
Looking over Holmwood, the most modern part of the town.

There is a TV mast and various telephone dishes at the summit of Warbla which account for the good track.  There was a new device which I hadn’t seen before on this visit and it is shown alongside the oldest piece of technology up there, an Ordnance Survey trig point, now no longer in use..

WarblaI came down by a slightly different route which allowed me to admire some lichen…

lichen…and watch as John and Jean mastered the art of walking on water.

John and JeanIt would take a lot of persuasion to get me walking along the top of the caul with such nonchalance but they and their dogs do it regularly.

I could have shown you a lot more very interesting views of hills if Sandy hadn’t rung up and suggested an afternoon walk.

We left Mrs Tootlepedal knocking up a pair of net curtains and went down by car to Hagg-on-Esk where we took a stroll along the banks of the river up to Irvine House and back.

I took many shots of the river but this one will have to represent them all.

The Esk near Irvine HouseIt was a delightfully tranquil walk and we were rewarded with sightings of dippers, oyster catchers, grey wagtails, pied wagtails, mallards, goosanders, blue, great and long tailed tits and a pair of buzzards.

The light was playing tricks and was often too bright at crucial moments so the photographs don’t match the pleasure of the walk.  I put them in for the record.

goosanders and oyster catchers
Sometimes the goosanders and oyster catchers sat still….
oyster catchers
…but mostly they flew away as soon as we got near….
goosanders
…in every direction.

The dippers were even more difficult to catch.

dippersIt is hard to put into words the pleasure of sitting on the banks of the river watching dippers, goosanders, oyster catchers and wagtails flitting up and down past us.  It was very soothing to the soul.

There were other things to divert us too.  We wondered if a tree has ever had more catkins to the inch than this one.

catkinsAlthough our walk was only just over a mile and a half, there and back, it took us the best part of one and a half hours which shows how much there was to stop and watch along the way.  I hope that Sandy will post some pictures from the day in his blog in the course of time, as it will be interesting to see what he made of it.

We had a cup of tea when we got home.  The builders have finished wet dashing the new wall.

wet dash wallIt will look better when it has dried.  The scaffolding will go away shortly and we will be able to see the new wall in all its beauty then.

After our cup of tea, Sandy suggested a drive up onto the Langholm Moor to see what we could see.

He went first in his own car and I followed on in ours with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had finished her curtain making.  When we joined him, he said he had been watching a short eared owl and sure enough a minute or two later, we had a splendid view of one as it flew along the hillside.  I was in bird watching mode and had my binoculars out but I dived back into the car for my camera and tried to get a shot before it disappeared over the hill.

Mrs Tootlepedal caught a glimpse of a hen harrier as we drove home but I had to keep my eye on the road.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day than this one to celebrate the vernal equinox.  The only downside was finding about 200  images on my camera cards when I put them in the computer in the evening.  It has hurt my head getting them down to my regulation maximum but as the photography was not in the same class as the actual walks, the discarded 180 are no great loss.

The flying bird of the day is a grainy shot of the short eared owl taken as the light faded.

short eared owl

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, novice photogrpaher

30 thoughts on “With a spring in my step

  1. It may be grainy but the shot of the short-eared owl is good. It is showing clearly the characteristics of the owl – the flat face and the long wings. We have had a cool and drizzly day today so it is nice to see some sunshine and blue sky in your photos.

      1. Today I was out in the sun picking up leaves at the edge of the snow line. I just sat on our local news station February 2015 is already the warmest year on record. I think I need to move to another part of the planet!

  2. That hellebore is a beauty and it’s nice to see the scilla. Mine are still buried under quite a lot of snow.
    Once again you’ve found a bunch of lichens that I’ve never seen. I think my favorite is the one on the upper left.
    That’s a great shot of all the catkins. It looks like the lighting was perfect for a shot like that. Not easy to do!

    1. I am sorry about the snow. I had thought that there was a chance of it disappearing. I keep on saying it but, one of these days, I really will have start actually reading the lichen identification book that I bought.

  3. That is certainly a very handsome hellebore and you are certainly getting about on that new knee. A great account of a very busy Spring day with some great photos. So nice to see blue sky again.

  4. “It is hard to put into words the pleasure of sitting on the banks of the river watching dippers, goosanders, oyster catchers and wagtails flitting up and down past us. It was very soothing to the soul.”

    Yes it is, it’s even more soothing to the soul to be wading such a river, taking in the sights you mentioned, rhythmically casting a fly in hopes that no trout will break the serenity!

  5. I was going to quote the same passage as Jerry (quietsolopursuits) did. What a delightful way to spend some time. I would have found it very soothing too. What a lovely day out you had. I’m always surprised at how much birdlife you see on these jaunts. Lovely photos and narration. The wall is looking good. What a relief it will be to have everything completely finished.

  6. What a feast of scenery, birds, lichens and other interesting sights. Glad your knee and ankle managed the walk, exercises are always a good idea. The wall, even with scaffolding, looks splendid.

  7. Some beautiful shots as usual, that grainy one at the end, of the short eared owl though, bears comparison to some of my best shots, why won’t they stay still?

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