A strange encounter


Today’s guest picture shows a stone which was so covered in colourful lichen that my neighbour Liz thought that it looked like a concealed tiger when she saw it deep in the woods.


After a busy day yesterday, I was quite happy to have a quiet morning today and so I was more than pleased after breakfast to welcome Dr Cat Barlow in for a cup of tea and a chat about moorland matters and bird life in general.

We were pleased to see greenfinches in the garden during her visit…


…even if one of them was a bit argumentative.

greenfinch and goldfinch

We watched jackdaws…


…and siskins too.


Cat is having a demonstration bird ringing session soon as part of the Moorland Festival so I hope to be there, as it gives me a chance to get closer to the birds than usual.

After Cat left,  Sandy and Dropscone came in for a cup of coffee.  Dropscone surpassed himself by bringing not only six scones but six special Friday treacle scones.  We had a feast.

The morning was shaping up very well with all this sociable activity and when Sandy and Dropscone left, I went out into the garden to see them off and was delighted to hear the gentle croaking of frogs in the pond.  They too had been busy at some social activity.

frogs and frogspawn

I made a good morning better by sieving some well rotted two year old kitchen compost which turned out so well that it would have been a pleasure to lie down and have a snooze in it.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy morning with a visit to Carlisle to buy paint followed by a coffee morning with ex colleagues from work.

After lunch, she got busy applying the paint to walls upstairs and I got the slow bike out and went for a photographic outing.

I started by visiting the Moorland Feeders bird hide and on the way, I saw an oyster catcher standing on a rock in the middle of the Esk.  I stopped the bike, got the camera out of the saddle bag, took the lens cover off and fully expected the bird to fly off the very moment I raised the camera viewfinder to my eye.  To my surprise, it stayed put and even straightened up a bit to get its photo taken.  A very rare occurrence.

oyster catcher

When I got to the top of the hill and went in to the hide for a welcome sit down, there were a lot of birds to watch.  Although the light wasn’t very good, I couldn’t resist a shot or two, or three.

coal tits
There were coal tits…
great tit blue tit
…and great tits and blue tits…
robin woodpecker
A robin and a woodpecker
Any amount of pheasants
And even more chaffinches.

I didn’t stay for too long as I didn’t want my legs to seize up so I was soon on my way along the road to Claygate and then back down to the river Esk at the Hollows.

Sandy had told me that there was a new sight to see just before the bridge so I kept an eye out but I wasn’t expecting this:

statue at Hollows
Not something you see every day.

That brightened my day up a lot and I cycled back up to Langholm in a very cheerful mood.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out this colourful corner to me.

colourful corner

It was slightly warmer today after a frosty start but a little sun would be a big encouragement for new growth in the garden.

Our sociable day continued when our neighbour Liz leaned over the garden fence and asked if we wanted any bluebells.


She had had a very hard day in the garden digging out an unwelcome crop of the devilishly persistent Spanish bluebells for several hours so we were easily able to decline her kind offer politely but firmly.  She was looking a bit fraught after the long battle with the bluebells so we invited her in a for a cup of tea and an iced bun.

The hours of deep digging had left her feeling very stiff and she went home after the refreshment with a view to a good soak in a hot bath.  A very sound plan.

Our social day was not over as Mike and Alison came over in the evening and Alison and I enjoyed some flute and keyboard work for the first time for several weeks.  This made the perfect end to an enjoyable day.  As I went out into the garden to see our guests off when they left, the frogs were still singing away in the pond, with one basso profundo leading the choir.

The flying bird of the day is a garden goldfinch clapping the brakes fully on.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

26 thoughts on “A strange encounter

  1. Dropscone is outdoing himself these days. Sounds like a good feast of scones. One can never have too many scones…

    All beautiful photos, especially the lichen covered rock. A nice crop of tadpoles coming along, and a great action photo of the chaffinch with ailerons deployed as he comes in for a landing.

  2. I like the lichen covered stone. Some of them might be concentric boulder lichens (Porpidia crustulata.)
    That seems like an odd place to find a sculpture.
    I like the colorful corner. I saw some snowdrops here today for the first time this season.

  3. It’s a beautiful photo of the oyster catcher, as well as the other birds that you saw later at the hide! I wish that there was a place like that around here. The statue along the road looks out of place, but I can see that it would add visual interest to its surroundings.

  4. My goodness you did have a social day. Your lovely bird shots are very sharp and you’ve done very well to get such a clear shot of the frog and eggs. Frogs are such charming creatures I think. It’s an interesting sculpture too. I do like the spotty lichen guest picture – it’s quite startling!

  5. I hope your tadpoles survive – there is no sign of any frog activity yet in our pond. We have a few unwelcome Spanish Bluebells in our garden and know how difficult they are to eradicate; I am glad you declined them. So many excellent bird photos today – I hope you enjoy your ringing demonstration.

  6. I’m savoring the irony of a birder named Cat. When I’m done thinking about that I think I’ll have a little rest in the leaf litter under my favorite maple.

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