Ecclefechan and squirrels


Today’s guest picture is a charming bridge crossed by some of my siblings last week. I can’t remember where it is but I can confirm that they came to it before they crossed it.


We had another cool dry day today so it seemed like a good idea to have an outing with my sister Susan who is staying for a few days.  She writes a weekly blog and since her most recent post was about the London home of Thomas Carlyle, the sage of Ecclefechan, it seemed like another good idea to visit his birth place which is not far from Langholm and combine this with trip to Eskrigg Nature Reserve in the hope of spotting some red squirrels.

Ecclefechan is a very quiet village….


…and unfortunately Thomas Carlyle’s birthplace was shut until the summer so we could look…

Thomas Carlyle's birthplace

…but we couldn’t go in.

We pressed on to Lockerbie and the potential squirrels.  Being a Londoner, my sister Susan sees any amount of grey squirrels but no red ones.

We parked below the woods and walked up the well maintained paths…


…towards the hides.

We settled down and peered out of the windows but not a squirrel was to be seen.  There were plenty of small birds…

great tit and coal tit
A great tit and a coal tit having a chat

…but when twenty minutes had passed by in a squirreless fashion, I walked along to the second hide to see if they were lurking there.  I saw a blue tit…

blue tit

…and a grey wagtail on the muddy shore of the pond…


…but not much else.  Finally I caught a glimpse of a squirrel dashing away and went back to tell the others about it.  They were surrounded by squirrels which, needless to say, had appeared almost as soon as I had left the hide.  Can you have too many cute squirrel pictures?  It is hard to say.

Here are some more.

red squirrel

red squirrel

red squirrel

I had taken the precaution of bringing a few peanuts with me.

There are peanuts in bird feeders on the site but the squirrels can get at them with ease…

red squirrel

…but they are not very photo friendly when they are inside.

For most of the time, we were the only people about and it was very peaceful in the woods and we had the the good fortune to catch a few bursts of unexpected sunshine which made the whole scene most delightful.

We were visited by a greater spotted woodpecker…

greater spotted woodpecker

…and could see a pair of herons across the  pond.

herons at Eskrigg

After a while, we walked along to the hide beside the old curling pond.  There were ducks finding interesting things to eat in the pond…

ducks diving

…and a nuthatch on a feeder too.


There was another woodpecker but it knew what it was up to and stayed hidden behind the feeder while it pecked away at the seed.  Woodpeckers are very clever about knowing exactly where photographers can’t see them.

We had a look at a final athletic squirrel stretching to use the same feeder…

red squirrel

…and it stayed there, nibbling away as we left the hide, quite unconcerned by people coming very close to it.

red squirrel
Taken with the Lumix from about six feet away.

We walked back to the car in a welcome patch of sunlight as there was a nipping wind which would have been quite chilly in a cloudy moment.

A little treat during our visit was finding a hazel flower in a convenient spot.

hazel flower

Once in the car, we headed south to Gretna, where we enjoyed a light lunch in the Old Toll Bar, just beside the border bridge which I cycled across on Wednesday.

All that was left after lunch was a flying visit to a garden centre for supplies of potting compost before we got home, perfectly satisfied with a grand day out.

It was a good day for a little gardening so I sieved some more kitchen waste compost and Mrs Tootlepedal used it to prepare the soil in her onion beds.  She continued outside but I went in to winnow out some pictures for this post from a great cloud of cute squirrels which had found their way into my camera somehow.

In the early evening, my sister kindly took us out for an excellent meal at the Douglas Hotel and a good day was rounded off by music and conversation when we were visited by Mike and Alison as usual on a Friday.

The flying bird of the day is a slightly fuzzy Eskrigg chaffinch.  (We could have done with a bit more sunlight.)

flying chaffinch

This post called have been titled, “A Full Day” as I have eaten so much today that if you read of a large explosion in the south of Scotland overnight, you will know the cause.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

39 thoughts on “Ecclefechan and squirrels

  1. I love hazel and rarely find them in a convenient spot. I love the ear tufts on your squirrels, and the one in the feeder with just the tail sticking out. I don’t recall seeing your wagtail or nuthatch before. The woodpecker looks rather as if it were carved from wood and painted.

    1. I have posted nuthatch shots before but the wagtails are difficult to catch because they are small, shy and like their name suggests, wag up and down a lot.

  2. I’ve never seen more than a single great blue heron except in a rookery where they were nesting. Interesting that you saw a pair.
    Your red squirrels are indeed cute and I wonder why they developed their ear tufts. Our red squirrels don’t have them from what I’ve seen.

  3. Your squirrels are so much cuter than ours that you couldn’t post too many photos of them! It was also good to see the variety of birds at the nature preserve as well.

    Maybe this summer, when Thomas Carlyle’s birthplace is open, you can make a return visit to it, and also the preserve? We have plenty of nature preserves around here, but none have hides to shelter me from the elements, so I’m jealous.

    I haven’t heard any news reports of any explosions, large or small in Scotland, so I assume that you survived the night.

    1. I did survive, thank you but I haven’t eaten as much for some time. The hides at Eskrigg are good value being both comfortable and in the right place, not something you can say for all nature reserve hides.

  4. I don’t think you can ever have too many cute squirrel pictures! Adorable shots, Tom. Another thing I like about Scotland is the interesting place names. Ecclefechan is a wonderful word. Even better would be if we could hear it said with a Scottish accent. I had not heard of Thomas Carlyle until I read Susan’s blog post.

  5. It seems amusing to go looking for red squirrels when we have more than our share outside our windows. I much prefer them to the gray fellows. who look bloated and overfed by contrast. The reds are shyer, more polite, less bossy, and much cuter, of course.

  6. I was distracted by my appalling ignorance of Carlyle and went haring off after enlightenment. Naturally this ended quite a long time later with me asleep on the keyboard. Most embarrassing. It was very nice to see red squirrels, and I’m glad you found a nuthatch. The best part of the day must surely have been sharing it with Susan.

    1. That was a pleasure. She was delighted to have had such a good day out. I am sorry that chasing Carlyle was so tiring. He was an interesting chap though.

  7. This is most interesting. When you said “red squirrel,” I expected to see our fox squirrels with a different name, but they’re a different creature entirely. What intrigues me is that I have a very old copper mold with a squirrel embossed into it. The squirrel on the mold has the same features as yours, including the ear tufts. It makes me wonder whether my mold, which appears to be old, might have come from Britain.

    1. It seems possible. Our red squirrels are under pressure not only from diseases carried by introduced grey squirrels but also from habitat loss so it is always a treat to see some.

  8. I like your tufted-eared squirrels. I have never found any feeder to be squirrel-proof. I have seen squirrel feeders for sale, with a small seat for the squirrel to sit on in front of a table with a spike in the middle that an ear of corn can be speared upon for the squirrel’s dining pleasure. To keep them in enough corn on the cob to keep them out of the bird feeders might result in exploding squirrels. A note of caution… 🙂

    Apple blossom time here will come towards the mid to end of April, finishing in early May. The apple arch will have bloomed.

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