Swift action

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony in East Wemyss where the perpetual sunshine has brought his well protected vegetable plot on nicely.

Having had fine weather suitable for June in May, we are back to having cool and changeable weather suitable for May in June. It was a day of occasional showers and no sunshine with the temperature eight to ten degrees C less than last week.

Mrs Tootlepedal was leaning out of an upstairs window when she saw what she thought was a blackbird making a rush for the hedge by our front gate. She didn’t think much of it at the time as blackbirds often dive into hedges, but she was surprised to say the least when she saw the bird still there an hour and a half later.

She took a closer look. I kept well away because although I like to photograph birds, I am rather bird phobic if they get too close to me.

After some consideration, Mrs Tootlepedal decided that the bird was a swift. It was trapped in the hedge as it couldn’t get its long wings into a position where it could turn and take off. Very bravely, in my view, she leaned down and picked the bird up, getting an ungrateful peck for her troubles. It was indeed a swift and when she released it, it flew off at speed. Why it flew into the hedge at ground level in the first place is a complete mystery.

After this excitement, I calmed myself down by a walk round the garden. Not wanting to lie on wet grass to look up, I stuck my camera under a nectaroscordum and took pot luck. The photo editor helped in getting this result.

Weddings may not be allowed at the moment but our Spirea Bridal Wreath is doing its best to look happy.

The first flowers have appeared on a philadelphus….

…and we have a mystery flower waiting to come out. I shall be interested to see what it is.

Some things are doing well, like the thoroughly protected peas showing lots of flowers behind the netting…

…but other things are showing frost damage and the climbing hydrangea has lost of a lot of its potential flowers. There are some which look as though they will come out in time.

In the back border, Mrs Tootlepedal has cut the cow parsley back as it has finished flowering but the honesty is still going well…

…while the alliums are fading away.

There wasn’t a lot of insect action but I did spot a bee busy in a Welsh Poppy. Looking at its pollen sacs, it had found a good place.

We went in to have coffee and a WhatsApp meeting with Matilda and her father in lieu of the traditional Thursday trip to Edinburgh to meet in person. Matilda read us a good story and then we played several games of colour bingo. I am happy to report that we all won.

After the call, I had time to watch the birds. A greenfinch watched me.

Chaffinches lined up for the feeder in a very neat and methodical way, one on the left…

…and one on the right.

A sparrow and a goldfinch played a waiting game.

…while a blue tit, an infrequent visitor, got tucked in.

It was an afternoon for inside work for me, with a light drizzle making life hard for Mrs Tootlepedal while she planted out some leeks. I sat at the computer and added two parish magazines from 1969 to the Langholm Archive Group’s website. Sandy had scanned these and done the OCR and HTML formatting on these so I just had to check them over and upload them to the site.

We have had a slow puncture in one of the Zoe’s tyres. It hasn’t mattered much as we have not been going anywhere, but the car has to go to Carlisle next week for a service so Mike Tinker very kindly came round with an accurate tyre pressure gauge to check that we had enough air for the trip. We did.

He had had an interesting morning as people dug holes in his garden to find a fault with an underground telephone cable. As the fault wasn’t even on his own line but someone else’s, he was remarkably calm about having had to dig up and replant things so that the engineers could dig their holes. At least they had pinpointed and corrected the fault.

It was still drizzling but there was little wind and the forecast promised a gap in the rain, so I set out to pedal round my twenty mile Canonbie circuit for the sixteenth time this year. It may sound a bit dull to do the same ride sixteen times but the weather is always different, the seasons and the willingness of my legs to co-operate change all the time, so the ride is new every time that I do it.

The promised gap in the weather did appear but it didn’t look like a big gap to me so I didn’t stop for pictures until I saw brave men hard at work up the pylon at Canonbie in the drizzle…

…and once more with five miles to go when the looming clouds…

…stopped looming and started to rain quite heavily. I was suitably dressed though, and with the light wind it wasn’t too cold for comfort at 12°C, so I pedalled along quite happily, The rain stopped after ten minutes or so and I got home damp but not soaking.

I had a quick look round the garden when I got in and was happy to see that a pink peony had almost come out.

While I Zoomed with my siblings, Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a very tasty chicken casserole for our tea and that ended the active part of the day.

The flying bird of the day should have been the swift but it was far to quick for me to capture on camera so a chaffinch takes the honour.

Footnote: On our walk yesterday, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a tiny blue flower on the hill. It is very pretty…

...and it turned out to be a heath milkwort. That is a new flower for this blog. It is very enlarged in the photo.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

27 thoughts on “Swift action

  1. You are so intrepid peddling along in the rain. And capturing the droplets of moisture on the soon-to-be-peony. That is certainly an odd situation with the swift, but they don’t really have suitable perching feet and spend their lives in the air, so it’s fortunate Mrs. Tootlepedal saw it and performed an excellent rescue.

    1. Luckily, she knew about swifts which was why she felt that action was needed. Pedalling in the rain is not too bad if it is warm, Cold wet cycling is not attractive.

  2. Your close encounter with the swift must be a once in a lifetime experience,and a rare chance to actually see one close up.
    According to Chris Packham on springwatch tonight they eat sleep and mate on the wing,all I can say is they mustn’t need much sleep.
    Boringly I also ride pretty much the same route all the time. The main reason being so I know all potholes and danger spots.
    At my time of life I think more of my safety than being adventurous,but after saying that one of my cycling neighbours is going to show me a flat ride he knows well somewhere around the fylde coast which I might take him up on.
    You’ve got some good miles in this week 👍

    1. A flat ride on the Fylde coast sounds like a good idea to me. I like your thinking on potholes; I think much the same as I choose familiar routes.

  3. A lovely peony. They are so lush but so transient, it’s good to see this photo while the flower is about to burst.

  4. When I saw your photo of the Swift I couldn’t believe it. This is so bizarre but yesterday we had a ferocious thunderstorm around noon. The winds were 60-70mph and pouring rain. When I looked out of the window I saw two big black birds just sitting huddled on the lawn, looking stunned. There were some limbs down nearby. The birds stayed there for over an hour! One walked very slowly to cover under a hosta. I think the wind was so strong that it may have knocked them to the ground. Very strange, but they seem ok as I have seen one since. They are either black birds or ravens. I was too distracted during the storm to get my binoculars.

    1. That sounds like a bad storm. I hope that your yard survived. That was a strange sight to see with the birds. You may well be right about the wind.

  5. I’ve never lost a single plant that I planted in a drizzle, so I’m guessing that you’ll have plenty of leeks.
    I don’t know much about swifts but it does seem odd that they or any bird would get stuck in a hedge like that.
    I love the color of that heath milkwort. Milkworts always seem to be colorful and interesting.

    1. Swifts on the whole don’t land on the ground at all and spend most of their lives in the air. This was what made this occurrence so unusual.

  6. Maybe the swift was trying to evade a predator like the sparrowhawk you sometimes mention? Last year my son, Conor, was in his kitchen when he heard a bump in the living room. He went to check and saw nothing. Next morning he went out on to his lawn to find the feathers and sad remains of a wood pigeon, he assumed that it was the work of his local sparrowhawk. Later that day, in the evening with the lights on he could see the silhouette/image of a pigeon on the living room window? Sherlock Holmes like theoretical work between us decided that the pigeon met his/her demise when the sparrowhawk swooped only for the pigeon to take off and fly straight into the window. Possibly with fatal results or grounding the bird for the sparrowhawk to take advantage of the pigeon’s error. Hence the remains on the lawn. Well it’s a theory anyway, might not fit all scenarios. Over to you inspector. Cheers.

    1. I don’t think that a sparrowhawk was involved although we do get them visiting the garden quite often.. Mrs T would have seen a chase I think.

  7. I’m in awe, yet again, of Mrs T and her swift intervention. Birds give me the heebie jeebies…I am ok with the chooks around my ankles but touching the…eek!!

  8. A good rescue of the swift. How birds end up in some of these predicaments is a wonder. I have noted more of a problem with snakes tangling themselves up in bird netting here. For some reason, some snakes want to try to squeeze through the netting instead of going under it. During the winter, a snake even got into the garage and tangled himself up in a roll of bird netting there on the floor, and died.

  9. Mrs T is very eagle eyed or ..that should be swift-eyed…to note and then rescue said bird and then spotting that pretty little heath milkwort…what next one wonders? Great photos of the allium, the peony with the rain drops and the very kind Welsh poppy giving shelter and food to the bee.

  10. I’ve never seen a swift as close as that, just zooming by screeching. You are very lucky to see one like that, even if you don’t like them. I’m always worried about handling small birds in case I injure them.

    I’ve always avoided honesty in the garden (as a plant, that is) because they are just so prolific. Despite this we seem to have a couple growing this year.

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