Frozen in

Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon from Canonbie. He came across this very detailed selection of rock strata beside the River Esk near the Hollows on a recent walk.

It was just cold enough in the morning to put a hint of iciness into my mind, and after a bit of havering about in internal discussions with myself, I settled for another forty five minutes on the bike to nowhere rather than venturing out into the real world.

In between the pedalling, the crossword, the coffee and reading the articles in the magazine without pictures for a second time to see if I understood them any better, there were quite a few birds to watch today for a change.

A chaffinch seemed as surprised to see a siskin as I was.

…and when another one saw a siskin and a goldfinch at the same time, he was so shocked that he missed his footing.

Things got quite busy for a time…

…and as is so often the case, this led to an outbreak of unwelcoming bad manners.

Flying chaffinches were ten a penny as they came in from all angles.

Fortified by a bowl of Mrs Tootlepedal’s ham broth, I went out for a walk after lunch.

I found the dipper at the Kirk Brig again. It was singing loudly, either to claim territory or to attract a mate, and didn’t pay any attention to me standing on the bridge. It was a pity that the light wasn’t as good as I would have liked.

At the Kilngreen, a female mallard in better light shook her tail feathers out…

…and a black headed gull did a little strutting to entertain me.

I walked up the road past the Estate Office and was very surprised to see a good show of snowdrops, with some almost out…

…which seemed very early in the year to me. However, memory can play tricks and when I checked in my records, I saw that I have seen snowdrops this early before, even though the main flowering comes quite a bit later.

There were quite a few people out walking and when I saw a couple with dogs going along my intended route, I changed my plan and walked up the lower slopes of Castle Hill instead of going along the track to the North Lodge.

I had noticed earlier that the cattle were grazing right at the top of the hill, so I stopped half way up and looked back over the town…

…and then took the track that runs along the side of the hill above the Esk river. I haven’t walked along this track in this direction before and I was pleased to find that it gave me a good view up the valley…

…before I got to the trees…

…which were well worth a look in their own right.

There was some fine fungus beside the track through the wood…

…and a good view past a lone pine in one of the clearings…

…as well as a very unwelcome patch of ice.

I went carefully down the far edge of the cleared area to join a track back towards the North Lodge but found it so full of icy puddles and slippery mud where thousands of pheasants had trampled the ground that I had to keep my eyes firmly on where I was putting my feet. One of the puddles I was avoiding was worth a second look though.

When I got back to the North Lodge and started walking back home, there were a good many others about who had correctly decided that this was a good day for a walk. As a result, considering that keeping a social distance was required, I kept walking and didn’t stop to take more pictures and get in people’s way, with the exception of a snatched shot of some script lichen on a tree.

Nobody followed me over the Duchess Bridge so I was able to take a photograph of its elegant curve…

…and the potential wild garlic…

…and luxuriant lichen beside the track on the other side of the bridge.

I got home in time to make a cup of tea before joining the virtual Zoom practice of the Carlisle Community Choir. I must be getting used to these rather unsatisfactory affairs now as I quite enjoyed myself.

Although the days are definitely getting longer, it was still dark by the time that the practice finished so another day drifted away. On the plus side, Mrs Tootlepedal did manage to get out into the garden for a while in the morning to do some tidying up, but the ground is still frozen and it was too cold for her to be out long.

We are in for a rainy spell and may not see the sun again until Friday. As the forecast says that the sun will come with overnight temperatures of -8 degrees, this may be a mixed blessing. I can see an ice rink developing.

In spite of the other visitors, a chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

31 thoughts on “Frozen in

  1. It was nice to see the mallard’s tailfeathers. I’ve never seen them.
    The view up the valley was beautiful. It looks like you could walk there forever without seeing the same thing twice.
    Best of all were the snowdrops and wild garlic. Spring can’t be far off.

  2. Not a good forecast all week with the risk of flooding in southern Pennines,my neck of the woods.
    Your managing to persevere well with the indoor cycling..luckily for me the masters snooker has been grabbing my attention 😊
    Did manage a dog walk but the wind chill up on the moor made it really cold.
    Always a sense of hope to see the first little snowdrops appearing

    1. I got out today on the bike but there is a lot of rain in the forecast for the next three days. I hope that your area doesn’t get flooded. It is a miserable experience.

  3. I enjoyed the selection of photos from your day, even if the lighting wasn’t perfect for some shots. And it is good to see healthy, though quarrelsome, patrons at the bird feeder. All is right in the world. 🙂

    Rock strata is always fascinating to look at. In parts of the U.S. I’ve driven through, I’ve seen coal seam strata amid rock that has been cut through for roads.

  4. Great header picture, the snowdrops were a pleasure to see, fancy finding a path you hadn’t walked before and I loved the alliteration in luxurious lichens.

  5. As I looked at your header picture, I thought how lovely it must be to live in such a lovely spot. Then I realised that the absence of neighbours would drive me mad.
    I was delighted to see eight reed buntings ground feeding (seeds dropped/discarded from feeders) in my garden this morning. I normally get a few from January to March, but last year just saw one solitary on on one solitary day. They’re cheeky little chappies and chappesses.

  6. The Duchess Bridge – it’s in the name really- such elegance and poise a lovely photo. Good to see a greater variety of birds on your feeders and the first snowdrops peeping through. It’s these little signs that tell us that spring is nearer.

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