A little test

south african garden

Today’s guest picture is another visit to Irene’s sunny garden in South Africa.  Since they have been suffering from a drought, the colour is very commendable.

south african garden

There was no sign of frost here this morning and there was a little sunshine to warm things up so I decided to ignore the ongoing coughing and try out a short cycle ride.  It took me quite a lot of time to make up my mind to give it a go but I finally got on the road and clocked up a sensibly brief and gentle ten miles, turning when I got to the bottom slopes of Callister.

Callister in November

While the ride didn’t do me any good, it didn’t seem to do me much harm so I may try again if the weather stays kind.  It was good to be back on the bike and to find that I remembered how to pedal after two weeks of walking.

I had to fill up the sunflower seed feeder when I got home as it had been well used.

chaffinch and goldfinch
Additional visitors not welcome.

Luckily Mrs Tootlepedal had a visitor before lunch so after my ride, I had a good excuse to retire to my bed and have a snooze for half an hour or so..

After lunch, in a rare outbreak of usefulness, I helped Mrs Tootlepedal plant tulips as she has a lot to put in.  I managed to sink fifteen red ones into this bed….

tulip bed

…and now I will have to wait several months to see if I put them in the right way up.

I found two survivors when I looked around.

clematis and marigold

How the middle calendula survived when its two friends collapsed is a mystery.

More specialised skills in the gardening department were required than I could offer so while Mrs Tootlepedal toiled away, I went off for a walk.

I started along the river where the usual suspects posed for pictures….

gull and ducks
There was a hint of Noah’s Ark about the ducks, I thought.

…and then I followed the main road out of town and took the Newcastleton road up the hill.

There were neat hedges to admire…

Newcastleton road

…abundant lichen on the stone walls….

Newcastleton road lichen

…amusing fence posts….

Newcastleton road fencepost

…and fine views up the Ewes valley to enjoy.Newcastleton road view up Ewes

When I got to the quarry, I turned on to the lower slopes of Whita and walked along to Whita Well.

Here there were rather monochrome trees silhouetted against the weak sun….

Whita trees

..although the sky was still quite blue if you looked in the right direction.


Added colour was provided by gorse flowers.  Gorse is an indiscriminate flowerer and all seasons seem to suit it.


I ended my walk by coming down the Kirk Wynd and looking over the Town Hall to Warbla in the background.

View over the town

As you can see, it was only just past three o’clock by this time but already the day was growing darker and Mrs Tootlepedal came in from the garden when I got home.

During the  morning and early afternoon, I spent a moment here and there staring out of the kitchen window.  My new mixed seed feeder is doing no business but the suet balls are proving attractive…

dunnock and blue tit

…so I have taken the seeds down and hung the fat balls up instead.  I will have to put some more out at low level for the dunnocks because they won’t fly up to the feeder.

I have got some pink pellets out too and they are proving quite popular.  A starling was tempted down from  its high wire for a visit today.


I am particularly pleased to see regular visits from several blue tits as numbers were reported to be in a bad state after a couple of poor springs so it is a treat to see them looking well.

blue tit

The sunflower seeds are the main draw though and we had good numbers of chaffinches, goldfinches and greenfinches again today.

Sometimes the greenfinches dominated the feeder….


…and got quite ratty if anyone else pushed in.

greenfinch and goldfinch

Sometimes things were quieter….


…and, as usual, I was always looking for a flying bird picture opportunity.  Such was the traffic today that on many occasions I didn’t know where to look….

flying birds

…and missed them all.

It was easier to spot a static blackbird, one of many still in and around the garden.


I wondered if this one had been a lawyer in a previous life.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to see the local dramatic society’s annual play in the Buccleuch Centre while I stayed at home to nurse my cough and make a dozen bread rolls.

I did find one chaffinch who kept out of the general hurly-burly for long enough to be the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

27 thoughts on “A little test

  1. I’m happy for you that you were able to make it out on the bike after such a long absence. The fence post looks as if it’s wearing a wig, and all the images from your walk were worth a view.

    Maybe it’s because we both love photography so much that we notice how little light there is this time of year, even at mid-day, along with how short the daylight hours are.

  2. It’s hard to mis-plant a tulip. Even if planted upside down they’ll still bloom. I can’t wait for spring so I can see them and other flowers again.
    I like the view up the valley and the bare trees.
    I wish we had gorse, or anything else that would bloom in cold weather.

    1. Mrs Tootlepedal is very excited by another winter flowering plant which is looking promising so I hope to have that to show in the course of time.

  3. I am interested that your garden birds appear to shun what you call ‘mixed seed’. From the pictures that appears to be grass seed mixed with very finely crushed grain. Are the birds not used to the latter? I ask because in my South African garden I sprinkle coarsely crushed maize on the lawn for the larger birds i.e. doves mostly and weavers and put bird (grass) seed in the hanging feeders for the smaller birds. When the latter seed isn’t available I use finely crushed maize (called chick feed here) which is gobbled up just as eagerly.

  4. Very sorry your cough is lingering on so long, but glad you were able to manage a pedal, albeit a short one for you.
    The monochrome trees picture has come out very well.

  5. I have found it takes several days if not a week or more for birds to get accustomed to a new feeder apparatus, regardless of whatever delights the feeder contains, so don’t give up yet. I am enamored of the growing fence post and all the birds.

  6. Lovely views on your walk and I really like the glint of light on the beck with the lonesome sheep and silhouetted trees. The blackbird is definitely not amused by the shenanigans of all the little birds on your feeder- it’s a great photo. Hope that cough clears up soon.

      1. I don’t want to press the like button as it looks as though I like your comment…I don’t…I want you to get better soon!

  7. Fence post was great.

    We took a decision on mixed seeds some years ago and stopped using them as the birds scatter so many of the ones they don’t like. We had to stop fat balls because of the jackdaws.

    1. I have the fat balls in a cage whihc seems to work. I agree about the seeds, they do go everywhere but with our new tray underneath, we think things might be better.

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