Posts Tagged ‘bird feeder’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is holidaying with his daughter Susan in the extreme north of the Scottish mainland.  It shows the  Muckle Stacks which are just off the coast about 3 miles to the east of John o’ Groats.

Muckle Stacs

He seems to be having good weather up there but we had a very gloomy day in Langholm and with the temperature about 10°C lower than Marseille, it had a definite end of the season air about it.

There were birds to cheer the day up though.


blue tit

It was not raining after breakfast but it was my day for duty in the Information Hub in the Market Place so cycling was off the menu.  I had a visitor or two to help, posters to laminate and friends who dropped in to talk so the two hours passed quickly enough but it was raining by the time that I came out.

I found a relatively dry moment to look at a soggy poppy or two…



…but after a light lunch, I spent some time doing useful things indoors like checking up on the hosting for the Archive Group websites and suchlike.  Anything that requires passwords is always a slow business as I have to try to remember where they are stored and then try to remembered the password to the store where the passwords are stored.

I also put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database so I made good use of a gloomy day.

I had time to do a little sparrow watching.  They were mostly  very busy…


…though some chose to be spectators.


This may have been wise, for an unwary bird approaching the feeder got a thoroughly dusty welcome.


In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we made some more progress which was satisfying.

I have added more pictures from my camera to the account of our day in Aix-en-Provence during the third day of our holiday in France and those interested can find the expanded post here.

The flower shot of the day is the nerines under the feeder.  They are really flourishing at the moment…


…and the flying bird is a sparrow.

sparrow flying

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s holiday in the Lake District last month.  She describes it as, “Another compulsory bridge.”

Another compulsory bridge

The weather improved a good deal today and I was able to walk up to the High Street  without any rainwear on to take my turn dispensing information to tourists at our visitor centre there.  On this occasion, I actually did dispense some information to tourists, though only a modest number, it must be said (two).

However, there was an art exhibition of works by the local Art Club and people came in to see the paintings, Dropscone dropped in for a chat and my relief arrived well before his appointed time so the time fairly whizzed by.

When I got home, I walked round the garden.

The rose, Bobbie James, recommended in a recent TV gardening programme is beginning to show why the presenter liked it.

rosa Bobbie james

It was soon time for lunch so I went in, stopping to look at the birds….


The demand for seed was as insistent as yesterday

…and afterwards I mowed the middle lawn before the grass got too long to manage easily.    It was surprisingly and gratifyingly firm after the recent rain so credit must go to Lorne who helped me a great deal with the spiking last autumn.

I’ll have to mow the front lawn tomorrow or people may get lost in the long grass.  I should have done it today but the need for a cycle ride to stretch my legs was more pressing.

It was dry, cloudy and pleasantly warm but very windy so I approached the ride with some trepidation.  However, I chose my route well and after a tough first three miles butting straight into the wind, the rest of the twenty mile circuit was much easier with the wind either behind or across for the most part and some good shelter from banks and hedges when it was in my face.

I didn’t take many pictures en route as when it is windy, I have either got my head well down and don’t notice much or I am going to fast to see things in time to stop.

I did see a brilliant flash of red beside the road soon after I started though and even went back to check what it was.  Brilliant flashes of red often turn out to be drinks cans rather than flowers and although this wasn’t a flower, at least it wasn’t a discarded can.

dock leaf

I don’t think that I could meet a much redder leaf than this one.

When I got home, I walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had been busy all day painting our old downstairs shower room which is being converted to a utility room for the washing machine and was pleased to take a break.

As the day had warmed up and the garden had dried out, there was plenty to look at.

astrantia and martagon lily

Plants are developing all the time

New lilies are opening.


Hostas are bursting into flower.


Moss and rambler roses are coming into their own.

moss rose rambler rose

And one of the many cornflowers and the Fuchsia on the back wall shone out.

cornflower and Fuchsia

I picked a few strawberries and was more than happy to find some in good condition after the rain and then I looked at the blackcurrants.  They were ready to pick and Mrs Tootlepedal and I cleared the bush off.  They haven’t been netted but the birds had left us plenty and they will soon be converted to blackcurrant jelly.

I should mention that we have had to eat strawberries nearly every day for what seems like weeks but we are bearing up bravely.

After tea, I went to off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  The events of the day in the political world have been so extraordinary that we spent some time putting the world to rights before we started to play but once we got going, we had an enjoyable musical evening.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that Mike’s wife occasionally glances at the blog so I will take this opportunity to mention that not only are Mike’s political views very sound  but he also  played very well tonight (as he always does of course).

The flower of the day is a knapweed.  It is a wonderfully complex thing when looked at closely.


And the flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit to Nottingham Castle by my brother Andrew.  No sign of the sheriff.

Nottingham Castle

For the first time in a while, I had a good night’s sleep and woke refreshed and invigorated.  It hardly needs saying that the weather gods had a really good laugh at this and made it rain from morning until night.

It was a thoroughly depressing day meteorologically speaking but I enjoyed myself in a very quiet sort of way in spite of it.

I sneaked out in a light drizzle to snap some raindrops.


The first ligularia blooms had collected a few.

opium poppy

A new poppy had collected some more.


A spirea got into the act.


But the winner was a nasturtium.

That was the high spot of the morning and luckily the afternoon was provided with rich entertainment in the form of a very exciting stage of the Tour de France and if you want to see something really out of the usual, try to find a clip of Chris Froome speeding down the last hill of the day (Stage 8).

I did occasionally look out of the kitchen window but with the town firmly in the grip of low cloud, the light wasn’t very helpful.


I am always pleased to see a greenfinch


A rather ruffled goldfinch

And that was the total excitement for the day.  It felt more like midwinter than midsummer but to be fair, it was almost warm enough for the time of year.

The forecast offers us some cool but sunny weather next week so in the meantime, we can look forward to that.

The flower of the day is a vase of cornflowers in the kitchen.  Mrs Tootlepedal has some in her ‘cutting garden’ and they certainly brightened a dull day up.


The flying  bird of the day is a suitably gloomy siskin.



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Today’s guest picture shows Queen Mary’s garden in Regents Park in London.  My sister Mary was passing through last week.

Queen Mary's garden, Regent's Park

My day was divided into three movements, Adagio, Moderato and Lento.

The morning was very adagio indeed and the casual observer might have had quite a lot of difficulty in telling whether I was asleep or awake.  It was a pleasant and dry day so I roused myself enough to walk round the garden.

The most striking thing there was the first opium poppy of the summer.  It was hard to miss.

opium poppy

It was joined by a newly out clematis which is shown here flanked by two Dutch irises.

iris and clematis

The mixed cornflowers continue to please the eye.  One had been joined by a friend.


The warmth had brought out another first, a day lily, seen here with a gorgeous courgette.

courgette and day lily

There is abundance on all sides.

geraniums and philadelphus

Geranium and Philadelphus

Among the flowers, a diffident young blackbird posed for me.


I went back in and kept an eye on the bird feeder.  There were regrettable incidents of sparrow stamping.

siskins and sparrow stamping

The sparrow was more than up for it though and the siskin flew off unable to shake it loose.

A visitor for Mrs Tootlepedal arrived and while she was being shown round the garden, I noticed that the Astrantia was attracting even more bumble bees than usual.  It seemed as though almost every flower had a friend.  The Cotoneaster was a draw as well.

white tailed bumble bee

There were other bees.

bee on astrantia

Although I am very happy to see so many bees about, I would be happier still if they were joined by some butterflies.  We are a butterfly free zone at the moment.

After the quiet morning, a bit more action was required so I got the fairly speedy bike out and set off to see where it would take me.

There was a brisk wind in my face and I was far from a bundle of energy but I pedalled steadily along in a low gear and soon found myself at Paddockhole, 10 miles from home.  I was seriously  thinking of turning back at this point, fed up with the constant wind but curiously enough I found myself pedalling on up the hill to Corrie Common.

A cow was cross that I had disturbed her and stamped her foot.


Once at Corrie Common, it only seemed sensible to go on to Lockerbie and return to Paddockhole by the other road so this was what I did.

I stopped to photograph the golf course at Lockerbie, which was looking very well kept.  This may be have been helped by the fact that there didn’t seem to be anyone paying golf on it.  It is much easier to keep a course looking neat if it doesn’t have a lot of old men on it hacking chunks out of the turf.

Golf course Lockerbie

Cycling home with the wind behind was a treat and I stopped again to add to the recent wild flower collection.

vetch and rattle

Vetch and rattle (I think)

My reactions weren’t very quick today and I saw several interesting plants, including an orchid, but by the time that they had registered on my conciousness, I was well past them and too lazy to go back for a second look.

For the first time, I saw all six of the new windmills in action though some of them seem to be sited behind a ridge rather than on top of it which is odd.


Still they were all going round so perhaps the owners know what they are doing.

Those interested in the cycle route can click on the map below for further details.

garmin route 5 July 2016

The gentle speed was in keeping with the tempo of the day.  In my defence, it is a very undulating route.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had only just come in from a hard afternoon of work in the garden.  She had been doing lots more hedge trimming….

hedge trimming

…but there are still some left to do.

The late afternoon and evening provided a tranquil end to the day.

I realise now why the years seem to go quicker as I get older.  It is not that time moves more quickly at all, it is just that I move a lot more slowly.

The flower of the day is a Martagon Lily with its dancing shoes on…

martagon lily

…and the flying bird is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the sort of food he had to put up with on his recent holiday abroad.


Standing in a gale looking at wild flowers for several hours yesterday proved to be curiously tiring and when I woke up this morning, I felt very much like having a quiet day.

I had a very quiet day.

I was helped to avoid any temptation to do something energetic by a strong wind and occasional rain showers.

I pottered around the garden, enjoying the colours on a grey day…


The mixed packet of cornflower seeds is still providing good value.


Marigolds have joined the garden colour scheme

Sweet William

The Sweet William cheer up the gloomiest days

I thought about mowing some grass.

But I didn’t.

I went inside and did a crossword and looked out of the window.  It was a day when there was always a siskin behind you.

following siskins

I had another garden potter.

The bees were busy.  Every Astrantia seemed to have one (or two).

astrantia with bee

We have sea holly in the garden under its Sunday name of Eryngium.


I went back in and made some carrot and lentil soup for lunch and then settled down to watch the Tour De France on the telly.  Watching cycle racing on the telly is very peaceful for the most part, though the final kilometres usually provide great excitement and that was the pattern today.

When it was over, I added a little tennis to my viewing diet but Mrs Tootlepedal went back out to the garden.  After a while, I went out to see what she was up to.

Attila the gardener was slashing hedges and demolishing box balls…

Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden

…in order to provide a more generous vista at the end of the back path.  She always has a new plan just in case she isn’t doing enough work in the garden already.  I helped by shredding the clippings.

When she had finished, I had a final wander round.


The cardoons are getting taller and wider all the time. Soon they will rule the world.

I found a late iris and a new courgette.

courgette and iris

A Verbascum took the prize for the tallest flower of the day.


After tea, the day floated gently to its end and I am hoping that such a peaceful time will lead to the restoration of full power tomorrow.

The flower of the day is a dahlia…


..and the flying bird is a fuzzy chaffinch (the light wasn’t very good).


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The guest picture of the day is another from my sister Mary’s recent visit to the lake District.

view of lake District

I had hoped to get up early and beat the oncoming rain with a quick bike ride  but when I woke at six o’clock, the rain was already beating on the windows so I rolled over and went back to sleep.

The rain continued until late afternoon so it was a day for getting some of those things done which I had promised to do but hadn’t.

There were moments when the rain eased up to the merest drizzle and I could get out into the garden to investigate a flash of colour hidden deep in the back border.  It turned out to be a lily.


Not the most conspicuous bloom

But I didn’t stay out long  and was soon back inside having coffee with Sandy and then occasionally staring out of the window.

a siskin

A siskin waiting for space on the feeder.


There was always a queue

I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  Sandy has started to help with this task and has taken a great load off my shoulders for which I am very grateful but I still need to do my share so some more rainy days will help me get going.

I made some picture cards to sell for Archive Group funds and did some work to get Langholm Heritage DVDs about the mills and the railways ready to sell in the Information Hub so I was quite pleased with the miserable weather.  Every cloud etc etc.

When the rain finally stopped, I went out into the garden.  It was wet out there…

wet day in the garden

…quite wet…


…but as always there were flowers and promises of flowers to enjoy.


Although it was still rather gloomy, the clouds didn’t look threatening so I went off for a short walk, hoping for the best.

becks track

Another very green track

There was a lot to look at on the way and quite a lot looking at me too.

horse and cow

horse in stable

There was a lot of this yellow flower about.  It looks like a member of the pea family.

yellow wildflower

And a bit of this one too. I don’t know what it is at all.

yellow wildflower

There was red coloured grassy stuff.

red grass

And umbellifera too.


They are often covered in insects. Maybe the rain had kept them off today.

The red clover has prospered this year and the wild raspberries look as though they are going to provide a feast soon.

clover and raspberries

I came down past the Auld Stane Brig, nestling among the trees…

Auld Stane Brig

..and was surprised to see how much water there was going down the Wauchope.  It was rushing over the caul at Pool Corner…

Pool Corner

…and barging into the middle of the stream where it joined the Esk.

Wauchope and Esk

It had obviously been raining harder to the west of the town than to the north as the Esk had hardly risen at all.

Some might think that a day like this was good weather for ducks but I don’t think that this pile of ducklings, huddled together beside the Wauchope, would agree.


A variegated hosta caught my eye as I got back to the house and the weather finally brightened up a bit.


My Friday night orchestra, Alison, had bought a trio sonata by J J Quantz from a second hand bookshop when she was in Wales recently and the cads had not told her that one of the parts was missing so I had a bit of fun putting it on to the computer and I think it will be enjoyable to play from a first look at it.  I am rather slow at doing this so it will provide me with a handy occupation for wet days to come.

No flower of the day today as it was too wet and grey.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow




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Today’s wonderful guest picture is another from my nephew Dan’s visit to Iceland and I put it in as a tribute to Iceland’s victory over the England football team.  Their win was almost as overwhelming as these falls.

Iceland waterfall

We have been promised rain for two days now so I got up early and was out and back from a twenty mile bike ride in time to welcome Dropscone round for coffee.  He has been in Majorca on holiday where he enjoyed a full week of sunshine.  It was good to have him back….and his scones too of course.

I even had time for a look round the garden before he arrived.

New irises have arrived.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Dutch irises unlike the iris Siberica which are pretty well over now.

iris and clematis

Two of the irises with a clematis in the middle

The red campion from our friend Jenny’s garden is looking very beautiful.

red campion

There was a spot of rain just as Dropscone arrived but it was  a false alarm and when he went off to play golf, I went out for a stroll round Gaskell’s and Easton’s Walks.  The New Hampshire Gardener has helpfully suggested a means of getting properly focussed  close ups with my Lumix as I was struggling a bit with this and I put his advice into action.  I need a bit more practice but some of the results were quite good.

I started as soon as I could while walking along the road.


A rather handsomely coloured nettle at Meikleholm

slow worms

The slow worms were clustered in large numbers at Pool Corner

When I got to the track, the greenery was  very green.

Gaskell's walk

I snapped away furiously as I went along.

rose and rosebay willowherb

The roses are very pretty and the rosebay willowherb will make a fine splash of colour soon.

The tracks were lined with grasses and other plants which I cannot name.


And various spiky things too.

spiky things

Some past and some potential

More delicate flowers were to be seen.

pink flower and ragged robin

I don’t know what the little pink flower on the left is. The other is ragged Robin.

The meadow at the Stubholm was a treat, even on a dull day.


When I got back to the Park, I saw a ripple in the Wauchope Water.  It was made by a dipper which was doing some very energetic dipping.

Dipper in wauchope

The weather defied the forecast and stayed dry until well after lunch which let Mrs Tootlepedal do some gardening and let me take some pictures of the annual cornflowers.  One came with added greenfly.


The garden needs some rain after our long dry spell so Mrs Tootlepedal was pleased when it finally arrived (though slightly less pleased that the washing was still hanging out). Our neighbour Liz came to our aid when she realised what the situation was and rushed across the road to warn us so we got it in without much  additional dampness.

The rain didn’t interrupt any great plans as we were safely indoors watching Andy Murray play his first round match at Wimbledon.

I had had a look out of the window before we settled down but as there were no interesting birds to be seen, I took a picture of the floral view from the kitchen instead.

feeder flowers

I had another look when the match was over.


A greenfinch checking things out.

Earlier today, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked on the fact that we hadn’t seen the sparrowhawk for a long time and by a strange coincidence, she spotted one this evening perched in our variegated elder.


It stayed long enough for me to fetch my camera but wouldn’t pose in the open and flew off without catching anything.

The rain continued for the rest of the day but the winds remained very light so once again, we have been lucky.  I am thinking of renaming the local weather forecast as “Project Fear”.

Talking of which, the political situation remains farcical with prominent promoters of the Leave campaign saying that of course they didn’t mean all those things which people who voted for leave might have thought that they meant and they are sure that the people who might have believed them realised that they didn’t really mean them.

On the other side, the people who promoted the Remain campaign with prophecies of absolute economic meltdown are now going round saying, “Everything is firmly under control, nothing to see here, move along.”  It might make you laugh if it didn’t make you cry.

On a mildly amusing note, Conservative politicians who have been telling Scots that there can be no possible need for another referendum on independence ever after the ‘decisive’ vote two years ago are now busy floating the idea of another EU referendum very soon so that the voters can get it right this time.

Ah well.

The flying bird of the day is a young sparrow.

flying sparrow


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