Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Stephen, a friend of my sister Susan. He took this picture of a fabulous Sydney Harbour sunset. The occasion was the opening night of the annual Opera on the Harbour. I hope he will forgive me for only using part of his shot.
We had a wonderfully spring like day today, with lots of sunshine, no rain and a moderate wind. It was a perfect day for cycling but good sense suggested that I should give that a miss. Instead, I rang up Sandy who came round for a cup of coffee over which we decided that a leisurely walk round a nature reserve would be the best way to use the day.
Mrs Tootlepedal was recovered enough to seriously consider coming with us but in the end, good sense overtook her as well, and she decided on a quiet day at home to continue her recuperation from her cold.
Watchtree, the reserve whihc we chose, is on the other side of Carlisle, between the Solway Firth and the Lake district hills.
It is not your run of the mill reserve as it is on an old airfield which now is the site of half of a wind farm. In addition over half a million sheep carcasses were buried on the site during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. All this might make for an unattractive place to visit in many ways but a lot of work has been done to make it worth a visit.
And they serve very tasty bacon butties in their little cafe.
Fortified by the bacon butties we set off to walk round the old airfield among the wind turbines.
Our first stop was at a bird hide on a pond. The walk down the side of the pond was fringed by hedge plants covered alternately in lichen or blossom.
There was not a great deal of activity on the water but I was happy to see a tufted duck emerge from diving under the water for long enough for me to get a shot.
A coot also emerged from under the water with a little weed in its beak.
The pond was looking very charming with reeds..
…and the reflections of the turbines to add variety.
Some bird feeders had been placed behind the bird hide and we saw two tree sparrows enjoying a snack.
We moved on to a second pond, passing a gorgeous clump of gorse with a strong smell of coconut on the way.
There were quite a few waterfowl about on this pond but as usual, they hung around at the very far end so I could only get some rather blurry pictures of a goose literally trying to blow itself up.
Having failed, it paddled off very calmly.
My binoculars were more use than my camera.
We left the hide and walked round the pond to the edge of the site where we came across this slightly macabre reminder of a local air crash.
We then followed a half mile circular path through a young wood on the edge of the site.
Half the route was lined with trees in leaf….
…with the other half still bare.
Leaving that wood, we crossed a runway and went into an older wood where the sharp eyed Sandy spotted a deer lurking among the trees.
There were willows on all sides but my favourite of the day was this back lit one in the wood.
Bird feeders had been set up in this wood but although we could hear any amount of twittering in the trees around us, the feeders were unused so we walked onto to the pond in the centre of the wood. It too was very quiet and nothing could be seen swimming around in its clear water.
It was very pleasant strolling through the woods in the sunshine so we continued our walk in good spirits, eventually coming to the site of the old control tower from the airfield where the was a handy aerial photograph of the site on an information board.
Our roughly two mile walk took us round the triangle you can see in the picture, starting at the bottom right corner and going round anti clockwise past the first three wind turbines, You can see the two ponds and the two woods which we visited.
The control tower itself has seen better days.
Although my feet were not very comfortable, the fine weather, the ponds, the woods, the wildlife and the good company made the outing thoroughly enjoyable and we were tired but happy when we got home.
While I was in active mode, I made an effort at giving the middle lawn a mow and even though there is a lot of moss on it, I was able to add a good heap of grass cuttings to my compost bin.
Then I went in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.
And watched our local birds for a moment.
Later on, I was just waiting for my flute pupil Luke to come when I noticed movement outside the kitchen window.
The pair of partridges were visiting.
They are undoubtedly our most handsome visitors.
Luke has been practising again with very beneficial results and we enjoyed playing through our Loeillet sonata a lot.
As we are going to get to work on our Quantz sonata next, I will have to copy Luke and do some serious practice myself.
The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with its wings firmly shut.