Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia, who was delighted to find a fieldfare in her garden.
After heavy rain overnight, I was moderately optimistic when I went to inspect the state of the blocked bath and basin in the guest bathroom. Hooray! Both were clear and when I turned the boiler on, it burst into life and, more importantly, stayed on.
As the house had got pretty chilly overnight, it took a bit of time to get it heated up but cold is much more bearable when you know that you are going to get warm so we ate our breakfast in a very cheerful state of mind.
We will keep a closer eye on any potentially dripping taps the next time that the temperature drops.
As you can see from the background to the first bird picture of the day….
…the garden had gone back to being green. The downside was the large puddles which had formed on the lawn as a result of the overnight rain on ground that was still solid but once again we were ice free and I was able to walk round to our corner shop without any risk of slipping and sliding.
Although the temperature was still a seasonably low 4°C, since it was nearly ten degrees warmer than yesterday, it felt positively balmy.
Mrs Tootlepedal embarked on the task of defrosting our freezer and this took some time as it was well iced up. While she toiled with the hair drier, I looked out of the window.
The birds were out in force. I don’t know why they stayed away for a few days last week but it is good to see them back.
I took a set of siskin portraits as they perched on the feeder post….
…and followed it up with a set of goldfinches.
There were more siskins about than anything else today…
…and sometimes nearly every seat at both feeders was taken by them…
…with more waiting in the plum tree.
There were a lot of blackbirds too but they were in fighting mood and when males weren’t chasing males or females weren’t chasing females, the females chased the males and the males chased the females. This made it hard to get the still pose which I needed for a good picture on such a dull day and it was no surprise to see this blackbird tip-toeing round the chimney to see if the coast was clear.
We had a flying visit from a starling….
…and it was interesting to see that the tiny siskin had no intention of leaving the perch until it absolutely had no alternative.
The feeder didn’t suit the starling though as it couldn’t bend down to the feeding hole at its feet….
…and it couldn’t quite reach the one above its head so it flew off.
We had a couple of robins about….
…but they found the continuous action of the blackbirds, siskins, chaffinches and goldfinches was a bit too much for them and they were in an edgy mood.
The one on the chimney above was in flight mode and the one in the plum tree was primed for take off at a moment’s notice.
I just can’t tell if both shots are of the same bird.
After a lunch of soup and freshly made bread, we headed off to Carlisle to do some shopping. We don’t often bother to go as far as Carlisle solely to go shopping but as it was sleeting heavily by now and the temperature had dropped to 2°C, it seemed like quite a good use of a miserable afternoon.
The shopping at two shops on the outer edge of the city was very successful (i.e it included cheese, prunes, dates and coffee and a number of less essential food items) but the dubious weather persuaded us not to go into the town centre and risk getting soaked and frozen as we walked about.
We went home via Gretna to see if there were going to be any starlings where we had seen the murmuration earlier but they definitely seem to have found a better place to roost as there was no sign of them at all.
We headed home with the thermometer showing zero degrees and when Mike Tinker dropped in shortly afterwards, he told us that the pavements were now covered in ice. We shall have to be careful tomorrow morning.
The pleasing feeling of the central heating still being on as I write this more than makes up for a cold grey, wet day.
Among the goldfinches and the siskins, an impressive flying chaffinch carries off the trophy for flying bird of the day.
Although I did consider this goldfinch working overtime as it came in to land.