Taking it easy


Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Chester last month.  Chester is a very photogenic town.


Our spell of dry weather continued today, although it was generally rather grey.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent almost all day helping with some archaeological work at the Roman fort at Broomholm, a couple of miles out of the town.  A visiting expert is doing a methodical survey of the site and this requires a grid of cords to be laid on the grass for him to follow to ensure that his machine is covering the whole site and not leaving any gaps.  A team of volunteers rushes about moving the grids as he moves along and it is hard work for them.

I am still not quite at my peak so I was happy to leave her to this and so I stayed at home and  enjoyed some treacle scones which Dropscone brought round to go with a cup or two of coffee.

After he left, I had a walk round the garden.  The sedum has come out but too late to attract any butterflies this year and the nerines are going over and producing berries.

sedum and nerine

The dahlias continue to flourish as we have still not had any cold nights.


And I am able to find fresh raspberries to eat every day from our autumn fruiting bushes.  They are not covered and the birds are happy to leave plenty for me to eat.  They have got a very good flavour this year.

Apart from the white clematis on the fence which is really strong, there are two other clematis in bloom but they are not very spectacular.


I went back inside and spent some peaceful time watching the birds in general and in particular trying to catch a coal tit in flight with variable success.

coal tit in flight

They are extremely nippy little birds.

The sunflower hearts have attracted a lot of customers and I counted ten goldfinches at one time.


Blue, coal and great tits are constantly visiting and it hard to say whether it is a few birds coming often or larger numbers coming now and again.  I have seen four blue tits at once and three coal tits but only one or two great tits at the same time.

blue tits

coal tit

I didn’t catch a great tit in action today.

I was delighted to see two or three greenfinches visiting.

greenfinch and goldfinch
Coal tit and greenfinch close in on a goldfinch
greenfinch and goldfinch
And a goldfinch closes in on a greenfinch

I stopped watching the birds and put on some leek and potato soup to cook for my lunch and then took another turn round the garden.

bee on nasturtium
I was happy to see that we still have some bees about

The soup came out well and fortified by a bowl of it with some bread and cheese, I went off for a short pedal around my now customary Canonbie route.

I was delighted to feel a bit of sunshine on my face shortly after I had got going and then almost instantly dismayed to feel drops of rain.  However both the sun and rain soon disappeared and I was left pedalling along in very light winds under a grey sky.

I really like this tree at the Bloch Farm which is a riot of golden colour….

Bloch tree

…but why only part of the tree has changed colour is a mystery to me.

As I was deliberately not pedalling very fast, my mind began to wander onto the current political situation here and in the United States and the responsibility of the print, broadcast and on-line media for a lot of the mess that we are in and this made me so cross that I found by the time that I had got to Canonbie, almost without realising it, that I was making quite good time.

This wasn’t the plan so I stopped to relax and enjoy the view up river at Byreburnfoot from a grassy bank…

Esk at Byreburnfoot

…and when I looked down, I saw that the grass was well sprinkled with fungus.

fungus at Byreburnfoot

Mrs Tootlepedal’s view that the 20/21 October might be peak autumn colour time seems to be pretty well founded, although there is still quite a lot of green about as well as good colour. I stopped again to see what the view of Irvine House looked like today.

Irvine house
Another day or two or even more perhaps before this scene will be at its best.

I cycled into the town and made a final stop to admire the little burst of riverside colour at the Town Bridge.

Langholm Bridge in autumn

I had time to have a shower and get changed before Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her hard day’s work and then I cooked a smoked sausage risotto and two baked apples for our tea as I thought that she needed a good rest and some looking after.

During the day, while I was  looking out of the ktichen window, I saw blackbirds, dunnocks, sparrows, jackdaws. a collared dove, greenfinches, goldfinches, blue tits, great tits, coal tits and a wren (which posed for two seconds and flitted off as soon as I made a move for my camera).    On top of these there were also some chaffinches…


…but nothing like the number I would expect.  They are usually by far the most numerous bird in our garden and I am beginning to wonder if they have had a bad year.  It may be that there is still plenty of food for them out in the country but I can’t say that I have passed many large flocks of them as I have been cycling around lately.

I checked the RSPB garden bird watch results for Scotland and chaffinches came second this year so there doesn’t seem to be a crisis and we shall see what happens when the weather gets colder.

Meanwhile the flower of the day is a vibrant dahlia (with friend)…

dahlia and bee

…and in spite of everything, the flying bird of the day is one of our few chaffinches.

flying chaffinch





Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

26 thoughts on “Taking it easy

  1. A fine selection of bird photos but my favourite is the flying chaffinch.
    The dahlias are beautiful and long lasting too- hope the frost stays away for a bit longer.

  2. The switch back to sunflower seeds is attracting these birds, the oil content is perfect for the colder seasons. Today we had strong gusts of wind and the temperature dropped some degrees. 🙂

  3. First I could almost taste the raspberries, then I got lost in your beautiful autumnal landscape. I concur on the political/press situation, if I think about it while swimming laps I swim a lot harder. Hard to believe it’s good for anything, though. Love to see all the birds. You could probably keep track of their comings and goings a bit in ebird and then have data to refer to, your own and others.

  4. There was a segment on the news recently that said science has found that it’s best to cool off mentally before heating up physically.
    The bicolor dahlia on the right is a beautiful flower and that’s a pretty view of the river.

  5. Please don’t get me started on the media’s role in creating the current political climate!

    Cornell University has fitted birds that regularly visit a feeder that they set up with bands that allow the researchers to count both the number of individual birds and the number of times that each one visits the feeder. The results are quite enlightening. You can see the research by going to eBird.org and you’ll find that many of each bird’s visits are for seeds that they stash for later in the winter.

    I get updates from a Facebook page devoted to archeology that often mentions a site that is in Scotland, I wonder if it’s the one that Mrs. T is helping with? I’ll have to pay more attention to the location when they mention that dig again.

    1. I wouldn’t think that ours is the site that is mentioned as it not a nationally famous one.

      I did try to get myself organised to take part in a regualr garden bird count but I couldn’t find a day and time when I could guarantee to be in each week so I let the opportunity slip.

  6. I also find the the political situation intrudes into my thinking much too often these days. It creates a constant underlying stress, actually. It feels so much as if we are hapless witnesses to an unstoppable flood of ugliness and there’s very little we can do about it.

  7. Best not to think too much about election year politics on this side of the pond. It is not good for one’s health. We have all fallen down the rabbit hole over here and have landed at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. 🙂

    Beautiful selection of birds at the feeders, and your countryside is getting more colorful. We have not had any frosts yet either, and we are still getting tomatoes out of the garden. The kale loves this weather, and is quite happy again now that summer’s heat is long gone.

    Leek and potato soup sounds wonderful.

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