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Archive for the ‘Singing’ Category

Today’s guest picture is a follow up to Dropscone’s picture from Islay.  My South African correspondent, Tom must also have visited the island because he has sent me a round church by way of counterbalance to Dropscone’s square lighthouse. Kilarrow Church is a Church of Scotland parish church, overlooking and serving Bowmore on the Isle of Islay. It was built in 1767

bowmore church

We had a very straightforward day today.  We went to church and sang in the morning and we went to Carlisle and sang in the afternoon.  There wasn’t much time for anything else as the church service was quite long with two baptisms and the Carlisle session lasted several hours because the community choir was auditioning four applicants for the post of musical director.

We were in the happy position in the community choir of having four excellent candidates, any one of whom seemed likely to be able to look after us well.  We were asked to vote for the one we liked best as a guide to the committee who are making the choice and Mrs Tootlepedal and I chose differently but I would be very happy if her choice won.

We did manage to find enough time to make a beef stew for the slow cooker before we went to church and to visit a shop in Carlisle to buy a few necessities (dates, cheese, coffee beans) on our way to the choir.

It had rained heavily over night but the day was pleasant enough.  It so windy though that I was not at all disappointed to be deprived of cycling.

Just to add a little colour to this post, I rushed out a took three pictures before we went to church…

red admiral

A single red admiral had ignored the wind and arrived on the buddleia

cosmos with dead heads

The tall cosmos looks good but shows that dead heading has been neglected lately

nerines

And some nerines have arrived very suddenly next to the chimney pot by the bird feeder

 

…and then three more pictures in the fading light when we got back in the evening.

fuchsia

Mrs Tootlepedal has cleared some other plants away so that I can get a good look at the fuchsias.

Special Grandma rose

Special Grandma rose is having a second go.

pink dahlia

The dahlia of the day – perfect in my view.

There was no time to watch the birds.  I will try to do better tomorrow but more strong winds are forecast.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Sharon’s visit to Berlin.

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In spite of the gloomy forecast at the beginning of the week, we had another dry day here today with a decent amount of sunshine.  Unfortunately the wind continued to blow vigorously so it took me quite a long time to get up the energy to go out on my bike.

I had several good wheezes to distract me before I got going and of course, I always have to have a look at the garden first.

I am very attached to the papery poppies that have come out of the seed packet this year.

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They have a subdued elegance.

And in spite of the brisk breeze, there were butterflies everywhere in the garden today.

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Indeed, you had to look sharp to avoid being knocked over by them as they flitted from flower to flower.

I did get going in the end and found it a hard battle.  I was pleased to stop to admire a small clump of traditional toadstools…

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…and in an effort to get some gender balance into the blog, I refrained from taking any more outstanding cows and took two sitting bulls instead.

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Near the end of the ride (my usual 20 mile Canonbie circle), I parked the bike behind a fence and walked down through the woods…

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…to get a view of the river Esk near Broonholm.

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I thought that I might see a lot of fungus under the trees but this little clump was the only fungus that I saw.

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I managed to make it home and found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work on the computer.

It was fine enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to take her lunch out to the new bench and I joined her later on.  Out of the wind and sensibly clothed, it was a good day to test the bench.

The afternoon was given over to gardening.  I was in poetic form:

 There was mowing, dead heading
And sieving and shredding.

Mrs Tootlepedal is still in full Attila the Gardener mode so there was plenty of shredding to do.  The good summer has speeded up the compost process and there are now two big buckets of sieved compost waiting to find a home.

While we were sitting on the bench having our lunch, I noticed that a second flowering of a polemonium has come out to join the late flowering delphinium.

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As they are in the same bed as the reliable golden wedding rose and the perennial wallflower…

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…there was no shortage of colour in that corner of the garden.

I noticed a young blackbird sitting quietly on the fence and went in to get a camera.  I was surprised to find it still there when I came out.

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Then Mike Tinker came to bring Mrs Tootlepedal a gift of some liquid worm compost from his wormery as it  produces more than he needs for his own garden.  He joined us for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit and his visit was well timed as it began to rain lightly just at that moment.

I took a picture of a leycesteria before I went in.

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Although the rain stopped, we didn’t go back out to the garden when Mike left as I had to have an early evening meal because it was the first meeting of Langholm Sings, our Community Choir in the evening.

I did find time to take a few bird pictures though.

I like the shiny black feet that jackdaws have.

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This goldfinch has been very badly painted!

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I hope it gets some better feathers before the cold weather arrives.

Not all of our bird visitors are smart.  A sparrow had bitten more off a fat ball than it could chew and a coal tit was parked on a perch with no seed.

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The first meeting of the choir was well attended with a couple of new members and Mary, our director had brought some new music for us to tackle.  Two of the pieces were good to sing and quite easy but the third piece looks as though it will keep us busy for some time.  This seems like a good balance and I thoroughly enjoyed the singing, especially as my voice lasted reasonably well.

The flying bird of the day is another of the chaffinches which fly up to the feeder and conveniently hover for a moment before landing just so that I can snap them.

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Today’s guest picture comes from an outing near Derby undertaken by my brother Andrew.  He went visit the Abbey at Darley Abbey and found that all that remains of it is a public house called “The Abbey”

Darley Abbey

If yesterday was a dull and gloomy day, today was a duller and gloomier day.  It was warm for the time of year though and that made the drizzle that came and went even more annoying.

I got up early (for me) and made a venison stew for the slow cooker before we went off to sing in the church choir.  The choir was rather short of numbers and with several unison hymns and no anthem, it made for a gentle reintroduction to singing for me.

When we got back, the rain stopped for a while and we got busy in the garden.

I took a picture or two but everything was far too wet and the day was far too dark for anything to photograph well.

wallflower

wet white geranium

tall sunflower

A new smaller flower has replaced the big head that we cut off the very tall sunflower.  It is even taller though.

The first gardening task was to pick a up a large number of windfalls from one of the espalier apples.  I should have thinned them out earlier and they are overcrowded so a lot of them had fallen off in unison.  I gave some to one neighbour and then went across to wish our neighbour Liz a happy birthday and ask if she would like some apples too.

She came across to fetch some and while she was there, she gave us a helping hand in the next task which was the removal of our ancient blackcurrant bush.  Mrs Tootlepedal is going to remodel that end of the vegetable garden.

Liz likes nothing better than to give an axe a hefty swing so with her on the axe and Mrs Tootlepedal on the pick, we soon got it shifted.  I worked the spade and did some heaving.

At that stage, it started to rain quite heavily so we left the garden.

We sorted out our potatoes for storage and Mrs Tootlepedal did some work on the new garage doors prior to them being painted.  Fortunately the cycling Tour of Britain has started and this gave us a perfect excuse to watch the telly and ignore the weather.

I did occasionally look out of the window at the birds and was pleased to see some interest in the big sunflower head.

birrd on sunflower

The sparrows were as boisterous as ever…

sparrows (2)

..with regrettable outbreaks of sparrow stamping.

stamping on sparrow

A jackdaw took a very dim view of this behaviour.

jackdaw brooding

Whenever the drizzle took a rest, I kept looking out into the garden to see if it was dry enough for a walk but by the time I had thought about going out, it had generally started to rain again.

I did spot a brooding presence in our rowan tree.

bird on rowan

I made some alleged ciabatta in the bread machine (we have yet to try it out) and that was about the most exciting thing of the day.

After we had eaten venison stew for our tea, we went off to a church choir practice.  Our organist and choirmaster is trialling some Sunday evening practices to see how that suits choir members.  Once again it was only a small turnout but the practice was both useful and enjoyable.

The forecast is looking a bit gloomy so I may have to sort out my wet weather cycling gear if I want to get some September miles in.

The flying bird of the day is not one of my best.

sparrows

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to Kew.  As well as dragons, she saw this interesting creature.  It is called Gnomus (but I don’t gnow why).

kew creature

The joiners having finished their work, the painter came today and the front of the house is on its way to looking well cared for.  A spanner was cast into the smooth running of the refurbishment when the painter discovered a wasps’ nest in one of the dormers that he was about to paint.

We did consider shinning up two ladders on to the roof in the quiet of the twilight and doing what needed to be done but due consideration of the age of the potential ladder climbers led us to calling out an expert from Carlisle who will come tomorrow.

While the painter was painting, I was wandering around the garden and my attention was directed to this flower….

cosmos

…by Mrs Tootlepedal.  It may not look much but if all goes well it is just the first of dozens and dozens of cosmos which will brighten the August garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal also pointed out that there are in fact five zinnias.  Here is the fifth columnist.

fifth zinnia

The verbascum flowers have nearly climbed to the top of their spires…

verbascum spike

…and I will miss them when they are gone.

moth mullein flower

New dahlias are appearing at the rate of one a day and this was today’s arrival.

dahlia

It was a beautiful day, sunny nearly all day but oddly enough, not too hot.

Almost as cheerful as the sunshine was a clump of nasturtiums…

nasturtiums

…and another bright sunflower.

cheerful sunflower

The sunflowers are being a bit contrary and instead of turning their faces to the sun and our garden, they are mostly turning their backs on us and peering over our neighbour’s fence.

There were more white butterflies all over the place.

white butterfly on flower

And bees too.

bumble bees

I went in for coffee and then did a little shopping.

When I got back, I took the opportunity to mow both the middle and front lawns which are confounding me by growing more grass and if anything, getting greener in spite of the lack of meaningful rain.  We are getting a light dew in the morning which may be helping.

And of course, I had another look round when I had finished.

The melancholy thistle shouldn’t be lonely next year.

melancholy thistle seed ead

And the hostas were playing host to yet more bees.

bee on hosta

The new buddleia had attracted a butterfly but sadly it was just another white one.

white butterfly on buddleia

I made some green soup for lunch with courgettes, spinach and broad beans (with a good quantity of garlic too) and it turned out very well.  I am determined to eat as much of our own veg as I can this year.

After lunch, we were detained by a very exciting stage of the Tour de France and then, inspired by the heroes of the Pyrenees, I put on my cycling gear…

…but not until I had had another walk round the garden.

This time there was a peacock butterfly on the buddleia….

peacock butterfly

…but it stuck to sunning itself on a leaf and wouldn’t come onto a flower.

I turned my attention to a very decorative dicentra which Mrs Tootlepedal recently purchased in Dumfries.

dicentra

In the end, I got my bike out and went round my usual 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  It was still sunny but still not too hot and with a light wind, conditions were delightful.

Kerr

It was quite late on the day and we had some singing to do at the Common Riding Concert so I didn’t stop too often but I couldn’t resist being looked down upon by two cows.

cows on a hill

When I got back, the verbascum was showing that even when it has finished flowering, it will still be catching the evening sunlight and adding interest to the back bed.

verbascum in evening

We went off to sing a couple of songs for the finale of the concert in the Buccleuch Centre. As our church organist Henry had arranged the programme, it was not surprising that he had found a place for his choir in it.  A good number of members turned up and we sang well.

That will be our last choir singing until the next sessions start in September.  It was a good way to finish.

No flying bird of the day today as the painter proved a deterrent to visiting the feeder.  A flying visit from the sparrowhawk may not have encouraged the small birds either.

As a result, I have turned to flowers of the day and these are they:

cornflower and calendula

 

 

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Today’s picture is another from Anne’s visit to Elgin and shows what is left of Elgin Cathedral which was founded in the 13th century.

Elgin Cathedral

We had another pleasantly warm day with a cooling breeze, only spoiled by the complete absence of any rain.  These are not words that have appeared on the blog before!

Mrs Tootlepedal and I found time to visit the garden after breakfast.

I was happy to see the first dahlia flower of the year as I had been tasked with keeping the potential dahlias healthy while Mrs Tootlepedal was away.

first dahlia 2018

A new clematis, lurking in a philadelphus shrub has arrived as well.

clematis

While the dahlias and clematis are coming, the delphiniums are going.

philadelphus

They have stood up very well this year but the colour is fading fast.

I may not have thinned the plums quite as well as I should have.

plum cluster

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with the variety of calendula she chose this year as it has a brownish outside which makes the flowers look interesting both as they develop and fade.

calendula

Combined with the bright red poppies, calendulas surround the new bench with colour.

new bench with flowers

We have had a lot of bee visitors in the garden lately…

bee on knapweed

…and these brightly coloured bumble bees have been very busy on the stachys, making the best of the last of the flowers.

bee on stachys

My bumble bee knowledge is rather vague but these visitors may be common carder bees.

We didn’t have too long to enjoy the garden as it was the day that the cornet visits the church for a special service and the choir was going to have to be at its best with a large congregation expected.

We arrived in time for a warm up and were soon joined by the cornet and a good number of followers.  We were assisted by several additonal singers who had come specially for this service and it was a pleasure to sing in a well balanced and strong choir.  We sang the Hallelujah Chorus again and it went as well as we could hope.

We had a moment for a little gardening and a light lunch when we got back before it was time to take our singing clothes off and put our cycling clothes on.  Mrs Tootlepedal had been tempted by the offer of a cream tea at the Waterbeck village hall, ten miles away.

The joy of the potential cream tea was slightly modified by the cooling breeze which from a  cycling point of view was in fact a brisk head wind and the prospect of cycling up and over Callister Hill on the way.   However Mrs Tootlepedal was strong and both these obstacles were surmounted and we had a very good tea at Waterbeck which gave us strength for the return journey.  Although we had to go over Callister again, at least the wind was helping us this time.

I had my camera in my back pocket and stopped on the outward journey when Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out an orchid.

orchid

It shows how useful it is to have another pair of eyes on a ride as I had passed the orchid several times on recent rides without noticing it.

As we left the hall after our tea, I noticed a gathering of future suppliers of cream for teas.

Waterbeck cows

I had read an article in a newspaper recently about the use of recycled plastic in road surfacing so I was interested to see this sign on a farm road.  It looks like a good use for recycled plastic…

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..and according to the company’s website, it might even reduce the number of potholes if our council decided to use it on the public roads.

I stopped to take a view as we cycled up Callister on the way home and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to put the hammer down and leave me for dead.

Mrs T on Callister

This was the view I was looking at.

Winterhope view

She did stop and wait for me further up the hill and I had time to look at wild flowers.

callister flowers

As we got nearer Langholm, the clouds broke up a little and it became a perfect day for a pedal.

wauchope schoolhouse road

There is another cream tea opportunity at Waterbeck next Sunday (they are raising funds for their church) and I hope that the weather will be kind enough to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal out again.

There was time for a little watering and garden wandering when we got back.

buddleia

The first buddleia flowers are out and I hope that they will bring some coloured butterflies into the garden.  We have lots of white butterflies but peacocks, red admirals and small tortoiseshells are more photogenic.

The first runner beans of the season were included in our evening meal and not content with my cream tea, I had strawberries and cream for my pudding.

Then the day ended quietly with some sofa sitting in front of the sporting highlights of the day on the telly.

I didn’t manage to find a flying bird of the day so a standing collared dove will have to do.

collared dove

Perhaps I should have gone for a bright flower of the day instead.

bright flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my cello playing friend Mike’s trip to the north.  His wife Anne has kindly sent me some pictures which she took on the holiday,  including this one of Abraham in the biblical garden of Elgin Cathedral.

Elgin cathedral

 

It was another pointlessly drizzly morning here today with just enough rain to annoy but not enough to do any good.

wet wedding rose

It was quite warm though so I was happy to get my new bike out after breakfast and go for my regular 20 mile circuit to Canonbie and back.

I had to put my rain jacket on shortly after I left home but I was able to take it off again three miles later, though there wasn’t much opportunity to take shots of the wonderful views while I was stopped because there weren’t any views at all.

Bloch road on wet day

It brightened up a bit as I went round and by the time that I got to Canonbie…

Canonbie Church

…it was a cloudy but pleasant day.  My good mood was greatly enhanced by a friendly wind which let me cover the last fifteen miles of the route in exactly an hour of cycling time.

Steve, the man who makes our benches, has also provided us with a new bridge for the pond.  He delivered it today and Mrs Tootlepedal and I installed it.  I selflessly gave Mrs Tootlepedal the honour of testing it out.

new bridge

It held up very well.

I didn’t have time to do any gardening so after a quick smile from my favourite sunflower…

sunflower

…I picked up my other camera and set off to walk up the Kirk Wynd onto Whita Hill.

There were plenty of wild flowers to give me an excuse for a stop on the way up the hill…

wild flowers kirk wynd

…and I was particularly pleased to see some heather out.

heather

I needed the wildflower stops because, as you can see, it is quite a steep walk up from the town.

Langholm

I wasn’t alone on the hill though, because not long after I found a good place to stand, the cornet and his right and left hand men came cantering up the Kirk Wynd and onto the hill too.

CC Ride-out 8

It was the last Saturday before the last Friday of July so it was the day for the Castle Craigs ride-out.

I liked the fine horse that carried Stuart, the right hand man, up the hill.

CC Ride-out 7

The ‘front three’ were soon joined by other riders….CC Ride-out 5

…and there was a general gathering for a moment’s rest…

CC Ride-out 4

…which gave me an opportunity to admire this beautiful horse…

CC Ride-out 6

…before the cornet led the cavalcade off up the hill…

CC Ride-out 3

…twisting and turning over the many hillocks and dips…

CC Ride-out 2

…before disappearing over the shoulder of the hill on their way to the Castle Craigs and Cronksbank.

CC Ride-out

Other eager pedestrians were following the horses on foot but I had had enough exercise for the day (and no lunch) so I headed back down through the town, got home, collapsed on the sofa…

…and let the heroes of the Tour de France take my exercise for me for the rest of the afternoon.

When the stage had finished, I went out into the garden to find that it was a lovely evening.  I noticed that a professional weeder had been at work…

weedy wheelbarrow

…and my scientific rain gauge had been put to good use.

Mrs Tootlepedal was doing some work in the vegetable garden and was surprised by just how dry the soil in the beds is.  The soil in the top six inches is basically dust if you turn it over and under that, there is a layer of hard, dried, fissured earth.  It is amazing that there any flowers thriving at all.

nasturtium, rose and poppy

But there are.

cornflowers

They must have deep roots.

We were able to supply the evening meal with many good things from the vegetable garden.

There was a scarcity of birds  when I had a moment to look at them and I was rather taken by this siskin which was much more interested in posing for the camera than eating seed,

siskin posing

Both I and Mrs Tootlepedal have been watering and there seems to be no immediate end in sight for this task as we have no rain in the forecast until the last day of the month, ten days away.

We are singing the Hallelujah Chorus in church again tomorrow so I had a final practice before settling down to write this post.  It will be good to have Mrs Tootlepedal back in the choir.

The flying bird of the day is half a chaffinch (the best that I could do)

flying chaffinch mostly

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s northern tour.  He visited Newcastle-on-Tyne and sent me this picture of a castle.  He doesn’t say if it is the new one or not.

Newcastle castle

It was relatively cool and cloudy when I got up and although it had rained overnight, once again the amount had failed to register on my scientific rain gauge so I did a little watering and took a walk round the garden after breakfast.

The Crown Princess looked lovely surrounded by phlox.

crown princess among phlox

A new flower has appeared next to the front lawn but I cannot name it without Mrs Tootlepedal’s help.

mystery flower

I can recognise this astilbe which is looking charmingly  pretty in pink.

pink astilbe

The wind was still about but as it was rather calmer than recent days, I set out on my new bike with hope in my heart, aiming at 50 miles or more.

Unfortunately, it turned out that I might have had hope in my heart but I didn’t have much stuffing in my legs and my hopes gradually faded as I pedalled along.

I did enjoy myself all the same.

The ragwort is at its best…

ragwort

..but I have been unable to find any with the colourful caterpillars of the cinnabar moth on it yet.  These caterpillars love ragwort so there should be some about somewhere.

My route took me across country to Annandale.  There is no more water in the Annan than there is in the Esk….

Annan Water at Hoddom

…but I was still glad to have a handsome bridge to cross the river when I came to it.

Hoddom Bridge

There is a lot of Himalayan Balsam on the banks of the river and although it is very pretty…

himalayan balsam

…it is regarded as an invasive pest now that it has escaped from gardens.

I toiled up a hill after I had crossed the bridge at Hoddom and then scooted down the other side until I came to the Bridge at Brydekirk which crosses the same river a few miles downstream.

Brydekirk Bridge

Here I paused for an egg roll and a chocolate biscuit.  (My cycling nutrition is about as scientific as my rain gauge.)

I was sitting on a low wall which was covered in interesting lichen.

Brydekirk lichen

Leaving the river behind, I headed homewards, thinking that I might make a detour into England at Gretna to bring up my fifty mile target.  It was at this point that it became finally apparent that my legs weren’t really up to much more than forty miles and when I looked around and saw that recent rarity, a rain cloud…

rain clouds

…and felt a few spots of rain on my knees, any thoughts of England evaporated and I headed for home.  I had obviously been lucky to avoid being rained on as quite a bit of the road to Canonbie was wet.

I arrived home after 42 miles to find that it hadn’t rained in Langholm at all.  Boo.

It was the first day for weeks when the clouds were thick enough to make the day seem quite gloomy even though it was quite warm enough to cycle in shorts again.

I had some green soup for a late lunch, checked out the birds…

bee passing birds on feeder

…which were ignoring passing bees…

,..and then settled down to watch a thoroughly engrossing stage of the Tour de France.

After the stage ended, Mike Tinker came round and we had a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit.  Any day with ginger biscuits is a good day.

When Mike left, I saw that the birds had been busy while I was relaxing and the feeder was getting empty.

sparrows and greenfinch

I really liked the cool attitude of this greenfinch, looking for all the world like a regular customer leaning on the bar in a pub.

cool greenfinch

Filling the feeder led to more birds arriving in a rush…

sparrows on feeder

…and occasional regrettable outbreaks of sparrow stamping.

sparrow stamping on sparrow

I did some more watering and weeding and noted that Mrs Tootlepedal will have a few poppies to greet her when she comes home tomorrow.

poppies

And a lot of cheerful phlox.

phlox

The bed beside the front door is looking quite welcoming too.

front door bed

After a shower, some tidying up and a basic evening meal, I went off to the church for a practice with the choir.  It is the Common Riding service on Sunday so we will have to be at our best as there will be a large turn out of people who do not normally come to services.

I am not entirely sure that my new asthma treatment is as good as it should be and this might account for my soggy legs when bicycling and certain lapses of concentration when singing.  It is useful to have something to blame of course.

The flying bird of the day is a grenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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