Reaching old heights

Mexican heron

Today’s guest picture comes from Sandy’s Mexican adventure.  He ran into this cousin of Mr Grumpy while he was there.

Mexican heron

The new year continues to put on a cheerful face and we had another bright and sunny day today but it was cold after a clear night and the temperature in the shade outside our back door only just crept above zero.  The wind was light though so being outside in the sunshine was a pleasant experience.

It was Sandy’s day to fill the Moorland Feeders and he kindly picked me up on his way.  We filled the feeders and sat for a while in the hide but the bright sunshine was not much help to us as it shone straight into our faces….

Chaffinches at the Moorland feeders

…which made spotting birds let alone photographing them quite a tricky business.  To tell the truth, there was nothing out of the ordinary to see anyway just the usual suspects…

coal tit, woodpecker and chaffinch

…and of course, many pheasants…

The female of the species

…so with the cold air nipping at noses and fingers, we didn’t stay too long.

Sandy went on home and I was joined for coffee by Dropscone who told me that he is going to have a golf lesson tomorrow.  It just shows that you are never to old to learn…or at least he hopes that that is the case.

The colder weather brought a lot of varied blackbirds into the garden today…


…including one with a lot of white feathers.

The strong sun once again made my pictures a bit hit or miss…

siskin and chaffinch
The first siskin for some time and a chaffinch
flying chaffinches
Either too much shade or too little

But there were plenty of birds to look at even though some made it hard to pick them out  by lurking against a neutral background.


I have put some fat balls in an open feeder and they drew in some customers.  They were easier to spot.


blue tit

In spite of the frost, the vegetable garden was soft enough for me to dig up a leek so I made some soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal set off to Lockerbie and Edinburgh to see Matilda.

I set off to make the best of a sunny afternoon and walked up to the monument on Whita Hill.

It is quite a stiff climb with a gain of 843ft in almost exactly a mile from the Market Place to the summit which gives an average gradient of 16%.  However, with the ground very solid underfoot because of the low temperature and with the aid of a couple of stout walking poles, I arrived safely at the summit….


…in good order.

I had passed the inevitable line of pylons on my way….


…and looked south to see the Lake District fells, just visible above a very misty Solway plain.

Lake District fells

The views from the top of the hill made the climb well worth while.  The view to the south west is always difficult with the low winter sun but I could see the Solway Firth gleaming in the distance


Turning to my right, the views were better.  I could see the town below me…


…and Castle Hill and the Eskdale hills beyond it.  It was a big sky day.

Castle hill and Eskdale

In the other direction, the colour changed dramatically as grouse moors came into the picture.


And I could see the fields at Cronksbank on the far bank of the Tarras water.


But my favourite view, as ever, was looking at the hills that line the Ewes valley.

Ewes valley

Very wisely, I decided not to test the knees on a 16% descent and tacked down the hill by track and path.  This added just over half a mile to the route back to town but took 6% off the gradient so it was a good bargain.

I should say that the walking poles added considerably to the pleasure of the walk not just by helping to push me up the hill but by stopping me slipping back down it.  I know that there are people who are too proud to use walking poles but I am not one of them.

I didn’t wander lonely as a cloud as I met other walkers on my way, including Kenny, a fellow camera club member, who tells me he is up this hill almost every day.  He is a great bird watcher and sees many interesting things through his binoculars which would pass me by entirely.  If it is not close enough to snap, I probably don’t see it.

As I walked over the town bridge on my way home, I looked down and saw Mr Grumpy standing on a rock…


…he was probably thinking that it would be a lot warmer in Mexico.

As Mrs Tootlepedal was away in Edinburgh and I was a little tired after my modest 3½ mile walk, I nipped out to the chip shop and acquired a pie and chips with some curry sauce for my evening meal.  It went down very well.  A guilty pleasure as they say.

As I mentioned before, when I was looking for the flying bird of the day in the morning, some birds were too dark and some birds were too light but like Goldilocks, I found one that was just right.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

32 thoughts on “Reaching old heights

  1. Fields at Cronksbank, and the surrounding land. Where I accompanied my grandfather as he tended his sheep.

  2. I like the photo of the birds round the bird-table at the Moorland feeder station. They look like moths round a flame. The photo of the female pheasant is very good and shows all her lovely markings – so much subtler than the male. The views from the top of the hill are so varied! Excellent post!

  3. Unlike Mr. Grumpy, his Mexican cousin seems to be smiling and enjoying more tropical weather.

    That was a beautiful Big Sky day there. The Moorland feeder looks like a busy airport. The female pheasant is quite striking in her silvery plumage.

    1. There was certainly plenty of traffic at the Moorland Feeders. It is difficult to find the best time for taking pictures as far as the sun’s direction goes.

  4. The hill climb was certainly worth it; the views are beautiful from up there. I’ve never tried walking poles but I have had to crawl on my hands and knees to reach an icy summit, so maybe I’ll look into them.
    The pheasant looks like she has silvery lace on her back.
    It isn’t often you can look down on a blue hereon. I got a shot from above just once when one flew under a bridge that I was standing on.

  5. What superb views, and the photos of them. I look forward to seeing them in person soon, if the weather gods are kind.

  6. That strenuous walk/climb was rewarded with some splendid views. You certainly deserved your pie and chips.

  7. You deserved that delicious sounding supper after such a hike. Beautiful views to enjoy everywhere you pointed your camera. Love the birds at the feeder and the flying bird of the day.

  8. I don’t blame you for using walking poles for that steep of a climb, I use a walking stick whenever I can, they help a lot on a steep climb. The climb was well worth it though, the views from the top of the hill were spectacular!

    Loved all the birds also, especially the unique angle which you shot Mr. Grumpy at.

  9. I observe that your “Goldilocks” bird very seasonably demonstrates a great “ski jumper” style. Great views too!

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