Ungarden birds

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He is quite unhappy that his work as a painter and decorator has been unceremoniously stopped by government order but no provision for helping the self employed to pay their bills has yet been put in hand by the authorities who are happy to pay the wage bills of large firms.  The sea at East Wemyss today looked a little angry too.

waves at wemyss

We had another dry day here and we are in danger of forgetting the awful weather of February.  It will come as a shock when it starts to rain again.

We should have been in London today attending the civil partnership of our daughter Annie and her partner Joe but circumstances did not permit it.  However, we were able to see them in the registry office immediately after the ceremony through the wonders of video calling.  They looked very happy (and civil).

We spent a quiet morning in and around the garden while we were waiting for the call.  There was a thin cover of cloud, thin enough to let some weak sunshine through and all our neighbours were busy in their gardens too.  I sieved some compost.

Things are progressing slowly towards full springiness and new signs are about, like this berberis…


…and the first of the fritillaries.

frist fritillary

The forsythia enjoyed the such sun as there was…

forsythia close up

…and a sparrow and starling took in some rays as well.

starling and sparrow

There were quite a few bees of various sorts about and I caught two of them visiting the hellebores.

two bees n hellebore

We had some conversation over the garden fence with our neighbours Irving and Libbie.  They introduced us to Boris the badger who had been getting a fresh coat of varnish.

wooden badger

He didn’t say much.

After lunch, I went for a short walk.  There were no birds visiting the feeder in the garden at all, so I thought that I ought to see what the waterside might provide.

I spotted a dipper in the Wauchope but it was living up to its name so well that I would have needed an underwater camera to get a picture of it.

A black backed gull was more conspicuous…

black backed gull flying

…as he roared across to the water to join his partner….and looked very pleased with himself when he got there.  She looked demure.

black backed gull pair

There were only a couple of black headed gulls about and the sole oyster catcher flew off without waiting for me to get a picture so I was feeling a little underbirded until some loud song at the Sawmill Brig brought a grey wagtail to my attention.

grey wagtail

And as I walked across the Castleholm, a pheasant passed me by.

pheasant castleholm

And I felt that my walk in search of birds was very satisfactory.

I was well sheltered from the wind and the weak sunshine gave off a little warmth so I was in no hurry to get home and could take time to enjoy the light on this mossy tree…

castleholm tree with ferns

…and to realise when i got closer that it was not just moss.  It had a whole garden on it.

ferns on tree

There was a lot to enjoy with heartening signs of growth on all sides (and a handsome fungus too)…

wild flowers and fungus

…but the high spot of the walk home was seeing this flash of colour in a tree…

view of nuthatch

…and finding, when I looked more closely, that it was a nuthatch.  It obligingly flew to another tree nearby so that I could get better shots of it.

nuthtach posing

It was very busy.

nuthatch on branch

As I got near to our house, I found Mike Tinker washing his car in his drive.  He asked me whether I would like to see something interesting so of course I said yes.  I followed him to his back garden (at a satisfactory ‘social’ distance) and he showed his Wollemi pine.

A Wollemi pine is one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants dating back to the time of the dinosaurs and Mike is privileged to be growing one in his garden.  He is very excited as it has both male (left) and female (right) cones on it.  I was impressed to say the least.

wollemi pine with cones

I saw a few other people out walking and we all gave each other a wide berth or changed direction when we came towards each other.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden when I got back and we went in and had a cup of tea.

Since the days are getting longer and it was still relatively warm and dry, I got my bicycle out and added another fifteen miles to my month’s cycle mileage.  I found, when I got out of the shelter of the town, that the wind was quite brisk but I got the benefit of it on the way back and covered the last five miles home at an average speed of 19.7 mph  I wish that I had known that as I was pedalling.  I would have pushed a little harder to get the magic twenty miles an hour onto my bike computer.

I made the last of Mrs Tootlepedal’s chicken cacciatore into a curry with added mushrooms for our tea and then we waited for the prime minister’s address to the nation with some foreboding.  The foreboding was justified as the upshot was a lockdown for an indefinite period, a rather depressing but necessary situation.  Honestly, it is not too bad for a retired couple like us but it is a lot harder for people with young children and/or jobs to do so we feel a lot of sympathy for our children and their problems.  It will also not be very jolly to say the least for my sisters and step mother who live in the middle of cities.

As we are officially allowed out for exercise once a day. I will be able to have a walk or a cycle, weather permitting, so I am lucky.  And Mrs Tootlepedal will have her garden so she is lucky too.

The flying bird of the day is a crow which was having a drink at the river and flew off as I approached.

flying crow

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

54 thoughts on “Ungarden birds

  1. A nice selection of birds, and I especially love the old sunlit tree full of ferns, mosses and lichens. Our old trees here look very much like that. Whole communities have grown up on their branches.

    A colder day with rain here in the morning. The sun came out from time to time this afternoon amid the cloud canyons.

  2. Congratulations to Annie and Joe! Your celebration will no doubt be all the more appreciated when you do meet, although that could be in time for a first anniversary. I don’t know if and when we’ll also have any specific curfews, but for now I do the same as you, and do an about face when I meet people I can’t avoid by the requisite 2m. Strange times.

  3. Would your son not fall into the construction worker bracket who atm seem to be exempt? and what about gardeners? I know a few who are going to continue as normal…
    There seems to be many grey areas..which can’t be said for your wagtails,I haven’t seen one for many a year..and very nice they are too.

    1. They are treating construction differently in Scotland and England, which is just part and parcel of the confusion. I think that he may be able to work as he only employs one man and they are currently working in an empty building but it is not clear.

  4. I was self employed for years and I can sympathize with your son. They don’t make working for yourself easy here either.
    Thanks for the look at the ancient pine. The flat needles are interesting.
    The wagtail is a pretty bird and that oak tree is amazing.

  5. I love the Wagtail – I haven’t seen one of those in a long time. The Great Black Backeds are magnificent. And the “mossy” tree looks like something right out of a fairy tale. Thanks also for the spring preview. Hope to be joining you in it soon.

  6. I see your nuthatch looks very much like ours. I wonder if yours might be encouraged to eat out of your hand? Do you ever see them at your bird feeder?

  7. Congratulations on the nuthatch. Not just Mike, but Langholm is privileged to have a Wollemi pine in its confines. And talking of which, I imagine you will be putting a lot of thought into how best to use your one daily outing for exercise.

  8. Wonderful photographs today I especially enjoyed those of the nuthatch. Thanks for your sympathy, my corner of London is pretty peaceful and I am able to go for a walk OK.

  9. Congratulations to Annie and Joe and glad you got to witness the civilities via video. We head into lockdown on Thursday…easy for us with a bit of room to spread. I feel sorry for those that dont…keep well

      1. We’re lucky as our instructions were pretty clear and the organisations working to sort stuff out keep us posted. Surely there will be help for Tony and other self employed folk…to not help them would be simply wrong

  10. As one of the highlights of my life, your blog is greatly appreciated, I doubt I am alone in the comments and views of the changes of the seasons. and the occasional peek into family highs and lows. long may your lum reek!

    1. Thank you Ken. If on an occasional night, I am feeling a bit tired when I sit down to do the blog, it is having readers like you that keeps me at the task.

  11. I am pleased you daughter’s ceremony went ahead, even though you couldn’t be there. I had the same thoughts about the comparison of our time of life with that of young families.

  12. This silent badger at Irvings seems a lot wiser than his namesake. Hard times to come. Same as your son lots of freelancers are affected everywhere. Lucky us who have their small patch of land and freedom to use it.

  13. It’s nice to see spring coming to your part of the world in the midst of all this worry and upheaval. Just when we were hoping for a little green, we got almost 6 inches of snow last night.

  14. That flying crow is fabulous! Congrats to Annie and Joe. Very sorry you couldn’t be there. Best to your son Tony. I hope he will soon get unemployment checks. Also, best to your sisters and stepmother. Hard times for many. Sigh.

  15. Fancy having to miss out on family celebrations- what a shame. This virus has caused such upheaval in family affairs and and the knock on effect will be felt for years! Thank goodness we can forget the worry for a short while and enjoy your chat and lovely photos. Love the Wollemi pine- that’s very special, the grey wagtail and the shouty seagull.

  16. A nut hatch, a resplendant pheasant and two grey wagtails, all beautiful birds. We are fortunate to be able to see them and pedal at the same time. I’m classed as an essential worker, so I can continue to work, and commute by bike. Like your son, my middle boy, Conor is self employed as a driving instructor, and has had to stop earning a living, which is very worrying. Keep these posts coming we need them more than ever, cheers.

  17. Two years ago, when offered the choice between becoming employed or working for the shop on a freelance basis, I took the employment offer. It was a wrench after 25 years of being my own boss but I am now so glad I did it.

    The Government has never done anything to support the self-employed Hope they do something soon.

    Grey Wagtail photos are excellent.

    Just mentioned civil partnerships to Julia and she told me to shut up. We have an uncivil partnership. 🙂

    1. Nice joke, I was going to use something like it in today’s post but you have beaten me to it.
      A lot of ‘cash-in-hand’ tradesmen might wish that they had declared it for tax now.

      1. Sorry, but it seemed rude not to use the opportunity of a first class feed line.

        Yes, it’s good they have done something, but ominous in the threats they made about future contributions.

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