Today’s guest picture shows the public library in Derby. My brother, who took the picture, tells me that it was built on the profits from beer. I hope my youthful indulgences were put to such good use.
The forecast had got it right, the weather gods had relented and we were given a perfect day. At just above zero, it was too cold for a morning pedal so it seemed like a perfect day for an outing.
We polished off a little housework and then Sandy came down for coffee and we all piled into our car and set off intent on having fun. Two miles later, we were back at home with warning lights flashing all over the dashboard.
Luckily Sandy stepped up to the plate and we set off again in his car, this time quite successfully.
Our target was the Eskrigg Nature Reserve at Lockerbie where we hoping to see all sorts of wildlife. Eskrigg is a fairly small area of mostly pine woodland with an old curling pond with two bird hides beside it but it is beautifully looked after and full of life.
Mrs Tootlepedal decided to do a circular walk while Sandy and I settled down with our cameras in one of the hides.
Among other things, I was hoping to see were woodpeckers and squirrels. I looked right….
There was almost too much to see and if I looked in one direction, I worried that I might be missing something more interesting in the other direction.
There were ducks on the pond in flighty mood.
There were a lot of squirrels….
…on every side.
After a while, we walked along to the other hide, which is set in a clearing in the woods a little further round the pond.
A convenient branch there offered a perch to a great number of great, blue and coal tits.
A picturesque tree stump, carefully seeded with peanuts by a photographer who was lurking nearby behind a convenient tree, provided a perch for both squirrels….
This tree stump must have starred in thousands of photographs.
The animals are very used to the heavy breathing of nature lovers struggling under the weight of huge lenses so if you missed a good shot, it wasn’t a matter of great concern as another opportunity always came along soon.
The nuthatch left the stump and flew up into a neighbouring tree where it tried a number of poses….
…before settling for this one.
Mrs Tootlepedal completed her walk and joined us at the hide. There was enough to keep her sitting there quite happily.
There were squirrels on very side, scampering up trees and down again.
Some were easy to spot….
…and some a little harder.
But wherever you looked, you could see another one….
There were distractions of course…
…and the most common birds to be seen were our old friends, the chaffinches.
They made every effort to get star billing as flying bird of the day.
Once again, you hardly dared to look at one thing in case of missing out on something else.
There was no doubt though that the chief attraction for me of the visit was the large number of squirrels darting about all over the trees in the clearing.
I took all the pictures shown so far with my Nikon with a 70-200mm zoom, occasionally putting the teleconverter on (though I didn’t really need it). I had my little Lumix in my pocket and took it out to see what it could do.
It is a very good little camera.
Only the insistent message from within about the need for a bite to eat made us stop snapping away like mad (I took well over 200 pictures while I was there) and we reluctantly packed up and set off through the woods back to the car.
There was an interesting fungus beside the hide.
We walked back along the well maintained woodland paths…
…which have all sorts of interesting information about the trees and plants in the reserve on boards to read as you wander along. So much thought and care has gone into this little reserve that it is a pleasure just to be there.
Unsurprisingly given the rare beautiful day, Eskrigg was very busy today. At times, the click of shutters drowned out the birdsong. If we can find some good weather and a quieter moment, we might be lucky enough to see a kingfisher by the pond. We will certainly come again.
Sandy took a lot of pictures too so I hope that he will post some on his blog. If he does, I will provide a link to it.
The need for lunch took us into Lockerbie town centre, where we enjoyed some quality traditional fare (pie and chips, sausage, egg and chips etc) to give us strength for the drive home.
When we got back, we all agreed that this had been a really good day out and it made up for a quite a few of the wet, windy and rainy days that had gone before it.
As a bonus, I did some research into the warning light in our car and it turned out that it was nothing serious and only needed a quick reset by the garage to get rid of it.
In the evening, we went to the first meeting in 2016 of our Langholm Choir. I enjoyed it but I found it jolly hard work. More practice needed.
The flying bird of the day is a little out of the ordinary.