Down and out

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony. It just goes to show that if sometimes the sun doesn’t shine round East Wemyss, it comes back quickly.

The temperature was well down this morning here, but I still got out for a walk in the afternoon so I wasn’t complaining (too much) It was -6°C (21°F) at breakfast which is pretty cold for us. I had hoped that the chilly weather might lead to a frosty photographical wonderland, but it was dry enough to keep ice away, and the garden just looked cold and not particularly white and gleaming.

I followed my usual cold morning routine of newspapers, crossword, coffee and indoor cycling, putting 50 minutes in on the bike to nowhere in the garage. Luckily I had an entertaining music programme to listen to on BBC Sounds. This alleviated the boredom.

And in between these sedentary activities, I jumped up from time to time to keep an eye on the birds.

The peanut butter feeder attracted the usual crowd…

…and the robin was very busy popping about and posing all morning.

At one moment I looked down at the windowsill and saw a wren on the cotoneaster against the wall of the house. Sadly it was too close for my zoom lens and although it flew away, it didn’t settle for long enough for me to get a good picture. I put this fuzzy effort in just to show that we really did have a visit from a wren.

There was the usual squad of chaffinches coming and going (and an occasional sparrow again).

As you can see, it was a sunny day and when the thermometer grudgingly climbed up to 0°C (32°F) at lunchtime, I picked up my phone and my camera and went for a walk. I chose a flat route so that I could leave my walking poles behind as I had resolved to try to take some better macro pictures with my phone.

To my relief, I found that the roads and pavements were ice free as I strolled down to the river to see if there were any birds to be seen there.

It may have been sunny in our garden when I set off, but there was mist forming on the other side of the river when I got there.

However, I saw a black dot in the Wauchoppe Water near the Kirk Brig and it turned out to be a dipper swimming. I went on past the bridge and found another dipper there. It was dipping.

This was an excellent start to my walk. I left the dippers to it and walked back up the Wauchope Water to Pool Corner where I tried my phone macro on the frozen moss and lichen growing on the wall there.

Half a mile further up the road, I found a fine example of hair ice and put my phone to the test again.

Those of you who follow Winter Watch on BBC Television will have seen a segment on hair ice in yesterday’s programme. Chris Packham was very excited by it. We see such a lot of it round the town these days, that we keep pretty calm….but it is amazing stuff.

My next effort was the frozen rings on the top of a fence post and a stem nearby.

I took my pocket camera out too from time to time. When I looked back, I could see that Whita and the Monument had been engulfed by the mist…

…but for once, I was still in the sunshine so I was very happy.

I was also happy that I was walking and not cycling as there were some seriously icy patches on the road where water had been running across the tarmac in shady spots.

I was able to walk along the verge and avoid them.

I got the phone out for some sunlit lichen and alder catkins…

…but used my pocket camera for the ice on the concrete blocks at the landslip further up the road and decorative artwork on a puddle nearby.

I was getting slightly worried that my enthusiasm for taking pictures might have led me a bit too far up the road. I didn’t want to be caught napping by dropping temperatures and unexpected ice on my way home, so I turned here and set off back to Langholm.

Whita couldn’t make up its mind and was almost mist free by this time.

I could hardly have had a better day for a winter walk. The sun shone, there was no wind, hardly any cars passed me and the colours, with the sun now behind me, were gorgeous.

And to make things even better, I was passed by a gritting lorry spraying the road (and my trouser cuffs) with generous amounts of grit. I felt that things would remain secure underfoot. All was good.

The sky was blue, the only clouds to be seen were in an icy puddle…

…and the moon was working a double shift (a fantastic tribute to a point and shoot with the hand held Lumix).

Trees glowed in the late afternoon light.

…and I felt ten feet tall.

The mist wasn’t giving up though and as I got nearer to the town, it got nearer to the ground…

…so that by the time that I had got back to Pool Corner, the sun had gone. This was a pity. Just as I was peering at one heron standing beside the caul behind a twig, another flew over and landed a few yards further downstream.

When I got round the corner and looked down Caroline Street, Whita had disappeared entirely, and by the time that I got back to the garden, the last of the sunshine that I had been walking in was on its way to obscurity.

You might think that a five and a half mile walk straight up and down a road could be a dull thing in the middle of winter, but a little sunshine works magic and I was never bored today.

The mist really came down heavily as soon as I got into the house. Darkness fell early and the rest of the day gently declined into nothingness, though it may have featured some tea and a Garibaldi biscuit and then a boiled egg or two on toast for our evening meal.

I looked back over my posts for the month so far and calculated that I have walked 87 miles in January. This is twice as far as I have been able to cycle but it has definitely helped to keep me sane so I am grateful for good footwear, stout walking poles and a useful selection of coats and jackets.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

31 thoughts on “Down and out

  1. A beautiful day there with a nice assortment of birds, lichens, frozen delights and golden light followed by mist. The moon shot was quite nice too.

    It’s been a rough day here. The oldest cat suddenly died in his sleep, curled up in his cardboard box hangout. I found him after lunch, buried him this afternoon. No joy here tonight.

  2. Interesting contrast between the two herons. I imagine the light is responsible for the color difference.
    That really is an amazing hand held shot of the moon. Your hands are a lot steadier than mine. I can’t even do that with a monopod.
    That’s a fine phone you have to be able to do macros like those. It isn’t easy.

    1. The conditions were perfect for the moon shot. I might never be able to do that again. I was pleased with the macros even though they weren’t as good as your phone macros. You have spurred me on to try harder.

    1. You have to have the fungus to get the hair ice. It was very rare round here until recent years when the fungus seems to spreading all round the town.

  3. What a beautifully upbeat post. A lovely variety of photographs: I always enjoy your scenery and have particularly enjoyed the various poses of the robin. The ice – yes, the ice patterns are beautiful. We don’t get ice here – or rain!

  4. I have three wrens that overnight in the swallows nest above the front door, tried a few times but never managed to get that photo.

  5. That wee robin is such a changeling! I wish I could change my silhouette as easily as it seems to 🙂 You’re absolutely right in saying they pose for you – a very good thing.

  6. What a poser…the robin I mean! Brilliant photos of all the interesting finds along your perfect winter walk. Amazing mileage covered in January – it’s been a joy to accompany you from the warmth of our house!

    1. A regular dog walker might easily beat my total! All the same, I was quite surprised to find how much I had walked. It shows what rotten weather it has been for cycling.

  7. Impressive mileage for a month that isn’t even over yet. A friend near Olympia, Washington, posted some photos of hair ice and said I can borrow them, so I’ll be using them in a couple of days. Shows we do get some in Washington State even if not here on the coast. We are not getting Winterwatch on BritBox till the second week of February. I’m looking forward to it.

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