In for a duck

Today’s guest picture comes from my flute pupil Luke’s mother, Sharon.  She drives up past the Gates of Eden to work and stopped to take this fine picture early this morning.

snowy scene from Sharon

I had hoped to see a little snow myself today as we had driven through some on our way home last night but we got up too late and any snow that there might have been had vanished from the hills around the town.

My cold has pretty well disappeared at last but I am not back at full perk yet so I was happy to use the excuse of freezing temperatures to lounge around in the morning, taking the occasional look out of the kitchen window.

A greenfinch looked disgusted to find that it was sunflower hearts yet again in the feeder menu…

Warbla view

…while chaffinches arrived to sample the seeds without complaining.


This one is about to receive a buffet from a much smaller but very determined siskin.

chaffinch and siskin

Towards lunchtime, the sun came out and lit up a robin in the plum tree.


It also made it easy for the sparrowhawk to see the birds on the feeder and so we got a visit from this one.  To save the squeamish from awkwardness, I have photoshopped its prey out.  Lovers of nature red in tooth and claw can see the full picture at the end of the post.


After lunch, I weighed up the delights of a cycle ride at 4°C in a chilly wind as against a walk up a hill with a chance of seeing some snow in the distance and decided to go for the walk up Warbla.

Sadly, there was not a flake of snow to be seen on any of our hills, near or far but I enjoyed the walk anyway.

There were small trees with threatening clouds behind them….

Warbla tree

…and bigger trees with not such threatening clouds….

Warbla tree

…and little trees with berries….

Warbla tree

…and bigger trees with views.

Warbla tree

It was a good day for views and  thanks to being a bit short of puff, I stopped to look at quite a few of them on my way up.  (You can see me in the bottom right of the shot.)

Warbla view

I met no one on my way up the hill but the feeling of being a lonely explorer battling against the elements was slightly diminished by finding a car parked beside the mast at the top of the hill.


Still, the need for access for maintenance to the equipment does keep the track up the hill in good condition so I didn’t mind too much.

And the views from the top on a fine day always make the walk worthwhile.  A reader recently stressed the importance of trying to have interesting skies in landscape pictures and I think that today, I was provided with plenty of good skyscapes.

Warbla view

A little alternation of cloud and sunshine can produce very pleasing effects.

Warbla view

I came back down the rather muddy track and turned off to walk down this delightful short cropped grassy path to join the Wauchope road at the Auld Stane Brig.

Warbla view

The larches at Pool Corner are coming to the end of their run after putting on a very good show again this year.


When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden, planting out tulips beside the middle lawn.  This meant displacing some other bulbs which I found a home for near the back fence.  It was rather chilly and the ground was soggy so I may not have made the best job of planting them.  It is a pity that most gardening seems to require bending over and thus suits people like Mrs Tootlepedal with low centres of gravity more than it does me.

The evenings are really drawing in now, with less than a month to go to the winter equinox, so it was a great treat to receive a visit from our older son Tony and his partner Marianne who had come down to help Mrs Tootlepedal and me to celebrate our birthdays.

The pleasure in their company was enhanced by a couple of delicious duck dishes from Marks and Spencers ready meals department which they had brought with them.  These went into the oven with some potatoes from our  garden and we had an excellent meal of roast duck and roast potatoes.  As this was followed by ice cream and peach slices, I take leave to doubt that any millionaire or potentate dined better than us tonight.

After our meal, we sat down to watch an excellent film on DVD which our daughter Annie had given to Mrs Tootlepedal so the day ended well on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

My portrait skills are poor but I am trying to improve so I took this picture of Marianne, Mrs Tootlepedal and Tony.

Marianne, Mrs Tootlepedal and Tony.

I can see that getting three noses equally spaced, on the same line and all at the same angle will require some person management skills.  I will try again.

Warning: Squeamish readers should look away now.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch….


…and a non flying bird is the unfortunate goldfinch that the sparrowhawk snared with its talons this morning.

sparrowhawk with prey



Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

28 thoughts on “In for a duck

  1. You took some wonderful views on your walk today and I enjoyed the medley of trees. Poor goldfinch! The sparrowhawk has to eat too though, and I like sparrowhawks.

  2. The guest photo is really beautiful. I’m looking forward to more snow on the hilltops.
    A sparrow hawk has to eat something and I’d think that a bird at a feeder must be easy pickings.
    I like the land and cloudscapes. I had trouble finding clouds today.

    1. Some people think that it is wrong to have garden bird feeders because they make life too easy for predators. It’s a legitimate point of view and sometimes I wonder if it is the right point of view.

  3. Thanks for the warning, but of course I looked. Hawks have to make their living, too. Beautiful, beautiful countryside.

  4. I enjoyed the photos that you shot while on your walk, it is better to have interesting skies as you did today, but you have to take what the weather gives you on other days.

    I should break down and learn Photoshop for editing things out of my images, but I don’t have the patience for it, I stick with what’s easy, Lightroom. I say that because of how well you edited out the poor goldfinch that the sparrow hawk killed. As others have said, the sparrow hawks have to live too, or there’d be more small birds around than the habitat can carry, or that you could afford to feed.

  5. Lots to see and enjoy! Love the guest photo, different skyscapes, different trees and sparrow hawk. Family photo is definitely one for the album though.

  6. Poor little bird. But I cannot judge, because I also eat birds. It was thoughtful to leave the full picture to the end of the post. Here, on local Facebook, I’ve seen people complain about excellent photos showing eagles with prey.

  7. You are a fortunate man, I can only look at pictures such as your shots of a sparrowhawk, but they visit your garden. Plus the range of garden birds that visit your garden I am green with envy. Cheers.

    1. I like to see the sparrowhawk but prefer to photograph when it has missed its prey and is standing around sulking. I am always pleased with the variety of birds we get in the garden.

  8. I love that photo from Sharon. Is that mountainous area frosted with snow called the Gates of Eden? Every season has its own beauty. Your country is certainly beautiful in any season.

    The hawks must eat. I have heard tales of hawks scooping up weasels, only to be found later with a weasel skull clinging to the hawk’s throat. Some prey will fight back. We had four red-tailed hawks here recently, circling and calling. One flew low to have a look at me, but fortunately I am too big to carry off.

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