Back again

Today’s guest picture comes from Ada, one of my former teaching colleagues, and shows the remarkable Kelpies. The Kelpies are 30-metre high horse-head sculptures, standing next to a new extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal which reconnects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the River Forth, and improves navigation between the East and West of Scotland.

KelpiesThey are on our ‘must visit’ list for this summer.

I made myself useful by cycling up to the High Street after breakfast and buying some more paint for Mrs Tootlepedal’s decorating endeavours and then I went off to the monthly producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre to buy fish, honey, cheese, venison and lamb.  The venison is very seasonal and this will be the last time that it will be on offer until September and the local honey will only last for one more month.

I walked round the garden when I got back.  The daffodils were enjoying a warmer day at last.

daffodilsAnd even the frogs had their sleeves rolled up.

frogAs I was quite tired for some inexplicable reason totally unconnected with cycling some distance or walking up hills, I was happy to spend the rest of the morning grappling with a tricky double strength holiday crossword.  I finished just in time for a late lunch.

A bowl of soup and some  tasty cheese revived me sufficiently to send me out on a walk to revisit the zygomycota fungus that appeared in yesterday’s post.  I thought it deserved a bit more credit than I had given it.  (I would like to thank Allen, The New Hampshire Gardener for his generous efforts to enlighten my ignorance.)

I warmed up with a peltigera lichen….

peltigera…which I met soon after leaving the car and walked along the track without going to the top of the hill first on this occasion.

On my way, I had an unexpected treat when a small scuffling noise made me look round.

red squirrelI very rarely see a red squirrel on my walks and it is even more unusual for one to spend some time looking at me with as much interest as I was looking at it.  It looked at me, thought about climbing up the tree, looked at me again, thought about climbing again and finally climbed down the tree and scampered off across the forest floor.

After stopping to take a picture to practise using my macro lens…

fungus…I arrived at the fungus site.

fungus siteNow that it has been pointed out, I can see the resemblance to the mould that you get on bread.

It is such interesting stuff that I took several pictures.  Those not interested in fungus should scroll rapidly.

zygomycota fungus zygomycota fungus zygomycota fungus zygomycota fungus I walked right along the path to the North Lodge today and passed first a large puddle full of wriggling tadpoles…

tadpoles…and then a large netted enclosure full of pheasants laying eggs.

pheasant pensA helpful chap told me that the eggs are collected every night, washed, checked and put in incubators for three weeks until they hatch.  The chicks are then put out into these huts…

pheasant huts…before they are put out into the woods.

As I walked past the huts, I could see the top of the hill from which I had such good views yesterday.

Castle HillWhen I got back home, I had time to watch the domestic bird action for a while…

A goldfinch poses in front of the daffodils in the back bed.
horizontal chaffinch
A level headed chaffinch

…before driving up to the moor with Mrs Tootlepedal to see if we could see anything interesting.

We could and did.  There were two short eared owls ranging the moor, flying low across the ground in search of voles.  They made excellent viewing for those with binoculars but stayed too far away for any hopeful photographer to get a meaningful shot.  It is always good when we go up to the moor in the hope of seeing something and we actually do see something.

It was a warm day with light winds and I should really have been out bicycling but I am trying not to do too much too early so I enjoyed my quiet day.  It was the warmest day of the year so far and it felt as though spring might have actually arrived at last.  To celebrate, I am putting in a two for one flying bird picture today at no extra cost to readers.

flying chaffinches


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

42 thoughts on “Back again

  1. The horse heads are amazing, and so are the zygomycota fungi. I’d love to meet them in person some day but for now I’m glad that you found them and happy I could help identify them. Now I know what to look for.
    I’m glad the squirrel was willing to pose. I can’t remember the last time you had one on this blog.

  2. The zygomycota fungus looks like something out of a horror movie, but in a good way. 😉

    Thank you for your generous gift of two flying birds for one today. Still, my favorites were the landscape photos.

  3. Excellent flying bird pics. The peltigera lichen is very interesting as it the weird zygomycota fungus. And the mass of tadpoles are wonderful. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that many together. The Kelpies are very impressive!

  4. Wonderful to see the Kelpies, I must work out a way to go and see them for myself. The red squirrel pictures were a treat and the post, generally, a joy to read through and look at.

  5. Reading your brilliant blog has been a wonderful way to start my Easter Sunday. My you do seem to have a varied and very interesting selection of wildlife up there in Langholm! I like comparing what is happening up there to what is happening down here in South Wales with the birds and wildlife. We had numerous frogs and toads in large groups yesterday in the pond. They were being watched over by the two resident coots and the two Canada Geese, one of which is now sitting on her nest on the island! We are not so fortunate to enjoy seeing red squirrels – I could swap you for the 6 grey ones that devour our bird seed every morning! Your photographs are amazing- maybe you should write a blog to help teach those who are interested how to take photos- I’d sign up straight away! Hope you and your wife have a lovely day and enjoy the sun- I’m off now to Aberglasney Gardens where I volunteer- I love it!

    1. You seem to be doing pretty well for wildlife if you ask me. I would love to live near a pond big enough for geese.

      The secret of garden bird photography is to get the feeder as near to a window with good glass in it and then sit and wait. The nearer the feeder to the window, the less you need to spend on cameras and lenses.

      If you want to shoot birds in the wild, you probably need to spend money wisely. Jerry at Quiet Solo Pursuits has some very good posts on the necessary gear. Follow this link if you are interested.

      He takes much better bird pictures than me from a technical point of view.

  6. Remarkable Kelpies!
    It is always good to see a red squirrel, as we only see the grey ones down here.
    Look forward to seeing the results of Mrs T’s handiwork in due course.

  7. I loved your lichen and fungus pictures, so interesting. And the pile of tadpoles, I never knew you could get them in such large numbers in one place.

    I follow a blog written by the wife of a gameskeeper, and she (occasionally) writes all about the pheasant rearing process. It’s at if you are interested.

    1. Thank you for the link Sara. She leads an interesting life. Tadpoles seem to mill around in one big clump for a few days before adopting a more individual way of life.

  8. I have finally figured out why your blog so compels me; it is your love of life, your appreciation of the finer details, your making the most of every single hour of every single day, your visual and witty observations, your beautiful friendships … but mostly the way the way you make a tiny thing (a frog, a flower, a scone) into something large and sometimes hugely symbolic). Thank you so much for teaching me how to see between the lines, to appreciate the extraordinary in the ordinary, to make the most of a single day.

    1. I am very grateful for your kind words, Julie and I am truly delighted if from time to time I can bring a little sunshine into your life but you must remember that I don’t in general spend much time taking pictures of myself slumped in a chair, moaning about incompetent TV interviewers and boring Mrs Tootlepedal rigid with the recital of various aches and pains so you don’t necessarily get a complete picture of my life from the blog.

  9. jmgoyder: you’re exactly right!

    The Kelpies look remarkable enough in a photo – I’d imagine they’re absolutely stunning when you’re there looking up at them.

  10. What a treat to see the squirrel!
    You’re interest in lichen, moss and fungi has had a marked effect on me; when encountering basket fungus the other other day whilst innocently tidying a raised garden I resisted my first urge to shudder and get someone else to deal with it. These plants are indeed interesting and “other worldy”…but I also find them a tad disquietening and spooky.

    1. Thank you for the link. Apart from visiting the canal (pre Kelpies), I have not had not much to do with the area and don’t think that I have ever knowingly been in Falkirk.

  11. Daffodils, a frog, and a cute red squirrel — I am one happy reader. The only thing that could have made it even better would have been some wooly lambs. 🙂 I also enjoyed further photos of that glassy fungus.

    The Kelpies are incredible!

      1. I was going to make a comment on one of your previous posts, about the lamb photo, but I’m sure I got distracted by other delights in the same post. 🙂 I’m getting old, too, and by time I get to the bottom of a thing, I can’t remember what was at the top that I enjoyed. LOL

  12. What a packed day! The squirrel was a great find. They never sit still for me and all ours are grey. The fungus/mould was very interesting too. I’ve never seen anything like it.

  13. The fungi photos are good.

    Ada was the name of Lord Byron’s only legitimate child Augusta Ada Byron who was a mathematician and wrote notes on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

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