Sight reading

Today’s guest picture was taken near Dunbar yesterday by our friend Gavin. He had gone to the East coast for his walk and had got some sunny but windy weather. The bridge crosses the river Tyne, but is only usable when the tide is out, as otherwise it is marooned in the middle of the river.

At least the wind had dropped this morning, but the temperature had dropped as well and it was 0°C when we cycled to church. The minister had put two verses of one of the hymns in reverse order on the screen which the congregation uses instead of hymn books in these Covid times. As the choir still sings from their own hymn books, it took half a verse until we were all singing from the same hymn sheet as it were.

We are still waiting for the experts to finish restoring the organ, so we were singing downstairs with a rather jangly piano again today.

It was calm enough to encourage me to go for a cycle ride when we got back home, but at 3°C it was cold enough to discourage me too. Discouragement won, and I looked out of the window and watched the birds instead. Luckily, there were quite a few to watch today. I probably should have been taking part in the BTO garden bird count but I hadn’t got organised, so I just looked and didn’t count.

I started with a goldfinch and a siskin . .

. . . and they were followed by two chaffinches.

I filled the feeder up and we soon had a full house.

Then things got busy.

As well as jackdaws, which didn’t stop for a picture, I saw pigeons . . .

. . . and blackbirds on the ground.

Rather to my surprise, I saw something else too. It started as a little brown bird with its back to me, and then it turned round, hopped about, disappeared and reappeared . . .

. . . and finished up with a nice pose.

I see a wren fairly often in the garden, but very rarely for more than a second or two as it flits about. This was a real treat.

We had bacon sandwiches for lunch, and then I just had time for a quick three bridges walk before going to Carlisle.

There are still berries on the cotoneaster under our window. The blackbirds like these berries but we haven’t had as many of them in the garden this winter as usual.

The wind had started to get up a bit by this time, and as it was gloomy too, it felt very chilly as I walked up to the Sawmill Brig. My heart was warmed though, by the sight of a dipper perched on a log above the bridge.

I had expected to find that yesterday’s fallen tree on the Lodge Walks had been cleared away, but it was still there. Either the gust that had felled it or the falling tree itself had also torn a branch off a tree on the other side of the avenue. There was quite a mess.

On a more cheerful note, I came across a definite sign of spring nearby.

There are plenty of hazel catkins about and I saw quite a few that looked well opened. There are no flowers about though, so these closed ones . . .

. . . are more likely to be useful when the flowers do arrive, which is usually in March.

I saw an interesting growth on a felled tree beside the Jubilee Bridge. I can’t make up my mind whether it is a fungus or a lichen.

My sister Caroline from Portsmouth has posted some promising Hellebore buds on our family WhatsApp group, and Mrs Tootlepedal told me that if I looked, I could find some in our garden too. I looked, and she was right.

I am not getting too excited because it should be at least a couple of weeks before we will see an actual flower out, and maybe longer.

The wind was stronger as I drove down to the practice with the Carlisle Community Choir and the forecast for the return journey was for more wind and rain. Under the circumstance, it was not a surprise to find quite a small attendance today. Indeed, I wondered if I should be travelling when another gale was in the offing.

I was glad that I went though, as we got two new pieces out and started learning them. As we sang one of my favourite pieces from our repertoire as well, I thoroughly enjoyed the practice, and even some very heavy rain for a time on the return journey couldn’t make me sorry for going.

The wind is whistling around the house as I write this in the late evening, and we have got our fingers crossed that we don’t have another of the very heavy gusts that we got yesterday. Looking at the immediate forecast, we seem to be on the right side of the country to escape the worst and things should be calmer again by tomorrow morning.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

44 thoughts on “Sight reading

  1. The wren is a chubby little thing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one.
    It was nice to see the hellebore buds coming along. Spring is inching closer.
    I hope the wind will treat you kindly. We had a miss here yesterday.

  2. A big storm just blew up our East Coast. Some areas were hit pretty hard, but fortunately we escaped the worst. What a treat to see a picture of the wren.

  3. How odd to construct the bridge to be useful only at low tide.
    Thanks for the chuckle about the dueling hymns.
    What a darling little wren you caught for such a sweet portrait.
    Also thanks for giving me another look at the catkins which puzzled me in a previous post.

    1. I though of you when I put the catkin on in a bigger picture. The bridge would have to be very wide to span the water at full tide so it is a sensible compromise.

      1. Utterly sensible. Pretty clever as well since it might be easier crossing at low tide without a bridge.
        Thank you for the better look at the catkin. I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

  4. Your choir mishaps keep getting better and better 🙂 Does anybody ever just burst out laughing when they realize what’s going on?

  5. Here in the USA the term “little brown bird” often means any small bird that looks much like other small birds, so we won’t bother figuring out exactly what it is. It’s nice to know yours is a wren.

    I’m glad to hear your choirs are still active. Mine is on hold for now. We are due to hear on February 15 if we will resume practices or not.

    1. I was asking if they were thinking of letting us sing without masks sometime soon which would be legal, but they are following guidance to keep them on. That is probably sensible. Some people won’t come and sing with masks on and some people would not come if masks were not being worn, so the committee can’t win.

  6. The description of that Tyne bridge is fascinating. How wonderful to have a chance to focus on that wren. I really like the flying bird for its sense of movement.

  7. In the porch beside the front door we have two swallow’s nests which are occupied by four wrens. I only see them at night and during winter, this is the second year we’ve had them.

      1. They produce quite a mess on the veranda. You can tell how many are in at night by counting the tails sticking over the nest.

  8. A white hellebore in our garden is blooming like mad since Christmas. I broke a small twig of it and it is still blooming after three weeks in the vase. We didn’t have a real frost this winter and not a flake of snow. A charming bird is the wren.

  9. Great to see the pics of the wren. Also relieved that the gusts haven’t taken anything else down though don’t suppose there’s much left in a vulnerable condition.

    1. I was wondering about that, but I think that if the wind came from the opposite direction to that last big storm, it might find a lot of weakened trees. And the ‘opposite’ direction is its normal direction.

  10. A wren! We see them on occasion here. Your feeders look very busy. Traffic has gone up at mine since I put out suet cakes along with the seed. The chickadees particularly like those.

  11. Wonderful bird shots. I am enamored of the Wren too, so glad it sat for you. Oh those annoying moments when we’re not all singing the same verses… I look forward to having them again. 🙂

  12. It’s a treat for all to see such lovely photos of the wren and of course all the other birds too. These storms are really making walking through woodland rather tricky and we haven’t reached March yet! Good to know that you enjoyed your afternoon choir practice mind you the morning session sounded fun!

    1. I was also trying to sing the bass part with the words on one page of the hymn book and the music on another. The Carlisle choir is better organised.

      1. Goodness that is even trickier than I thought! Someone needs to get it all organised…any volunteers?!

  13. That “Bridge over the Tyne”, I found fascinating, we have fords and causeways down here that are impassable when the tide come in, but no bridges that I know of. It is really a glory to see a wren flitting about the garden. Cheers.

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