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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He is quite unhappy that his work as a painter and decorator has been unceremoniously stopped by government order but no provision for helping the self employed to pay their bills has yet been put in hand by the authorities who are happy to pay the wage bills of large firms.  The sea at East Wemyss today looked a little angry too.

waves at wemyss

We had another dry day here and we are in danger of forgetting the awful weather of February.  It will come as a shock when it starts to rain again.

We should have been in London today attending the civil partnership of our daughter Annie and her partner Joe but circumstances did not permit it.  However, we were able to see them in the registry office immediately after the ceremony through the wonders of video calling.  They looked very happy (and civil).

We spent a quiet morning in and around the garden while we were waiting for the call.  There was a thin cover of cloud, thin enough to let some weak sunshine through and all our neighbours were busy in their gardens too.  I sieved some compost.

Things are progressing slowly towards full springiness and new signs are about, like this berberis…

berberis

…and the first of the fritillaries.

frist fritillary

The forsythia enjoyed the such sun as there was…

forsythia close up

…and a sparrow and starling took in some rays as well.

starling and sparrow

There were quite a few bees of various sorts about and I caught two of them visiting the hellebores.

two bees n hellebore

We had some conversation over the garden fence with our neighbours Irving and Libbie.  They introduced us to Boris the badger who had been getting a fresh coat of varnish.

wooden badger

He didn’t say much.

After lunch, I went for a short walk.  There were no birds visiting the feeder in the garden at all, so I thought that I ought to see what the waterside might provide.

I spotted a dipper in the Wauchope but it was living up to its name so well that I would have needed an underwater camera to get a picture of it.

A black backed gull was more conspicuous…

black backed gull flying

…as he roared across to the water to join his partner….and looked very pleased with himself when he got there.  She looked demure.

black backed gull pair

There were only a couple of black headed gulls about and the sole oyster catcher flew off without waiting for me to get a picture so I was feeling a little underbirded until some loud song at the Sawmill Brig brought a grey wagtail to my attention.

grey wagtail

And as I walked across the Castleholm, a pheasant passed me by.

pheasant castleholm

And I felt that my walk in search of birds was very satisfactory.

I was well sheltered from the wind and the weak sunshine gave off a little warmth so I was in no hurry to get home and could take time to enjoy the light on this mossy tree…

castleholm tree with ferns

…and to realise when i got closer that it was not just moss.  It had a whole garden on it.

ferns on tree

There was a lot to enjoy with heartening signs of growth on all sides (and a handsome fungus too)…

wild flowers and fungus

…but the high spot of the walk home was seeing this flash of colour in a tree…

view of nuthatch

…and finding, when I looked more closely, that it was a nuthatch.  It obligingly flew to another tree nearby so that I could get better shots of it.

nuthtach posing

It was very busy.

nuthatch on branch

As I got near to our house, I found Mike Tinker washing his car in his drive.  He asked me whether I would like to see something interesting so of course I said yes.  I followed him to his back garden (at a satisfactory ‘social’ distance) and he showed his Wollemi pine.

A Wollemi pine is one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants dating back to the time of the dinosaurs and Mike is privileged to be growing one in his garden.  He is very excited as it has both male (left) and female (right) cones on it.  I was impressed to say the least.

wollemi pine with cones

I saw a few other people out walking and we all gave each other a wide berth or changed direction when we came towards each other.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden when I got back and we went in and had a cup of tea.

Since the days are getting longer and it was still relatively warm and dry, I got my bicycle out and added another fifteen miles to my month’s cycle mileage.  I found, when I got out of the shelter of the town, that the wind was quite brisk but I got the benefit of it on the way back and covered the last five miles home at an average speed of 19.7 mph  I wish that I had known that as I was pedalling.  I would have pushed a little harder to get the magic twenty miles an hour onto my bike computer.

I made the last of Mrs Tootlepedal’s chicken cacciatore into a curry with added mushrooms for our tea and then we waited for the prime minister’s address to the nation with some foreboding.  The foreboding was justified as the upshot was a lockdown for an indefinite period, a rather depressing but necessary situation.  Honestly, it is not too bad for a retired couple like us but it is a lot harder for people with young children and/or jobs to do so we feel a lot of sympathy for our children and their problems.  It will also not be very jolly to say the least for my sisters and step mother who live in the middle of cities.

As we are officially allowed out for exercise once a day. I will be able to have a walk or a cycle, weather permitting, so I am lucky.  And Mrs Tootlepedal will have her garden so she is lucky too.

The flying bird of the day is a crow which was having a drink at the river and flew off as I approached.

flying crow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He is visiting Aranjuez in Spain.  It is 30 mins from Madrid and is a town built around a Royal Palace.  His picture shows one of the rooms in the so called ‘Labourer’s House’.  I don’t think that the labourer lives there any more.

Aranjuez

We had a busy morning, and straight after breakfast we had to drive off to Annan where I had an appointment with the podiatrist in the hope that she would be able to suggest ways of getting me walking comfortably again.

While I went to the clinic, Mrs Tootlepedal passed the time with some shopping at a handy supermarket.

The podiatrist was sympathetic, very thorough and helpful.  She told me to stop doing one or two things that I have been doing and to start doing one or two things that I haven’t been doing and, more importantly, suggested that a certain type of shoe might be a sensible purchase.  As it happened such shoes are available at the Gretna shopping village and we had already planned to visit Gretna on the way home so that Mrs Tootlepedal could buy a skirt.  That was handy.

When we got to Gretna, there was a good selection of the ‘walking trainers’ with stiff soles that the podiatrist had recommended and I bought a pair that had the added advantage of being marked down to a very reasonable price.  Mrs Tootlepedal found a suitable skirt, so we drove home in a cheerful frame of mind.

It was another dry day, though not very sunny, and we had a look round the garden before we had lunch.  The sedums were very busy hosting various small life forms…

insects on sedum

…while the butterflies had spread out over the garden, some on the sedum, some seeking the sun and some sitting on stone.

three butterflies

The sunflowers are doing  very well, and all these five flowers come from a  single stem.

four garden flowers

After lunch, which was sweet corn and a sardine sandwich, I got my bike out and went off for a pedal.  The wind was light so I thought that I might risk going on a slightly hillier route than usual and headed north out of the town.  This involved going  up a couple of steep but short hills right at the start of the ride.  I went at them so slowly and cautiously that time lapse photography might have been needed to detect any progress.

Still, it meant that I got to the top of the hills in very good order and with no unnecessary creaking in the knees. so it was worth it.

I rode along, still going pretty slowly and with an eye out for a photo opportunity.  The Gates of Eden on a day of sunshine and shadow is always an opportunity not to be missed.

gates of eden spetember

(I checked and they have appeared on the blog at least nineteen times over the past nine years.)

Further up the valley, it became obvious that as the weeks go by, we are losing the green on the tops of our hills and colour is beginning to gently fade away.

Esk valley

I followed the Esk up stream and stopped to admire this stark example of timber management.

tree felling

When I had got to Bailliehill, my turning point at ten miles, I looked back down the Esk valley and took a little panorama of one of my favourite views.

bailliehill panorama

A click will give the bigger picture.

Coming back down towards Langholm, a colourful tree stood out among the green.

Tree above benty

And I couldn’t pass by the church and bridge at Bentpath without taking yet another shot of them…

benty church

…and as I was standing beside a wall while I was taking the picture of the church, I looked at it too.

three benty lichens

I had forgotten to take my phone with me so I was naturally expecting to be overtaken by a mechanical or human catastrophe with the Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service unavailable, but I got back home without any unwanted adventures to find that the rescue service herself was resting after some hard work in the garden.

After a cup of tea and a shower, I thought that it would be a good idea to put my new walking shoes to the test so I went out for a short, flat walk round three bridges.

It can’t be ignored any more, autumn is definitely in the process of arriving.

riverside autumn leaves

At the Kilngreen, a duck was admiring its reflection in the water.

sombre duck ewes

On the Castleholm, some trees are getting ahead of themselves as far as autumn goes.

This tree always turns early….

 

tree turning castleholm

…but normally we would be waiting for October to come before we see any significant change in leaf colour.

castleholm trees seprember

I came home by way of the Duchess Bridge and found this little crop of fungus growing on a dead tree stump along the path.

riverside fungus

Our neighbour Liz’s garage rounded my walk off with a full blown burst of autumn colour.

liz's garage

My new shoes seemed to be quite satisfactory for a first go.  The podiatrist is going to send me some insoles for them which should make them even better, so I am cautiously optimistic about being able to get a bit more walking in before winter comes.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked lamb chops for tea and that rounded off a varied, useful and enjoyable day.

The flying bird of the day is having a little sit down.

sparrow on fence

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the Haynes International Motor Museum.  This is a 1949 Jaguar 3.5 litre saloon and very nice too.  They keep the exhibits very well polished.

1949 Jaguar 3.5 litre saloon

The day started much as yesterday had finished, windy and grey. I wisely spent so much time over breakfast that by the time I had finished my porridge and tea, it was time for coffee and an iced bun (or two).

Then I had a look round the garden where I was astonished to find a red admiral butterfly at full stretch.

red admiral butterf;y

I was so astonished that I had to go inside and sit down again.  I made some vegetable soup and while it was cooking, I popped out and mowed the front lawn.  In spite of quite a lot of rain during August, the ground is still reasonably dry and the lawn mowed very well.

I had a look round the garden to see what had survived the strong winds and was pleased to find a lot of flowers still looking well.

lilian austin rose

As I looked, there was a break in the clouds and some sun peeped through.

phlox, red flower, fuchsia, anemone

All things considered, I thought that the garden looked not too bad.

border in august

I wasn’t at all confident that the rain had actually gone away so I frittered some time away after I had had my lunch by watching some rowing on the telly for a while.  Then I consulted the forecast.

You would think the the forecasters would be able to tell you what might happen in the next hour even if the the next day’s weather was still a mystery to them, but having consulted several forecasts, I had a choice of anything between a 0% and  a 70% chance of rain.  I chose to believe the 0% forecast (though I did pack a rain jacket) and set off for a pedal on my borrowed bike.

The wind was still blowing briskly, but a look around showed a lot of blue sky…

vew from Bessie Bells

…so I was happy to stop on my way and take some pictures.

I visited my favourite cascade on the mighty Wauchope…

Wauchope cascade

…and had another look at the landslip further up the road.

Wauchope lnad slip Aug 31

There is a set of traffic lights here which lets motorists (and cyclists) use half the road , but I would imagine that the road will have to be closed when they try to make the banking safe.  I also imagine that they will not be rushing to do the repair.

I cycled on and picked a route that kept any pedalling straight into the wind to a minimum.  As a result, I had a most enjoyable 18 miles, especially as some threatening clouds soon cleared off, leaving a lovely afternoon.

view from Bloch

I was happy to see that the cut silage had all been safely gathered in.

silage bales bloch

There was some colour beside the road as I went along.

four roadside views

And as I hadn’t stopped while passing over it for some time, I stopped today and took a picture of Skippers Bridge as I neared the end of my trip.

Skippers Bridge

It really was a fine afternoon by the time that I got back to Langholm

Whita from castleholm

When I got home, I took a picture of the plum tree just to settle any reader’s worries about whether I had given Dropscone too many plums yesterday.

many plums

We threw away literally hundreds of unripe plums as they were developing to stop them breaking the branches, we have made plum jam and plum chutney, I stewed some more plums and have been eating them with cream (someone has to do it), I gave some to our neighbour Liz, I eat fresh plums all the time and pick more and eat them every time I pass the tree, and still the branches are weighed down with countless more.  It has been, as Ken Dodd would say, a plumptious year.

And now the apples are ripe enough to start eating them too.

I had another walk round the garden to look for butterflies and on my way, enjoyed a new flower on the rambler rose.

rambler rose

There were one or two butterflies about but there were a lot more bees so I looked at them instead.

insect on Michaelmas daisy

I liked this cool one with dark glasses on.

insect on Michaelmas daisy 2

I was thinking about going for a short walk but somehow time slipped by again and I had to cook my tea, so I settled for my bike ride.  As the 18 miles took me to just over 400 miles for the month, I was pretty content with that.

I rang Mrs Tootlepedal in the evening and found that she is having an enjoyable time down south.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few butterflies that I saw in the garden today.

peacock buttefly

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  A friend, a fellow allotmenteer, brought her round some dahlias from Annie’s plot.  They are doing a lot better than ours are.

annie dahlia

We had another unsettled and unsettling day.  It is difficult to have a plan of action when the weather (and the forecast) is so changeable. In the forecast yesterday morning, we had been promised a calm and sunny day today so I was looking for a good cycle ride, staring early.

By the time that I got up today, there was no sign of sun and the forecast was now promising showers in the morning and a sunny afternoon.  I settled down to coffee and the crossword, thinking of an early lunch and an afternoon pedal.

There was rain.

Having finished the coffee and the crossword, I ventured out into the garden.

There were no butterflies to be seen but we were not short of other insects.

I saw a hoverfly vising an Icelandic poppy

hoverfly icelandic poppy

…and a bee well into a poppy…

bee in poppy

,,,while another hoverfly had caused a small pollen storm.

hoverfly in poppy

Another bee took a more refined approach to a geranium.

bee on geranium

Not every small creature was so welcome though.  Our turnips have taken a bit of a bashing.

nibbled turnip

Mrs Tootlepedal hasn’t planted as many cosmos as usual because the plants have tended to suffer from disease in recent years, but there she has some and they are just coming out.

cosmos

Although the bird feeders are not out at present, there are still plenty of birds about, particularly starlings…

fluffy starling on holly

…and blackbirds.

blackbird on bench

I looked at the forecast just before noon.  The sunny afternoon had disappeared and rain showers were back in.  I did put my cycling clothes on but cycling was once again postponed and we were busy out in the garden, looking at some ominous clouds, when a pair of strangers appeared at the front gate.

Were we the owners of Wauchope Cottage, they asked.  We confessed that we were and the man said that he had come especially to see the house as his name was Wauchope too and he had often seen pictures of our garden when he researched Wauchope on Google.

We invited him and his partner Cassandra in to tour the garden in real life. They turned out to come from New Orleans and were in Scotland to find as many Wauchope connections as they could.  They had been to a Wauchope family mausoleum in an Edinburgh churchyard and now they had come to visit the mighty Wauchope Water and Wauchopedale in all its glory.

After their garden tour, they sat our bench for a moment’s rest before continuing their adventure.

Mr Wauchope

When they left, I took a picture of the work that Mrs Tootlepedal, in the guise of Attila the Gardener, had been doing in the garden when the visitors came.  The age of the salvias is ended and they are no more.

no salvias

However, I shredded them all and they are now serving a useful purpose as either garden mulch or an addition to the compost bin.

As the weather continued to look gloomy, I went back indoors and did some work on the computer until finally a good forecast and some fine weather actually coincided and I went out for a cycle ride.

Nothing is perfect though, and a stiff breeze made cycling into it more of a duty than a pleasure so I cut my intended distance down and settled for a comfortable 20 miles round my customary Canonbie circuit.

In spite of the wind, it was warm enough to make being out and about enjoyable, and as I pedalled along, the clouds were being blown away and the sun shone for the whole of my trip.

retreating clouds

The River Esk drains well and there was little sign of the recent rain as  I looked over the bridge at The Hollows.

esk at hollows

I stopped when I got to the old A7 just before getting back to Langholm and enjoyed the view across the valley.

view from old A7

Beside the road, an umbellifer was playing host to a crowd of insects.  I can count seven but there may be more.

umbellifer and insect

The amiable sunshine made even a very ordinary dock look rather gorgeous…

dock close up

…and  I was able to find some refreshment before getting back on my bike again.

brambles

The blackberries were delicious.

When I arrived back, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy cutting down  potentillas at the back of the house along the dam while i had been away.  After the recent flood had put water through the ventilators under our floor, she thought that clearing away the vegetation in front of the ventilators would allow more flow of air which could only be a good thing.

This provided me with an opportunity to do a lot more shredding and more beds were mulched and the compost bin was once again enhanced.

I just had time to some black and white photography of nicotiana..

three nicotiana

…and our strikingly dark pansies…

black pansies

…before going in to cook baked eggs with spinach and a cheese sauce for our tea.

In the evening, we were visited by Mairi, the camera club member whose pictures I had printed.  She had framed them, and she brought them back so that they could be part of our next camera club exhibition.  She stayed on for a while to chat to Mrs Tootlepedal and we soon had the world put to rights.

The flying bird of the day is a gull which I caught when it was passing over the garden near midday.

flying gull overhead

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Today’s guest picture is a wall which Venetia met on her Highland holiday.  She liked its varied colouring.  I like it too.

Highland wall

After two sunny, dry days with quite brisk breezes, we got a less sunny day with an even brisker breeze and occasional showers.  Under the circumstances, I took the opportunity to have a quiet day with nothing more exciting happening than a visit to the dentist to collect a replacement for my recently extracted tooth in the morning and a trip to do some shopping in the afternoon.

Other than that, I managed to do very little for the rest of the day (but I did it very well).

The birds were a lot busier than I was, with a full of house of siskins occasionally threatened by other siskins…

siskins at feeder

…and horizontal and…

horizontal sparrow

…diagonal sparrows.

hopeful sparrow

But mostly it was other siskins.

fierce siskin

The sun shone and I went out into the garden.

The brisk wind made taking flower pictures tricky so I had to look in sheltered spots.  This rhododendron has outlasted all the other azaleas and rhododendrons but even it is beginning to look a bit part worn.

long ;asting rhododendron

The alliums are over but Mrs Tootlepedal likes to leave them standing until they fall over of their own accord.  They are still quite decorative.

dead allium

The roses are tending to wait for some better weather to appear but some are doing their best…

red rose

…even if they look a little tired.

yellow rose

After lunch, the sun shone again for a while and I had another look round outside.  The little potted fuchsia which had flowered so brilliantly while it was waiting in the greenhouse…

fuchsia out of greenhouse

This was it at the end of May

…lost all its flowers when it was confronted by the outside world.  Mrs Tootlepedal has planted it out in the chimney pot and it is showing signs of coming again.

fuchsia in chimney buds

The hydrangea on the house wall is a mass of flowers and is loud with bees whenever you walk past it.

bees on hydrangea

The surprise yellow iris is doing well, hidden away in the middle of a clump of daisies.  We are interested to see if it is a singleton or whether others will appear to join it.

new yellow iris wet

One of the flowers which has enjoyed the cooler weather is the lamium.  I don’t think that I have seen it doing better than it is this year.

close lamium

The sun went in and shopping looked like a good way to spend some time so we set off to a garden centre and the Gretna Shopping Village.

The shopping was successful and I came home with another bag of the alleged moss eating lawn food and Mrs Tootlepedal acquired some suitable clothing.

When we got  home, I gave the front lawn a dose of the lawn mixture as there is still plenty of moss there waiting to be eaten.  It had rained on us while we were shopping at Gretna and the rain caught up with us again as I was treating the lawn, so I had to scurry to get it done before getting soaked.

After that, I returned to doing nothing, although I did perk up for long enough to watch Andy Murray’s return to competitive tennis.

We are going to London tomorrow for a few days to see family so I am hoping to post a brief phone blog each day while we are away.  It promises to be quite warm while we are down there, and as we are not used to high temperatures, I hope we survive and don’t melt away.

The flying bird of the day is a welcome sighting of a lone chaffinch which paid us a visit.

flying chaffinch June

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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex-work colleague Ada.  She is in Tours and in spite of seeing a goat and a pink elephant in the street, she assures me that she hardly touched a drop.

Ada in Tours

The day started with some promise as far as the weather went.  There was sunshine as we cycled to church to sing in the choir but by the time that we got home, the sunshine had become fitful and every time that Mrs Tootlepedal hung the washing out, it started to drizzle.

The peonies were happy about what sun there was and made steady progress.

two nearly peonies

After church, we had coffee and I spent a little time watching the birds get through the seed on the feeder at a great rate.  I had filled the feeder before going to church and it was already down to halfway.

I enjoyed seeing a goldfinch and a siskin looking intently in the wrong direction  when it came to impending threats.

misdected siskin

This siskin knew where to direct its attention.

siskin being mean to sparrow

Having seen tow fellow siskins on the top shelf, I reckon this approaching siskin was weighing up its chances of shifting the goldfinch instead.

siskin hexing siskins

With the perches so busy, there was quite a lot of waiting for hungry birds, either on the feeder pole…

sparrow on pole

…or on the sunflower stalk that Mrs Tootlepedal has thoughtfully provided near the feeder.

siskin on new stalk

I went back out into the garden and checked on the fruit and veg.  Mrs Tootlepedal has put down a generous amount of straw for the strawberries and we are just waiting for some better ripening weather now.   The potatoes are producing more flowers every day.

strawberry and potato

Among the flowers, this Sweet William stopped me in my tracks…

sweet william stunner

…and I made a respectful bow as I passed the Queen of Denmark.

queen of denmark rose

Bees were to be seen on many flowers but I was taken by the flying skills that this one showed in reversing out of a foxglove.

bee in foxglove flower

The educated yellow onion is a tricky flower to photograph and this is the best that I have managed so far.

yellow educated onion

I like cornflowers…

conflower bud

…and it was evident today that bees like them too.

two bees on conrflower

There is still only one flower on the purple clematis.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is very early so perhaps this flower mistook the chilly weather for autumn and came out early by accident while the other flwoers knew better.

sole clematis flower

A feverfew has started to produce flowers and it will soon have more than a few by the look of it.

little daisielike plant

Next to the drive, a small forest of orange hawkweed is developing nicely…

sea of hawkweed

…and the climbing hydrangea is producing a positive galaxy of flowers.

hydrangea constellation

I put my camera down and mowed the middle lawn and after a quick check on the birds…

sideways look from greenfinch

…. Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up the road to collect another load of wood chips for the vegetable garden paths.  We didn’t spread them out though because when we got home, it was well past lunch time….and it was raining.

After lunch, the sun came out and I put my cycling gear on and it immediately started to rain again.  I passed some time relaxing in front of the telly until I noticed that the sun had come out again, so I got my bicycle out and set off to do a few miles.

I hadn’t gone much more than half a mile before it started to rain again, but fortunately, I had a rain jacket with me so I put it on and pressed ahead. It continued to rain for an hour by which time I had done thirteen miles and got a bit fed up so I stopped.  I had hoped to take some pictures of sunlit hills while I was out but not only was there no sunlit but there were very few hills to be seen.

I stopped to take this single picture on my way home just to show all the hills that I couldn’t see behind that bank of cloud ahead..

poor view of Whita

Fortunately Mrs Tootlepedal was cooking a very tasty meal of roast chicken with stuffing, roast potatoes with carrots and Brussels sprouts for our evening meal so I was soon warmed up and cheerful.

There is often a sliver lining to a cloud and the enforced rest of the past two days means that my feet don’t hurt at the moment.  Always look on the bright side of life…..de dum…de dum…etc

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, frozen in time.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She visited Wells with her friend, my Somerset corespondent Venetia, and took this reflective portrait of the cathedral from the bishop’s garden.

wells cathedral from Bishop's garden

We had a colder, windier day than yesterday, but as it was drier than forecast and the sun even came out briefly once or twice, we were grateful at a time when elsewhere in the country, torrential rain was making life hard.

I started the day by going to collect my bike from the bike shop where it had been serviced.  Because it has a gear box rather then a derailleur, it had had an oil change instead of a new cassette after just under four thousand miles.  The oil change was cheaper than a new cassette and chain but it still made my eyes water.  I will have to learn how to do it myself.

When I got home, I did a little shredding, put the results in compost bin A and then sieved more of compost bin C and put the bits that didn’t go through the sieve into compost bin D.  I lead a deep and exciting life.

Then I compounded the excitement by wandering about with a camera in hand.

The orange hawkweed is also known as ‘fox and cubs’ and this foxy flower looked as though it was brooding its cubs.

fox and cubs hawkweed

We have spireas that have showy leaves and dull flowers and we have spireas with dull leaves and showy flowers, very showy flowers.

spirea blossoms

Although we have had plenty of bees, I haven’t seen a great many smaller insects so I was pleased to see this one on a doronicum.

insect on doronicum

The tropaeolum flowers on the yew were lining up in attacking formation.

three tropaeolum attack

Apart from the rosa moyesii, which is in full flower, the other roses are still mainly work in progress. Like almost everything else in the garden, they could do with a bit of warmth.

four roses

The chives were still attracting various bees…

two bees on chives

…and I managed to get a wing as well as two bees knees in today’s shot.

close up on chive bee

By the front door, one clematis keeps fading while the other keeps flourishing.

clematis seed head and flower

It is hard to say which is prettier though.

By this time, lunch was calling and after lunch, I settled down for a while to watch the birds.

It was still very windy and this siskin was keeping firmly plunked down on the perch.

flat siskin

An anxious sparrow checked to see if there was a vacancy.

hopeful sparrow

I did think of going for a ‘bicycle walk’ just to get out of the house, but the weather was so unforgiving, cold and very windy, that I stayed in and caught up on some of the hymns for next Sunday’s service.

After a couple of hours, I went out to check the weather and noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal has a fine crop of doddering dillies growing in the bed at the end of the drive.  This grass has the Sunday name of Briza Media and it is also known as Common Quaking Grass and in the wind today, these doddering and quaking grasses were certainly living up to their name.  I had to pinch a head off one stem and take it inside to get it to stop quaking long enough for me to take a picture.

doddering dillies

The first candelabra primula flowers have appeared beside the pond.  I hope that they do well in spite of the weather, as they are among my favourite flowers…

early candelabra primula

…though of course, this is my absolute favourite.

astrantia

The day hadn’t got any better so I went back in and watched the birds again.

The squad of goldfinches was back….

four goldfinches

…though a siskin managed to sneak in at one point…

five goldfinches

…and occasionally there were more goldfinches than perches.

four goldfinches and a siskin

A greenfinch had no difficulty in persuading a goldfinch to offer it a seat at the table…

greenfinch close

…and when they had all gone off, a redpoll appeared and wasted my valuable seed.

redpoll spitting

My view of redpolls as charming little birds has been somewhat dented by seeing a redpoll nest live on the Springwatch programme on the telly.  It was the most disgustingly untidy nest that you could ever see.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious one pot penne, tomato and cream cheese dish for our tea.  As the rain taps on our windows as I write this, we are just hoping that the weather will let us get to Edinburgh tomorrow.  A tree had fallen on the line today but it has been cleared, so all is well at the moment.

As a bonus for another ‘stay at home’ post, there is not one but two flying sparrows of the day.

flying sparrow looking

In the strong winds, birds had to approach the feeder with care.

flying sparrow hanging

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