Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. It is a horrible evening here so I was pleased to find his cheerful picture of life on the river at Chester last week.
We were promised a visit from Storm Brendan later in the day so it was good to find a quiet, dry morning when we got up.
The birds didn’t seem very interested in getting some food in before the storm came though and all that was to be seen was a goldfinch on the feeder and a crow in the walnut tree.
I cycled up to the town to do some Archive Group business and called in at our not so near corner shop of the way home to stock up on a few necessities. Then it was time for a coffee and finally, I got out for a walk.
I did think about a cycle ride but the prospect of a strengthening wind made a 5 mile walk more attractive.
I had only got as far as the back wall of the house when I had to stop to note snowdrops almost out beside the dam.
I hadn’t got much further before I was detained by a dipper which was living up to its name by doing some vigorous dipping in the Wauchope above the Kirk Brig.
They can stay under water for an amazingly long time.
In the end, I had to go on and I walked through the town and along to the track to the oak woods and the Moorland Project bird hide.
It was muddy and slippery, so I had to keep more of an eye on where I was walking than interesting things but this fallen tree was large enough to attract my attention.
And the oak trees are hard to miss when you get to them.
I didn’t want to hang about too much in case the threatened rain came in before schedule so I pressed on to the bird hide. I had heard at second hand that the hide was closed as a result of the larch disease which will lead to the trees at the hide being felled soon. I wondered if this meant that the trees had already been felled but when I got there, the hide and trees were still there and the notice on the hide door read as follows:
I was in time, the hide was still open and the feeders had been filled by one of the volunteers.
I sat in the hide for a few minutes and was rewarded with a good supply of peanut eaters.
Among the crowd, there were two coal tits….
…two blue tits…
…and a great tit with a chaffinch with other things on its mind.
A green finch arrived and checked to see if the peanuts on the other side of the feeder were any tastier.
There were plenty of puddles about and a pheasant was happy to use one as a drinking fountain.
There had been some sunshine om my walk out but the clouds were coming up from the west so I didn’t stop long and was soon on my way home along the road.
It is hard to convey the sheer pleasure that can be got from contemplating our hills while out on a walk and I don’t have the camera or the skills to do them full justice but even in the middle of winter, this is a very pleasant prospect.
In hot weather, the sheep that you can see in the field in the foreground of the picture above often make use of the shade of a tree beside the road. Looking at the exposed roots of the tree, I wondered if the sheep were responsible for these scratches.
On my side of the fence there was a good show of xanthoria parietina lichen.
I set off down the hill at a good pace and I wasn’t intending to stop again but when a cladonia lichen winks at you from a wall across the road, it would be rude not to stop. This one was so big and bright that it looked like a flower.
The river had dropped enough to let me take a picture of Skippers Bridge when I got there. As the light was dull, I thought that it would make a change to show the bridge at work instead of the usual still life portrait.
I feel slightly nervous when I see lorries of this size crossing the bridge as they seem vastly too big for it….
…but the bridge has stood up well to fairly constant traffic for over 300 years and will doubtless outlast us all.
I got home before the weather broke and had lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal. She went out on business in the afternoon and was not as lucky as me, as it was raining very heavily by the time that she bicycled home.
Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and my flute pupil came in the early evening. Mike got wet but Luke was lucky to find a gap in the rain when he came.
As I write this in the late evening, the wind is soughing round the house but the rain has stopped, temporarily at least. Weather reports show severe gales on exposed western coasts but we are on the very edge of the storm so we are quite lucky so far. Long may this continue.
The flying bird of the day is that dipper, pushing off low over the river to find more food.