Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz. She found some fine icicles on her morning walk today. They show how cold it was early on.
As the temperature had dropped a couple of degrees below freezing in the early hours of the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal was happy that she had tried to protect the nascent magnolia buds with fleece overnight. She was less happy to find a pair of jackdaws tearing the fleece to bits in the morning in the pursuit of nesting material. I took a shot of the guilty party!
It was a sunny day from the start though, so the morning soon warmed up. The bright light of the sun behind the feeder made my camera see things in an artistic way…
…but it made it just warm enough for coffee in the garden with our neighbours Liz and Margaret. Once again we were serenaded by a full throated robin.
As well as birdsong, there was colour in the garden as the forsythia has come out and is looking good.
There is potential too and I saw the first hint of dicentra today and the lilac is full of promise.
Apart from socialising, I mowed the greenhouse grass with the hover mower for the first time this spring, but the chief business of the morning was adding a decorative touch to the drive project.
After examining a slab half buried under grass at the far end of the drive, it appeared that it might be broken in a way that would match the broken slab near the road. I dug it up and rolled it along the drive. Then with the help of some first rate teaspoon levelling work from Mrs Tootlepedal, we lowered it into place and found that the match wasn’t too bad at all. Serendipity.
This all took a bit of time and lunch and bird watching took place during the work.
The lunch was Mrs Tootlepedal’s curried parsnip soup but the bird watching was mine.
The sun was on the feeder now and goldfinches were lit up. Here is one looking up just before lunch…
…and here is one looking down after lunch.
When we had finished the slab laying, I had another moment to see a male chaffinch posing…
…along with a female…
…and I noted a welcome visit from a lesser redpoll.
The last one to visit us came in October so it has been a long wait. We would have normally seen quite a few by now.
I couldn’t wait to see if another redpoll appeared, as I was keen to go for a cycle ride while the sun was still shining. Since the wind was blowing from the north, I decided to head north in the hope of being blown home.
The sun was shining in the Ewes valley as I set off up the road, but it didn’t take long until clouds were casting their shadows on the hills.
By the time that I had gone eight miles, I was fed up with cycling straight into a cold wind and turned off at Fiddleton Toll to to follow the Carewoodrig burn along the more sheltered road towards Hermitage.
According to the Ordinance Survey map, I passed Crude Hill, Castlewink and Tup Knowe to my left as I went along the pretty burn…
…and came to Butter Hill and Headless Knowe further along to my right.
The single track road is in reasonable condition and this nice bridge crosses one of the minor tributaries of the main burn….
…which chatters away beside the road.
The valley splits in two at Tup Knowe, with a subsidiary burn coming down a valley from the left…
…while the road I was on climbs up the side of the hill to the right.
This is a steeper hill than it looks in the picture so I went up very carefully in my lowest gear. I enjoyed the view along the ridge when I got near the top…
…but I wisely stopped and turned for home before going any further.
The view to my left as I headed back down the hill was impressive…
…but I had to keep my eyes on the road while I went down the steep hill with even more care than I had come up it.
Still, my hope of being blown home by the wind was realised and I took only slightly more than half the time to get back than I had spent on the outward ten miles.
When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal doing some more work around the front door on the drive project, and after a walk round the garden, where there were new flowers to be seen…
…we went inside and had a cup of tea and some bread and jam.
The cycle ride had perked me up, so when the tea had been drunk and the bread and strawberry jam eaten, I went back out to the garden and started to shift compost from Bin B to Bin C. This is garden compost which has been sitting quietly in Bin B during the winter. It has been working hard at decomposing though, and is in nice condition and ready to go on the garden when required.
A Zoom with my siblings and a ready made steak pie from the butcher for my evening meal rounded off the day. Any day which has sunshine, or coffee socialising, or lawn care, or slab laying, or a cycle outing, or composting is a reasonable day. A day with all of them in it, is an outstanding day.
The flying bird of the day is not alone as it usually is. I thought that I would show some of the abuse that a flying bird may have to put up with as it approaches the feeder. Not everything in the garden is lovely!