Going nuts


Today’s guest picture from Bruce got a little closer to the horse in the field.  There turned out to be two of them.


The forecast was right and we had another sunny day but it was even colder than yesterday and struggled to get above 3°C all day.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I gave up any thoughts of gardening or cycling and turned our thoughts to an expedition.  After mulling over the idea for long enough to have had coffee, watched a couple of birds….

This is the same robin taken seconds apart
dunnock and greenfinch
Dunnock and greenfinch

….made some lentil soup and eaten it for lunch, we finally got organised and set out on a triple target adventure.

Target one was the excellent nature reserve at Eskrigg near Lockerbie.  It has two hides.

We went to this one first.

red squirrel hide Eskrigg

The red squirrels don’t actually hide in the hut but I am sure they would if they could open the door.

We didn’t need to wait for more than a few seconds before they appeared on the scene.

red squirrel

red squirrel

The trouble with red squirrels is that it is impossible to stop taking pictures of them so I left Mrs Tootlepedal in the hide enjoying their antics and walked along to the other hide which is at an old curling pond, now restored as a nature place.

There was a little ice on the pond today but not enough to stop a couple of swans having a swim.

swans eskrigg

I got settled into the hide and hoped for a glimpse of a woodpecker or a nuthatch.  Unfortunately, another photographer was trying to get a shot of a jay and was walking around outside the hide in his search.   This didn’t encourage other birds to come to the feeders.

I saw a plenty of interesting fungi on the trees outside the hide….


…and a blackbird…


…and a great tit and a robin…

great tit and robin

….which I might easily have seen in our own garden.

I looked down the pond for a while.  It was very pretty but had nothing more interesting on it than some mallards.


I didn’t see anything novel on the pond or the bird feeders so when a squirrel turned up at the bird feeder there…

red squirrel

…I took the hint and went back to join Mrs Tootlepedal in the squirrel hide.  There were squirrels on every side and it was a pleasure to sit and watch them.

Some kind person had left a plentiful supply of nuts about and the squirrels were tucking in.

red squirrel


red squirrel

A regular visitor came in and told us that she had been there two days ago and had seen even more squirrels than we saw today but when she had visited yesterday she had found two keen photographers with big lenses there and absolutely not a squirrel to be seen so I guess that we were lucky today.

The light was beginning to fade and we still had two targets to hit so we didn’t stay too long.  We walked out through the woods…

wood eskrigg

….and were soon on the road to Gretna.

It was a perfect evening for seeing the starling murmuration and we got to the spot where we had seen then a couple of weeks ago.  There was already another car there and soon afterwards three more arrived, including a fellow camera club member from Langholm.  One of the newcomers told us that last night she had seen the flock coming down into this tree right in front of us.

tree Gretna

So we were all set, the sky was clear…

sunset Gretna

…with just a few clouds to the south to make it interesting.

clouds gretna

Behind us, a brilliant moon was out….


…so everything was just as it should be….

…except for a complete and baffling absence of any starlings murmuring.  A few tiny flocks passed us going north and that was it.  Not a whisper.

We waited until it seemed too late and then drove north in the hope that the murmuration might be there.  There was not a single bird to be seen anywhere.

We abandoned our second target and turned to the third, the purchase of suitable welly boots for Mrs Tootlepedal at the Gretna Gateway shopping experience.

The experience was good for us as a pair of reasonable priced wellies were acquired but, like the starlings, there was a noticeable absence of other shoppers enjoying the fairy lights.

Gretna gateway

Still, as the great Meatloaf used to sing, “Two out of three ain’t bad” so we drove home fairly cheerfully but wondering where all the starlings had gone to.

In the evening, I went out to a Langholm Sings practice.  This was slightly handicapped by the absence of the accompanist but we got some work done and with one practice still to go, we might just be ready for our concert.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch taking a sideways look at the world.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “Going nuts

  1. It’s too bad that you didn’t see any starlings, but the red squirrels and the flying chaffinch of the day more than made up for it, along with the gorgeous sunset that you photographed.

  2. The starlings here on the Somerset Levels have the choice of three places to roost. There is a Starling Hotline to ring to find out where they roosted the night before – though there’s no guarantee of course that they will choose the same place the next evening.

  3. Two out of three isn’t bad. Such adorable Tufts on the squirrels’ ears. Our squirrel s don’t have them. And those horses! My oh my!

  4. You got some great shots of the squirrels. I like their tufted ears. Ours don’t have them.
    I like that mossy forest too. It reminds me of one I visit here.
    Too bad about the starlings but at least you got a shot of the moon. They say we’re in for a super moon on December 3rd. I might give it a try.

  5. I love to see the red squirrels and if all your photos had been of them I would have been happy. What a pity the murmuration didn’t happen where you were but the moon and the sunset made up for it in my opinion.

  6. Beautiful bird portraits. That robin is good at fluffing itself out against the cold.
    Really enjoyed seeing the red squirrels.
    Lovely sunset, even if no murmuration.

  7. I am so envious of your wonderful red squirrels! Everything about them is charming. They are still getting chased away by the grey squirrels around this neck of the wood. Loved the squirrels, the lovely wood, the sunset, the moon and your garden birds, especially the flying chaffinch- making your afternoon out a rather amazing adventure for all to enjoy..thanks!

  8. Those are very beautiful red squirrels, and I can fully understand why anyone would have trouble putting their camera down.

    WordPress “unfollowed” me from your blog for some reason. I am back again, like a bad penny. 🙂

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