Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday on the Northumberland coast. He saw a boat temporarily going nowhere.
I should have mentioned in yesterday’s post that since it was Shrove Tuesday, Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious pancakes for our tea which we ate with lemon and castor sugar. They disappeared so quickly that I didn’t have time to take a picture of them. This was why I forgot to mention them. I have got so used to taking pictures these days that if I haven’t got a picture, then it probably didn’t happen.
What definitely did happen today was that the sun shone. All day. It was accompanied by a very chilly and quite strong wind but we didn’t care.
I started my active day off by walking up to Sandy’s for a cup of coffee and a chat. The route took me up the hill to Holmwood and I could look back over the sunlit town, take in a touch of spring…
…wonder why such a fine house as Holmwood House is still derelict and admire an eye popping burst of yellow crocuses on Jimmy’s Brae.
Sandy was remarkably cheerful for a man confined to barracks for several weeks. As he has a supply of ginger biscuits, I will certainly be back.
When I got home, there was no time to rest as Mrs Tootlepedal had agreed to a walk and chosen the Langholm Moor as the way to go. We drove up the hill, and when we parked the car at the White Yett, we could see snowy hills across the Esk, the pylon helicopter parked at its base, (it was probably too windy for it too fly), and my favourite sunlit view up the Ewes Valley.
I took a closer look at the snow capped hills.
It was a good day to be up and about.
We crossed over the col between the Esk and the Little Tarras Valley and saw more snowy hills at the top of Tarras.
Our walk was a simple one, down this road for a bit…
…and then back up it again.
I enjoyed the winter colours…
…and Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies for a sight of a hen harrier. She was very happy when she spotted one through her binoculars, and even though it was far too far away to photograph, I could see it with the naked eye as it ranged across the moor looking for food.
On our way back up the road, we were struck by some very green moss beside the road.
It was Polytrichum Communale (I think) and it was positively glowing in the sunshine. You can see it in the centre of the panel below. Nearby, we saw a clump which had been pushed over. You can see it on the left in the panel below and it shows just how long the stems of this moss are. Somehow I don’t expect moss to have stems that long. My moss book says that they can be 40 cm long.
On the right of the moss panel, you can see some of the sphagnum moss which we expect to find all over our moorland.
When we got home, it was time for lunch and hot soup and bread and cheese was just what was required after experiencing the chilly wind on our way back to the car.
After lunch, I thought about cycling but carelessly managed to think about the very chilly wind too so I watched the birds for a bit.
I was happy to see a blue tit on the feeder…
…and I had a good time watching birds enjoying the sunshine. I especially liked the blackbird sunbathing on the hedge. Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree continues to be popular.
There was plenty of action but my conscience got the better of me..
…and I left the birds to it and got changed for cycling.
I went out into to the garden and wasted a bit more time being distracted by crocuses…
…which were enjoying the sunshine too.
This is what a hellebore would look like if I was lying on the ground looking up at it…
…but as I am too old and stout to creep under a hellebore, the shot above was taken by sticking my hand under the flower with a camera in it and hoping for the best.
I finally managed to get out on my bike. It was theoretically about five or six degrees celsius but the wind chill factor brought that down to zero or one degree and I made slow progress up the hill against the twenty mile a hour breeze.
It looked as though my sunny day might come to end as I went up Callister but the brisk wind at least had the merit of blowing these clouds away before they could rain on me.
To add a couple of miles to my trip, I took a diversion up the Cleuchfoot road, both on my way up and my way back. It is a gentle little valley with the Logan Water running down the middle of it.
I found my tree of the day there.
I managed a slow but enjoyable twenty miles and this took me over 100 miles for the month.
Once again, I didn’t have much time to rest when I got home becuase I had arranged with Mrs Tootlepedal to combine some recycling at Longtown with a view of the starling murmuration there. This was very time dependent and we got to Longtown to find the starlings in full flow over the High Street.
And i mean in full flow. You had to be very careful when you looked up not to get an unwanted present in the eye.
There were times when the sky was full of starlings…
..making pretty patterns.
There were at least two separate flocks and I kept hoping that I would be able to record some of the twisting patterns which are characteristic of these murmurations but either I was too close or the starlings were not in the mood
The starlings are right over the centre of the town and the locals are probably quite fed up with having to wash their cars all the time and look carefully where they are stepping.
As it grew darker, the birds got lower in the sky…
and soon they were diving down into the trees where they will spend the night.
It is quite a sight. One moment the sky is alive with thousands of birds, and the next, they have all disappeared completely with a sudden whoosh.
I will have to wash the car tomorrow but it was worth it.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.