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Posts Tagged ‘black backed gull’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Welsh correspondent Keiron, who thought that a Welsh lamb would be appropriate for the time of year. I thought so too.

Kieran lamb

We had another in the run of dry and warmish days that have made March such a contrast to February.  Once again there was thin cloud about but there was plenty of sunshine too and the temperature had no trouble in leaping into double figures (just).

Some daffodils appreciated the sunshine…

daff in sun

…but others are still hanging their heads.

daff drooping

I am developing the skills  required for facing the lockdown and have learned to stretch time to fill the available space.  Where it might have taken me five minutes last week to put my socks on in the morning, now it takes me ten, and where I might have taken five minutes to walk round the garden to check if anything new had appeared, now it might take me a full quarter of an hour.  In this way, the day positively rushes by with no need for extra activities to fill it up at all.

And there was new grwoth in the garden, an emerging grape hyacinth…

first grape hyacinth

…and signs of cracking in the magnolia buds.

magnolia bud

But pride of place in the novelty stakes goes to the cardamine

cardomine

I paid a visit to our local shop and got almost all of what was needed but unfortunately couldn’t get any set honey so I will have to go again tomorrow.  As well as the lack of honey, there was a marked lack of oyster catchers on the river bank on my way home.

My friend Dropscone rang up to have a chat in lieu of coffee and scones and in the course of the conversation revealed one of the deadly hidden perils of the lockdown.  His daughter Susan, who has been laid off and has got time on her hands, is intending to tidy the house.  Dropscone is worried.  How will he ever find anything again?

The tidy bug affected us too and after having had our logs in cheerful disarray for a long time…

rough wood pile

…Mrs Tootlepedal is getting some order into the log store.

neat wood pile

We made good use of an old raised bed surround, I thought.

While Mrs Tootlepedal gardened, I shifted another third of the compost from Bin B into Bin C and should finish the job tomorrow.  Last year, I might have done it all in a ‘oner’  but the new expanded time method applies to composting as well as socks.

After lunch, I went out for my permitted exercise.

It was a day for cycling, and it started well with this fine display of daffodils against a wall just as I left the town.

Alix daffs

It wasn’t all plain sailing though as there was a stiff wind in my face as I headed west and it took me an hour to do the first ten miles.  I was glad to have en excuse to stop to take a picture of this tree on a very steep slope.

tree before grange quarry

I have photographed it before but I am always pleased to see it still resisting the pull of gravity, and if I can keep cycling, I expect that it may well appear again if it survives.

I got as far west as Paddockhole, and then I turned north and headed for Bailliehill up the valley of the Water of Milk.  There are turbines on every side here already….

ewe hill wind farm

…and more are going to appear in the near future.

But it remains a very peaceful valley and a pleasure to cycle up.

water of milk valley

I could see the work being done to prepare the ground for the new turbines in the shadow of the existing wind farm.

crossdykes windfarm

As a bonus for elederly cyclists, the narrow road across the hill has been slightly widened to accommodate the lorry traffic for the wind farm and this lets a car pass me without either of us having to stop.

road to bailliehill

I only met one car though.

At the top of the hill, just before the road swoops down to join the course of the River Esk, this lonely man made pond had been well filled with water by the February rains.

pond at bailliehill

The wind had been behind me from Paddockhole and I had been blown up the hill so I expected that once I turned at Bailliehill to follow the road back to Langholm I might find the wind a bit troublesome.

My fears were largely unfounded and the wind was helpful more often than not so I was able to maintain a reasonable speed to Bentpath, where I stopped to admire the bridge and church, looking at their best.

westerkirk bridge and church

And I took in the view across the river at the same time.

benty and the fell

As I got nearer to Langholm, the hills which were sheltering me from the wind also left me in shadows, while the sun shone on the opposite side of the valley.

view towards potholm

It was still warm enough to make me happy that I only had had to put on two layers of clothing after months of cycling wrapped up like a Christmas parcel.

As I came down Caroline Street in the early evening sunshine at the very end of the ride, my neighbour Irving popped out of a side road and ambushed me.  You can see that I like to wear clothing that passing motorists can’t fail to notice.

biker

Thanks to Irving and Libbie for sending me the picture

Mrs Tootlepedal made a sausage stew for our tea and another day of the crisis passed off peacefully.

In the continued total absence of flying birds at our feeder, the non flying bird of the day is a ‘shopping trip’ gull in the midst of the very sparkly Esk river this morning.

gull in sunshine

Footnote: members of the camera club have sent me some pictures for our virtual gallery while the club is not meeting and they can be seen here: www.langholmcameraclub.org

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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 very appropriate guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He not only photographed this Halloween lantern but also carved it himself and grew the plant too.  A man of many talents.

andrew's halloween

We had another in our run of frosty mornings but dry days today and after coffee, I went out for a walk with my bird watching camera to see if there were any obliging gulls at the Kilngreen.

Before I left, I had a quick round up of some surviving flowers in the garden.  The phlox is very amazing.

last october flowers

I also checked the birds and found a dunnock considering the seed feeder and a blackbird nibbling on an apple.

dunnock and blackbird

When I got to the Kilngreen, the first black headed gull that I met was standing on a rock.

black headed gull on rock

And then I noticed that a lot more were standing around nearby.

black headed gulls Kilngreen

Some gulls kindly took to the air and flew slowly past me…

black headed gull flying

They were joined by a black backed gull.

black backed gull flying 2

While I was walking up the river bank, I came to this brand new bench.  It has been put in place to remember a local farrier who was a great supporter of the Common Riding where his skills were often in demand.

memorial bench Kilngreen

Below the bench, two mallards cruised past…

two mallards

…and further upstream, a dog did what a dog does when it has been chasing a ball into the cold waters of the Ewes.

shaggy dog

Having spent some time, hanging with the gulls, I moved onto the Castleholm…

bare tree castleholm

…and walked round the new path, looking up at the pine trees as I passed under them.

pine

I crossed the Jubilee Bridge and thought that I ought to try to take a picture of it.  I scrambled down the banking and took this view from the water’s edge.

jubilee bridge from below

And I looked across the Esk while I was down there.

esk at jubilee bridge

On my way round the Scholars’ Field path, I once again stopped to admire the staying power of the corydalis which is growing out of a crack in the wall.

corydalis scholars

Some gardeners go to great lengths to prepare soil and nurture their plants.  The Scholars’ Field wall makes you wonder if all that work is needed.

corydalis scholars 2

It doesn’t just have corydalis, there is a small world of plant life in and on it.

scholars wall

When I got home, I was welcomed by a smiling viola.

viola

As it was Thursday, we were set to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda after lunch but we wisely checked on the trains before we set off for Lockerbie.  Our train was thirty minutes late when it left Manchester so we waited until we were sure that it was well on its way before we set off.

Even so we were too early as it was even later by the time that it got to Lockerbie.  It had also changed from the usual four coach electric train to a three coach diesel set.  We were naturally worried about whether there would be enough seats for everyone.

When I left the waiting room to go on to the platform. I thought at first sight that one of the planes passing over the town had pulled a hand brake turn…

air handbrake turn

…until a second glance showed me that it was two planes going in opposite directions.

There were seats on the train when it eventually arrived and the diesel chugged away and got us safely to Edinburgh where we had an enjoyable visit.  I won’t say who won the three games of Carcassonne that we played but regular readers may well be able to guess who lost them all.

After our evening meal, Matilda went out guising…

Matilda the witch

…and her mother and father and I escorted her round some very friendly neighbours who had marked their willingness to dispense sweets and nuts to passing witches by placing a Halloween lantern outside their front doors.   I thought that this was a very good idea and as they all laughed heartily at Matilda’s joke of the day*, it was a very satisfactory outing.

Our train home was a little late too, and it was raining by the time we came to drive home which was a disappointment after our recent good spell of weather.

I was spoiled for choice for a flying bird of the day today, but in the end I settled on this black headed gull from my morning walk.

black headed gull flying 2

*  Knock Knock….Who’s there?…..Boo…..Boo who?…..Don’t be sad.

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