Today’s guest picture comes from my Lancashire correspondent Paul. He got his neighbour, who has a better camera than him, to take this picture of three barn owls chicks getting ready to take their first flight. I am grateful to them both.
We had another grey morning here, but it stayed dry and the weather got steadily better as the day went along until we ended up with a lovely evening.
I was quite tired, and Mrs Tootlepedal had more work to do on her minutes, so we had a quiet morning in until Margaret came round for coffee. We reckoned that it was just too chilly for coffee out, so we had that inside too.
After coffee, I went round to the corner shop to top up our supply of prunes and raisins, and then I got my camera out and had a walk round the garden at noon.
I saw a blackbird on the fence and added another on hedge later on in the day.
After seeing so many starlings yesterday, I looked up when I heard some chatter and saw that we had some here too, not quite so many though and all dressed in black.
I did a bit of dead heading and some light mowing, and in between times, enjoyed the flowers in the garden. Mrs Tootlepedal is correct in saying that the garden as a whole is going over, but there are still lots of individual delights about.
I kept an eye out for butterflies but only saw one peacock among the bees and hoverflies.
My best bee picture wasn’t on a flower at all. I found this one going for a walk along a stone path.
After lunch, I had a look at the birds . . .
. . . found some more flowers to photograph, including a surprise Sweet William which had been hiding under some leaves . . .
. . . picked some more sweet peas to add to the current collection in the kitchen . . .
. . . noted that Mrs Tootlepedal’s shrewd pruning had brought some more life to the little red rose . . .
. . . and went off for a gentle flattish pedal round my usual Canonbie circuit.
I wasn’t in any hurry and stopped for a great many shots of farm animals on my way. There was a wide variety to be seen.
Although the verges have been heavily mown, there is one bright spot on the wildflower front just before I come down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass.
I was rightly told off for calling the pretty white flower in the bottom left picture yarrow when I saw some on a recent walk. It is in fact sneezewort, or achillea ptarmica. I thought that you would want to know that the ptarmica comes from the Greek word ptairo (=sneeze) and means ’causes sneezing’. The flower is also called sneezeweed, bastard pellitory, European pellitory, fair-maid-of-France, goose tongue, sneezewort yarrow, wild pellitory, and white tansy. That has cleared that up.
I don’t know why there was such a burst of flowers in this one spot, but it was very welcome.
On my way back, I paused on the Hollows Bridge to show that the recent rain has not had much effect on the river . . .
. . . and to have a drink of water because the day was beginning to warm up.
When I got home, I had another look at the bird feeder and found a chaffinch who was definitely not properly dressed.
Seeing this bird, which is obviously moulting, made me think that the starlings that I saw yesterday may well have been young birds moulting too.
Later on, I went back out into the garden with my bird camera in hand, hoping to see blackbirds picking the rowan berries. I saw a starling pecking about . . .
. . .and finally managed to get a clear picture of berry in beak.
And then on the other side of the tree, a blackbird appeared and started berry picking too. Click on a picture in the gallery for a full size look.
Mrs Tootlepedal came out and started to trim back everything in sight. She had already made a good job of a berberis while I had been out cycling, changing its colour completely.
As you can see, it was a lovely sunny day by now, and a dahlia was enjoying the sunshine as much as me.
Not all flowers photograph well in bright sunshine, but Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that dahlias come from Mexico so they are probably used to the sun.
I gave my bike kit a quick wash and while I was hanging it out, I saw another peacock butterfly and took a picture of it with my phone as I passed by.
That made for a good end to a day which had got better and better as it went along.
The flying bird of the day is a sparrow among the willows round the feeder.