Two interesting outings

Today’s guest picture comes from a visit to Huntingdon by my brother Andrew.

Huntingdon High StreetWe were just considering our options for entertaining our daughter after breakfast when we were visited by our next door neighbour Liz.  She had found something intriguing on a path in the park and brought it in to show us.  I looked at it with some doubt…..

fir cone
It was about six inches long and rather soggy

…but closer examination by sensible people led us to the conclusion that it might be some sort of fir cone, especially as it had been found under a coniferous tree.  The end seemed to be missing and we wondered if it had been nibbled by a squirrel.  Anyway, we picked up cameras and binoculars and Liz took us to the scene of the discovery.

At first, there didn’t seem to be anything on the tree like the object but by using the zoom lens, I found a likely match right at the top of the tree.

fir conesThe lower branches were festooned with flower like objects.

noble firI have walked past the tree many, many times and never noticed the large cones before.   Some research by Annie and Mrs Tootlepedal when we got home seemed to point to the tree being a Noble Fir, which must have been brought in from America and planted in our park.  In general, the cones never fall off and just rot down on the tree which might explain why we have never seen one before.

While we were examining the tree, the park was filled with swallows flitting over the grass, sometimes flying past us as though we weren’t there.  They are nippy birds that never seem to rest and Annie and I clicked away furiously but mostly in vain.  These were my best two efforts.

swallows in the parkIt was rather a gloomy morning and we could have done with better light.

I had some more business to do with regard to the photo exhibition and then I put a week and a bit of the newspaper index in the Archive Group database and this took me up to lunchtime.

I looked at the bird feeder.

siskin and goldfinch
There were a lot of siskins about today and they were as fierce as ever.

After lunch there was a vague plan that Annie and Mrs Tootlepedal would go up to Eskdalemuir to look at the photo exhibition which Annie hasn’t seen, while I put another week or two into the database.  In the end, we were overcome by inertia and watched the Tour de France on the telly instead.  In our defence, it was a very exciting stage.  A stage goes on a long time though and while they were still pedalling away, I went out into the garden and mowed a lawn or two.

As well as the tall delphiniums, some more stocky ones have come into flower…

delphinium,…and the lone knapweed was proving to be an insect magnet.

knapweedWhile I was mowing, I was hailed by a voice at the front gate and it turned out to belong to Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer, who had been on a walk with a regular group of Tuesday afternoon walking ladies.  She was keen to tell me that they had passed a wonderful show of orchids beside a track on Meikleholm Hill.

This was interesting as I like orchids and once the stage had come to an end with a well deserved victory for Tony Martin, Annie, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off for a walk up the hill to see if we could find the orchids.  The day had brightened up by this time and although it was fairly windy, it was  warm enough to make for pleasant walking conditions.

We saw some interesting plants on out way up the hill….

I thought that these would be easy to identify but I can’t find them in my book
white flower and rattle
The one on the right is rattle but we were baffled by the little white flower.

We kept a wary eye out in case we missed the orchids but Nancy’s guidance was most precise and we need not have worried.  There were indeed a great many orchids all around…

orchids..and you could hardly miss them.

orchidsAnnie got down to the job of taking good pictures…

Annie taking orchids…and I tried my best without lying down.

orchidsIt was a real treat to see so many in one place.

We walked on along the track, admiring the views…..

view from meikleholm…until we got to the last drop down to the road.

meikleholm trackThere we had a choice of walking back to Langholm along the road or on a narrow track through the woods down to the Duchess Bridge.  We chose the track….

Walk 2… and were grateful when we heard a timber wagon thundering along the road above us.

We crossed the Duchess Bridge and walked along the edge of the Castleholm to the Jubilee Bridge. Here we crossed the river again and made our way home along Henry Street, having completed a most enjoyable circular walk.

On the Castleholm we saw the inevitable rabbit….

rabbit…and a final orchid.

orchidAlthough it was only a walk of about two miles or so, it was quite strenuous and we were happy to get a sit down when we got home.

Between the fir cones, the garden and the orchids (with views), I had taken well over 100 pictures during the day so it has been quite a task to throw so many away but it was helped becuase many of them were terrible.  Somehow the light wasn’t very co-operative today.

The flying bird of the day is sparrow looking out for fierce siskins before approaching the feeder.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

16 thoughts on “Two interesting outings

  1. Here birds eat the fir seeds as quickly as they ripen and leave what look like twigs sticking up from the ends of the branches.
    I wonder if the mushrooms might be Dryad’s saddle. They usually fruit earlier, ending in June, but they look like these examples.
    The white unknown flower looks like eyebright (Euphrasia.) It’s as pretty as the orchids but I’m always happy to see them, too.

  2. So many great photos, from the fir cones to the orchids to the flying swallows! But, my favorite may be the one of Annie shooting photos of the orchids, as it shows the “total package”, the orchids blooming in a meadow in the foreground, with other hills in the distance behind her. What a great setting to find such beautiful flowers. I’ve said it before, but you’re so lucky to live in such a wonderful place!

  3. I found the noble fir story very interesting. I’ve never known cones to rot down while still on the tree. How strange! You must have got a surprise to discover the cones and red flowering things high in the tree. I’m amazed at how many new things there are to see on my regular walks. That spotty fungi thing is very appealing. I do wonder what it is. Lovely to see your daughter in her photography pose in the field. She does indeed look very professional. Excellent pictures of a beautiful region. I also like how you often manage to show us flying bird pictures that give a very different impression of a bird to what I am used to.

  4. The orchids are beautiful and I am left puzzling why a tree that produces cones would find the most effective means of seed dispersal to be having the cones rot on the tree…especially when the cones are so funky looking 🙂

  5. You did very well with your pictures if the light was not great, and I am glad you managed to see so many orchids.

  6. Hope to see Annie up at the Hub if she’s time before heading home. There was a flurry of visitors at the exhibition today.

  7. Your orchids are so interesting. What lovely flowers to find in the wild. The landscape shot of the hills is wonderful, what a great view! Terrific flying bird of the day, also.

  8. I agree with Allen – the white flower is an Eyebright. Interestingly (at least to me anyway) both the Eyebright and the Yellow Rattle belong to the same family, Scrophulariacea / Figwort. Both are parasites and are found on undisturbed grassland. Wonderful flying bird of the day!

  9. I agree on the eyebright and I love those wonderful mushrooms. We have very few left here and those that are are ragged and half eaten. The orchids were beautiful too.

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