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Posts Tagged ‘black headed gulls’

Today’s guest picture comes from our younger son Alistair.  He came across these Christmas baubles in the Botanical gardens in Edinburgh.  As they were the size of footballs, he was quite impressed by them.

baubles botanic

We didn’t have much sparkle here as it was another grey and chilly day.  Any brightness was provided by the arrival of Dropscone (with scones) for coffee.  When he left, he was thinking about going to play golf as the temperature was around 5°C and I thought that it was just warm enough for a pedal.

Although it has been cold, it hasn’t rained recently so the roads were dry enough for comfortable riding and I had a calm pedal round my customary Canonbie route.  I had thought of going a little  bit further but was happy to settle for just the twenty miles as hands and feet were getting quite cold by the time that I got home.

Between not wanting to stand around getting even colder and the very poor light, I was intending not to stop for any stop for pictures but I was brought up short by a new sign beside the road at Hollows.

canonbie walk board

Some enterprising group has encouraged the council to put up a set of signs along a popular walking route from the village.  They are nicely done.  This one has the added benefit of being placed near a set of some slightly mysterious stone sculptures which have been anonymously placed in a little wood beside the river.

carving 1 hollows

There are disconcerting when you first see them as they are so unexpected.

carving 2 hollows far

The inscription on the helmet is quite apposite.

carving 2 hollows

When I got home, I took a picture of the first snowdrops of the year which are on the bank of the dam at the back of our house.  They have arrived a week or two earlier than usual this year.

snowdrops by dam

In the garden, the magnolia buds are looking healthy and ready to burst.

magnolia bud

I had lunch and tried to catch a bird at the feeder outside the kitchen window.  It was one of those days however when the very poor light and the flighty behaviour of the very few birds that were about meant that I didn’t take a single garden bird picture, a very rare occurrence.

In the end, I went for a short walk just for the sake of finding something to look at but I had left it too late and the already poor light had got even worse.  I pointed my camera around all the same.

This gull had found a taller spot to sit on rather than the fence posts at the Kilngreen and was on top of an electricity pole.

gull on lectricity pole

There were no gulls at the Kilngreen when I got there and after a pretty dry spell, there wasn’t much water in the rivers either.low water

I had to use the flash to take pictures of lichen on the sawmill Brig parapet…

bridge lichen

…and some spleenwort on the wall by the Lodge gates…

spleenwort back

…but there was just enough light to note that a mole had been busy down here too.

moles by lodge gates

I have a soft spot for trees that seem to have been cobbled together from small pieces.

many treed trunk

And I liked the combination of different bark colours, moss and lichen on this tree on the Castleholm.

moss and lichen on tree

But all in all, the cold and the greyness didn’t encourage me to linger and I soon got home again.

I had made some ginger biscuits in the morning and although they weren’t as successful as my last batch, they were quite suitable for dunking in a cup of tea so I did just that.

Since our Carlisle choir starts again this Sunday, I spent a little time doing some singing practising and then had another cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker who had come to call.

As Mike’s wife Alison is not back to full piano playing fitness after injuring her shoulder, there was no music in the evening and Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent a quiet evening in.

I couldn’t find a flying bird in the garden today so this distant shot of gulls flying across the Esk this afternoon is my best effort at a flying bird of the day.

flying gull flock

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She is getting out and about again after a hip operation and was able to enjoy the colour in Regents Park today.

regents park

We had a very lovely sunny day today, though with the wind coming from the east, it was lovelier if you could find a sheltered spot.

When I went to bed last night, I gave my sore leg a gentle massage as I generally do but on this occasion, I hit upon just the right spot to work on with the result that when I woke up, the pain had gone down dramatically.

It was with a light heart therefore that I cycled along with Mrs Tootlepedal to the Buccleuch Centre where a small group of singers from Langholm Sings had been asked to sing carols at the British Heart Foundation coffee morning.   We had no accompaniment so did the best we could and this must have not been too bad because after we had paused and had a cup of coffee, we were asked to sing again.  Although it is a bit early for carols, it was an enjoyable occasion and got the day off to a good start.

Things got better when Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out to cycle the three and a bit miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse to test out my leg.

Mrs Tootlepedal led the way….

Mrs T cycling

…and I followed behind, taking things very easily up any hills.

Mrs Tootlepedal stopped to examine a telegraph pole and I considered the mystery of why some rosebay willowherb  still keeps its white seed heads…

rosebay willowherb

…while others are quite bare.

There were a lot of catkins on the trees along our way.

catkins

The wind had blown us up the hill on our way out but although it was chilly when it was in our face coming back, it wasn’t very strong and I could appreciate the fine weather and the leafless scenery…

bare tree and monument

…and it all made for another enjoyable experience.

And my leg didn’t hurt.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set to work on a pantomime costume which she is making up and I went to look for flying birds.

I had set the camera up when we got back from cycling but a builder arrived to fix some broken tiles and that put paid to bird watching so I headed off for the Kilngreen in the hope of finding some black headed gulls in the air.

There was a line of them at the meeting of the waters…

gulls at meeting of waters

…but none in the air.

When I walked towards them, they rose up but instead of flying about in a useful way, they settled down immediately on the fence posts beside the Ewes water.

gulls in post

I waited hopefully but the gulls refused to leave their posts.  I nobly resisted the temptation to say “Boo!” very loudly.

I waited a bit more, and it has to be admitted that there are worse places to hang about than the Kilngreen on a sunny day….

kilngreen on an sunny november day

…but in the end, I gave up and set off towards the Sawmill Brig with a view to walking round the Castleholm.

I hadn’t gone very far though before something disturbed the gulls and they whizzed past me in all directions.

gull and lampost

flying gull with trees

I snapped away for a while and then crossed the Sawmill Brig, admired the moss on the Castleholm wall…

moss on wall

…and walked back down to the edge of the river and cautiously approached the posts where the gulls were back in their positions.

gulls on Castleholm posts

gull on Castleholm posts

Obligingly, one or two of them took off and gave me a low level fly past.

 

gull above ewes water

I left them to themselves and continued my walk along the path beside the river.

Intrigued by Mrs Tootlepedal’s new found interest in electricity poles, I stopped to check on one near the cricket club.  It had many carved inscriptions on it…

electricity pole castleholm

I couldn’t interpret any of them.

The horizontal line was quite low so I take it that this means that the pole is well planted in the ground.  It didn’t have a stay at any rate.

One advantage of the season is that bridges come more into view as the leaves disappear and I could see the Jubilee Bridge well before I got to it.

jubilee bridge november

I looked back from the bridge towards the path that I had come along.  I still think of it as ‘the new path’ but it is looking quite well integrated now.

new path november

There was enough sunshine left for a walk round the garden when I got home…

november colour in garden

…and then I retired indoors to rest my leg before I got too cocky and did something to set it off again.

Having manged a six mile bike ride and walked a mile and a half, I was very pleased to find that my leg was still pretty much pain free by the end of the day.  I will give it another rub on the same spot tonight!

I settled down to watch Scotland play South Africa at rugby football and after a scintillating first half in which both teams played an open and interesting game, the second half was a disappointment as South Africa closed the game down and Scotland reverted to making crucial mistakes when under pressure.

The defeat was not unexpected though as South Africa are one of top teams in the world.   What was much more surprising was that the Scottish association football team actually managed to win a vital game in the evening and by a handsome margin.

It is a clear night here so I am going to keep an eye out for shooting stars as there are supposed to be some around in the early hours but in the  meantime, I leave you with a high flying gull as the flying bird of the day.  It makes a welcome change from the interminable chaffinches.

flying gull in sky

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who found some nice light in a quarry on a walk at Little Eaton.

Andrew's quarry

The main excitement of the day was caused by the arrival of workmen who are going to replace the bridge over the dam in the street outside our house. Our road will be shut for a month.

Dam bridge repair

The road is closed to traffic and pedestrians and it gives us a great talking point.

They soon got to work outside and in the meantime, Mrs Tootlepedal got to work inside the house on giving the kitchen a thorough clean.

Under these circumstances, I thought it better not to get in anyone’s way and went off for a walk.  It was dry, reasonably bright and just above freezing so it was a good day for me to check to see if my recent bike folly had given me any aches and pains that hadn’t come to light yet.

I chose a three mile route with a little uphill road work and some gentle contouring round a hillside and this let me know that all my moving parts were in very good order.

This was a relief.

It also gave me the opportunity to have a look around as I went along.

There were gulls….

gulls

….and interesting walls, fence posts and some hair ice as I walked along the main road.

moss and hair ice

Once I turned up hill on the Newcastleton road,  I began to get views…

View of ewes in winter

….with the occasional glimpse of snow and windmills….

View of esk valley

….which were made better by seeing that down below to the south, The Solway was swathed in mist.

mist over Solway

I kept an eye on fence posts for interesting mosses and lichens but in the end, the most interesting thing that I saw was a fence post….

knothole with moss

….though it was amazing that moss had  found space to grow in the tiny cracks in the knothole.

I walked along the hill.

It is a mystery that while some hawthorns have been stripped of berries, others remain with a good crop still attached.

haws

I had a look down at the town….

Langholm from Whita

….and then walked towards it.

As I came off the hill to go past the golf course, my eye was drawn to a mossy wall.

mossy wall

Closer examination revealed that there was a lot of lichen on the wall as well as moss…

lichen and moss

…and by far the most striking thing to be seen was a bright red display of cladonia lichen.

cladonia lichen

I think this is British Soldier lichen, Cladonia Cristatella.

P1070063

The views were still good as I came down the Kirk Wynd and the sun came out to make it very pleasant day.

Looking towards Peden's view

I thought that I had seen some unusual moss on a stone but when I looked again, it seemed more likely to be some sort of sedum.

sedum

By the time that I got home, the bridge mending team had got well stuck into the task.

dam bridge repair

The disturbance from the work had kept the birds away in the early morning but as I made some soup for lunch, they returned to the feeder….

busy feeder

….in enough numbers to  make some shouting inevitable.

_DSC1118

After lunch, I had to visit the health centre to get some modest scrapes checked to see that they were healing nicely.  They were but another visit later in the week is still needed.

When I got home again, I found that the eager bridge repair men had dug so vigorously that they had cut through our water pipe.  Mrs Tootlepedal had warned them about where it was but they had preferred to rely on the water board’s view that it was somewhere else.

A water board man appeared and mended the pipe.  Mrs Tootlepedal felt slightly smug.

I visited a neighbour with a bird feeder for her to try out, as she has found that jackdaws eat all her bird food almost as soon as she puts it out.  I got rewarded with a cup of coffee and two chocolate biscuits.  I may have to go back soon and check how it is doing.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we had a play.  I was pleased to see that I was able to play the flute even though I had bruised my mouth a bit and so after tea,  I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

None of the three of us are in peak condition at the moment so we didn’t play at our best by any means but the session was still very enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day really is a flying bird today.  It is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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