Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker’s visit to the botanical gardens in Singapore in the spring, when he was on his way back from New Zealand. You may think that it is a laburnum walk but in fact, all the flowers are orchids.
The weather gods were afraid that we might get a bit uppity if they gave us more than two days of sunshine at once so it started to rain at midnight last night, rained all through the night and kept on raining almost all day today. We took this as well as can be expected.
Mrs Tootlepedal went off after breakfast to read for the recording of our local newspaper for the blind and I walked up to the High Street under a capacious umbrella to buy fresh supplies of coffee beans and bird seed. When I got home, I was fortunate to be the recipient of two of Dropscone’s celebrated Friday treacle scones. It is the Langholm Open Golf Tournament tomorrow and he is hoping that his improved golf game will stand up to the pressure of the big time.
I spent the rest of the morning printing out ten pictures to enter in the Canonbie Flower Show photographic section which is also on tomorrow. The special subject this year is “Clouds” so I have had plenty of opportunity to take appropriate shots this summer.
After lunch Mrs Tootlepedal came with me as I went to put in my entries at the Canonbie Hall and then we continued driving south.
Our target was a spot near Brampton where a pair of bee eaters are nesting. It is unheard of to see bee eaters so far north and their arrival has created quite a stir. The RSPB have thoughtfully provided a car park and set up a telescope so that visitors can see these rare birds.
We weren’t very hopeful as it was still raining steadily when we arrived but a volunteer told us that the birds had been seen so we walked hopefully off up the path.
We hadn’t realised that the nesting site was actually in a large sand and gravel quarry…
The walk up the path round the edge of the quarry was interesting in itself. There were broom seed pods to be seen.
And there were plenty of other wild flowers to keep our minds off the persistent rain. We met a few people coming back down the path but when we got to the viewing site, we were the only visitors. The two volunteers there were very helpful…and remarkably cheerful seeing that they had been standing in the rain for several hours.
The quarry is quite large….
…and the nest site is just below the fence on the far bank immediately above the red machine in the centre of the picture. We wouldn’t have known where to look to see the bird but the volunteers had a scope trained on the nest and were able to show us a bird sitting on a fence post on the horizon. After that, between using our binoculars and their scope, we saw birds leaving and entering the nest, perching on fence posts and wires and doing a little flying too.
It was interesting to see these rare birds but a bit frustrating for me as there was no chance of getting a good picture even if the sun had been shining as they were too far away. As it was, even with the aid of the telescope, it was hard to make out their colourful plumage on such a dull day.
Still, we were very pleased to have been part of the excitement and resolved to come back and visit the woods round the quarry again as they looked very interesting.
The rain had almost stopped by the time that we got home (after a pause for a cup of tea and a toasted tea cake at a garden centre on the way). I took a couple of pictures of flowers to make up for not being able to catch the bee eaters.
There had been a flying visit from the sparrowhawk in the morning while Dropscone and I had been drinking our coffee but it doesn’t seem to put the small birds off for long and the feeder was still busy when we got back.
We had seen Mike and Alison at the garden centre earlier in the afternoon but only for a moment as they were leaving as we were arriving but we saw them for longer when they came round in the evening. Alison and I are working at putting two new pieces, a Partita by Telemann and a reduction of a recorder concerto by Woodcock, into our repertoire and an hour passed in no time at all as we made good progress.
Mike and Alison told us that they had both seen some shooting stars from the Perseid shower earlier in the week. I had had a look in the middle of the night but hadn’t been patient enough and gone back to bed without seeing any.
It wasn’t a suitable day for flying bird shots but here is my best effort.