Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘blackbird’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  The golf course is closed at the moment so he is going for walks and he passed one of my favourite trees  a day or two ago.  He thinks that it is a bit like us, just hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

tree above whitshiels

It was colder today and the wind was stronger so when the sun stopped shining, it didn’t feel like spring at all.

But when the sun was shining in the morning, nothing could have looked more cheerful than this delicately outlined beauty.

outline primrose

Slightly less elegant is the comfrey but any flowers are welcome.

comfrey

There were even one or two chaffinches at the feeder…

male chaffinch

…though they wouldn’t visit when I was looking.

female chaffinch

There was tidying up work in the garden again as Mrs Tootlepedal did more work on the log store and I attacked an innocent bush with the hedge trimmer.  There was a lot of shredding too.  Then I did some shopping but failed to see any interesting waterside birds on my way home.

Mrs Tootlepedal knocked up some lentil soup for lunch and afterwards I went for a walk.

I had ambitious plans to walk over some rough country and up a steep hill (and on my way to see some interesting things).

I did see a distant dipper at the Sawmill Brig…

fuzzy dipper

…but it flew off before I could get a clear shot.

And I noticed that the peltigera lichen on the wall had got white edges which looked interesting so I looked closer.  They were interesting.

peltgera lichen

I walked along the track north, admiring the trees and looking at the grey clouds…

tree and grey clouds

…and wondered whether, in view of the very strong and chilly north wind, a walk up a steep hill was a good idea.  I had just decided that it was a really good idea when I got a stroke of luck.

One of the minor deities in charge of the Celestial Department for Making Sure that Old People Don’t Make a Fool of Themselves (SOPPYDATES) sent a short but very savage hailstorm towards me accompanied by very heavy gusts of extra chilly wind.

It didn’t take me long to change my mind and head back towards more sheltered and level paths.  To reward my good sense, the minor deities then arranged for some blue sky to arrive and make me feel good about the choice.

blue sky

It wasn’t long before the sun came out, and sheltered from the cruel wind, I enjoyed a stroll through the woods…

sunshine above hlmhead

…taking a track which I had not followed before…

path in woods

…though I stopped when I got to the bottom of this hill and left this to be explored on another day…

track in woods

…while I dropped back down to the track above the river which I had followed on my last outing.

veiw from Longfauld

I had to be careful to look where I was treading as I took that picture of the view up the valley.

fuzz

I have had some discussion with my Somerset correspondent as to whether the bird in the plum tree in yesterday’s post, which we thought might be a meadow pipit, was in fact a song thrush.  As a result, I was interested to see some birds in a field today which looked like meadow pipits to me as they seemed too small to be thrushes.

meadow pipit 2

I was carrying two cameras and took a picture with both of them as the Lumix could see closer but not so clearly as the Nikon.

meadow pipit 1

Perhaps they were thrushes too, I find it hard to tell.

I followed the track round the pheasant hatchery….

tree at tip of castleholm

…and dropped down to the riverside to enjoy the clear water running over the stones in the river bed.

clear water dowies pool

The minor deities intervened again at this stage, as they thought that I had been out long enough.  A smattering of hail was sent down to encourage me to get home without wasting any more time.

I did see the nuthatch on the Castleholm again but it was too far up the tree for me to get a photograph and I didn’t want to hang about on the off chance of a better view in case of more hail.

I got home after a much more pleasant three and a half mile walk than I would have had if I had been battling the winds on the open hill.

I was looking at last year’s posts for this month and saw that we had our first tulip out on the 30th March in 2019.  It is going to be a close run thing but as it is going to be cold again tomorrow, I don’t think that these are going to be out by Monday this year.

potential tulips

I will be happy to be proved wrong.

Once I was safely indoors, the sun came out again.

sunlit evening flowers

Our resident blackbird stood on our fence to take up his position as non flying bird of the day.

resident blackbird

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture(s) shows the wonderful flowers organised by Valeria, Joe’s sister-in-law, for Joe and Annie’s recent ceremony …..

cake

….some of which turned out to be entirely edible, pot and all.  There were made by the Botanical Baker.

cake cut

We had another fine day here and we are in danger of getting so used to good weather that it will come as a nasty shock when it starts raining again.

In the meantime, we are enjoying it.

We spent the morning in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal working, and I wandering  about.  It was she who spotted the visitors though.

We usually have to wait until next month before we see a small tortoiseshell or….

small totoiseshell butterfly on chionodoxa

…a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly on chionodoxa

…so I don’t think that I can have ever taken a picture of a butterfly visiting scillas before.

And although the sight of a small tortoiseshell butterfly warming its wings in the sun on a paving stone is quite familiar…

small totoiseshell butterfly sunning

…I am pretty sure that this is my first ever shot of a peacock on a daffodil.

peacock butterfly on daff

To add to the garden of delights, a little flock of blue tits passed through and one sat one enough to get its picture taken.

bue tit in garden

At different times I took my pocket camera out to admire the flowers….

pulmonaria, buttercup, fritillary, scilla

…and my bird camera to do the same, though on this occasion my shot of the scillas was photobombed by a butterfly.

daffs, primrose and tortoiseshell

I spent some fruitless time trying to catch any of the many bees that were buzzing about but they would visit the hellebores and disappear into the down facing flowers.

The tidying up bug was in evidence again today, and we added a second shelf to our library of logs…

log library

…I finished the transfer of Bin B to Bin C (and an overflow to Bin D)…

compost in progress

…and Mrs Tootlepedal tidied up the greenhouse sufficiently to give her somewhere to have a rest after all the activity.

Mrs T resting

For the first time this year, it was positively warm in the garden and there was no need for a coat.

Once again, birds didn’t come to the feeder but the garden wasn’t entirely birdless by any means.  We have resident blackbirds and dunnocks.

blackbird and dunnock on fence

I made some brown lentil soup for lunch.  This was a triumph because to make brown lentil soup you both have to remember to soak the lentils over night, and then crucially, to remember that you have got soaked lentils ready for soup making the next day.

After lunch and a bit of a rest, I went out for my permitted exercise of the day.  (Mrs Tootlepedal is taking her exercise in the garden.)

As I had cycled yesterday, I walked today, and was quite happy to do so as by this time, the wind had got up and, coming from the north as it was, there was a distinct nip in the air at times.

Still, in sheltered spots, it was warm and I chose a few sheltered spots to pass through on my way.

Walk 2 Duchess Bridge

I was following the route of Walk 2 of the Langholm Walks, though in the ‘wrong’ direction.

wood at Breckonwrae

When I got out of the woods and onto the road to Potholm, the views of the woods…

Potholm hill ridge

…and hills on the far side of the river…

Potholm Hill

…..were quite good enough to make me ignore the breeze.

And if I got bored with the views, the famous two headed lambs of Milnholm were always a distraction.

milnholm lambs

I crossed the river by Potholm Bridge and and walked up the hill to the track back to Langholm,

This seat came in handy after the climb up the hill from the river and I rested there for a moment.

bench above potholm

There were plenty of clumps of wild primroses beside the track…

primroses Langfauld

…and views back towards the road that I had walked along earlier…

Looking back over Milnholm

…and I got back to the Castleholm in good order.  I spent some time there trying to see if I could spot the nuthatch that I saw the other day, but it wasn’t playing today so I went home.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out and had made another shelf for the log library.  We will fill it up tomorrow.

We had baked potatoes for tea followed by the forced rhubarb, glazed and roasted and served with custard for afters.

Once again a standing bird is standing in for the flying bird of the day.  In saw this lone oyster catcher as I came along the Esk  at the end of my afternoon exercise.

evening oyster catcher

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  On a clear day recently, he was able to look across the Forth and see North Berwick.  We haven’t organised a holiday there for this year yet.  This may be the closest we get to it.

north berwick

On a normal Sunday at this time of year, we would go to Church to sing in the church choir in the morning, and then go to Carlisle to sing with Community Choir in the afternoon.  Thanks to the dreaded virus, both church and community choir are closed for the foreseeable future and time hung heavy on my hands.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with community buy out work, but I just mooched around feeling hard done by, not even being able to raise enthusiasm for a walk or even compost sieving.

On the bright side it was another sunny and dry day (after another frosty start) so I did wander around the garden where I found a lot of the potential tadpoles developing well.

developing tadpoles

The cold mornings are not encouraging new growth so I had to make do with daffodils…

daffodil in sun

..and chionodoxas for floral cheer again.

chionodoxa clump

The silver pear is offering signs of hope…

silver pear march 22

…and a single flower on the head of a drumstick primula hinted at good times to come.

first primula flower

Mrs Tootlepedal and I were sitting on our new bench enjoying the warmth of the sun when we heard the buzzing of a bee.  I rushed to get a camera but only managed a very fuzzy shot of the buzzer.

faint bee

Any bee is welcome though.

Taking a last shot of a fancy cowslip, I went in to make lentil and carrot soup for lunch.

cowslip

After lunch, I stirred myself enough to get my bicycle out in the hope that the good Dr Velo would offer a cure for my blues.  It was not very warm in spite of the sun and the temperature was still in single figures, but the wind wasn’t too bad.

The blue sky was almost cloudless and the good doctor soon began to work his magic, helped perhaps by the fact that I had chosen a very easy route, my favourite Sunday ride down the main roads to the Roman Wall and back again.

As I passed the junction at the start of the Canonbie by-pass, I thought that I heard people hooting at me but when I looked up, I saw it was a skein of birds flying overhead.  I stopped and got out my camera but they were well past me before I could press the shutter.

gaggle

I cycled over the bridge at Longtown and was pleased to see that work has started on repairing one side of the bridge at least.

It is not  a very photogenic ride but a bright bracket fungus on a tree stump did make me stop…

barcket fungus newtown road

…and I was happy to see young lambs at the far side of the field.

two lambs

It was a clear day and I could see the final fling of the northern English fells in the distance.

north england hills

I got to Newtown, my twenty mile turning point, and was glad of a rest to eat a banana while sitting on my customary seat…

newtown bench

…and admiring the daffodils round the old village drinking fountain.

newtown pump with daffs

The wind had been in my face the whole way down so I was fully expecting the weather gods to play their usual tricks and either change the wind direction or let it die away completely on my return journey.

On this occasion though they were at their most benign, and after taking 90 minutes for the southern leg, I only needed 79 minutes for the return to the north.

I paused for this fine English tree…

longtown road tree

…and for the Welcome to Scotland sign at the border.

welcome to scotland

It is not an impressive gateway to our beautiful country, comprising as it does of a scruffy lay-by, two litter bins and a slew of ill matched road signs.  To add to the lack of warmth in the welcome, the illuminated digital sign up the road was telling people to stop doing all this travelling around anyway.

“Ceud mìle fàilte” as they say.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy afternoon split between business and the garden but she had finished by the time that I got back so I nodded at a blackbird perched on the greenhouse…

blackbird

…and went in to join her.

Mrs Tootlepedal hunted out some more of her chicken cacciatore and we had it with rice for our tea.

I had tinned peach slices with Mackie’s excellent ice cream for afters, and that rounded off a day that ended with me feeling much better than when it had begun.

I had thought that the skein of birds that flew across me when I was cycling were geese of some sort but a closer look on the computer showed me that all my flying birds of the day were not geese but swans.

gaggle closer

It’s not often that all your geese are swans.  It was lucky that I saw them because there was hardly a bird at the feeder all day.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s Moroccan adventure.  Thinking that my flying birds are getting a bit prosaic, she sent me these flying goats.

venetia's moroccan goats

We had another miserable grey day here today, dull in the morning and getting wetter later.

Mrs Tootlepedal was extremely busy all day delivering the letters with the brochures regarding the community land buy out.  Helpful volunteers did a lot of delivering too but she had a good deal to do herself.

I was really creaky in the morning so I didn’t help but I did manage to do some shopping and cook tomato soup for lunch.

I took a couple of peaceful birds in between times.

chaffinch on stalkrepoll posing

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal had a rest for a while while the birds on the feeder went into full action mode in the rain.

siskins in the rian

A siskin showed off his kung fu moves…

kung fu siskin

…while a greenfinch dared anyone to come near him.

greenfinch unmoved

While siskins flew in every direction, a goldfinch got its head down and tucked into as many seeds as it could eat before it got attacked.

goldfinch tucking in

The hustle and bustle was relentless…

siskin attack

…and even the redpolls joined in.

redpoll attack

An unfortunate chaffinch found itself getting abused by siskins from in front and a redpoll from behind.

chaffinch getting a shouting

The bedraggled blackbird was back again to have a peck at a fat ball which I had put out.

injured blackbird and ball

The rain stopped and I had a quick look for frogs in the pond, but there were none to be seen.  One of the Forsythia buds had made it into flower though…

forsythia flower

…and there is a yellow theme developing.  The small daffodils are out but a bit oppressed by the rain…

small daffs drooping

…and the bigger ones will soon be out.

regular daffs starting

While there was a gap in the rain, we went up to visit Sandy and deliver more letters.  He lives in Holmwood, a large group of houses which are mainly perched on the side of the hill.  This means that almost every house is up or down a path or steps so we got plenty of exercise as we posted the brochures.  Sandy provided us with a welcome cup of tea and some ginger biscuits to keep our strength up.

We went back home after a couple of hours of work and while I settled down to putting another two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive database, the indefatigable Mrs Tootlepedal went off on her bike to deliver yet more letters.  In the rain.

(If non Langholm based readers want to see what the fuss is about, the details of the project can be found here.  Click on the button for the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve to get a picture of the possibilities)

The are more letters to be delivered tomorrow!

The flying bird of the day is a siskin battling through the rain.

flying siskin

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  These are just a few of a large flock of white storks which she saw flying over her in Morocco.

Venetia's Moroccan storks

As it was Friday, Dropscone came round for coffee but in a big turn up for the books, he brought no treacle scones with him.  Plain scones were the order of the day.  He claimed that problems with the Chinese supply chain had led to a lack of treacle in the town but I have my doubts about that.  The plain scones were very satisfactory so I had no complaints.

When he left, I battled with a tricky crossword rather than taking some much needed cycle exercise.  Then I wasted a little more time by looking round the garden.  There is  colour but another three inches of rain recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge…

crocus, primula

…explains why most of the crocuses have given up the unequal struggle and are lying flat on the ground.

I made some lentil soup for lunch (Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work of course) and watched the birds before and after eating it.

Here is a perching siskin, just for Mrs Tootlepedal.

perching siskin

Two greenfinches cvisited the feeder…

two greenfinches

…and the rather battered blackbird foraged for seed below.

wounded backbird

I did catch some feeder action.

feeder activity

In the end, I couldn’t waste any more time and got my cycling gear on and went out for a pedal.  The wind had changed from the prevailing west winds of recent days to an easterly wind today, still chilly but not too strong.

I find it a bit hard to get motivated to cycle these days when the temperatures is in single figures and a chilly wind is blowing, so I chose a route with the wind behind me as I set out to give me early encouragement.

This proved a good idea and I enjoyed the ride a lot.

I stopped for a minute or two at every five mile mark and took a picture, ate some guava jelly and had a drink of water.

Here are the five mile pictures and some details of the ride to give you an idea of how much difference a hill or an adverse breeze makes.

5 Miles:  338ft of elevation gain but a following wind: 26 minutes.

Picture: Two buzzards flew round over my head.

buzzards

10 miles: 250 feet of elevation loss with the wind still behind:  20 minutes, my fastest 5 miles of the trip.

Picture: A hint of blue sky but not enough to make a French sailor a pair of trousers.

blue sky

15 miles:  An elevation loss of 91 ft and with the wind still behind, 21 minutes.

Picture: The rather odd looking mismatch between the porch and church in Eaglesfield.

Eaglesfield church

20 miles: A net elevation loss of 58 ft (pretty well flat) with the wind now across. 23 minutes.

Picture: An alder catkin looking good.

alder catking old A74

25 miles:  Another flat section, more or less dead straight with an elevation loss of 59 ft, wind still across. 23 minutes.

Picture: An old mill and forge converted to accommodation to take advantage of the Gretna wedding trade.

mill at gretna

30 miles: Turning for home.  Wind across but more helpful than not: 171 ft of elevation gain.  28 minutes.

Picture: The international border bridge between Scotland (this side) and England (over there)

sark border brodge

I looked over the bridge to see if Boris Johnson had managed to bring the nations of the UK closer together as is his stated wish, but the gap between the banks remained exactly the same as ever. Must try harder.

river sark

I had stuck to my plan of only taking pictures every five miles up to this point but I cracked when I saw the last tree in England just before I went back into Scotland…

last tree in England

…the first lambs of the year at Glenzier…

first lambs glenzier

…and this charming little hill at Ryehills Farm.

raehill trig point

I got back to business again.

35 miles:  A net gain of 156 ft (some of it steep!) and a reasonably helpful wind,  28 minutes.

Picture:  Curious bulls near Wauchope Schoolhouse.

bloch bull

40 miles:  Back down the hill into the town with a couple of miles through the town and back added to round off the distance.  Net height loss of 188ft, sheltered from the wind. 21 minutes

Picture:  The view of the bridge over the dam and the gate to Wauchope Cottage,  always a welcome sight.

 

dam bridge

I reached a heady average speed of 13.5 mph after 15 miles with the wind behind me, but the changes of direction and the hills on the way back home, took their toll and I ended with an  average of 12.5 mph.   Towards the end of the trip, the wind obligingly moved round a few points so it wasn’t against me as much as it might have been and this made the ride very enjoyable.  I still wouldn’t mind a warm day though.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and among some familiar pieces, Alison and I tried out a new sonata by Daniel Purcell.  It sounded promising.

After playing, the general conversation turned to the virus and its effects.  A lot of things have been cancelled; Mrs Tootlepedal’s embroidery group, the camera club meeting, the Carlisle Choir and the Langholm Choir, the forthcoming performance by our local operatic society, Mrs Tootlepedal’s and my proposed trip to London to visit Evie, and train trips to Edinburgh to see Matilda.

Life will be quiet.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s Moroccan trip.  You might find it hard to believe that this delightfully shady restaurant garden is in Morocco but it is.

morocco tiout

The first picture in today’s post is a bit of a cheat as it was taken yesterday when I went to bed.  Looking out of the window, I saw a very nearly full moon and I couldn’t resist the temptation to go back downstairs to fetch my camera and take a shot of it.

nearly full moon

Any clear skies had disappeared by morning and we had another wet and windy day.

Once again, Mrs Tootlepedal had to go off after breakfast on business, this time to Canonbie, and my slow getting up technique was called into play.  I am getting good at it and was only just up and dressed by the time that Mrs Tootlepedal returned.

We had coffee and I kept an eye on the birds.  The indifferent weather had brought them to the feeder in good numbers and siskins and goldfinches took it in turn to fill the top layer of perches…

siskin and goldfinch trios

…while gangs of siskins monopolised the bottom layer.

siskin circle

There was a brighter moment and I popped out into the garden to see if there were any frogs about.  The weather didn’t suit the frogs though, and the pond was deserted.

I walked round the garden and was pleased to see the first signs of Forsythia flowers.

forsythia

Going back in, I had another look at the birds.  A redpoll was copying the siskins and wasting good food.

redpoll dropping seed

A goldfinch, ruffled by the brisk breeze, posed in the fake tree.

goldfinch fake tree

You are supposed to be able to tell a male from, a female goldfinch by how far behind the eye the red patch extends and various other subtle signs,  They are usually too subtle for me but I think that this is a male.  (I am happy to be corrected by any passing expert.)

goldfinch head

As it looked as though there might be a dry spell for a while, I went for a walk and indeed, it was almost sunny as I set out, passing a blackbird, looking a bit the worse for wear as I went.

blackbird in garden

It got gloomier as I walked along the river but there was a lot to look at.

There was wild garlic growing along the river bank, and potential bluebells lined the path up the hill…

garlic, bluebell, script lichen

…and while the writing was not on the wall, there was plenty of script lichen on birch trees.

I don’t know what causes this striking brown staining on a silver birch.

stained birch tree

A robin, sitting on a  fence at a stable, kindly let me add to the collection of peaceful birds to please Mrs Tootlepedal.

robin stubholm

There have not been a great number of catkins so far this year but they are beginning to appear, and while I was looking at a healthy crop, I noticed a tiny red spot in the background.  I knew then that they were hazel catkins and the red spot was a flower

hazel catkin and hazel flower

When I looked more closely, there were dozens of the flowers out and I had never found them so easy to see before.

I was hoping to extend my stroll but some very strong gusts of wind heralded the arrival of a rain shower.  I speeded up my steps and stopped looking for interesting things but my luck didn’t hold out.  I was still a few hundred yards from home when a heavy shower of rain and sleet got me thoroughly drenched in a very short time.

A toasted cheese sandwich restored my good humour.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal took a break from her work and came out for a walk with me.

We drove up the hill and parked near the Roman camp at Broomholmshiels.   It was windy and gloomy but the Romans had chosen the spot because it commanded a good view up the valley and even on a grey day, it is still a good view.

roman view

It was extremely wet underfoot and we splodged through the glaur, trying hard not to slip over.

Nothing could take away from the enjoyment of the fine trees in the wood alongside the camp…

roman tree

…and we think that this is probably the nicest wood in the area.

roamn wood

It is not every day that you can see a good looking tree alongside a Roman ditch.roman ditch

On the far side of the camp, we came to the old railway.  There is a fine bridge over a deep cutting…

railway roman camp

…but the line has been neglected at this point and is more of a river than a track, so we had to leave the bridge and walk along for a bit before we could join the trackbed just where an embankment gave way to a shallow cutting.

This was the best bit of walking of the outing and we could enjoy a view to the valley below as well as thistles making ornamental patterns in the grass…

railway broomholm

…and some bits of the old railway like these metal posts and a one of the clamps that used to hold the rails.

The line stops at a bridge over the road that we had driven up.   Here the walk became difficult.  The bridge has been demolished and although there is a signpost indicating a walking path, the way has become blocked by a fence and many fallen trees…

footpath broomholm

…but a dingly dell full of snowdrops was a consolation for the battle through the brushwood.

There were pine cones and moss along the track…

cone, moss, cress and celandine broomholm

…and wild water cress and early celandine as we walked back up the road to the car.

But the best thing for me was a good crop of scarlet elf cupsAs  just at the old bridge.

scarlet elf cap

This is a beautiful fungus and it was popping up all over the place when we looked.

Although it was only a walk of one and a half miles, it felt like an adventure and even on a soggy, windy day, it was full of enjoyment from start to finish.  And it didn’t rain.

We had a cup of tea and some toast and honey when we got home, and then Mrs Tootlepedal set to work folding hundreds of letters from the community buy out group ready for stuffing into envelopes tomorrow, and I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

When I had finished, I joined in the letter folding, got our evening meal ready, did some more letter folding, and then left Mrs Tootlepedal still folding while I went away to write this post.

What I didn’t do was practise any songs for the choir competition tomorrow.  It has fallen victim to the coronavirus outbreak as the choir committee has decided that it would be wiser if we didn’t take part.  I completely agree with that decision.

It is a bit of a pity though, as this is the first time that I have truly felt that I have properly learned off by heart all the songs that we were going to sing in a competition….and moreover felt that I could actually sing them correctly.  Such is life.

Tomorrow there will be more strong winds and rain and possibly an early frost as well. Sometimes, it is quite hard to be cheerful.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s Northumbrian holiday.  It shows Bamburgh Castle, which he visited with his daughters and granddaughter even though he had to pay to get in.  His granddaughter got in free in her pushchair though.

bamburgh castle dennis

As Mrs Tootlepedal had an assignation to have coffee with her ex-work colleagues, I walked up the hill to have coffee with Sandy.  With Dropscone being away, there has been a scone drought so I was very happy to find that through the good wishes of an earlier visitor, Sandy had a supply of unlicensed scones to go with our coffee.  They went down well with some raspberry jam.

After our recent sunny days, it was back to normal today and it rained from morning until after dark.  When I left Sandy’s, the rain had eased back to a gentle drizzle so I took the opportunity to stretch my legs with a walk across the Becks Burn.

A horse and and I had a meeting of minds on the state of the weather.

horse giving me the eye

There has still been no demand for the fallen crab apples beside the track.

fallen apples becks track

A sheep posed nicely for me and showed off how wet the ground is now.

sheep becks track

When I got to the Becks Burn, I was able to see the law of unintended consequences in action.    The stream used to flow straight on when it was flooded making access to the bottom of the steps on the far bank very difficult if not impossible.  Someone created a serviceable dam out of natural materials and now the stream stays in its bed and it is possible to get to the steps on dry ground.

bank dammed becks burn

However, the strength of the stream as it is forced to go round a corner instead of going straight on has eaten away at the opposite bank so that support for a walkway has been undermined and getting down to the bridge is getting more difficult all the time.

bank collapsed becks burn

It is still passable though so I crossed the bridge and walked up the steps to get to the road home.

There were several crops of fungus, bright enough to catch the eye on the way.

fungi becks trackfungi becks burn 2fungi becks burn 1

As I walked back down the hill to the town, I could see that the snowdrops are nearing the end of their flowering life…

snowdrop becks road

…but there is never any shortage of lichen on the hedge plants…

lichen on hedge becks road

…or moss.

mossy hedge pool corner

The trees by the river are mossy too.

mossy branches pool corner

Mrs Tootlepedal was still out when I got back so I did the crossword, had a light lunch and occasionally watched birds.

There hadn’t been many about after breakfast…

birds on feeder

…but I had changed the feeder before I went to Sandy’s and two greenfinches were enjoying the new feeder.  They were managing to waste a lot of my expensive seed.  I will have to offer the birds lessons in neat feeding.

two greenfinches dropping food

On the whole, the birds were a bit shy…

shy chaffinch

….and as the light was poor, I didn’t do a lot of bird watching.

Mrs Tootlepedal got back thoroughly soaked from bicycling around the town on business but the heavier rain didn’t discourage the siskins who arrived later…

siksin on feeder

…and instantly…

ill bred siskin behaviour 2

…started arguing.

ill bred siskin behaviour 1

A blackbird kept well out of the way.

balckbird crocus

I spent some useful time practising songs for the Carlisle Choir and looking at hymns for Sunday’s church service and managed not to get too depressed by the return of the rain.

Mrs Tootlepedal watched a news item which said that Scotland has had twice the normal rainfall this February. February is usually the driest winter month apparently, but with it being a leap year so the month has an extra day and another named storm arriving tomorrow, this month is going out in whatever the opposite of a blaze of glory is.

For our tea, Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious toad in the hole with some sausages lightly flavoured with chillis and perfect batter.  The evening was further brightened by a visit from Mike and Alison who were pleased to find that the rain had stopped by the time that they came round for their usual Friday evening visit.  I enjoyed the duets with Alison.

It hadn’t stopped when I took the flying bird of the day picture earlier on. The chaffinch was expertly avoiding the heavier raindrops.

flying chaffinch

Welly boot note: The Norwegian weather forecast says that we are not going to be too oppressed by Storm Jorge tomorrow.   I hope that they are right.  The BBC was more gloomy.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »