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Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from learned reader Edward from Sheffield.  He has tree peonies in his garden with flowers a foot wide.

Edards tree peonies

We had timed our holiday well.  After several dry weeks, the weather turned gloomy today and it rained in the afternoon.  According to the forecast, there is a good deal more rain to come which will be welcome from a gardening point of view.

The morning was dry though and this gave us a chance to get busy in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal doing useful things and I wandering about with a camera in hand.

New flowers have arrived during our absence and there is no shortage of bright colours.

The first iris has come out…

first iris

…and several more geraniums have joined the blue ones which arrived first.

geraniums

They are excellent value and should keep flowering all through the summer.

four geraniums

Lupins have arrived….

first lupins

…and aquilegias are popping up all over the garden.

aquilegias

A favourite flower for peering at closely with the camera is this anemone.  I love its strong colours and busy centre.

anemone close up

But probably, the stars of the show are the red peonies….

two red peonies

…even though they are too red for the camera to really enjoy.

The established flowers are enjoying the weather in spite of the lack of rain…

azaleas and rhodidendrons

…although the azaleas are going over rather quickly.  Perhaps the new rain will help them last.

The clematis at the front and back doors have increased in number while we have been away…

two white clematis

…and the front door variety is fast becoming a favourite of mine.

clematis centre

Potentillas, both salmon pink and yellow are thriving…

yellow and orange flowers

…and the poached egg plant is getting more white edges every day.  The first roses are appearing with the yellow one above joining the the rosa moyesii below.

Our poppies are becoming more international and an oriental poppy has joined the Welsh and Icelandic ones which were out before we left.

four flowrrs

A geum and an astrantia complete today’s collection.

I put down the camera and mowed the middle lawn.  It had been badly pecked while I was away but once I had mowed over the loose moss, I found a lot of reasonably green grass about underneath.  Mrs Tootlepedal intends to carry on a methodical feeding programme so I have every confidence that it will be in good order soon.

I mowed the front lawn too and found that it is still in poor condition, although the feed that I gave it before we went away has encouraged the occasional blade of grass to appear among the moss.  I will keep trying.

As I was working at a very gentle pace, and we took a break to entertain Mike Tinker to a cup of coffee, all this took me up to lunchtime.

I had the opportunity to check on the birds when I got in.  Usual suspects such as siskins and redpolls were in evidence but sparrows are obviously feeding young as they turned up on the seed feeder…

sparrow on feeder

…as well as feeding on peanuts and fat balls as well.

The siskins and redpolls haven’t learned about peaceful coexistence while we have been away.

redpoll being shouted at

Dunnocks were busy on the ground under the feeders.

dunnock

I had a quiet afternoon watching the racing on the telly, a very undemanding activity.  Most of the enjoyment comes from listening to the expert commentators telling us why their chosen horses have not won the race that we have just watched.

I even felt a bit sorry for them when their unanimous pick of a heavily odds-on favourite trotted in third in five horse race.  There was not a lot that they could say.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent the afternoon with her Embroiderers’ Guild group and when she returned, I roused myself to drink a cup of tea and check the kitchen window again.  A jackdaw, fed up with pecking at my lawn, had come to try the peanuts….

jackdaw on feeder

…and it was joined by a starling…

starling on feeder

…but sadly, it and its friends preferred to start in the lawn pecking business themselves instead of eating bird food.

starlings on lawn

If they are eating leatherjacket grubs though, they are probably doing me a good turn as I read that the grubs eat grass roots and can destroy a lawn.  This may explain why the birds always peck at the worst bit of the lawn and leave the bits with good grass growth alone.

I hope to catch up on my blog reading now that I am home.

Meanwhile, the flying (or perhaps diving) bird of the day is a pigeon.

flying pigeon

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my flute pupil Luke’s father, Alan.  He has been forced to go to Dubrovnik on work related business and this is the view from his hotel window.  Poor chap.

Dubrovnik

I realised that I had inexcusably omitted a great moment from yesterday’s activities in my daily account so here it is now – a new world record of fourteen castles being stamped upon being established by Matilda, mighty in battle, the castle stamper extraordinaire.

Contemplating the task…

dav

…and leaving the field in triumph.

Today was another sunny and windy day and while Al and Clare took the train back to Edinburgh to vote in the European elections and Mrs Tootlepedal took Matilda to the Seabird Centre to ;earn abut birds amd have fun, I hired a bike again and rode a gentle fifteen miles through the East Lothian countryside, avoiding the wind as much as I could.

I passed the impressive doocot at Dirleton castle…

Doocot Dirleton

…and noted the flowers along the wall beside the castle grounds.

flowwers Dirleton

Unlike our pastoral countryside, the agricultural business here is growing things.  I stopped to record a colourful field of rape (canola)….

rape NB

…while across the road, a potato field stretched into the distance…

potato field NB

…though I did come across one paddock with horses in it.

horses NB

There were solid gateposts to be seen…

stone gate posts NB

…and hawthorn bushes were in flower all along my route.

hawthorn NB

I got home safely and Al and Clare arrived from Edinburgh almost at the same time as Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda got back from the Seabird Centre so we are able to have a family lunch together.

After lunch, we drove a few miles up the road to visit Archerfield House….

Archerfield House and the Law

…..with its walled garden, its geese and goslings…

goslings Archerfield

…its wild flowers…

wild flowers Archerfield

…its wood full of fairy houses…

fairy houses Archerfield

…and cleverly made animals…

animals Archerfield

…and some real animals too.

deer Archerfield

The fairy wood walk  in dappled sunshine and sheltered from the wind was a treat for old and young alike….

Walking in the wood Archerfield

…and I particularly liked the glimpses of mature pines on the neighbouring golf course.

gold fcourse Archerfield

There were works of art in the woods….

Mrs T at Archerfield

…and artists at work too…

artist at Archerfield

…working with elegant models.

fairy at Archerfield

It was too breezy to build sand castles in the beach when we got home so Mrs Tootlepedal and I left the others in the cottage and got well and truly sand blasted as we walked along the shore.

sand blowing

After another excellent evening meal cooked by Alistair, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out to sit on the harbour wall in a sheltered spot and watch the gannets soaring and swooping in their hundreds over the sea.

The birds were too far out to photograph satisfactorily but we couldn’t miss their home, positively glowing in the evening sun.

Bass Rock gleaming

The gannets may have stayed out of range but as usual a gull was happy to oblige as flying bird of the day.

flying gull

Note: As far as the election went, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had arranged for proxy votes to be cast on our behalf so we have done our democratic duty.  We had been too late to get a postal vote.

Another note:  I haven’t had time to do the usual reading and commenting on other people’s blogs so I apologise if if have missed any gems which would have enhanced my life.  I will try to catch up when I get home.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who was happy to be able to take a picture of her visiting badgers without using a flash.

badgers

After a quiet morning, we packed into our cars and set off to visit a beach with the intention of taking part in that most British of all holiday activities, a picnic.  This was Tyninghame Beach, the place that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had visited last night.

The walk though the woods when we had parked the cars was a treat in itself.  The area is a country park run by the local authority and a great deal of care has been taken in providing excellent paths for visitors.  As a result we were able to look around at the well kept woodland with its varied selection of trees as we went to the beach.

tyninghame woods

The weather forecast had been rather unclear as to what weather we might expect but it stayed dry for our outing.  A very brisk wind kept us well wrapped up as we enjoyed our  picnic in a thoroughly traditional way….

picnicn on beach

..but the sun soon came out and justified the wearing of cool dark glasses to go with the woolly hat and coat.

matilda on the beach

The tide was out and layers of flat rocks were exposed. The underlying stone was very pink in places.

flat rocks on beach

While Matilda, her father and Mrs Tootlepedal investigated the many rock pools on the shore, Clare and I went for a walk round a rocky headland.  The path was lined with interest…

wild flowerrs tyninghame

There was sea thrift in unexpected corners…

rocky shore with thrift

…and below us, eider ducks were sunning themselves on rocky ledges among the waves.

eiders on rocks

And of course, we couldn’t avoid noticing the Bass Rock.

bass rock from the east

When we got to the end of the point, we found a curious contrast to the flat layers of rock we had left behind us on the beach.  Here the strata were standing bolt upright…

upstanding rocks

…and there were a couple of striking breaks in the rocks.   This one is known as St Baldred’s Cradle….

st baldred's cleft

…though this one looked more comfortable…

st baldred's cradle

…but as St Baldred was an eighth century divine and hermit who spent some time living on the Bass Rock, perhaps he didn’t care for comfort.

Clare and I returned to the beach and Alistair and Mrs Tootlepedal followed in the footsteps of St Baldred while Matilda and I walked to the water’s edge to watch the tide coming in very gently indeed.

Tyninghame beach

The wanderers returned and we packed our bags and made our way back through the woods to the cars…

Al and Matilda in the woods

…though I paused for a moment when I saw an orange tip butterfly flitting about.

orange tip butterfly 1

We got back to North Berwick tired but happy but it was such a sunny day that after a cup of tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked along the beach and found a comfortable bench to sit on.  We enjoyed the view.

view of the harbour NB

We returned to the cottage and while Alistair was cooking the evening meal, I wandered out along the harbour wall watching eider ducks heading for a place to rest below…

eiders going ashore

…and gulls resting on the stiff breeze above.

close flying gull

As it was still a beautiful evening, Mrs Tootlepdal and i took another stroll along the harbour wall after the evening meal.

I looked across the Forth towards our other son Tony’s home on the Fife shore…

sunset over the forth

…while Mrs Tootlepedal got out her binoculars and scanned the sea and sky for gannets.

There were a lot about.

bass rock in the evening

The flying bird of the day is another gull gliding into the wind above the harbour wall.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s visit to the Fife Agricultural Show at the weekend.  It is also the flying bird of the day.

ag show owl

A post of few words today as it was late after a busy day when I sat down to compile this post.

I hired a bike after breakfast and went for a 15 mile bike ride past historic towers…

Fenton Tower

…down long hills in wide open country…

wide open downhill NB

…past a picturesque church at Smeaton…

smeaton church

…and a very woolly sheep..

sheep NB

…and then up even longer hills on the way back…

wide open uphill

…to North Berwick.

It was most enjoyable.

It had rained overnight but in spite of some grey clouds my ride was warm enough for shorts and dry throughout.

The sun was shining on bright green seaweed when I got back to the cottage.

green seaweed NB

Matilda, her mother and grandmother had been been building a smart sandcastle decorated with shells while I was pedalling and I resisted any temptation to stamp on it when I went past it.

After lunch, Matilda, her mother, granny and I went off for a walk.  We saw eider ducks…

eider duck NB

…herring gulls…

gull NB

…while we walked round the concrete barrier which contains some of the receding tide to act as a swimming pool when the tide is out.  In spite of the sunshine, it was too cold for anyone to be enjoying a swim today…

swimming pool NB

…and a different form of paddling was popular.

canoeists NB

We left the beach and walked up through the town…

tree is street NB

…and through the ornamental gardens…

flowers in garden NB

…until we got to the play park where Matilda hung about in a productive manner for a while.

matilda in park NB

…and then we went back through the gardens…

flowers BN

…with their beautifully maintained lawns and beds…

neat beds NB

…and went into the Seabird Centre for a much needed cup of tea and a tea cake.

As we went back to the cottage, I enjoyed this gull swimming in an elaborate cross ripple near the harbour wall.

gull in cross ripple

And we enjoyed an exciting game or two of Go Fish, a new game to me before tea.

After an excellent meal and while Matilda was being put to bed, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a drive in sunshine and rain and if I had had my good camera with me (and a place to park), I would have been able to show you a rainbow rising from the Bass Rock.  It was a wonderful sight.

As it was, we found somewhere to leave the car at a country park near the sea a few miles along the coast.  I took some pictures with my phone in spite of the fading light.

We walked down this very well maintained path with a row of maples along the side providing us with a good umbrella against some light rain.

dav

Then we turned down through one of the most delightful woods I have ever walked through…

dav

…until we came to the sea.  The rain had stopped but there were still dark clouds surrounding the Bass Rock in the distance.

dav

The beach looked so inviting that we hope that we might go there again for a picnic tomorrow.

dav

We just had time for a game of Oh Hell with Matilda’s parents before it was time for bed.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s tour of five abbeys last weekend.  As well as many fine buildings, he saw some good bridges too, among them this lift bridge at Gloucester docks.

20190517_144257~2

It was another calm, dry day at North Berwick and after breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a stroll along a largely deserted beach before taking Matilda up to the carousel for another whirl, this time on a horse….

anothe rode

…followed by a very vigorous bounce on the mini trampolines nearby.

We had a walk on the east beach afterwards in company with a pied wagtail.

wagtail on NB beach

The local seagulls are a lazy lot and this one was trying to get a lift out to sea on a seal, but it hadn’t got things quite right to the amusement of the seal.

gull on seal

We got back to our cottage in time for lunch and a visit from our landlady and an electrician.  They had come to fix the lights in the kitchen which were all defunct.  We were pleased to get them mended but a slightly better impression might have been created if they had been working when we got here.

After lunch, we put on suitable clothing and set off to the harbour to catch the boat for our annual trip to the Bass Rock.  We got to the harbour early and Al and Matilda waited patiently on the harbour wall.

al and maltilda on harobour wall

We were first onto the boat when the time came and it wasn’t long before we were pottering out of the harbour past some eider ducks…

eider ducks

…and heading towards the open sea.  Once clear of the rocks, the captain put his foot on the accelerator and we sped off towards Craigleieth Island at a great rate of knots.

Craigleith Island is home to nesting razor bills and guillemots in great numbers but as soon as a puffin appeared on one side of the boat….

ouffin off craigleityh

…or the other…

puffin swimming

…every camera turned to it and the other birds were ignored.

We were on the wrong side of the boat to get the best view of the birds on the island but I did spot a seal…

seal on Craigleith

…and I was happy to watch the guillemots and razor bills swimming about without taking pictures of them.

Once we had circumnavigated the small island, we left it in our wake…

appraoching craigleith

…and headed off towards the Bass Rock…

approaching bass rock

…where it was impossible not to notice the thousands upon thousands of gannets nesting there and filling the air above and around the rock.

bass rck covered in gannets

Gannets are beautiful birds with a wingspan of nearly six feet.

flying gannet

The boat took us right up to the rock and as we were on the right side of the boat this time, we got a wonderful view of the birds.

two gannets at nest

Gannets are affectionate birds and do a lot of beak tapping as couples.  The guide told us that if we saw this loud behaviour…

gannet shouting

…the gannet wasn’t  complaining but just telling its partner that it was going off fishing for a while.

We were too close to shallow water to see the gannets doing their spectacular dives but we did see them taking off…

gannet after take off

….flying past with nest material in their beaks,,,,

gannet flying

…and demonstrating their impressive wingspans,

gannet flying away

They are very striking birds when seen close to and the boat captain was meticulous in giving us every opportunity to admire them.

two gannets

The rock is almost entirely covered by gannets but there were a few kittiwakes (not close enough to photograph) and occasional guillemots who had found a spare ledge to call their own.

two guillemots

I think that this was my favourite shot of the trip.

gannet taking off

The east end of the rock has some fine caves and a lighthouse….

bass rock caves

…and once we had passed them, it was time to head back to harbour as the rock grew smaller…

farewell bass rock

…and smaller as we motored on under a big sky.

bss rock with cloud front

We got safely back to harbour having enjoyed unusually calm conditions for the trip, and after another whirl on the carousel and bounce on the trampolines by one member of the party, we had a cup of tea in the Seabird Centre and arrived home tried but satisfied.

Al cooked us a very tasty lemon and asparagus linguine for our tea and that rounded off a first rate day.

Although I was spoiled for choice, I haven’t gone for the predictable gannet as flying bird of the day but I have chosen a herring gull instead.

flying gull

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He attended the Fife agricultural show on a damp day yesterday.

ag show fife

We had a calm and tolerably warm day today at North Berwick although an early glimpse of sun soon headed out to sea….

sun on island NB

…leaving us feeling that a coat might be a good thing.

After breakfast, I went down to the beach with Matilda and while she channelled the little mermaid…

matilda as mermaid

I got busy building five sand castles.

As soon as they were finished, the little mermaid turned back into Matilda (her name means mighty in battle) with the inevitable outcome for my castles…

castle stamping sequence

….but luckily, I had a back up.

Queen of the castle NB

We went back in after a while and collected Mrs Tootlepedal and went off for a babyccino and a biscuit at the Seabird Centre cafe which has a fine view across the bay to Craigleith Island.

veiw from seabird centre NB

There is a traditional carousel outside the Centre, so what could be more natural than taking a ride in carriage while ringing the bell…

matilda on carousel NB

…and smiling at the assembled audience?

matilda on carousel NB close

We gathered together with Matilda’s parents for a nourishing lunch of soup and bread and cheese and then went back down to the beach.  Our cottage leads onto a sheltered corner of the which was heavily use for launching sailing boats…

reflection in sea NB

…and power boats too.

car on beach NB

We watched the Seabird Cruise catamaran leave the harbour with interest as we are going to go on that cruise ourselves tomorrow.

seabird cruise NB

Other seafarers took the cheaper self drive option.

rowers NB

When the boat launchers left enough space, Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda took a stand against the incoming tide…

Mrs T and Matilda NB

…and when their castle was washed away (King Knut was right), and a light drizzle had started, we went inside and played cards.  I won’t say who won but we were playing ‘Beggar my Neighbour’ and I played the part of the beggared neighbour very well several times so it wasn’t me.

The drizzle cleared and Al and Clare took Matilda off to do some trampolining and have another ride on the carousel while Mrs Tootlepedal and I did some shopping.

While we were walking back to the cottage, we passed a small flock of eider ducks by the harbour, so I went in to get my camera and walked back to the harbour by which the time, the ducks had flown.

I had a little wander round and found that boats, both gentle….

sailing boats NB

…and speedy…

speedy boat NB

… were still filling the waters round the harbour.  It had been a busy day on the sea.

I was hoping to catch a flying bird and was disappointed to find this gull waiting for a lift home.

dav

Out to sea, a low mist had formed, shrouding all but the hills on the Fife shore across the Forth…

fife shore low mist

…and surrounding the Bass Rock too.

bass rock low mist

We finished a traditional day in a traditional way by going out for a meal of fish and chips.  It has been a good start to our holiday.

And I did find at least one gull who proceeding under its own steam.

flying gull

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All charged up

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew  who spotted a fine bridge in Tamworth.

Tamworth bridge

Just a brief post today to say that we left the delights of the garden at home…

home azaleahome clematis

…and travelled to North Berwick by way of Tweedbank.  We stopped at Tweedbank to use a public charging point for the little white zingy thingy.  We were anxious to find out if we could mange the process for the first time.  It turned out to be remarkably simple.  It was due to take 55 minutes to charge up the power that we had used getting there so we took the opportunity to walk past this fine outburst of broom and hawthorn…

dav

….to a cafe on a loch nearby where we had lunch.

The charging had gone to schedule when we got back to the car and we drove on to North Berwick in a very relieved state of mind.  Some of the route took us over steep and long hills where the power meter dropped dramatically but as we went down the other side, the meter recovered its equilibrium and we arrived with plenty of power to spare.

I parked in a public car park 200 yards from our cottage and was delighted to find another public charging point there. We should get home all right at the end of our week.

It was rather grey and drizzly in North Berwick but I went for a short walk while we were waiting for Matilda and her parents to arrive.  It is always a pleasure to be at the seaside, whatever the weather.

bass rock from afarNB harbourNB law behind townNB faoming rocksNB rocks and foamBas rock from distanceNB lichenNB pool changing hutsarctic tern scul[tureNB bird spotter

And of course there are a lot of flying birds about too.

flying gull

I should note that although we haven’t been here long, Matilda has already stamped on ten of my sandcastles.  It is going to be a busy week.

 

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