Warmer

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary. Like my sister Susan, she visited Kenwood House recently. She chose this wonderful copper beech as her subject for photography.

After a comparatively warm night, we had a warm day. It wasn’t very warm, just about average for the time of year, but it shows how cold it has been that when we went outside, it felt positively balmy.

The forecast was for showers later, so I managed to get out for a 20 mile cycle ride down to Canonbie and back and still be home in time for coffee outside with Mrs Tootlepedal and Margaret.

My legs were shocked by this early effort and my average speed was unimpressive. I didn’t stop for views or flower pictures as there was nothing new to see today. My only stop was at the Hollows and Gilnockie Bookstop (that is not a spelling mistake)….

…a mini book repository in the bus stop shelter in the village.

After coffee, I had a walk round the garden.

Tulips are still a feature…

…but other flowers can be seen too, both where they have been planted…

…and in the paths in the vegetable garden.

Then I set to work using the lawnmower to clear up the mess left by the jackdaws on both lawns yesterday. They had pecked up an amazing amount of moss.

The middle lawn looked quite respectable again when I had finished…

…so I wasn’t best pleased when Mrs Tootlepedal spotted that some jackdaws had returned to the scene of the crime in the afternoon.

During the pecking, there was an outbreak of violence…

…but order was soon restored and the pesky birds went back to making more work for me.

The weather was not quite good enough to persuade all the tulips to open…

…but it shouldn’t be too long now.

The two families of blackbirds keep the garden full of birdsong…

…and I caught a glimpse of a youngster waiting for worms in the nest by the garage.

My favourite blackbird view of the day was this mother on the fence.

After lunch, I caught up with a little business on my computer, checked on the bird feeder (not so busy today)…

…and then enjoyed a quiet sit in the peace of the greenhouse with Mrs Tootlepedal while it rained outside.

I went back in, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal in the greenhouse as the rain got heavier, and joined the virtual choir practice with the Carlisle Community Choir. I have got a week to record my contribution to the next virtual performance and I am quite pleased to find that I have at least memorised the music and words, something that I often find a struggle.

It was Hen Harrier day today, rebranded as Skydancer Day. Mrs Tootlepedal had watched the online event in the morning. It featured a well made short film about the Langholm Moor buyout in which a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal wearing her home made harrier T-shirt last year made a fleeting appearance. It seemed a good idea then, after the choir practice, for Mrs Tootlepedal and I to drive up to the moor to see if we could see a hen harrier or two.

We had planned to park at the White Yett and walk down the road, but when we looked back after going a few yards, the cloudscape looked thoroughly alarming…

…so we went back into the car and drove down to “Harrier Corner” where a large lay-by lets bird watchers park in safety.

As it hadn’t started to rain, I took a short walk along the road while Mrs Tootlepedal watched a stonechat from the car.

I enjoyed the view down the Little Tarras valley…

…and was pleased to find that there was enough water to make small streams run…

…as we have been dry enough for fire to be a hazard in recent weeks.

There were things to look at beside the road as I walked back to the car…

…but there was no sign of any harriers.

We were just getting ready to drive home, when Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a bird flying across the road in front of us. It wasn’t a harrier but it was the next best thing, a short eared owl. Although it was some distance away, it stopped for long enough on a young tree to let me take a picture or two.

Then it took off and we watched it quartering the ground in search of prey until it flew above the horizon and disappeared over the other side of the ridge.

We drove home very satisfied with our brief outing and found ourselves in a heavy shower which we had just missed while we were on the moor.

We have another reasonably warm day in store for tomorrow, but once again modified by a brisk wind and frequent showers.

The flying birds of the day are a joint effort by a siskin and a goldfinch.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

26 thoughts on “Warmer

  1. How lovely to encounter an owl! We’ve been hearing the monotonous sound of a Northern Pygmy Owl in the woods behind the house. If you wish to hear it, there’s a good recording at: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Pygmy-Owl/sounds. The sounds are unique by area, so ours is the monotone heard by choosing the 3rd one in the list. (Song -Pacific)
    It seems as though our April/May have been a bit on the cool side, but it’s gradually warming up. I may be coming out of my dormant spell with any luck.

      1. Picture me trying to puzzle out what I was hearing. And it went on and on in a monotonous sort of way until Eric (who has been a birder since he was a wee one) knew right away what we were hearing. It sounds almost like a mechanical sort of whistle… definitely not something I’d consider a bird ‘song’.

  2. We have lots of those mini library book exchanges here. Most look like a tiny house on a post.
    I thought the lawn looked great. Before the birds started pecking at it anyway.
    The owl was nice to see, I’m sure. Every time I see one it seems like a special moment.

    1. We enjoyed the owl a lot and hope to see it again soon. I don’t think that the jackdaws are doing too much harm to the lawn so I don’t grudge them some food.

  3. There were many things to look at and enjoy today, from wide vistas to the small and underfoot. The owl was a special treat, and the recidivist jackdaws also brought a smile. There must have been some fat, tasty grubs in the area where the argument broke out.

    I wonder if we will see, or at least hear, our own great horned owl again this year.

  4. I’m glad Mrs T enjoyed Skydancer Day. It was lovely that we were able to feature the community buyout, and many said during the event how inspiring they found it. If you’ll excuse the plug it can be seen on catch-up on the Hen Harrier Day YouTube channel. Stuart Spray did a grand job, I thought, though I failed to find him a picture of the Hen Harrier Day cake from last year. Glad that you were inspired to go and look for hen harriers, and those are fine photos of short eared owl.

  5. How special to see the short eared owl…lovely photos. Like the Book Stop too…what a trusty lot the Scots must be. Those jackdaws! Hope you have a good sense of humour!! Delightful photo of Mrs Blackbird.

  6. Great photos of the short-eared owl! I love their cat-like faces and enormous wing-span. Nice to see the cotton grass in flower again and an excellent shot of the female blackbird.

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