Hard work

Today’s guest picture shows a smart locomotive seen by Dropscone, who is visiting friends on the continent.


After two sunny days, it was too much to hope for another one and we duly got a dull, occasionally drizzly but still very warm day for the time of year.

After wasting two good mowing days by cycling and sight seeing, I had hoped to get some serious grass cutting done today but things were so soggy that I only managed the drying green.

I was cheered up by the robin….


… and the number of flowers that had a friend.

flowers and insects

The fat balls continue to attract small birds and I even saw a young dunnock have a go at clinging onto the feeder but it was not a skill it had mastered so it retreated to a nearby bench.


I went up to the Archive Centre and collected some weeks of the newspaper index which I will enter into the database.    There were two data miners hard at work at the microfiche readers producing more stuff so I will have to buckle down and help Sandy who has been doing most of the work recently.

Sandy came round for coffee  and we made arrangements for the  first camera club meeting of the season.  Sadly I will have to miss it as I will be on holiday.

I had one of those rare moments after coffee when I rang up a computer service provider, got connected after only a short delay and was provided with exactly the service that I needed promptly and courteously.    I had to have a little sit down to recover.

I had arranged with Sandy to do some bird food shopping after lunch and to combine this with a walk along the river at Longtown if the weather permitted.  The weather did permit so we bought some bird food and we went for our walk.

We weren’t short of things to eat oursleves on the way.

ripe blackberries

We saw some late summer colour….

Longtown flowers

….but the path we walked along was mostly lined with Himalayan Balsam, which is very pretty but a great pest.  It was attracting a good deal of insect interest and whatever the insects were, they seemed unusually white.

White insects

We got to the open ground round the ponds and looked around hopefully.

Longtown ponds

Longtown ponds

There are ponds the other side of the river which are covered in swans and geese and ducks but for some reason these ponds are always very quiet.  They are very peaceful and charming to look at at so the circular walk round them was a pleasure even if it didn’t provide much photo fodder.

Though I did like this colour combination beside one of the ponds.

Longtown berries

When we got back to the river, I was hoping to be able to spot some wagtails but a party of very noisy fisherman put paid to that and we had a last look back at one of the ponds instead.  There was some life there.

two herons
Not one but two herons crouched in the distance
And a family of swans a bit nearer to us.
And a family of swans a bit nearer to us.

When we got to the balsam lined path, we had a closer look at the flowers….

balsam and lasybird
That might be a 24 spot ladybird on the left

Looking at the right hand picture, we thought that perhaps the white insects were just ordinary bees or wasps covered with white pollen from the balsam flowers.  The insects certainly dived right into the hollow in the centre of the petals and there seems to be a bit pointing down which might deposit white powder on the backs of the insects.  I have never seen this before so I don’t know if I am right.

The balsam has exploding seed pods and Sandy and I amused ourselves by touching them very gently and watching them shoot out seeds in all directions.  It is no wonder that the plants are such a pest.  Sandy gave me a hand in trying to catch a seed explosion.

Balsam seed pod

When we got back to the town, we spent a little time on the banks of the Esk near the fine bridge which carries the main road across it.

Esk bridge at Longtown

The bridge, like our own bridge at Skippers, has been widened to allow two way traffic.

Longtown bridge

We walked under it on a handy path and came up to the main road on the other side.

Longtown bridge

Although it was overcast, it was a very warm and muggy day so I was pleased to get a blast of cool air from the car’s air conditioning as we drove home.  They say that it will be even warmer tomorrow but I hope that it will be a little less humid.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and showed the results of doing some practising. This was encouraging for both him and me.

After tea, I went off to play with Mike and Isabel and we had quite a struggle to get to grips with some new music which I had recently bought so it was a relief to finish the evening with a little tried and tested Mozart.

The flower of the day is one of the smallest of Mrs Tootlepedal’s dahlias….


…and the flying bird of the day is an obliging cormorant which flew up and down the river in front of us at the Longtown bridge until it was certain that I had got a reasonable shot of it.




Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

22 thoughts on “Hard work

    1. It might be. I am even less informed on ladybirds than almost anything else in the world of wildlife but I have looked again at the ladybird website and think that it is a 22 spot and not a harlequin. It was very tiny.

  1. I love the balsam and have never seen it. Your insects almost look as if they have a fungal growth, except for there being so many types with the same issue. I like the pollen theory. We have jewelweed here in the US with exploding seeds, which my kids love.

    1. We were like two big kids as we walked along popping the seeds. The balsam is regarded as very invasive and you would get into to trouble for planting in your garden now.

  2. I had to look it up but yes, your balsam’s male anthers dust the bees with white pollen and leave a white stripe down their backs. Our jewelweed does the same thing, which I didn’t know.
    That was a great catch of the exploding seed pod.
    The flowers are beautiful and it’s good to see so many bees on them.

    1. Thank you for the research, you are generous with your time and efforts. I am pleased that the bees and hoverflies seemed to regained ground after the very poor spring.

  3. Honey from Himalayan Balsam with a sprinkling of other plants is delicious! Hope the cormorant grows his new feathers by winter! Love the ‘tapestry’ photo of the hawthorn and berries- very autumny!

  4. Not only did you get the two herons in the same photo, but there’s also a coot in the foreground as well. I believe that coots are called mud hens in you part of the world.

    Well done on the cormorant, shooting a black bird against a grey sky well is extremely difficult.

    Nice capture of the exploding seeds as well.

    All that said, my favorites were the robin and the flowers in the beginning of the post.

  5. Your Himalayan Balsam photos are just wonderful. I had a scare about two weeks ago when I saw ghostly white bees entering my hive. Some appeared to be entirely white–as if covered in mold–while others had fat white stripes down their backs. Research revealed that the bees were covered with Himalayan Balsam pollen. It grows like mad near a creek down the hill. I tried to get some photos of the bees in the flowers today, but the nectar flow seems to have passed. So, I was very pleased to see yours. Thank you!

  6. Your Himalayan Balsam is beautiful. I remember orange jewelweed as a child back east. The plant grew in wet, swampy areas. We all had fun popping the seed cases.

    Our hawthorn berries are nice and red here too. The weather is supposed to start getting cooler again tomorrow. It has been dry and in the low to mid 80s here all week.

    Love the coot – one of my favorite birds.

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