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Posts Tagged ‘bees’

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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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who went to the Kirkcaldy Highland Games on a very wet day last weekend.  For reasons which are not entirely clear to me, the games are held on the beach.   These cyclists must have been working very hard.

cycling on the beach

After yesterday’s calm and sunny weather, we retreated into chilly, windy and grey conditions today.  As I wasn’t feeling at my perkiest, I was content not to to try to go out on the slow bike and settled happily for coffee with Sandy instead.

Before he arrived, I had a look round the garden.  The chives had several somnolent bees lying motionless on them.

P1020722

Mrs Tootlepedal wondered if they were drunk.  They weren’t paralysed because they had moved when I checked later.

I am very taken with the new irises and find it hard not to take another picture if I walk past them.

P1020731

Sometimes, I walk past them on purpose.

P1020729

The first of the pinks has appeared…

P1020734

…and the astrantias are going from strength to strength.

P1020735

I went out of the garden and walked along the dam at the back of the house.  As I went along I saw a flourishing potentilla and a clover trailing down the concrete side of the dam…

P1020738

…a lovely lily which our neighbour Kenny has planted on his side of the dam and one of the few flowers on the old fashioned fuchsia at the back gate.

When Sandy came we shared foot woes as his feet are in an even worse state than mine.

After he left, I took some time to watch the birds while I did the crossword.  We had a bit of variety with siskins and a greenfinch…

_DSC2363

…and a  sparrow had a go at a chaffinch for daring to share the feeder.

_DSC2366

I was rather surprised to look up from a tricky clue at one point and see a full house of goldfinches.

_DSC2369

I finished the crossword and went back out into the garden where I did some shredding of hedge clippings and some more sieving of compost.  Then I went in and made some lentil and bacon soup for lunch.  I have taken to using as much turmeric as possible in my soups because it is is supposed to be beneficial for arthritis sufferers but I am still waiting for the miracle cure.  Still, the soup tasted good so I am not complaining.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn to clear the remaining moss after yesterday’s scarification and felt a bit depressed when I looked at the result.  The grass will need feeding but what is really needed is a spell of warm weather to get it growing.

While I was out, I had another look round.  More educated onions are out…

P1020741

…and I had a close look at my favourite lupin.  When you stick your nose in it, it seems to be lit from within.

P1020742

One of the stalks had been snapped off by wind or rain (or both) near the top and this gave me a chance to take an unusual angle on the flowers.

P1020743

In spite of the brisk wind, there were plenty of bees about.

P1020746

Some plants, like a couple of our azaleas and one of the rhododendrons did not take well to the combination of cool and dry weather after an early short hot spell and produced buds but no flowers.  Now we are worried that even after some rain, the pale peonies look as though they might be going the same way.  They have looked like this for weeks…

P1020752

…and don’t seem to have any intention of bursting into flower.

I made the mistake of going in and sitting down i a comfortable chair for a moment, and mysteriously I fell asleep  and wasted two hours of my life.

I hadn’t got anything better to do and it gave my sore feet a rest so I expect it was a good scheme after all.

I roused myself and went out for a last look round the garden.  Another of the new irises has popped up and it called to me.

_DSC2371

There were still slow moving bees on the chives so I took the opportunity of capturing one of the bees knees.  I thought that it was very good.

_DSC2376

Not all our lupins are brightly coloured.

_DSC2378

As I was going back in, I noticed a rather odd looking foxglove. For some reason, It has put out a large misshapen flower on the very top of its stalk and to my eyes, it looks rather like one of the Chinese dragons that you see at festival times.

_DSC2379

I got back in and made a dish of baked spinach and eggs with a cheese sauce for our tea.  Mrs Tootlepedal only had time for a mouthful or two before she went out to act as a front-of-house person at the Buccleuch Centre and as she is not back yet, I can only hope that she enjoyed the show.  The show is a screening of Romeo and Juliet by the Royal Ballet.  I didn’t tell her, but it turns out badly in the end so I hope that she is not upset.

I just managed to catch a flying bird of the day as a siskin navigated round the feeder pole.

_DSC2365

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo of Manitoba.  She was at a grand opening of a feed mill at a Hutterite colony in Alberta last week when a friend pointed out this American robin’s well stocked nest.

Mary Jo's eggs

After yesterday’s endless rain, we had endless sunshine today.  It was very welcome.  Of course the weather gods will have their little laugh, so the sunshine came on a day when we had to be indoors for a lot of the time.

All the same, after making a stew for the slow cooker and going to sing at our usual church service, there was time for a walk round the garden.

It was full of bees.

three bees

I was particularly happy to catch a bee on a lupin so that I could combine two favourite subjects in one shot…

bee on blue lupin

…but it was the chives that were scoring highest in the bee popularity stakes today.

two bees on chive

New flowers are out and the pick of the day was this iris with its petals outlined in white.

new iris 1

I liked it so much that I took pictures of it with different cameras.

new iris 2

Foxgloves are popping up all over the garden…

foxglove flower

…and a new set of blue Polemonium have appeared.

blue polemonium

I took some other pictures more because I liked the general effect of the situation than for any floral novelty.

An oriental poppy seed head beside the dam can be seen out of our back window…

poppy seed head dam

…and it looks as thought this lamium is concealing a fierce science fiction beast behind its  petals.

lamium with mask

This euphorbia is fading with added colour…

fading euphorbia

…and two tropaeolum flowers were crossing swords on the yew bush.

two tropaeolum

But my favourite of the morning was this very cool picture of potential plums.

young plums

I didn’t have long to wander about though, as it was the day of our end of term concert with the Carlisle Community Choir and we had to be at the venue for an early practice.

We picked up another choir member on the way and got to our new concert venue in a local school in plenty of time.  Ellen, our conductor, is very careful to make sure that we can enjoy our concerts so the practice was not too demanding and had a break in the middle.  As a result, I was ready for the big event and had a good time singing almost all of the notes that were required.

One of the highlights of the concert for me was the solo performance of our accompanist, Christine, who poured so many notes into semi improvised arrangements of Dream a Little Dream of Me and Somewhere over the Rainbow that it seemed that the piano might explode.  Just my cup of tea.

When we got home, the sun was still shining and I had time to mow both the lawns while the potatoes were cooking. The lawns are not big and when the ground is firm and the grass is short enough so that I don’t have to use a box, lawn mowing is a speedy business.  It is slightly surprising that the lawns are still firm, as Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge was showing five inches of rain over the past two weeks, but that shows just how dry it was in the weeks before the rain started.

After tea, I went for a walk.  To be more correct….as my feet are still perfectly alright as long as I don’t use them at all, I went for a slow cycle ride round one of my favourite evening walks.

I enjoyed the evening light and took two pictures of bridges which I didn’t cross, the suspension bridge…

view of whita june evening

…and the bridge to the church…

willows by chirch brig

…and one of the sawmill Brig,  which I did cross.

sawmill brig june evening

I saw oyster catchers before I crossed the Sawmill Brig….

one legged oyster ctatcher and pal

…and a magnificent rhododendron lurking in the shadows as I crossed it.

rhododendron from sawmill brig

Everything around us is green after the rain but the finishing straight of the race course on the Castleholm was the greenest thing of the day.

race course finishing straight

With both the Langholm and Carlisle choirs finished until September, I shall find time hanging heavy on my hands.  I am hopeful that a little fine weather may let me get out on my bike a bit more to fill up the unforgiving hours.  Looking at the forecast, it seems that this hope may not be realised.  Ah well.

The flying bird of the day is one of our regular sparrows.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my sister Mary.  She was joined by a jackdaw for breakfast at Kenwood House, but it came too late as she had cleared her plate.

jackdaw for breakfast

The forecast was for rain in the afternoon so I might, if I had been energetic and well organised, gone out for an early pedal.  What I managed was a leisurely walk round the garden instead.

Outside, on the front wall of the house, everything was abuzz.  A cotoneaster horizontalis was attracting a lot of bees…

bees on contoneaster horizontalis

…although it hardly looked as though the flowers were open enough to let a bee in.

There was more buzzing at the other end of the middle lawn where the nectaroscordum had attarcted a different set of bees altogether.

bees on nectaroscordum

In fact, wherever we looked, there were more bees on flowers….

four bees on flowers

…and it was very good to see several different types of bumble bee.

Mrs Tootlepedal has some pretty plants which she wants to put out in the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.  Unfortunately, because of the nearby bird feeder, pigeons and other birds tend to come and perch on the chimney pot, crushing any plants there.  We therefore decided to move the feeder pole to outside the dining room window, hoping that the birds would go with it and leave the chimney pot unmolested.

A blackbird soon arrived to check out the situation…

blackbird on hedge

…and it was followed by a siskin…

siskin on new feeder

…and then a goldfinch became the first customer.

goldfinch on new feeder

Soon it was business as usual in the new position.

full new feeder

In between times, I mowed the  front lawn and went up to the the health centre to get my three monthly vitamin top up.

When I got back, I had time to spot a white butterfly

butter white

…before we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to have a light lunch and listen to an illustrated lecture from the interesting young man who is running the Wild Eskdale project.  Kevin, the project leader, has two aims, outdoor education for youngsters and environmental tourism for visitors.  He demonstrated that there is more than enough wild life and scenery around the town to satisfy the most demanding visitor and we hope that his project is a great success. Those interested can see more here.

In spite of a gloomy forecast, it wasn’t raining when we got home and I had time to admire the 20cm flowers on the peony….

big peonies

…and an even bigger bee on the nectaroscordum…

large bee on nectaroscordum

…before I decided to defy the forecast and go for a bike ride.

There are fields of buttercups to be seen…

meadow of buttercups

…and the roads are still lined with cow parsley  in places…

verges of cow parsley callister

….and when I looked down as I took the parsley picture, I saw that there is a lot of English plaintain about too.

english plaintains

It was a much calmer day than yesterday so I cycled to the top of Callister before turning and coming sedately back down the hill back to the town.

I took a turn along the river and saw a lone gull…

gull by Esk

…and pair of oyster catchers along the water’s edge…

oyster catcher by Esk

…before deciding that the weather looked good enough to add another six miles to my total by going back up the road as far as Wauchope Schoolhouse.

I paused to have a look at my favourite little cascade at Bessie Bells on the way…

wauchope cascade june

…and this may have been a mistake because the rain started when I was still two miles from home and I got quite wet in the last ten minutes of my ride.

Still, I was pleased to have got another 20 miles to add to my miles for the week and after a cup of tea and a slice of toast, everything was fine.

Fine indoors that is, because it rained steadily for the rest of the day outside.  I kept an eye on the re-positioned feeder and noted a redpoll…

redpoll on new feeder

…and a mixed bag of chaffinch, siskin and sparrows…

busy new feeder

…so it seems that the new position is going down well with the birds.

We were visited by our friend Bruce who brought with him a bird ringer’s band.  He had recovered it from a siskin which had suffered a fatal accident when it crashed into one of his windows on the 10th May.  I took a picture of the ring beside the tip of a ball point pen to show how tiny the ring has to be to fit on the leg of a siskin, a bird which weighs about 13 grams.

 

siskin bird ring

Bruce had read the number on the ring and had sent it to the BTO, the British Trust for Ornithology, the body responsible for bird ringing volunteers in the UK.  In return he received a note saying that the siskin had been ringed (rung?) in Thetford, Norfolk, 386km away to the south of us.   It had been recorded there on the 9th April so in spite of its diminutive size, it had flown 386km north in a month.  Who knows where the siskin pictured at the top of this post has come from, though it might well be locally born and bred.

The rain is supposed to stop by tomorrow morning so I might get out for a pedal for the third day running.  This would be very welcome, as my feet are still not up to much in the way of walking.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, eyeing up the new feeder site.

flying chaffinch new feeder

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came across this wonderful cave on one of his walks.  Thor’s Cave (also known as Thor’s House Cavern and Thyrsis’s Cave) is a natural cavern located at in the Manifold Valley of the White Peak in Staffordshire,

thor's cave

I got up quite early for me but an early bird had got up even earlier.

partrisge at breakfast

A partridge was out after seed rather than worms.

After breakfast I drove our Kangoo down to Carlisle where I traded it in for a smaller little white thingy which we hope is going to carry us about but need a lot less in the way of running  repairs.

I checked that the new car was going to be fit for purpose by stopping off on the way home to buy a big bag of bird seed.  The car carried it well.

Mrs Tootlepedal couldn’t come with me as she had to stay at home as the garage doors were being painted and she was waiting for a gas engineer to arrive.  The gas engineer had not arrived by the time that I got back and I had time to look at a bee on a dicentra..

bee on dicentra

…the trillums, which continue to do well in a shady corner…

trillium

…and signs of good things to come.  The first flower on the strawberries, the first row of lettuces and some broad beans waiting to be planted out.

strawb, lettuce and beans

The painter finished the undercoat and the gas engineer arrived.  He came to service the boiler which had developed a fault. He discovered that the boiler needs  a new part and we need a new thermostat and as he didn’t have either, he will come back tomorrow and fit them then.

After lunch, we tested the new little white thingy to see if it was up to Mrs Tootlepedal’s requirements by going off to collect some wood chippings to cover paths between the new beds in the vegetable garden.  We filled up the boot with buckets of chippings and we were nearly home, when I forgot that the new car is an automatic and stood heavily on the brake thinking that it was the clutch.  This brought the car to a sudden stop and tipped all the buckets of wood chips over.  What fun we had clearing the chippings out.

I will have to practice driving without a clutch and gear stick.

I sat down to watch the birds for a while and to recover from all this excitement.

The birds were rather dull.  First a set of goldfinches…

four goldfinches

…and then a more varied selection.

siskin, repoll goldfinch

But there weren’t many and so I went out and looked for bees in the garden.  They were quite a few buzzing about, visiting the apple blossom…

bee on apple

…and hanging out on the rosemary with well filled pollen sacs.

bee on rosemary

Back on the feeder pole, a blackbird issued a challenge to all comers…

blackbird speaking

…and waited to see if anyone would take him up.

blackbird silent

In the early evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a useful session, concentrating on musicality and phrasing to good effect.

After he left, I got my bike out and went off to see if my feet were up to a few miles pedalling.

It had been a beautiful sunny day but I hadn’t got far before the clouds gathered together to blot out the sun .  However, it was warm and dry so I enjoyed my ride.

clouds assembling

I stopped to look at two lambs…

two lambs

…which were bleating loudly.  I soon found out that this was because they were part of a small group of lambs on one side of a little stream and their parent were on the other side, also bleating loudly.

lost lambs

The lambs got safely back across though and by the time that I came past on my way back, the families were reunited.

While I was taking these pictures, I was passed by a couple of young ladies out for a bike ride themselves.  Seeing them whizzing up the road, I thought that I ought to try a bit harder too and although I couldn’t catch them up, I pedalled a lot more quickly than I usually do.  Luckily they turned off before I killed myself but all the same, my average speed for my little 12 mile ride was considerably faster than of late.  Pride is a great motivator.

Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked an tasty meal and I was pleased to sit down and eat it when I got home.

We are expecting the painter, the gas man and an electrician tomorrow so it will be a full day.

Flying birds were few and far between and this one nearly got a way before I could catch it.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  He was impressed by the size of this nail brush.  Its owner must have very big hands.

Bruce's big brush

I was awoken by a loud cry from Mrs Tootlepedal.  “There’s a partridge in the garden,” she said.  I had hoped that by the time  that I had got organised with a camera, the partridge would have flown up into our pear tree, which would have been a great gift.  No such luck though as the partridge had walked out of the front gate and down the road.

partridge

It will do well to stick around in the town and take the risk of being run over.  It it goes back out into the country, it is likely to get shot.

The forecast had been for another cloudy day but we were lucky and the clouds had passed over us and gone on their way and it was sunny all day.

The elder tree feeder lived up to its promise this morning and attracted interesting small birds to the garden.

great tit and robin

A great tit and the first robin for some weeks.

It was a little chilly after breakfast so I took my time getting ready to pedal and made some apple jelly after breakfast.  Sadly, I might have rushed the job a bit and although the result tastes quite nice, it hasn’t set properly and may need reboiling.

Then, even when I had pumped up the tyres and filled my water bottle, I took more time to admire the poppies…

thre poppies

…and salute the butterflies on the buddleia.

three butterflies

Small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral

The wind was coming from the north east so instead of heading south as usual and then having to face the wind coming home, I headed north out of the town.

The trouble with starting in this direction is that there is a steep hill almost as soon as you leave the town.  I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills with my tin knee but I adopted a very low gear and eased up the hill so gently that my knee did’t even notice.

Peden's View

Looking back from the top of the hill.

It was a good day for a pedal as the wind was light and even when it was in my face, it didn’t make me cry.  The hills were looking good with bracken and grasses making a patchwork of greens and browns.

Criag hills

I had to stop to take my favourite view, The Gates of Eden.  It really was that green today.

Gates of Eden

I was cycling up the Esk towards its source and this is the peaceful view of the valley at Bentpath.

esk at bentpath

You can see that the farmers have been busy getting silage cut and bagged.

The Black Esk and the White Esk join forces about ten miles north of Langholm and this is the bridge over the Black Esk just before the junction.

 

Black esk bridge Tanlawhill

I crossed the bridge and followed the White Esk for the rest of my outward journey, stopping in this delightful wood beside the King Pool for my first snack of the day.

King Pool wood

The valley of the White Esk is a perfect example of the ‘sunlit uplands’ on a day like today…

Upper esk valley panoramaIt may not be so welcoming in the winter though.

I pedalled past the Samye Ling Tibetan Monastery without taking a picture (which took a lot of restraint) but was stopped in my tracks a little further on by a beautiful rose and some impressive hips in a bush beside a bridge.

rwild rose and hips

The bridge looked interesting so I followed a steep path down to the river and was most alarmed when I heard an almighty splash as I got near to the water.  What had fallen in, I wondered.

It turned out that nothing had fallen in, but a large family of goosanders had been disturbed by my arrival and had taken off from under the bridge in a great hurry.  I caught a glimpse of them as they disappeared downstream.

flying goodsanders

Not a great picture but it was just to record that ten or eleven goosanders taking flight can sound like a boulder falling into a river.

The bridge itself was worth a look.

Eskdalemuir birdge

Although it looked like a traditional stone bridge, the arch had been strengthened by concrete.  This was doubtless to withstand the battering it gets from the many timber wagons which roll over it.  I am not entirely sure but I think the stream is Garwaldwater.

I pushed on, climbing gently but steadily until I could see the start of the White Esk where the Glendearg Burn comes down from the hills to join another little stream and turns in to the Esk.

Upper Esk

When I got to my turning point, the regional  boundary between Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders….

County boundary

…I could hardly recognise it as the timber farmers had been hard at work here and cut down all the trees that used to mark the border.  It looks rather nondescript now.

Nevertheless at 1100 feet above sea level, it seemed like a good spot to rest and munch an egg roll before rolling down the 22 miles back to Langholm.  I say ‘rolling back’ but in spite of losing 850 feet overall, there is a never ending amount of undulation on the way so it was still hard work.  As the route back was exactly the same as the route out, I have not illustrated it.

I was extremely pleased to find that my knee stood up well to this hilly ride and might try to do some more adventurous rides if time and weather permit.

When I got home, I mowed the middle and front lawns.

When i say that I mowed them, of course it was the wonderful Webb Witch which did the work…

Lawn mower

…I just walked along behind it saying encouraging things.  They don’t seem to sell push mowers like this any more.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy sowing some field beans for green manure in the now empty potato bed and we took time out to watch the many flights of bees and butterflies on the buddleia and Michaelmas daisies.  I actually saw a bee push a small tortoiseshell off a daisy flower.   The butterfly came back sharply and knocked the bee off in turn.

The same three varieties that I had seen in the morning were still about ….

P1130964

…but they were joined by a couple of beautiful painted ladies in the afternoon.

painted lady butterfly

One posed for me on a daisy.

The garden was full of insects.

insects in garden

I finished my camera tour with an Icelandic poppy.

icelnadic poppy

Then we uprooted the gooseberry bush as part of the vegetable garden remodelling.  We are going to try to do a little work on this scheme every day that the weather allows so that the work doesn’t overwhelm us.

We were spoiled in the evening with the highlights of both the Tour of Spain and the Tour of Britain bicycle races to watch.

The flying bird of the day is another sparrow.  Birds do keep their heads still when they are flying.

flying sparrow

 

 

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