An uplifting start to the new month

Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz. She looked down from above at the little village of Bentpath when she took to the hills on a recent walk.

Our day here started with a real treat when I spotted the first brambling of the season in the garden. It is a winter visitor, and we hardly saw any last year. I am hoping this year will be better, especially as I saw a second brambling later in the morning.

A brisk and very chilly wind kept me inside, apart from a quick cycle ride round to the corner shop. The wind was so brisk as I turned into our road on the way home, that I was nearly brought to a complete halt.

We went over to our neighbour Liz’s house for coffee with her and Margaret, and in between times, I kept an eye on the bird feeder. Some birds seemed a bit unhappy with the brisk breeze, with a chaffinch clinging on to the willow and a greenfinch looking distinctly ruffled.

There was plenty of action at the feeder itself . . .

. . . and several welcome visits from blue tits. I liked a moment when a sparrow was determined to use the same perch as a blue tit even though other perches were available. The blue tit was not to be pushed away.

I meant to have an early lunch and go walking while the weak sun was still reasonably high, but I lagged behind schedule and got out as the sun was already beginning to drop down. As a result, the light was not as good as it should have been for taking the pictures on my walk. I will have to get adjusted to the new hours of daylight.

Still I could see how many trees had collected against the Kirk Brig in the recent flood . . .

. . . and I met a new installation and an old friend on the Kilngreen.

(Our son Tony’s friend Michael saw Mr Grumpy later in the afternoon. He was up and preaching to his congregation. Mike sent me this picture to prove it.

It is good to see that he can still stand up.)

I continued my walk by heading across the Sawmill Brig and up onto Castle Hill, enjoying the vieews and the autumn colour as I went.

The brisk wind was mostly behind me and gave me a welcome push up the hill until I reached the ridge that runs along to Potholm Hill. I marched along the path, keeping my head down as I heard a volley of shots from the valley below showing that the pheasant shooters were in action. I did look up from time to time though to enjoy the views on both sides of the ridge.

If you are clicking on the gallery pictures above to get a fuller view, you may see a fellow walker in the third picture. He reached the end of the ridge and turned back. As we passed, I asked him if there were any cattle ahead and he assured me that there were none. I strode on with confidence and saw a cow grazing not far away almost immediately. It was wisely standing on the sheltered side of the ridge, so I contoured round the windy side, and had a cattle free stroll down to the col before Wrae Hill. Here I left the ridge . . .

. . . and walked down to Potholm Farm and the River Esk.

The sun was sinking fast by this time . . .

. . . and by the time that I got down to the river and took the road back towards Langholm, it was dipping behind Timpen Hill. The downside of living among our beautiful hills is that the sun will hide behind them in the winter months.

I saw that the markings on the sheep in the field beside the road showed that the tup had been active, and I soon spotted him trotting around, looking for business with his red marking kit strapped to his chest.

The only wildflower that I noticed as I went along the road looked most unusual . . .

. . . but we came to the conclusion when we looked at later, that it was an ordinary buttercup which might have provided a regular snack for some creature. I have never seen this before. I would welcome comments from knowledgeable readers.

I took the track through the woods down to the Duchess Bridge . . .

. . . and on my way, added a couple of very pale fungi to the more colourful ones that I had seen on the open hill.

The light had pretty well gone by the time that I got back to the town, but the little trees in the minister’s garden gave me a final touch of colour.

This six mile walk, with excellent conditions underfoot, made a very good start to the new month. It is not supposed to rain again until the weekend, so if the wind drops, I may get some cycling in too.

It was dark by the time that I had had a cup of tea and a slice of bread and jam, and the day ended with a sibling zoom and an evening meal of ham rissoles supplied by Mrs Tootlepedal, with a late dessert of stewed apples and custard supplied by me. To be precise, it was just one stewed apple, but as it was a large Charles Ross, there was plenty of apple for both of us.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

35 thoughts on “An uplifting start to the new month

  1. Congratulations on the Brambling – that is a good sign, to see a bird you didn’t see last year! I am sure I have never met one in person. All your birds look great. And you had a beautiful day too, as did we. Crisp. It will take some time getting my inner thermostat reset.

  2. The Duchess bridge is very pretty as seen through the bare trees. It’s an elegant structure.

    A few flakes here today and yesterday, but very few – you could almost count them. Hope it stays that way for a while. Toques and down jackets are one thing, but getting a shovel out this soon is quite another!

  3. I love the shot of the path through the long grass on the castle hilltop.
    All the landscape shots were beautiful. Your camera (and your eye) was having a good day.
    The buttercup petals do look like they’ve been eaten. I’d guess by an insect since they’re toxic to many animals.

    1. I’d rather guess that it is natural. For insect nibbling it is to regular to all five petals. I’d surmise that it is ranunculus acris which sometimes sports indented petals.

  4. I do hope you get more Bramblings this winter; they are such pretty birds. The buttercup with the nibbled petals is very strange. I’ve never seen anything like it. Most nibblers aren’t so exact – this is almost artistic! I might suspect someone with a miniature hole-punch. 😀

  5. I was intrigued by the bottom picture of the three below the caption “Potholm farm and the river Esk”. To me it looks like there is an enclosed cemetery near the right back of the picture, but I see no church nearby. I turned to Google, but it didn’t help. The resolution of the Google satellite view is not good, and layout is not as regular as in the nearby Langholm cemetery. But I wonder what it could be.

    1. The cemetery is at Staplegordon. Staplegordon was the first settlement in this area in Norman times and there are the traces of a motte and bailey castle there. There was a church too: Staplegordon Church was granted to Kelso Abbey by William de Cunigburc in the 12th century and confirmed by William the Lion (1165-1214). The date of building a stone church is not known. It became ruinous after the parishes of Staplegorton, Wauchope and half of Morton were amalgamated to form Langholm, and Langholm church was built, in 1703.

  6. I too enjoy the subtle colours of the Brambling – and am taken with the vivid luminosity of the autumnal leaves.

    1. I tend to avoid taking pictures of sunsets (except in guest pictures) on the grounds that other people have always taken better ones many times. I do lapse from time to time so one may appear.

  7. The ducks are not so very attentive to Mr Grumpy’s teaching. – Thank you for showing us the beauty of the Border region once more. It is enchanting in every season.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed all the photos, including your guest photos. The views and fall scenery are outstanding. The brambling is very striking bird, and I was pleased to see an upper view as well as a side portrait. Michael’s photo of Mr. Grumpy preaching to his flock of ducks brought a chuckle, and that is some very fine fungus and an unusual buttercup.

  9. Your header photo is intriguing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such distinct patches of colour in trees like that. Easy to see why you’d welcome a return visit by the brambling. What lovely colouring. The shot of Mr Grumpy preaching to the congregation is amusing. His audience looks a bit less than enthralled. I’ll say it again. Your countryside is simply delighful… though it did look like some flooding might have occurred in places. To be expected this time of year I suppose. Wishing you some mild sunny days in the interim.

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