Opportunities not quite grasped

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan. She came across this splendid display of onions in a local street.

We had a day here when there was hardly a moment when it wasn’t threatening to snow, but in the end, it never amounted to more than a few flakes at a time. Thanks to the brisk wind, many of the flakes passed our house going upwards.

Under the circumstances (wind chill of -5°C), a leisurely morning indoors seemed the best way to start the day. The first order of business was cutting the cheese into blocks and salting them lightly…

…and fortunately, the cheese had hardened up pretty well after a night of being squashed between two cutting boards. It spent the day in the fridge and we ventured to test drive a couple of squares on cream crackers in the evening. They tasted remarkably like cheese.

I notice that my food photography skills need working on. The cheese looked better in real life than it does in the picture.

Luckily, there were a good many birds about today, so I was able to spend a happy half hour looking out of the window at them. As I was spoiled for choice, I took too many pictures and I have put them into panels of four to ease the pain for readers with time pressures.

I saw the robin(s) many times….

…though I have to admit that I didn’t manage to get four good pictures of them so one of the robins is a dunnock.

Other birds appeared too.

I popped out into the garden to check on how cold it was out there and found that the snowdrops are still biding their time among new and old flowers….

…and another dunnock.

After we had had a warming cup of coffee, we dressed up warmly and headed out for a two mile walk. Bearing in mind that we have Canadian readers who go out for a walk when it is -30°, I don’t like to complain about having to walk here in a mere 1°C (with added wind chill), but it was a really cold day in the wind and even with gloves and a woolly hat on, I was none too warm. We did a ‘three bridges’, starting over the Duchess Bridge and going round the Castleholm.

I was a bit reluctant to take my gloves off to take pictures so I used the camera sparingly on a lichen that looked like a jigsaw puzzle and several trees that caught my eye.

As we got to the bottom of the Castleholm, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted movement in a fir tree and I took several pictures of branches in an effort to capture a tiny goldcrest bobbing about among them. This was my best effort…

…but you have to look very closely to spot the birdie.

Of course as soon as we walked on, it came out into the open for a moment, but the light was the wrong way by this time.

They are lovely little birds with the finest of beaks.

I had more luck with another tree which had things that didn’t fly off on it. This was the key to my success.

As we crossed the Sawmill Brig, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a buzzard in clear view. Before I could get my camera up and running, it flew off and hid in a series of trees with too many branches for the camera to look through. It is very annoying to be able to see a bird but not photograph it.

We kept an eye out for dippers as we went along the Kilngreen but saw only black headed gulls. They are beginning to get some black on their heads.

As we crossed the Town Bridge, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a blue tit in a willow beside the river. When I looked for it, I saw a very different colour…

…and a zoom in showed that it was a bullfinch. There was a pair in the willow but once again, there were too many branches between me and them to get a good picture…

…and they flew off as I tried to find an angle that was twig free.

We finally came across a dipper in the Wauchope near the Kirk Brig but it took one look at me, moved along the rock, and dived under the water, never to be seen again.

It was certainly a good walk for bird spotting even if it was a pretty poor walk for bird pictures. Mustn’t grumble.

I was frozen when we got home. The magnolia at our front gate is looking keen but it might be a bit optimistic with a week of freezing nights to come.

We warmed up with some soup and then I had another look at the birds. There were still plenty around.

Jackdaws were strutting on the lawn…

…though one was keeping both feet on the ground.

Blackbirds were practising their hard stares.

…but they were not a patch on the greenfinches.

You can see some of our desultory snowflakes in the bottom right panel. That was about as hard as it snowed all day.

Two goldfinches made bookends on the feeder.

The best moment came when a wren arrived and guddled about on the ground in front of the feeder.

It was very fidgety and kept moving around so I thought that it was going to be another missed opportunity until it kindly stood on a flagstone for long enough for me to get a slightly better shot.

Then I had to put the camera down and go and get ready for the virtual choir practice with the Carlisle Community Choir. I really hope that we can get back to singing together by autumn, as with the best will in the world, zoom choir practices are not very fulfilling experiences.

It was dark by the time that we had finished, and the rest of the day wound down gently without any untoward activity. The cheese on crackers was the highlight.

As I have used a lot of panels today, I thought that the flying bird of the day ought to be a four panel effort too.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

31 thoughts on “Opportunities not quite grasped

  1. Some great group bird shots today,along with great descriptions to match👍
    The wren close up is particularly good,though wether or not it was guddling I wouldn’t know?😊
    I think we have a week of rides to nowhere coming up☹️

  2. What a splendid collection of birds today! My friend Lucie tells me that your wrens are very tiny, but its legs look bigger than the robin’s – trick of the camera? FYI the windchill was -50 C when I got up this morning – warmed up to a balmy -44 for my (short) walk 😦 We are paying the piper for our mild December and January.

  3. A very nice assortment of birds, especially the wren. The goldcrest was a good catch, too.

    I am seeing more signs of spring appearing here daily. The daylilies are up about 5 inches now. We have daffodils and snowdrops blooming. The purple tulip is just thrusting leaves above ground, while some hyacinths are sporting short leaves and developing flowers. The crocuses I rescued from the voles should bloom soon.

  4. Especially liked the wren. In German it is called “king of the fence” (Zaunkönig). Their vertical fin reminds on the tail of an aircraft. On a voyage along the Norway coast I enjoyed the company of a goldcrest that had landed mistakenly on our ship.

  5. I always enjoy seeing birds on the other side of the pond. And you have Snowdrops blooming! The only flower I’ve seen ‘blooming’ in Ohio so far was a Skunk Cabbage. Then again, winter showed up in February here, the previous 2 months having been mild enough.

  6. Love the photos of all the different birds today.. not sure if you are bird spotters, watchers or twitchers…whatever you are seeing such a lovely variety of birds on your walk is wonderful. The little wren is my favourite. The cheese is cut into very handy tasty looking pieces just ready for picking up and sampling …one or two …maybe three at a time!

    1. One piece goes on a cream cracker very neatly.
      We are not really bird watchers and certainly not twitchers but we do enjoy it if we see a bird when we are out for a walk.

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