Breaking the barrier

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who spotted the navy sailing up the Forth yesterday.

Another frost free night here was followed by a dry morning with a reasonable, but not jacket shedding temperature.

As we had things to do in the afternoon, I went off for a fairly early cycle ride. Because I didn’t have a lot of time, I followed my familiar route down to Canonbie and back, and kept an eye for wild flowers as I went.

Just as I got near to the bottom of the by-pass, a big splash of white caused me to apply the brakes. It was some fine stitchwort, standing tall in the verge.

My next pause was caused by what I think of as grass…

…and some research suggests that it might be Timothy. I would be happy to be corrected by a knowledgeable reader (or two). It is all over the verges in several places.

I am a lot more confident about silverweed. It grows so close to road edges that it is hard for a cyclist to miss when its flowers come out. These were at the Hollows and you can see the tarmac in the corner of the picture.

It was good to see new growth, but further on at Irvine House, growth of roadside young trees is soon going to spoil one of my favourite views up the river.

I had to hold my camera above my head to take this picture.

My breathing wasn’t at its best today, and I struggled to keep my pace up, but a couple of judicious rests for a minute or two got me going again, and I arrived home in fairly good order.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden and I joined her for a while. We were very pleased to see that the dandelions were at last earning their keep and providing facilities for visiting bees.

I noticed ferns unfolding in the back border.

I did a little weed killing with my flame wand on the drive and two paths, and then went in to get changed and have lunch.

And, naturally, checked on the birds as I went past the window.

It was a day for spotting redpolls.

They must be nesting nearby because we are getting a steady stream of them visiting the feeder every day at the moment.

After lunch, we drove to an industrial and retail estate on the outskirts of Carlisle and did some shopping.

This may not sound like much, but it was the first time that we have done this for some months and it felt quite strange. Mrs Tootlepedal bought something to help with painting a bedroom window, and then went into a hobby shop to get material and a zip for a dress for our granddaughter Matilda to wear at a dance competition.

While she was in the shop, I had a look around the car park and was pleased to find that I had my camera in my pocket. You never know when you will need it.

It is probably a lesser black backed gull like the ones I often see near the suspension bridge in Langholm. It was standing on top of a tall lamppost, looking imperious.

Mrs Tootlepedal got her material and then we went into a M&S foodhall next door and did some impulse buying. Buying cheese and coffee beans off a shelf and not online was a novel experience.

The wisdom of getting my cycling done in the morning was confirmed when it rained on us as we drove home.

However, the rain didn’t last and after a cup of tea and a slice of sourdough bread (another impulse purchase) and home made strawberry jam, I went out for a short walk to check on the state of the suspension bridge and to see if I could find any waterside birds while I was out.

I don’t know what work they are going to do on the bridge but it obviously needs this imposing superstructure built over the new town end of the bridge…

…and some hefty clamps on the suspension wires.

While I was out, I admired cheerful cherry blossom in the park…

…and saw two oystercatchers, one on the church wall and the other lurking beside the river.

Upstream from the bridge, two goosanders were to be found beside the water. Unusually, they didn’t immediately sneak away as I approached. I was able to watch the female do a little grooming and then slip down a rock and take up a comfortable position, half an and half out of the water.

The male did nothing.

At the Kilngreen, an old friend was stalking worms in the grass…

…but he obligingly posed for a portrait too.

Two mallards passed by. The male was still talking.

There were no black headed gulls about, and a crow had taken their place on the fence post across the river.

I drifted across the car park to buy a small ice cream cone from Pelosi’s van and while I was eating it, I went back to the river and added to the afternoon’s bird count by first seeing a grey wagtail…

…and then a little wren hopping along the far bank of the Ewes Water.

The light was too gloomy for good pictures but I have put them in just to show what was going about on a May afternoon.

I walked round the new path on the Castleholm, hoping to see a tree creeper or a nuthatch to add to my bird collection but I had to settle for conifers sprouting…

…willows leafing up…

…and laurel flowers going over.

I got home in good time for the regular sibling Zoom.

I made too much cauliflower cheese for my evening meal and may have considerable difficulty getting up the stairs to go to bed tonight.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, flitting from the willow withies onto the feeder.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

37 thoughts on “Breaking the barrier

  1. Your Timothy doesn’t look like ours but that doesn’t mean it isn’t Timothy. Ours was named for the farmer who developed it in the 1700s.
    It looks like the leaves on the willow twigs have blackened, and that’s too bad.
    That’s a beautiful shot of the fern.

  2. That’s a very stern looking crow.

    I hope you post a photo of Matilda’s dress when Mrs. T. finishes it.

      1. I’m pleased I was right about it being an oystercatche! I’ve not been ‘birding’ for over a year and I’m missing it.

  3. I enjoyed all these late spring photos, especially the portraits of the redpolls. They are exceptionally crisp and detailed. They must be good at holding still! The birds have just about stopped visiting our own feeder except for some of the larger ones, like the neighbor’s chickens who scavenge seed on the ground.

  4. A wonderful selection of bird portraits home and away. Amazing how many interesting things one can see in a day when looking around! So pleased you carry your camera wherever you go. It was so exciting going into our M and S foodhall for the first time for ages and lots of unusual items fell into my trolley it seems like you had the same experience as well!

  5. Lovely cherry blossom photo. It does feel very strange to go into stores again. Now that our country decided to trust non vaccinated people to wear masks and be honest about it, we have stopped going to stores again…

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