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Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Mary Jo from Manitoba has answered my request for guest pictures and has sent me one not from Manitoba but from London.  It shows Abney Park in Stoke Newington, one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ garden cemeteries of London.  It is a woodland memorial park and a local nature reserve.

Abney Park

It was another chilly day here with the wind coming from the north east, but at least it was dry.  Our electric car allows us to plug it into the household supply so that we can get the car nice and warm before we set off on a cold day, so I was quite snug as I drove south to have a final singing lesson from Mary, the former conductor of our Langholm choir.

This was my final lesson because Mary has made great improvements in my singing but even she cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  As I will never be a solo singer, what I have to do now is try to remember all that she has taught me when I sing innthe choir rather than load my brain up with more instructions that I couldn’t follow anyway.

I am very grateful to her for her patience and skill.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepdal had just about finished her first section of hall decoration so I made some lentil soup and we had a celebration lunch.

After lunch, I had a look to see if the new feeder was still pulling in customers.

It was attracting goldfinches again…

goldfinches chatting

…but it didn’t please a jackdaw who took a grumpy look and flew off.

jackdaw

The feeder got busier as I watched it…

busy feeder

..but it had quiet moments too and this goldfinch took the opportunity in one of these peaceful intervals to hone its Napoleon impression.

straight goldfinch

C’est Magnifique.

I did think of cycling as it was six degrees C in the afternoon but the north wind was gusting up to 20 mph and the ‘feels like’ temperature was a measly 2 degrees so I went for a walk instead.

I had my cycling camera with me once again as Pocket Camera has remained stubbornly dead and the replacement hadn’t come yet.

I pointed it at some tiny but bright lichen on a wall at the top of the golf course…

lichen with red

…and a few yards later, when I had got onto the open hill, I spotted a gorse flower.

november gorse flower

Gorse seems to be able to bloom in almost every month of the year.

I turned left and strolled along this grassy path among the dead bracken…

 

bracken track whita

…passing trees…

two trees whita

…of different types…

 

pine tree Copshaw road

…on my way to the road to Newcastleton and a grey view up the Ewes Valley.

ewes valley

I crossed the road and follwed a track across the hillside, past this trio of remarkable trees…

three old trees

…which continue to grow in spite of only just touching the ground and not having a lot of trunk.

old hollow tree

As I came back down the hill towards Whitshiels, I could see a river of larch running through the spruces on the far side of the valley.river of larch

…and many fungi growing in the grass at my feet.

fungus at whitshiels track

I followed the track down through the woods and walked over a carpet of larch needles as I got near to the main road.

larcgh covered whitshiels track

On the seltered bank of the Ewes Water there are still some autumn leaves.

colour by the river

Instead of heading straight home when I got back to the town, I crossed the Sawmill Brig and walked round the new path on the Castleholm.

There were dozens and dozens of large cones on the noble firs beside the  when I took this picture in August….

noble fir cones castleholm

…but they must be very tasty because this is all that is left now.

eaten noble fir cone

It hasn’t snowed here yet but there was storm of snow berries beside the Esk as I walked along the river on my way home.

snowberry storm

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal told me that the replacement camera had arrived.  I used it to take a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal contemplating a repair job its predecessor.

camera repair

….whihc, after contemplation, was left for another day as we couldn’t find a good online guide to the job.

I nipped out in the fading loight to show that while almost every other flower in the garden has given up, Rosy Cheeks is still smiling (after a fashion).

rosy cheeks

I hope for some good weather to use the new camera tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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I would welcome some more contributions to the guest picture of the day, but in the meantime, I am very happy to have another fine waterfall from Tony and Marianne’s awesome holiday beside Loch Awe.

tony's awesome waterfall

I am currently having terrible trouble with my computer.  It has been very moody recently, and frequently refuses to talk to me at all.  As a result I have had to resort to a back up device which doesn’t have my usual photo editor on it, so some pictures in this post are a bit hit and miss for which I apologise.

The main business of the morning, after a rainy night, was to look out of the window and stay inside.  Luckily Sandy came down for a cup of coffee so that cheered the day up a bit.  When he had gone, I had a look to see how the new bird feeder was doing.

A goldfinch was having a look too.

goldfinch waiting

A brave soul paid a visit to the upstairs dining room…

first goldfinch on new feeder

…while a chaffinch tried out the mezzanine.

chaffinch on new feeder

A greenfinch arrived to give it the seal of approval…

greenfinch on new feeder

…and before long, the whole thing was in use, upstairs and downstairs.

full house at new feeder

In fact at times it got extremely busy.

busy time at new feeder

A goldfinch arrives and weighs up the merits of the upstairs and downstairs accommodation.

goldfinch deciding at new feeder

A greenfinch lets a goldfinch know who is the top banana.

greenfinch threateningf goldfinch at new feeder

It was a day of constantly changing weather with rain on and off and even the occasioal blink of sunshine.  After lunch, I peered out of the window and thought that it looked as though it might stay dry for a while so I went for a walk.

In sheltered spots, there are still leaves on some of the trees but as everything is rather damp, it feels as though autumn is pretty well over.

becks track november

I walked along the track to the Becks Burn and saw that there were still some crab apples hanging on.

crab apples becks

I was more interested in getting round before it started to rain again than in taking pictures in poor light, but a fence post caught my eye…

fence post

…and a few oak trees hanging onto their colour gave a bit of contrast to a dull view.late autumn colour

I liked this gloomy combination of trees at the top of the hill before I got back to the town…

tress at Manse Brae

…and I appreciated the efforts of the young larches as I walked down the hill to Pool Corner.

larches at pool corner

The peltigera lichen on a wall nearby have survived a couple of frosty mornings.

peltigera lichen

My timing was good because it started to rain just as I got home.  Although it was only half past two, it was so dark that it felt as though it was early evening already.

I spent some wasted time trying to get my computer to run a bit faster, but it wouldn’t co-operate at all, so I gave up and had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal instead.

In the evening, Luke came round and we made some more progress in our flute playing.  I have had to work hard to improve my own playing in order to keep up with him and we both showed results from practice today.  I will soon have to stop thinking of him as my pupil and start to regard him as someone who is kind enough to come round and play duets with me.

I made a dish of baked eggs in spinach with a cheese sauce for our tea and reflected as we ate it that if the weather doesn’t cheer up soon, I will have to get the bike to nowhere in the garage into action.  My weight gain programme of comfort food eating is going very well.

Because the light has been so poor, getting flying birds is hard and I was thinking of having a robin shot of the day instead….

robin under new feeder

…but that belligerent grteenfinch saved me.

greenfinch flying

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s recent holiday.  As well as waterfalls and wonderful views, he and Marianne also saw this.

alpaca from Tony

We had the coldest night of the year so far and woke to a frosty scene.

frosty leaves

It was chilly but the birds were active.  A dunnock looked in soon after breakfast.

dunnock

The ground was pretty hard but that didn’t discourage a small group of jackdaws from pecking vigorously at the middle lawn.

two jackdaws pecking

We left the jackdaws to it and went off to take part in the Remembrance Day service in the church.  It was an unusual day for the choir as the hymns were accompanied by the town band and not our organist but we had some rousing hymns to sing so we didn’t mind.

After the service, we watched for a while as wreaths were laid at the war memorial and then headed home.

After a cup of coffee, I went out for a short walk to see how my feet would behave.  I was a bit shocked by how sore they were yesterday so I hoped to find out that that was just an aberration…and take in some nice weather at the same time.

It really was a lovely day and the calm state of the Wauchope as it passed under the Kirk Brig shows how lucky we have been here when there has been so much rain not very far away.

kirk brig reflective

I passed the war memorial with its wreaths….

war memorial remembrance day

…and some tough minded wild flowers and an interesting stick…

two wild flowers

…on my way up to the track at the Stubholm.

The sun made the best of what autumn colour is left…

stubholm track november

…and picked out some very red berries on a mature holly tree beside the track.

holly berries

A little further along, a combination of very yellow leaves and the direct sunshine produced a dazzling display which was a delight to me but which completely threw the processor in my camera which couldn’t cope with it at all.

stubholm tracj dazzle

As my current pocket camera had resisted all entreaties to behave and continued to be very stubborn when it came to taking any pictures at all, I was carrying my old Lumix with me.  It is in poor condition and I only use it on cycle trips now. Still, it did its best today even if it couldn’t cope with the leaf/sun combination.

It noted a small crop of fungus on an old log on the ground…

fungus on old log

…and a curious flaky growth on a branch above my head.  I don’t know whether this is a fungus or a lichen.

fungus on branch

And it enjoyed looking back over the town from a vantage point.

view from stubholm bank

I walked along this very autumnal path…

top path at end of stubholm

…which took me down to the river bank and back home.  My feet behaved very well.  This was a relief.

When I got home, I ordered a new camera.  It may be possible to live without champagne and caviar, but it is impossible to live without a good quality pocket camera.   (The camera on my phone is not great at all unless conditions are perfect.)

After this, I had a little time to watch the birds and was pleased to see that the/a blue tit had visited again…

blue tit looking up

…and that a mixed bag of finches and sparrows was on the feeder (I had replaced the missing perch).

full feeder

I didn’t have time for a longer walk, a short bike ride or more bird watching as we went off to Carlisle straight after lunch because we wanted to do some shopping before going to our Carlisle choir.

Our choir conductor has just won a prestigious singing prize in a competition in London so she was in a very cheerful mood.  She communicated this cheeriness to us and we had a very enjoyable and progressive practice.

Among the things that I bought on our shopping trip was a swish new feeder for the birds.  I have put it out already so I will be very interested to see what they make of it tomorrow.  The store where I bought it is having a closing down sale so I got it at an advantageous price.

I didn’t have enough standing around time today to catch a flying bird so this one, which was flying half a second before I took the picture, will have to do as the nearly flying bird of the day.

nearly flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He lives in Derby, one of the places affected by the recent heavy rain and found his route home blocked.  Luckily another route was possible so he got home safely.

derby underpass

After two visits to two cities in two days, I was very happy to have a quiet day at home today.  This decision was helped by a low single figure temperature and a cool wind to go with it.

I  roused myself enough to make some onion and potato soup for lunch and wave Mrs Tootlepedal off as she went to an embroidery meeting.

There was quite a lot of bird traffic in the garden in the morning so when I wasn’t doing anything else, which was most of the time, I watched the birds.

The chaffinches are beginning to return in larger numbers and they were hiding behind the old sunflower stalk…

chaffinch on sunflower stalk

…trying to stand up straight like their mothers taught them…

straight back chaffinch

…and flying off when they had had enough seed.

chaffinch fly by

One of the perches on the seed feeder has become unscrewed and fallen out, as a goldfinch discovered when it tried to perch on it.

goldfinch missing perch

Later on another goldfinch mastered the art of hanging on to the rim of the feeder.

goldfinch hanging on

Mrs Tootlepedal has put down some wire netting to stop the birds trampling down the soil near the feeder and the dunnocks are quite happy to tread on it.

dunnock on wire netting

Our robin was back again, looking pensive today.

sparrow on edge of tray

We only see one greenfinch at a time at the moment and it is hard to tell if it is always the same greenfinch coming every time, or a string of different greenfinches coming once each.

lone greenfinch

There are definitely at least two blue tits about as I have seen them at the same time but whether the seed fancier and the nut fancier are one and the same bird, I leave for others to decide.

blut tit on seed and nuts

After I had eaten my soup, I decided that I ought to stretch my legs a little at least and maybe see if I could find something interesting to photograph, so I went for a walk.

Although I did see a lot of black headed gulls…

four gulls on Ewes

…the walk was not a success.  Firstly, my sore feet played up, cutting down the distance I could walk considerably, and secondly my pocket camera gave up the ghost.  I had got sand in the zoom lens mechanism during our holiday in North Berwick in the spring and the camera has been moaning and groaning every time that I have turned it on since.  Finally, it has all got too much for it and it is refusing to focus at all.  It stayed firmly in my pocket and as I had a bird lens on my other camera, taking pictures of anything close was impossible.

I took a long view of some fading larches…

fading larches

…and admired some late colourful leaves…

late leaves

…before walking very carefully home.

As it was a very gloomy day and what little light there had been had faded, I didn’t even walk round the garden when I got home, but went straight in and found something reasonably useful to do at the computer.

I made a sausage and onion stew with green peppers and mushrooms for tea and then we sat down to watch Strictly followed by some excellent racing from the Glasgow velodrome World Cup meeting.  Watching other people taking vigorous exercise was the best way to finish off a slightly disappointing day.

I did get several flying bird pictures though and because I didn’t take any interesting pictures on my walk, I have put in joint flying birds of the day today to fill the gap.

A flying mallard passed me while I was gull watching…

flying duck

…and a traditional flying chaffinch of the day took a dim view of the missing perch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has combined some good autumn colour with a grebe.

grebe

My plan for the day was to leap out of bed early and go for a cycle ride and then go to see the physio for a check up.  I managed half the plan. The physio was very helpful and has discharged me with admonitions to keep doing the exercises but not to do do them too much.  I shall pay attention.

The high spot of the cycle free morning (I did not leap out of bed) was the arrival of a huge parcel which when opened, revealed its very modest contents.

big parcel small contents

I know this sort of thing makes sense to someone but it doesn’t make sense to me.

As it turned out to be a cold and windy morning with quite a lot of miserable drizzle about, I was quite pleased with the lack of leaping out of bed and enjoyed a gentle stroll round the garden to see what flowers are surviving…

surviving nasturtium

lamium november

poentilla november

…and to pick up a few more of the excellent walnut crop.

fallen walnut

Most of our colour will come from shrubs until the the spring bulbs arrive.

spireas

I watched the birds as well and recorded a crow in the plum tree, a rare visitor to our garden, though we do see quite a few rooks.

crow on plum tree

A chaffinch is a more regular sight.

chaffinch on plum tree

Under the feeder, a robin…

robin on ground

…and a dunnock kept a wary eye out for cats.

dunnock by feeder pole

While up above, a blue tit snatched a seed before flying off.

blue tit tucking in

There were plenty of birds about and a goldfinch seeing a fellow being assaulted by a greenfinch headed for safety.

busy feeder

A female chaffinch made a neat landing.

female chaffinch landing

After carefully checking on the trains, we drove across to Lockerbie and caught a reasonably punctual train to Edinburgh

Matilda’s parents went off to a parents meeting at her school and we had a very entertaining time with Matilda.  There was creative dance, shooting Grandpa with a bow and arrow, and games of Carcassone and Pelmanism.

Al and Clare returned with good reports of Matilda and we enjoyed another excellent meal before setting off home.

The train home was late and as we are setting off at the crack of dawn tomorrow to catch another train, this time to Glasgow, our fingers are firmly crossed.

This also explains this brief post.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in a queue

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He and his partner Marianne celebrated her birthday with a weekend in Argyll on the banks of Loch Awe, where they visited the multi layered Arvich falls.

falls of avich

We had a cold and chilly morning here today.  It was not freezing but it was cold enough to persuade me that a really idle morning would be good thing.  To tell the truth, I didn’t need much persuading.  If I was the sort of person who might complain about minor aches and niggles, I would have had an embarrassment of choices today.  However as regular readers will know I am the strong silent type so I merely did the crossword and drank coffee until getting up could no longer be avoided.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy decorating so I wouldn’t have had anyone to complain to even if I had wanted to.

I spent some time watching the birds when I was fully dressed.

There were two types of goldfinch available, the old and wrinkly and the young and smooth.

contrasting goldfinches

But luckily there were plenty of both about….

four goldfinches on feeder

..so there was plenty of action too.

Inquisitive chaffinches challenged the sitting tenants…

chaffinch challenging

…and goldfinches faced off against each other with zest.

goldfinches spat

An old and wrinkled type put the wind up a smooth fellow in a big way…

goldfinch shock

…while a greenfinch watched from above with a magisterial air.

greenfinch on pole

Putting down my bird camera, I made some lentil soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I made a quick record of some autumn colour in the garden…

autumn colour in the garden

…welcomed a robin…

robin on grey day

…and then ate the soup.

After lunch, I considered the weather forecast.  The general view was that things could only get worse so now seemed as good a time to go for a walk as any other.

I took my brolly with me for insurance and set out to walk up through a wood before coming back down to the river at Skippers Bridge and following the river bank home.

The wood was varied…

kernigal wood

…and the path was reasonably dry…

kernigal wood 2

….and there was lichen to be seen on a wall on the way and a little fungus among the trees.

fungus and lichen november

I had been well sheltered in the wood but when I got to the track at the top, it began to drizzle and I was glad that I had my brolly with me.  It was a very still day so I was able to keep quite dry in spite of the fact that it rained all the way home.

The track down the hill was covered with larch needles and this made me feel a little like a film star walking down the red carpet at a ceremony.

path to skipperscleuch

A newly felled area beside the track is regrowing with a mixture of spruce, larch and birch and even on a  gloomy day, it glowed.

young wood in autumn

When I looked back up the track, I could see the larches which had provided my carpet.

path from kernigal looking back

Out of interest, I took the same shot with the camera on my phone…

path from kernigal looking back phone

…and nothing could make clearer the amount of work the processors in your cameras do before they give you a picture to look at (unless you shoot in RAW which I only do occasionally).

I stopped for a chat in the light rain with a local resident who was walking his dog and then made my way down to Skippers Bridge.  I usually take pictures there when the sun is shining but today I took one when the weather was grey and the rain was falling just to show that it is a picturesque spot at any time.

distillery in the riain

There is a wooden fence a few hundred yards up the river from the bridge where my favourite lichen can be found if the conditions are right. They were right today.  I think that it is a lecanora or rim lichen.  They are very tiny.

lichen at lands end

The daisies that grow in profusion along the river bank at this point were still showing a bit of life…

daisies beside the river

…and further up river, I found a dipper perched on a stone, a bit too far out for me to get a good shot.  This was my pocket camera zoom at full stretch and I would have needed somewhere to rest the camera to get a sharp shot.  Juggling with an umbrella while trying to keep the camera dry made things harder.

dipper november

In spite of the persistent drizzle, the windless conditions meant that I got home both dry and warm so I enjoyed my gloomy walk a lot.

I had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home as she had finished her decorating for the day and then I caught up with my correspondence and discarded a lot of very fuzzy pictures from my walk.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm community choir and as we had both a conductor and an accompanist, we had a productive time.

The flying bird of the day is the greenfinch in dive , dive, dive mode when a perch became vacant at the feeders.

greenfinch flying

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend and former colleague, Marjorie.  She came upon these stunning fungi on a walk a few days ago.

blue fungus

It was a dry but grey morning and the forecast was not too bad for the rest of the day so my mind turned to cycling.

Before I set off, I had coffee and a slice of toast to think about and the birds to to watch as well.

They must have been reading the blog because after yesterday’s complaint about not enough birds, they came in better numbers today and the feeder was soon filled with goldfinches…

full feeder goldfinches

…with more anxious to join in.

This made for photo opportunities…

attacking goldfinch

…and bad tempered exchanges…

two goldfinches sparring

…and curious chaffinches.

chaffinch approac hing

The goldfinches in possession of a perch tried to ignore outside distractions and kept their heads well down while they could for the most part.

goldfinches tucking in

In the end, I put down the bird watching camera and packed my cycling camera into the pocket of a stout waterproof bright yellow jacket and got out my bicycle, noting two particoloured jackdaws at the apples as I set off.

two spotty jackdaws

There was a brisk north easterly wind blowing and it pushed me over Callister and along the newly surfaced road past the quarry to Paddockhole.  I stopped there for half a banana and a look at the bridge.

The bridge has a bright red metal plate screwed to the parapet and when I looked at the parapet, I could see that turning lorries may have been knocking into it a bit, hence the need for the warning and protective plate…

paddockhole brodge medley

…but the parapet was sound enough to be home to a nice pixie cup lichen among the moss and  a fallen beech nut.

The reason for the lorry traffic over the bridge is a new windfarm in the area so the narrow road after the bridge is being widened and lay-bys are being put in to cope with the construction vehicles.

Luckily there was very little traffic on the road as I battled up the hill alongside the Water of Milk straight into the brisk wind.  I was heading for the watershed between the Water of Milk and the River Esk and it took me some time.

It was lucky that I had my stout rainproof jacket on as it was drizzling at this point.  It was a bit annoying to look to my right and see the Ewe Hill wind farm bathed in sunshine.

ewe hill windfarm in sun

I pressed on, crossing little bridges over little streams…

bridge on crossdykes road

…until I got to the sunlit uplands on the top of the hill.  I love this section of road.

sunlit uplands baillieghill

To my right I could see more wind turbines making good use of the enthusiastic breeze…

new turnbines bailiehill

…and once I had got over the hill, I could see the Esk valley stretching in front of me.  The road follows that line of trees along the right side of the valley.

esk valley from bailliehill

The rain had blown over by now and I enjoyed a sunny trip back down the river into Langholm.  Larches stood out in the sunshine.

larch plantation

With seven miles to go, I stopped for the other half of my banana and a drink at the Enzieholm bridge.  Naturally, I had a look at the parapet while I was there.

enzieholm bridge medley

There was some good autumn colour on a hedge at Bentpath village…

colour at bentpath

…and I stopped to take a close up of a larch beside the road further on just to show that they really are golden at this time of year.

a golden larch

I had a look back at the Douglen Cleuch…

view of douglen

..before climbing the last hill of the day and swooping down into the town.  It was only a 26 miles ride but because of the wind and several hills to climb, it had seemed like more and I was very satisfied as it had felt like a proper outing.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy painting the hall while I was away.  It is looking very exciting already.

I had a look round the garden when I got home and was impressed by the staying power of the Rosy Cheeks rose and the very late phlox but the most arresting thing was the sudden appearance of a cowslip among the expected clematis, potentilla and wallflower.

six november flowers

I had a shower and than went for a walk.  I am supposed to keep exercising my feet and there was a little sunshine left so I headed off to see if I could find the fungi that Marjorie had photographed.

My usual friend was standing on the usual rock in the Esk…

gull on same rock

…and two goosanders were swimming up the river nearby.

two goodsanders

I should have been quicker to go walking as the sun was already sinking behind the hill and this was the last sunny view I got…

river esk november evening

…before crossing the Sawmill Brig and walking round the pheasant pens.  I didn’t find Marjorie’s fungi but I saw other varieties…

three fungi castleholm

… before I crossed the Duchess Bridge and made my way home.

duchess bridge november

As you can see, the bridge is in need of some TLC.

The slow cooked venison stew made a third and final appearance for our evening meal and it was followed by some tarte tatin which I had made when I got back from my walk.  I may need therapeutic help as I think that I have become addicted to tarte tatin.

When I checked, I discovered that the forecast for the next week is for some inclement and wintery weather with a maximum temperature of 7 degrees and plenty of rain so that made today’s ride and stroll even more pleasant in retrospect.

I apologise for an excessive number of pictures but it was an interesting day and here is a FBotD to round it off.

flying goldfinch

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