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Posts Tagged ‘blackbird’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has just spent a week in the Lake District and enjoyed some good weather.  On this occasion, she was returning to Grasmere when the sun came out.

Returning to Grasmere as the sun comes out

We were actually quite grateful this morning here when the sun went in as it was still very warm.  I set off for a short cycle ride after breakfast and with a brisk wind blowing and the sun behind thin clouds, the conditions were very tolerable, even if the temperature was still over 20 degrees C.

Verges near Tarcoon

The cow parsley in the verges was blending in with a fresh outbreak of buttercups so in spite of the grey sky, my ride was quite colourful.

I didn’t take my camera with me as the forecast threatened us with thunder and rain and I didn’t want to be caught out in those conditions.  As it happened, the sun came out before the end of my ride and I was pleased to get home before being thoroughly cooked.

The twenty miles took me up to my monthly target of 350 miles and with a few days still left, I may be able to put a few miles in the bank against my annual target.

When I got back, I spent the rest of the morning in the garden watching Mrs Tootlepedal at work planting stuff out.  I looked at flowers, taking in one of my favourites….

aquilegia

….and enjoying the roses which are coming along nicely.

roses

Mrs Tootlepedal likes the candelabra primulas by the pond….

candelabra primulas

…..and I like them too.

I did some butterfly chasing…

sweet rocket and orange tip butterfly

The sweet rocket is a magnet to the orange tip butterfly

…and was yet again amazed by how active butterflies are.  They must fly great distances in a day.

Two strongly coloured flowers caught my eye…

astrantia and geranium

Astrantia and geranium

…but the most eye catching thing in the garden at the moment is probably the white clematis over the back door.

clematis

I think that it is fair to say that it is doing well this year.

I had a quick check on the fruit, both hard…..

plums and apples

The plums are doing quite well but the apples are verily flourishing

…and soft.

strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants

Strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants

Considering that we nearly cut the blackcurrant bush down earlier this spring because it had a bad attack of big bud, it is doing amazingly well as you can see.

After a last look around…

lupin and polemonium

It is surprising how many different shades of white there are in a garden

…we went in.  We had a light lunch and then we came out again as the promised rain had not materialised (except for two or three heavy raindrops) and it was still a very pleasant day.

I mowed the middle lawn and sieved some more compost for Mrs Tootlepedal.  Her first sowing of poppies and cornflowers has suffered badly from unfavourable weather conditions or slugs (or possibly both) and she is having to start again.

I looked closely at a couple of flowers…

allium and iris

Allium and iris

…and then we got into the car and drove a mile or two up the road to let me take  pictures of interesting things that I had passed on my cycle ride in the morning but hadn’t been able to photograph as I hadn’t got a camera with me.

There were plenty of roadside wild flowers….

silverweed and birdsfoot trefoil

Silverweed and birdsfoot trefoil

crosswort and an unidentified pink flower

Crosswort and an unidentified pink flower (with added beetle)

pine flowers and red campion

Pine flowers and red campion

…and a very nice river of bluebells flowing down the hill…

river of bluebells

…but what I had really come to see was the hawthorns.  Mrs Tootlepedal had been impressed by them when she had driven past on Thursday and you can see why, both from close up….

hawthorns

…and from further away.

hawthorns

The bank beside the road is covered with them.

hawthorns

We were only just in time.  As I got back into the car, it started to rain and by the time that we got back to the town is was raining heavily.  Shortly afterwards we were treated to a steady roll of thunder lasting many minutes.  Occasional rather vague flashes of lightning came and went but the thunder stayed rolling for an unusually long time.  I think that the explanation for this would be that the actual storm was some way away from us.

The thunder was accompanied by a really heavy rain and hail storm but it soon ended and all is quiet as I write this later in the evening.

As far as the hawthorns go, I think we can safely say that ‘May is out’ but as far as ‘casting a clout’ goes, the forecast is for temperatures to drop back into much cooler regions next week so I am not packing away my jumper just yet.

A sitting bird of the day today.

blackbird

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is something Dropscone saw in the moat when he was visiting Hever Castle  last week.  He is pretty sure that it is a bird.

goose

It was a miserable soggy, grey and windy day in the morning and I wisely found things to do indoors.  With seven songs to have off by heart for our Carlisle concert, any time spent going through them is valuable so it wasn’t a wasted morning.

I even shifted more old photos off my computer onto an external drive which is good in two ways.  It makes my computer run a bit faster and it puts them in a safe place in case of computer disaster.

It wasn’t raining in the afternoon so I went out into the garden.   There is a lot to see there even on a rotten day.

The Icelandic poppies were able to hold up their heads today but I had to hold on to the stalk of this one to stop it swaying in the wind for long enough to get a picture of it.

icelandic poppy

The vegetable garden is coming on a bit each day.

Blackcurrants, strawberries and gooseberry all look as though they will be fruitful.

soft fruit

Chives….

chives

…and potatoes are progressing well too.

potatoes

Mrs Tootlepedal is busy constructing a pea fortress against the marauding sparrows and I hope to have a picture of that when she has completed the edifice.

From the vegetable garden, I walked along the back path and found plenty to enjoy there too.

colourful corner

Definitely a colourful corner

rhododendron

The wow factor

I read in an informative blog that trilliums have three of everything and when I looked, this turned out to be true…..

trillium

…although our two little plants are sadly quite a bit worse for wear.

Moving onto the front lawn, I was surrounded by azaleas.  We transplanted this yellow one last autumn and Mrs Tootlepedal cut it back quite severely.  As it is an old plant, we wondered whether the move and the haircut might be too much for it but we need not have worried.  It is thriving in its new place.

azalea (3)

Another one was moved and placed beside it and it too is doing well.

azalea (2)

If I can find a sunny day, I will try to get a pretty picture of the lawn surrounded by azaleas.  This is the third development of spring after the daffodils and tulips.

I went onward, out of the front gate and round the back of the house where I could enjoy the first of the potentillas along the back wall.

potentilla

There are more to come out and they will last for months.

I went back into the garden and took a picture of two of the remaining tulips.

potentilla

The wind and the rain have knocked a lot of petals to the ground and there was quite a bit of tulip dead heading to do.

I had to leave the garden then and go off up to the health centre where I had a very minor operation on the side of my neck .  This left me with a few stitches covered in a theatrical sticking plaster so I look not unlike Frankenstein’s monster but in a modest way.

The whole affair was quick and painless and I was quite able to mow the greenhouse grass when I got back.  The weather had improved a  bit by this time but I thought it was sensible not to go for a pedal or a walk so I contented myself with a few more flower pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a striking blue flower in the back border I had noticed it before but I had passed it by, thinking that it was just another bluebell.  It was in fact a camassia…

camassia

…and well worth a proper look.

There are Welsh poppies popping up all over the place…

welsh poppy

…and I have put one beside a white potentilla in the frame below.

welsh poppy potentilla

The last flower of the day is a nectaroscordum, another flower that blushes unseen…

nectaroscordum

…unless you lie on your back and look up.

)

Or hold your camera facing upwards and hope for the best.

The rhubarb was badly affected by the lack  of rain but I managed to find enough stems to pull to have rhubarb and custard for pudding at our evening meal and that made a dull day end on a brighter note.

The flower of the day is one of our neighbour Liz’s plants, a really stunning azalea on the banks of the dam…

azalea

…and a singing blackbird on our front hedge is the bird of the day.

blackbird

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Today’s guest picture shows Sandend harbour in Banff, on the north east coast of Scotland.  Gavin passed it on a walk today as he is on holiday up there.

banff harbour

We had another dry day here today, although one or two spots of rain did fall in a half hearted way in the afternoon.

After breakfast I had to frame a couple of wild goat pictures for a Moorland Exhibition in the Welcome to Langholm Centre in May and then I had a walk round the garden.

in spite of the frosty weather earlier in the week, many tulips have done very well and even some of the Ballerinas have survived….

tulips

…and more tulips are arriving every day.

tulips

The tulips that Mrs Tootlepedal bought at Alnwick have survived the journey home and the cold and are looking very healthy.  Here are three of them.

tulips

I couldn’t pass the anemone by without taking a picture….

anemone

…because they are delicate flowers and it might be gone if there is a heavy shower of rain.

Although progress is slow because of the recent chilly mornings, new flowers are arriving.

Solomon's seal and lithospermum

Solomon’s Seal and Lithospermum

I was very impressed by the volubility of a blackbird as I went down the drive in front  of the house.

blackbird

I didn’t have long to look around though because I was delighted to leave the garden to partake of some treacle scones brought round by Dropscone to go with our first cup of coffee for a while.  Dropscone followed his trip to Skye with a golfing break so he has hardly seen his home for a fortnight.

He hasn’t lost his scone skills though.

After he left, I had to go to the health centre for a routine check but i had time to check on the perching redpolls first.

redpoll

After lunch I went off for a cycle ride.   The wind had dropped considerably from recent days and had moved round from the north so it was both quite a bit milder and much more helpful as I cycled back to Langholm from Canonbie.    I concentrated so hard on the pedalling that i forgot to take any pictures at all.

When I got home, I took my framed pictures up to the town and helped hang them on the wall beside some offerings from the local art club.

goat pictures in WtL

The Moorland Exhibition has been well publicised so I hope that they get plenty of visitors.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable time playing as always.  On a sobering note though, we put a metronome on as I felt that we were slightly rushing a slow movement in one of the pieces. ‘ Slightly rushing’ turned out to be an understatement as were well ahead of the pace after only four bars.  We shall have to learn to apply the brakes.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, looking a bit shifty I thought.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who visited  Dulwich Park opposite the Dulwich Art Gallery in South London today.  It is an oasis of peace in a busy world.

Dulwich Park, opposite the Picture Gallery

We had another chilly morning followed by another dry day with a north wind.  More tulips fell under the heavy hand of the cold but some survived…

tulips

…and new tulips have come to join them.

tulip

I killed a bit of time while I was waiting for the thermometer to rise to 7°C by looking at sitting birds in the sunshine from an upstairs window.

goldfinch

siskins

… and when the temperature finally got there, I went off on the fairly speedy bike to test how strong the north wind was.   It was brisk but tolerable and blew me down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass at a very satisfying rate of knots.

Of course the  return journey, uphill and into the wind, wasn’t quite so carefree but it was far from being just a slog and I enjoyed my ride a lot.  I only stopped once, on the bridge at The Hollows, to show the gradual greening of the landscape.

River Esk at Hollows

Downstream

River Esk at Hollows

Upstream

The river level is very low, a testament to the dry spell that we have had lately.  A couple of warm wet days wouldn’t be entirely unwelcome.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden and after a shower, a quick lunch and a look out of the kitchen window….

redpolls

More redpolls seem to appear every day.

…I joined her.  I employed myself as usefully as I could by doing some dead heading of daffodils, which have suffered from the cold and are getting to the end of their lives anyway, some sieving of compost, which is needed for planting out the early vegetables, and mowing the middle lawn, which wasn’t really needed because of the chilly weather but I like mowing lawns.

And of course, I looked at flowers.

It was surprising to me how some flowers seemed untouched by the cold mornings.  This lamium is thriving….

lamium

…and a new anemone came out today…

anemone

…and the curious tulips seem unaffected by the frosts….

tulip

…though it might be a bit hard to tell.

We are getting very excited by a trillium which should be open soon.

I was pleased to see a bee or two about….

marsh marigold with bee

This one was on a marsh marigold in the pond

…because fruit flowers will need all the attention that they can get.

gooseberry and blackcurrant

The gooseberry has a wasp at work and the blackcurrant is producing flowers in spite of a bad attack of ‘big bud’

apples

The espalier apples are starting to flower

The cold weather has held plants back a bit but there are hopeful signs.

lupin

The lupins are looking healthy.

I spent some time trying to catch more sitting birds to please Mrs Tootlepedal who finds constant flying birds rather fidgety.  The next two pictures were taken with my Lumix while I was outside int he garden which is most unusual for me.  The birds were sitting on the feeders very calmly as I approached.

redpoll

siskins and goldfinch

When I went in, I looked out again.

redpoll

It was a redpoll heavy day today.

I put in a bit of time preparing an MP3 file of a tenor part for one of our Carlisle songs to send to a fellow singer.  It is a tricky number and there are fears that the conductor might try to make us learn it so a practice aid will be helpful.

I noticed a blackbird outside as I came through into the kitchen after emailing the music file.

blackbird

By now, it was time for tea and I cooked myself a nourishing corn beef hash with added onions and mushrooms and fortified by this, I then went off to sing with our Langholm choir.

 

It was one of those evenings when the songs we sang were songs that by and large I could sing and the three tenors in the choir were in good humour and sang well together as a team so that by the time the two hours were up, I was on a musical high and came home in a very cheery mood indeed.  Singing is wonderful when it is going well.

The flying bird of the day is looming more than flying.

flying chaffinch

Note:  A helpful correspondent pointed out that yesterday’s post came without a comments facility.  I don’t know how that happened and I will try to make sure that there is one today.  If there isn’t, I apologise.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s walk in Kenwood Park today.   She came across this glorious azalea display.

Azaleas

The day here didn’t work out to plan at all.  After reading the forecast at lunchtime yesterday, I thought that the wind would drop and it would be dry all day, ideal for cycling.  In fact, although the wind did drop, it drizzled almost all day.  As I woke up feeling a bit below par with a sore throat and a slight headache, that put paid to any idea of making good use of the day.

Apart from walking 200 yards to get milk from the shop and filling the feeders now and again, I showed no visible sign of life all day.   As a result though, I now feel a lot better than I did in the morning so perhaps the drizzle was useful in its own way.

I did manage to peer out of the back door to record the damage being done to the lawn by the jackdaws.

Azaleas

We originally thought that they were taking the moss for nest building but Mrs Tootlepedal spent some time observing the jackdaws at work and concluded that they are not picking up the moss but pecking at food in the soil underneath, probably leather jackets.

Some starlings joined in.

starlings

It is good to have biological pest control.

I saw a male blackbird with the starlings and a female under the feeder…

blackbirds

…so perhaps we will have tiny blackbirds to look at in the course of time.  A blue tit paid us a single off the record flying visit but otherwise the bird visitors were the usual suspects.

siskins and goldfinches

Some birds didn’t come to eat but just did their Muscle Beach keep fit routines instead.

goldfinch

Others came to make trouble.

siskins and goldfinch

Tomorrow looks like a rather soggy day according to the forecast so I may have another chance to recover from my slight cold but I will at least try to get out for some fresh air.

I have been rather overstuffing my blog with photos lately so I hope that readers will appreciate this more slender offering.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Nottingham where my brother Andrew discovered another bridge which may be a little past its use-by date.

Nottingham bridge

I had a very quiet day today.  If I had had my fairly speedy bike to hand, I would probably  have made better use of some good weather but as the bike was in the bike shop, I managed to persuade myself to fritter the morning away doing some high quality idling.

I went to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and made some good purchases but was very upset to find the cheesemonger wasn’t there this month.  I had been holding back on cheese buying recently just so that I could stock up from his fine selection so I was rather put out.  However, I found out that he has had a recent operation so that is a good enough excuse and I will just have to buy inferior cheese elsewhere.

I didn’t even manage to look out of the kitchen window in a meaningful way when  I got home.   I put the camera up on a tripod and clicked away from time to time but when I came to look at the results, I found that I hadn’t adjusted the focus correctly and I had a small collection of worthlessly fuzzy shots.

I managed to take one siskin in the air by accident (it was nearer than I thought)…

siskin

…and one blackbird on the ground on purpose.

blackbird

I had one quick look round the garden and saw a Hellebore.  Hellebore pictures tend to be a bit of a lottery as I am too old to lie on the ground so I just stick the camera down and point it upwards while hoping for the best.

hellebore

The rain and frost have not been kind to it but it is surviving

Things perked up a bit after lunch when we went out into the garden again.   It was a really nice day by this time and I cleared the old raspberry canes away while Mrs Tootlepedal planted out some Sweet William.
I was distracted by the noise from the pond…

frogs

…where numerous frogs were very busy.  Mostly they dived for cover when they saw me coming but one frog kindly consented to pose for  me.

Frog

Mrs Tootlepedal was distracted by the unexpected buzzing of bees and when I went to look, I saw that there were quite a few bees enjoying the crocuses.

bees

We got some early bees last year but subsequent frosty weather set the bee popularization back quite a bit so we hope that these aren’t out and about too early.

The crocuses were looking very cheerful, if a bit battered by recent weather.

crocuses

crocus

I  find gardening, which involves a lot of bending, very hard work so I left Mrs Tootlepedal to her labours and went off on my slow bike to take the road less travelled….

Barngliesh road

…and some pictures as I pottered along.

As long as the sun was out, it was a great day for pedalling and I had been able to discard several layers which made cycling much more pleasant than the recent chilly and windy outings.

I passed cows….

cow

…bridges…

Tomshielburn bridge

Tomshielburn

…large puddles…

puddle near Raehills

puddle near Raehills

…and a splendid tree of the day.

tree near Raehills

At the start or my trip, I visited my favourite little cascade on the Wauchope as I thought that the light might be quite interesting.  It was quite interesting but it turned out to be possibly a bit too interesting for the camera that I had with me.

Wauchope cascade

Near the end of my ride though, the camera coped very well with another dramatic light situation as the clouds came over.

Clouds over the Kerr

It looked quite threatening but it came to nothing and I got home in dry conditions.

Although my ride was only 14 miles, going on the slow bike and taking my time to look around as I went  made the journey very satisfying.

And that concluded the excitement for the day.  With the sun gone, it got dark quite early and I went back to quality idling and joined Mrs Tootlepedal, who had finished her gardening, in watching the European Indoor Athletics Championships.  We very much enjoyed the sight of Laura Muir scooting round the track to demolish the field in the 1500m.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  I don’t know how it got into focus at all.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture come from Mike Tinker.  Knowing my fondness for taking photos of pheasants, he sent me this picture to remind me of how they start out.

pheasant chicks

The planning for the day revolved around someone being at home to greet the gas man when he arrived to give our boiler its annual service.  Since we had been given a six hour window, this entailed quite a lot of hanging around, complicated by Mrs Tootlepedal spending two hours volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre and my anxiety to put a fine day to good use by cycling.

It was sunny but far too cold to cycle after breakfast so I was happy that I had arranged a dentist’s appointment followed by scone sampling with Dropscone over coffee. It had warmed up enough after coffee for Dropscone to go off to play golf while I walked round the garden…

azalea and tree peony

Things are busting out all over.

Elder lichen and moss

A garden in itself on an elder branch.

…and watched the birds.

We started in a yellowish sort of way with  siskins and a goldfinch…

siskin and goldfinch

…and then things got greener when a greenfinch arrived on the scene.

siskins and greenfinch

Greenfinches always look rather imperious even when they are sitting quietly in the plum tree.

greenfinches

Their motto might well be: Wha daur meddle wi’ me

A pair of blackbirds were busy feeding on the ground below the feeders.

blackbirds

They struck some good poses.

There was also a pair of robins and as they weren’t chasing each off the premises, they may be a couple which would be good.  I could only catch one of them at a time though.

robin

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre and I sat beside the phone in case the gasman called.  Some of the sitting was more metaphorical than actual as I made some dough for rolls in the breadmaker, hung out the washing and ate some soup and cheese for my lunch as well.

When Mrs Tootlepedal returned, I was already changed into my cycling gear and after a quick scout round the garden….

crocus and rhubarb

Progress

…I was soon cycling up the Wauchope road in chilly but windless conditions.  The sun was out and how ever much I may have been charmed by the bridges of Manchester, the views of Wauchopedale trumped them by far.

wauchopedale

This picture should enlarge a bit if you click on it.

I cycled to the top of Callister but didn’t want to get too far from home while the Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service was waiting for the gasman so I turned, appropriately enough, at an entrance to one of the valves on the main natural gas pipeline into our town…

gas valve puddle

…which pretty accurately reflected our recent changeable weather.

Having climbed Callister to get to my turning point, I now had the pleasure of the gravity assisted return journey….

Callister

…back down the hill.

I stopped to admire the lichen on a concrete fence post beside the road a little further on.  It was glowing in the sunshine.

concrete lichen

I had done 15 miles by the time that I got back to Langholm and seeing that the gasman had arrived and was at work, I nipped back up the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse to add another six miles to my total.

I stopped on the way back to add to my collection of winter trees….

tree

…though at not much more than three metres in height, this one may be regarded as more of a bush than a tree perhaps.

On the other side of the road, the afternoon sun provided a very mellow gate scene for me.

Wauchope road gate

There was still enough light when I got home for Mrs Tootlepedal to point out first a robin and then a dunnock, both perching on a bush outside the kitchen window.

robin and dunnock

Although they were only a small distance apart on the same bush at the same time, the double portrait above shows them in typically contrasting style.  The robin likes to survey the world from on high while the dunnock likes to peer at it cautiously from a bit of cover.

I was just shaping the bread roll dough into rolls when Mike Tinker dropped by to see how we had done in the singing competition.  He stopped for a cup of tea while I went off for a relaxing soak in the bathtub.

As I looked out of my bedroom window, I could see some lovely evening light on Whita so I opened the Velux window and took a picture of the hill and the monument over the roofs of Henry Street.  Quite by accident, I included the window as well and rather liked the result.

reflections of henry street and whita

Since it was Shrove Tuesday, Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious pancakes for our tea and when the rolls had risen and been baked,  the day came to a very satisfactory end.

The morning scones with the conversation and coffee had all been interesting, the washing had dried in the sun, the rolls had come out round and brown, the pancakes had been flat and tasty and the cycling had been most enjoyable and on top of all that, the gas boiler had survived for another year in fine condition.  All is good.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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