orchids in the Botanical Gardens in Singapore

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.

orchids in the Botanical Gardens in SingaporeThe 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…

Gelt quarry…but it turned out that it was a quarry worker who had first spotted the bee eaters and informed the RSPB.

The walk up the path round the edge of the quarry was interesting in itself.  There were broom seed pods to be seen.

broombroomAnd teasels too.

teaselteaselAnd 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….

quarry…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.

A nasturtium decorating our front gate
crocosmia and hosta
Crocosmia and hosta, planted by a neighbour, make a pretty picture beside the dam
Fuchsia, my favourite.

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.

goldfinch and blue tit
A goldfinch and a blue tit added a bit of colour to a grey day

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.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

32 thoughts on “Dashed

  1. Bee eaters in Scotland! I remember the excitement – and the secrecy – when there were some nesting in a quarry near where I lived halfway down France!

  2. I am sorry that summer came to such an abrupt end today. I am afraid that it is all my fault because I am in the middle of having my bungalow re-roofed and last night half the tiles had been removed, so the weather gods thought….

    Well done for making the effort to go and see the bee eaters on such an inclement day. Shame you could not get any photos of them but I love the picture of the crocosmia and hosta.

  3. The hostas have a remarkable number of flowers. I like the weathered wood on the shed in the background.

  4. How exciting to see a bee-eater! Despite the damp day you managed to take some excellent photos of the flowers in your garden and the broom seed-pods and teasels at Brampton.

  5. Congratulations on seeing the bee eaters, even if you weren’t able to get a photo. Perhaps if there is a pair nesting there, they will increase in numbers over the years. At least the photos that you shot while walking to the quarry were very good.

    With so many flowers there along the dam, it is quite beautiful, I’d have a hard time leaving the yard with so much to see so close to home.

  6. Despite the rain it seems that you had an enjoyable day. Good luck with your cloud pictures, you have taken some very good ones I think. Thanks for the Fuschia, my favourite flower too and I was pleased to know about the bee-eaters having never heard of them before.

  7. Today I seen a few tens of bee eaters on a field near our house. It is so interesting to watch their flight, to hear their calls.
    We have them here only from May to September…

  8. I’m glad you were able to be part of the excitement of watching the bee eaters. We have a lovely rainbow bee eater here in my state. I’ve watched them from afar many times but they have eluded capture with my camera. It would have been frustrating for you.
    I think I’ve commented on the fuchsia before as looking like some delicate Christmas decoration or beautiful wind chime. They are lovely. We have at least one native fuchsia here and they are one of my favourites too.
    Good luck with your entries in the photography competition, Tom, and thank you again for another set of visual delights from Langholm. I always look forward to them. (Do you think that Dropscone would share his treacle scone recipe? I thought it might be fun to try to make some.)

  9. Fuchsia is looking good. The bee eaters look very colourful. Glad you were able to see some, even if you could not photograph.

  10. Funny you should mention bee eaters as we’ve just identified the birds that we thought were wax wings as bee eaters. We disturbed a big flock yesterday on a walk and finally saw their colours. Quite magnificent – hope you get a chance of seeing yours close.

  11. I’m glad the rain didn’t spoil your visit to the quarry even if the birds themselves were illusive. Love the teasel shots. They’re some of my favourites.

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