Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia. She had left Somerset for the extreme west of the country when she was surprised by the Tour of Britain leaving from Penzance. She tells me that all the riders had passed her in four seconds, so it was a brief encounter.
We woke up to a delightfully sunny morning here and cycled off to sing in the church choir without the need for coats.
When we got back, we went across to our neighbour Liz’s garden for coffee and a delicious lemon drizzle cake. Between the choir and the coffee, most of the morning had slipped away, so we only had a short while in the garden before lunch. I didn’t even to have go out into the garden though to spot my first butterfly of the day. It had come in to the house . . .
. . . but there were plenty more outside when I looked. There were a good number of hoverflies and bees about too . . .
. . . and you can see that the sun was so bright that a honey bee had put its dark glasses on.
After lunch, I asked if Mrs Tootlepedal would care for an outing, and she suggested a trip to the Solway coast. We decided on a visit to Browhouses, about 18 miles away, on the far side of Gretna. There was another car parked when we got there, but it drove off and we had the seashore to ourselves.
We stood and looked around and the first thing that was saw was a butterfly on a fine clump of mint . . .
. . . and we wondered if we had really needed to have left home to see that.
However, it didn’t take us long to see birds that we don’t have in the garden when we spotted a little egret and a lapwing.
Although the day was warm and fairly bright, the light was not very good for taking photographs. It was rather hazy and the birds were further away than my cameras could easily manage. I have got a bigger and better bird lens but it has become too heavy for me to carry about on walks these days. As a result, I took a lot of bad pictures while we walked along the shore, and I have put many of them in this post. I apologise.
The Solway coast between Gretna and Dumfries is flat.
Flowers and insects were easier to catch than distant birds.
The hoverfly is probably a dangling marsh lover or Helophilus pendulus. I have no idea what the flower seed head is.
Often when I am on a cycle ride and stop on the shore for a look about, I don’t see anything of interest, but today we saw a lot of shorebirds and waders.
Oyster catcher and black headed gull . . .
. . . and a family of goosanders.
And we walked through a treasury of grasses and wild flowers. The grass in the top left frame of the first panel is marram grass, Mrs Tootlepedal tells me.
There were a lot of gulls making a lot of noise, both up in the air . . .
. . . and down near the water.
But there were other more interesting birds too that made me wish I had a better lens with me.
And some birds were just too far away to get a decent picture at all, but we could say that we had seen a curlew and a cormorant.
As you can see, it was a remarkably calm day . . .
. . . and it was very peaceful when we sat on a handy tussock and stared across the water.
There was no chance of seeing the Lake District hills today.
Indeed, we could only just see the shore of the English side of the firth, and it needed the camera with the lens fully extended to pick out the houses from the trees.
It was quite hard work walking along the tussocky grass which comes down to the muddy foreshore . . .
. . . so we didn’t go far before we had our rest and then turned back. We saw a cormorant stretching its wings . . .
. . . and ducks flew low over the water . . .
. . .as the ebbing tide exposed more sandbanks.
We saw a final lapwing . . .
. . . and walked a little way past the car onto land grazed by farm animals . . .
. . . before driving back to Gretna and on to Langholm.
It was only a three hour excursion but it felt like a genuine outing and we were quite content to get home for a cup of tea.
I had neglected the garden flowers so I took a token dahlia photo just to show that I hadn’t forgotten them.
The forecasters say that it might rain overnight and if it does, that will be very welcome.
The flying bird of the day is a Solway heron.