Taking the biscuit

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. In the recent hot spell, he took a walk down to his local river.

Our spell of fine summer weather came to an end today and we had a cooler, cloudy day with even a hint of rain at times. It wasn’t cold though, and Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent a lot of time in the garden in the morning. She was improving the soil in a flower bed and this involved digging down to remove a lot of embedded gravel and then adding compost and manure.

I took pictures of the many clematis that are flowering at present.

A yellow crocosmia has started to come out among the calendulas.

And I enjoyed a close look at a dahlia….

…and mowed the middle lawn before settling down to drink coffee and chat with our neighbours Liz and Margaret on the newly mown greensward.

After coffee, I took a picture of the old chimney…

…did a bit of sieving to provide compost from Mrs Tootlepedal’s project and admired a selection of flowers, some colourful…

…and some more subdued.

Recent dead heading has seen a surge in flowers on the poppies so I did some more today and while I was taking the results to be disposed of in the compost bin, I passed a sprig of mint trying to look like a scarecrow.

I liked this family portrait of a would be poppy leaning over an old hand to get some advice on how to grow properly.

There are five or six zinnias on the go at the moment. Two young ones are pictured here…

…hoping that one day they will grow up to look like this fine specimen, resplendent with a tiara.

When we went in for lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that there were a lot of birds about today. I went to the window to have a look at the feeder and was very pleased to see a most unusual visitor to the garden.

I love nuthatches so I was very pleased to see this one taking the measure of things while perched on Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree. (You can see clearly in the picture that the fake tree is made up of branches nailed to a fence post. It is very effective in giving birds a place to perch while they are thinking about coming to the feeder.)

The nuthatch didn’t come to the feeder but went straight down to the ground and picked up seeds that had fallen there. It was behind plants so I couldn’t photograph it, and it soon flew off. I was delighted when it flew back a minute later and gave me another photo opportunity while it looked this way…

…and that.

That head down pose is very characteristic of nuthatches. We didn’t see it again but it would be very nice if it decided to pay us another visit in the days to come.

In the absence of the nuthatch, the birds made every effort to claim the position of flying bird of the day…

…with chaffinches, a sparrow, a goldfinch and a greenfinch all having a go.

Other birds were to be seen in a busy bird day in the garden.

A redpoll paid us a fleeting visit…

…and a young robin tried out the soil in Mrs Tootlepedal’s newly improved flower bed.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to check out a new source of horse manure, and then she went down to Longtown to stock up on useful things at a garden centre. While she was gone, I made a batch of ginger biscuits and went for a short walk before the virtual choir practice with the Carlisle Community Choir.

I had hoped that the cooler, cloudy weather might mean less people about beside the river, but there were still families throwing stones in the water so I took a picture of a gull sheltering among a flock of ducks…

…bought an ice cream from the van on the Kilngreen and walked on.

It tried to drizzle while I was walking but only in a very half hearted way and I was able to enjoy the rich green of the horse racing track on the Castleholm…

…which may well not have a horse racing on it all year.

I didn’t have a lot of time to spare before the choir practice so I was more interested in stretching my legs than looking around, but I did see some fine wild flowers and a potential blackberry beside the track round the Scholars’ Field….

I got back in time to add a young blackbird in the plum tree to the tally of birds in the garden today…

…and then settled down for the choir practice and enjoyed singing along.

However, sometime during next week I have got to record myself singing a part for a virtual choir performance and I had a test recording today. Technically it went well, artistically it was a disaster. A lot of work is needed before I submit my efforts. All the benefits from my singing lessons have disappeared with the lack of choir meetings and my voice can best be described as weedy at present.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely from her shopping and later in the afternoon we entertained Mike and Alison Tinker to a cup of tea with ginger biscuits. This was a step away from lockdown and we observed social distancing and behaved with care. But it was good to have company in the house, a very rare thing lately.

I had a final walk round the garden and noticed that a flower had come out on the Roseraie de l’Hay, long after all the others had turned to hips. It was showing signs of the drizzle.

It looks as though it is going to be wet and windy tomorrow so there will be no excuse for not getting some serious singing practice in.

In spite of the efforts of local birds, the position of flying bird of the day today goes to that visiting nuthatch.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “Taking the biscuit

  1. Great shots of the nuthatch,quite a handsome bird in close up.
    Like the red planting in and around the old chimney pot.
    Next weeks forecast isn’t looking great unfortunately.
    We can’t complain really,august has been pretty good.

  2. The flowers put on a great show, and the panels are always a fun way to view them.

    Nuthatches are one bird I rarely see here in my area, though we do get chickadees. At this time it is mainly robins, swallows and finches that have been visiting.

    It was only just slightly over 90 degrees here today. πŸ™‚ It is mostly overcast, slightly humid (or what passes for humidity here) and feels like a storm should come from all of this.

  3. The dark red dahlia looks like velvet but I think the red and pink poppy has to take the ribbon.
    You got some nice shots of the nuthatch. I don’t see many of them here either, but we do have them.
    That is a lot of clematis plants but why not, they’re beautiful things and not everyone grows them.

  4. That dark colored dahlia is regal and complex. I love the details of your zinnia photos and am impressed by your clematis collection. And I would be very impressed with your ginger biscuits, I am sure.

  5. I am always thrilled when a ‘new’ bird or rare visitor graces our garden, so I can imagine how pleased you were to see the nuthatch – a fine looking bird. Your humorous descriptions have brightened my very icy morning.

  6. The zinnia with a tiara is a delight as are all the flowers in your garden. Great photos of the nuthatch especially capturing it in flight! Love the mint! Just to keep one step ahead of you …I made an apple and (freshly picked) blackberry crumble today!

      1. I am a great fan of a horse near here that defecates into old fertiliser sacks and stacks them in the driveway. This is a very convenient way of dealing with the stuff – horse to rhubarb in one easy trip.

  7. At least your nuthatch looks much the same as ours. I’m hoping to see ours return to our lower altitudes come winter. Perhaps I can convince to eat from my hand again.

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