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.
29 thoughts on “An outing with Mrs Tootlepedal”
I thought the flying bird photos were very good, especially the one with its reflection. You’re lucky to have the seashore so close. We have to drive two hours to see it from here.
I can’t figure out what is going on with the bee wearing glasses.
I hope you’ll see some rain.
No it looked very odd, I agree. I haven’t seen that before.
What a good idea to go for an outing. I particularly enjoyed the flying bird of the day.
I love the oystercatcher in flight with its reflection on the water. You did fine without the inconvenience of the large lens and I think in the long run you had more flexibility, especially with the wildflowers. A beautiful outing, indeed. The heron landing is wonderful too.
That feeling of ‘real freedom’ to get right away from everything that has become so thoroughly familiar is a glorious feeling. I am so glad you ‘broke out’ and enjoyed a different view, different birds and the opportunity to photograph different things.
It made a change for the long suffering readers too. 🙂
A beautiful set of photos from the day, especially the gulls landing on water, and the one a a bird flying over the water with a very distinct reflection in it. It had to look at that photo very carefully. 🙂 It was hard to tell water from sky, like a silvered mirror.
You are right. The sea and sky had the same steely colour.
Very much enjoyed joining you on your outing to the Solway coast.
An outing is always fun!
That is what Mrs T thinks.
I searched for the bad pictures, but I couldn’t find any. The reflected flier is most intriguing
You should have seen the ones that I didn’t even think of using. 🙂
A nice afternoon out with some great pictures, Tom. It certainly was a calm day judging by the reflection on the water.
Not a breath of air, as they say.
Excellent oystercatcher reflection – the rest of them were all good too.
You are perhaps more kind than absolutely truthful there, Simon. I hope that you are at least as well as can be expected.
It was nearly as good as being there. 🙂 I am having a small zag on the zig zag road to recovery, but am still far better than I was a week ago. Compared to two weeks ago I am a different ,am.
That is good to hear.
Lovely shore photos, specially the reflected bird. I agree with all who think you are blessed to live so near the sea.
It’s remarkable that so many cyclists can travel so quickly and in such proximity without coming to grief more often than they do.
There are quite enough crashes in the major tours to be going on with. In a quirk of fate, road furniture in towns (speed bumps, narrows at crossings, roundabouts etc) designed to make the roads safer have made them more dangerous for cycle races.
I really enjoyed seeing all the lovely photos from your outing- a grand variety of bird life. Love the reflected bird!
Wonderful water shots — especially like the header. We had the same experience as Venetia when the TdF went past our house. It started only 1km away and was over in a flash.
We’ve been to seen a few Tour of Britains but they don’t really get any more exciting.
Beautiful at the coast, no matter the weather. Wonderful to see all those birds.
We were very pleased . . . and Mrs T had remembered her binoculars.
Your pictures are a treat despite the lens. If I have to pick a favorite it might be the Gulls coming in for a landing, but the heron took the prize at the end. This time of year seems to be a special treat for us as well!
I don’t usually see so many birds in a day so it was a real treat for me.
Love the heron, the reflected bird and the tussock of grass.