Out and out

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Caroline who lives in Southsea in Portsmouth. She found a brisk breeze rippling the waters of a fountain on her walk today.

After two days of rain, it was a relief to wake up to a different sort of day here today. This was the view from an upstairs window at coffee time.

I expected that the snow, which was only on the hills and not in the town, might bring a few more birds than usual to the feeder but I was disappointed. I did see the peanut butter feeder in use…

…and there was some chaffinch action with the occasional goldfinch and sparrow thrown in..

…and a siskin appeared too but business was slow.

In spite of occasional sunshine, it was decidedly nippy outside with a brisk north westerly wind blowing and a wind chill factor below freezing, so I wasn’t tempted to go for a bike ride in spite of ice free roads. I thought that the snow demanded a picture or two so I set off to walk up to the top of Warbla and have a look around.

As always, where there is a wall, there is a will to take a picture or two, and I saw other things on a tree and at a stable as I walked up the track to the open hill.

There was not much snow on Warbla itself, even when I got near the top of the hill…

…but there was plenty to be seen on the top of the surrounding hills and even a little sunshine now and then to make it sparkle.

I would have liked to have had clear blue skies but the grey clouds behind the hills made for some quite dramatic shots.

Further up the Borders, they had had quite a lot of snow down to low levels but we had got off lightly and I had to zoom in to get a genuinely snowy picture.

I tried to catch the spots which the sun had picked out, but you can see the ghostly outline of a hill still under the clouds in the background of this shot….

…and sometimes the snowy hills and the cloudy sky were hard to tell apart.

The wind was quite strong when I got to the top of the hill and I had to pay attention to avoid being sent flying in one or two of the stronger gusts. I didn’t stay for long but I did notice that I could see the English hills for once. They weren’t as snowy as I had expected.

I didn’t quite get the snowy view up the Ewes valley that I had hoped for either, as the snow level stayed higher than I expected.

It was inhospitable to say the least on the summit, so I soon set off back down the track and. needless to say. as I went down, the sun came out in a serious way for the first time.

If I had still been in my prime, I might have turned and run back to the top of the hill again to get the views, but I wasn’t so I didn’t.

I looked over the top of Sandy’s house at the hills beyond from where I was…

…nodded at a sheep and enjoyed more lichen on a wall…

…before cutting into the Kernigal wood to get out of the wind.

From there, I could see that the snow on Whita was already beginning to retreat in spite of the chilly wind…

…but I was grateful for the shelter of the trees.

The sun was shining brightly when I got back to the park, so I thought that before going home, I would go down to the suspension bridge in the hope of spotting a dipper.

There was no dipper at the bridge and I was walking up the river bank in the hope of seeing one when an unusual flash of colour over the water caught me eye. The tiny flash of colour settled in a willow beside the water (you can see it if you look carefully at the left hand picture in the panel below), and when I looked more closely again…

…I saw that it was a kingfisher.

Kingfisher pictures have appeared in the blog before but one was in New Zealand, one was made of metal and one was sent to me by a bird ringer who was holding it in her hand. This is the first time that I have seen a kingfisher for long enough to take a photograph of my own so I was absolutely delighted.

It was in no hurry to move off and even turned round a bit to show me another side.

I didn’t see it fly away as I had been distracted by movement nearby. It tuned out that a pied wagtail was preening itself on a rock.

I went home in a very cheerful mood as you might imagine.

In the garden, we were visited by jackdaws and doves.

I had thought of a cycle ride after lunch but the experience of the piercing wind on the top of the hill put me off. Luckily Mrs Tootlepedal was in the mood for a walk so I went with her instead. We walked down to the river in the hope of seeing the kingfisher again.

This time we didn’t see a kingfisher but we did see two dippers at the Meeting of the Waters, one on each side of the river. By the time that I had got round to the Kilngreen, they were both on the same side of the river but one was under water.

They must be a pair so I hope to see them again.

We walked up past the Estate Offices but instead of going along the Baggra again, we turned left and walked along the track to the North Lodge. It was a lovely day by now and we were well sheltered from the wind so it was a good route choice.

We could see that the snow had almost all gone from Whita when we looked across the valley.

This came as a surprise because it felt pretty cold but a check with our local weather station tells me that the temperature was above 40°F (4°C) while we were walking. It didn’t feel like that.

We looked about as we went.

…and there was plenty to keep us interested.

When we got to the North Lodge, I had a peep up the valley…

…and then put the camera firmly back in my pocket as the light was beginning to fade and I had already taken over 100 pictures in the day. There comes a time when even I have to stop.

We met Mike Tinker doing a little work in his garden as we passed and stopped for a socially distanced chat for a minute or two. Then it was home for a cup of tea and a well deserved slice of toast. When I checked on my mapping programme, I found that we had done three miles and since I had done just under four miles on my morning walk, I felt that I probably didn’t need to add a stint on the bike to nowhere to my daily exercise routine.

The forecast is offering us four or five freezing nights to come with temperatures only just above freezing during the day. With a bit of luck, the drying wind that we had today will mean that we won’t have such an icy experience on the pavements and paths as we had last week. Considering that there have been serious floods to the south of us and heavy snow to the north, we have come through Storm Christoph very well, hardly noticing him at all.

We rounded off the day with a nourishing dish of mince and tatties for our tea.

The flying bird of the day is two chaffinches approaching the feeder simultaneously. I thought it would be rude just to pick one of them.

Footnote: I am sorry about the excessive number of pictures but I found it hard to throw them all away after at last getting a day with some friendly light (and a kingfisher).

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

25 thoughts on “Out and out

  1. Nice view to go with the morning coffee 👍
    Lovely shot from your sister,it must be something in the genes.
    Some superb shots of your snow capped hills.
    Not forgetting of course our friend the robin.

  2. A very good bird day for you! What I know about kingfishers is what I read on your blog today – I had no idea they were so colourful – quite striking. Is there a chance that it could remain in Langholm and its environs, or is it more likely that it’s hopelessly lost?

  3. The snowy hills are so beautiful and I appreciate your determination to get photos of them.
    I saw a kingfisher once but it was gone before I could turn the camera on. You were very lucky to get good shots of one.
    The landscape photos without snow were welcome too.

  4. Beautiful scenery and ‘interesting things along the way’. I am delighted with your kingfisher – such a colourful bird! A Brown-hooded Kingfisher graced my garden the other day – of course when I had no camera! Your one looks bejewelled.

  5. Do not feel badly about the number of photos, I enjoyed them all! The wintry views and clouds are quite striking, and you spotted a good number of birds, including the kingfisher. The cladonia joyously raising their little cups amid the moss was a favorite.

  6. I’m sure I advised you Never to apologize for “excessive” pictures. As someone said, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and your combination of pix and commentary is so lovely I look forward to your daily post. Thank you and keep it coming. Please. XOXOXOXO Burni in NJ, USA.

  7. How exciting to see a kingfisher and to take that remarkable photo of it beautifully posed on a willow branch and showing its vibrant colours – I’m really pleased for you…and me! There are many other wonderful photos to enjoy in this post too all those snowy hills and views- it was just a special day!

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