Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary. She spotted a fox in her small London garden.
We had another grey and chilly day here, not quite so cold but a lot greyer after a little overnight rain. In need of some excitement, I got Mrs Tootlepedal to cut my hair in the morning and after that I felt quite light headed all day.
Mrs Tootlepedal also felt the need for some excitement, so she walked up to the stables and came home with a bucket of manure for the new bed next to the relaid slabs in the drive.
I had a look at the birds at lunch time and found the feeder quite busy…
…though there was a moment when the avian world stood still to admire the cool of a chaffinch showing a stylish one handed grip.
After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted goings on in the blackbird community, where not just one…
…but two male blackbirds…
…were puffing themselves up and pestering a reluctant female.
She was up for a fight though and chased them both off in no uncertain manner.
Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted that blackbirds have made a nest in the clematis at the backdoor and I don’t know of this fracas was part of that affair or another set of birds altogether.
I looked round the garden and noted that the rain had got the hellebores to lift up their heads…
…and I had a look at the well concealed nest, while a starling tried to impress a pigeon with its flying skills.
After some debate with myself about a route (it was very windy again and rain threatened), I went for a walk. I didn’t have a firm route planned and thought that I would see how wind and weather went.
I visited the Kilngreen and saw an oystercatcher well tucked up against the breeze keeping its head and one leg warm…
…while a female mallard seemed less bothered by the conditions.
For the first part of my walk, I went up the High Mill Brig, strolled round the field and headed back towards town along the Baggra, giving myself the opportunity to end my walk early if it started to rain.
In fact, it stayed fine and there was even a moment when it looked at though it was going to turn out nice…
…but it was only a moment.
I took consolation in a show of primroses and some rather bedraggled marsh marigolds on one side of the track..
…and a fine display of cladonia lichen on the wall on the other side.
It is still very dry and there was only a trickle of water running off the field and into a drain. You might think that it was so cold that it was frozen…
…but that is a trick of the camera and when I upped the shutter speed, it revealed the individual drops in action.
It was like one of those bead curtains that you see in the seedier sort of night spots.
When I got to the moment to decide whether to go home or go on, the weather was pleasant enough to persuade me to put my gloves in my pocket and to go up on to Castle Hill…
…though I went through a handy gate rather than use the rather sporting stile.
Half way up the hill, I took the track that circles round the side of the hill…
…and then the track that goes through the woods above the Longfauld…
..before dropping down through a clearing and taking the forestry track back down towards the North Lodge.
I walked round the pheasant hatchery and was impressed by some spring leaf work…
…and a really big bud.
The rain was still holding off and I was well sheltered from the wind, so I continued down the side of the river as far as the Jubilee Bridge, crossed it when I came to it, and then walked round the Scholars’ Field path where I found flowers growing out of the wall.
As it was still dry, instead of going home at this point, I walked up the steps to Holmwood and took the track to the Becks Burn. I had rung up Sandy to see if he was available to join me for this section of the outing but as I had received no reply, I passed his house and kept going.
This might have been the proverbial step too far. A light drizzle started and I found myself heading straight into a rising and boisterous wind, but having started, I kept going, crossed the Becks Burn and came home by the road. From a photographic point of view, this section of the walk was a write off, as the drizzle and wind made me keep my head down, and the light was awful anyway.
From the point of view of an energetic walk though, it was a success, and I was thoroughly tired but entirely satisfied when I got home after an unexpected seven mile trip in the course of which I had followed all the three rivers which meet in Langholm.
I had just enough strength left to down a cup of tea and eat three ginger biscuits.
We are promised four more days of freezing nights and chilly days but as the wind is due to drop, I may be able to mix walking and cycling which will please my knees.
The flying bird is a goldfinch, not a great picture but at least it is not another chaffinch.