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Posts Tagged ‘blue tit’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He lives in Derby and the local football team has a very important match tomorrow so this large football has been placed so that supporters can write encouraging comments on it.  I asked Andrew if he had written anything but he said that hadn’t because he was lost for words.

Derby football

My feet are still not made for walking at the moment so it was lucky that I had two choirs to go to today to help me pass the time,

We started with the church choir.  It was a children’s service today and all the hymns were in unison.  This was good as I hadn’t sung for some time so I welcomed the chance to do some uninhibited warbling to get my voice back in action.

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal got busy in the garden and I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and pottered about taking more garden pictures.

I especially liked an azalea with teeth.

azalea with teeth

The rowan has come out and it looks as though there should be enough berries for all the birds when the time comes.

rowan blossom

I looked in the greenhouse as I went past with the mower and had to go back in later with the camera later to record the wonderful flower power of the fuchsia which is still waiting to find a home in the garden.

fuchsia in green hiuse

Outside the greenhouse, the lupins are reaching for the sky.

lupins

We have had some measurable rain at last and Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure mustard looks grateful.

mustard

The overnight rain had rather beaten down the cow parsley stems but they soon recovered and made a pretty picture with the sweet rocket in the back border.

cowparsley and sweet rocket

I noticed that a good many exhausted male flowers had fallen onto the lawns from the walnut tree and looking up, I could see potential nuts in the making.

walnuts

Elsewhere, there were more signs of fruits to come, with both apples and plums looking promising.

apple plum apple

Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased to see  that a ranunculus had survived from last year.  It is a challenge for me though, as I find it very had to get a good picture of it.

ranunculus

The hostas are looking very healthy.

hostas

I made some potato soup to go with bread and cheese for lunch and while I was inside, I watched the birds.

The sparrows have almost taken over the feeder at the moment, although there is a redpoll lurking round the back in this picture…

sparrows on feeder

…and a blue tit enjoyed the peanuts without any competition.

blue tit

Down below, a dunnock considered tucking in to the fat balls.

dunnock consider ingfat balls

In the plum tree, the reason for the sparrow keenness for food was being demonstrated.

sparrow feeding young

You have probably heard of the goose step and the turkey trot, but we got a pigeon strut today.

strutting pigeon

When I wasn’t watching the birds, the flowers around the feeder seen through the kitchen window gave me plenty to look at.

geums through wndow

I went briefly back into the garden after lunch and took a close look at the wonderful complexity of one of the euphorbias.

euphorbia in flower

Among all the colour, there is still a world of white out there.

white flowers

Hidden away in a shady corner of the garden, the doronicum is flowering away.  It has been in flower since mid march and shows no sign of stopping.

doronicum

In the afternoon, we went down to Carlisle to sing with the Carlisle community Choir.  We have been meeting in the same church for six years but we are changing to a new venue (hopefully with better lighting) so this was our last sing from the familiar pews.  We spent the time practising two delightful songs so it was a good way to say goodbye.  We have one more meeting before our summer concert so there will have to be some serious home practice in the coming days.

The flying bird of the day is a young sparrow, grown up enough to feed itself now.

flying baby sparrow

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Today’s just picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother, Mike.  He planted some daffodils to brighten the road verge opposite his house and is pleased that his work has born fruit.  Being 300 miles south of Langholm, his daffodils are already out.

Mike daffodils

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle after an early breakfast to help sort out the music library for  our Carlisle choir.  This is a big job with 130 copies of every piece of music we sing needing to be sorted and stored.

While she was gone I looked out into the garden on another grey day.

The feeder was busy…

busy feeder

…and on the mossy lawn, a pigeon was putting its best foot forward.

pigeon on lawn

I had put out some fat balls and they had attracted jackdaws.

jackdaws on feeder

There was no shortage of flying birds to be seen even if there was a bit of a shortage of light to see them by.

flying chaffinches and goldfinches

Sandy came round for coffee.  He was in an exceptionally good mood because he had just enjoyed a thoroughly good night’s sleep, a thing so rare as to be be priced above pearls.

While we sipped and chatted, we were joined by some greenfinches…

flying greenfinches

…and a very unusually marked jackdaw.  I have never seen one like this before.

speckled jackdaw

After coffee, we went up to visit the Moorland project feeders in the glade at the Laverock hide as it was Sandy’s day to act as feeder filler.  After filling the feeders, we lurked in the hide for a while.  There were plenty of birds about, mostly chaffinches but with a good number of great and blue tits too.

blue and great tits Laverock

As with my garden, there were no winter visitors to be seen at all.  This is a bit worrying as there seems to be no reason not see our usual migrants.  I hope it is a one off and  not a sign of things to come.

We didn’t stay too long and when Sandy stopped at the Co-op on our way back to buy a local paper (full of articles by Dropscone this week), I took the opportunity to get out too and walk home along the river in the hope of seeing something interesting.

The hope was amply fulfilled as I saw a goosander…

goosander

…two oyster catchers…

two oyster catchers

…three dippers…

dippers in esk

…and a single white duck.

white duck

It was still pretty grey and most of the birds were a bit too far away from the bank for good pictures but it was encouraging to see them.  I snapped the church too while I was passing…

church on a grey day

…and a bit of typical Langholm street life.  Dog walking is a popular activity in our town.

alan and dogs

When I got home, I made some soup and then dashed out into the garden when the sun came out.

sunny crocuses

I didn’t have time to enjoy the sunshine and go for a walk or a pedal though as I had to go off to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

It was a day of sophisticated travel arrangements as Matilda and her family were flying back from a family party in Dublin over lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal planned to catch the train from Carlisle that I was aiming to catch 20 minutes later in Lockerbie.  It is on days like this that the mobile phone really comes into is own and the flight and train journey went smoothly as planned and we all met in Edinburgh on schedule.

Matilda then took Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a walk in the woods.  We scaled the heights…

sdr

…passed all sorts of interesting plants like this St John’s Wort…

dav

…and came out at the top of a small hill from which we could see Edinburgh Castle in the distance  over the roofs.

dig

The rest of the afternoon was spent in catching up on news of the trip to Ireland, being coached by Matilda in the proper use of the alphabet, watching clips from Matilda’s dancing school’s annual show on DVD and eating another tasty meal.

We got safely back to Lockerbie on the train and drove home as the temperature dropped back to freezing again.

It is supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow after a chilly start.  I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is one of the oyster catchers making off down river.

flying oyster catcher

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone and shows the bridge over the Tay.  He visited Dundee with his daughter Susan earlier this month.

Tay road bridge

We had another grey day here but marginally less grey than yesterday and as it was warmer, it was quite welcome.

After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland feeders.  I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Bob who was away having festive fun with his far flung family.

The feeders needed filling and almost as soon as I had finished, they became very busy.  There may not be many chaffinches in our garden but there were a lot of them here.

There were a lot of pheasants too and this pair was having an ill-natured squabble outside the hide…

sparring pheasants

…which was causing some distress to a watching chaffinch.

wary chaffinch

Apart from the chaffinches, there were not a lot of other birds about, though I saw one distant woodpecker…

distant woodpecker

…and a small but noticeable selection of blue, coal and great tits.

moorland feeder great tit, blue tit and coal tit

I was very pleased to see a good number of birds about, even they weren’t very interesting but the light was rotten and if I had seen any interesting birds, I might not have been able to get decent pictures.  The flying birds were just a blur.

moorland chaffinches

We had coffee when we got back and then I went out for a short pedal.   It was breezy and I wanted to go shopping later in the afternoon so I settled for three seven mile repetitions in my outdoor gym, the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.    This may sound a little boring but the challenge is to try to go a bit faster on each lap and I managed to increase my speed marginally on the outward uphill trips but the effort was too much for me and I was slower rather than faster on my third downhill leg and just failed to hit the magic (for me) 14 mph average speed.

Still, the challenge made the ride interesting and I didn’t waste any time trying to take good pictures in unsuitable light.

I had a look round the garden for any sign of colour when I got home but all I could find was this fairly bright box ball recovering from a severe pruning..

box ball

Mrs Tootlepedal had created a delicious duck soup for my lunch and after supping a bowlful and having a shower, I went off with her to do a bit of shopping in Carlisle.

I had in mind to replenish my stocks of dates and prunes and other dried fruit and would have done so if the shop we were visiting had been open but it wasn’t so I didn’t.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a particular shade of paint in her mind and we were quite excited when her shop turned out to be open but less enthusiastic when just about the only shade of paint that they didn’t have among hundreds on display was her desired one.

We drove home in a subdued mood but were cheered up by watching an excellent running of the King George VI steeplechase at Kempton Park on catch-up TV.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s fancy came a close second.

With both our choirs in recess at the moment, we were able to  have a quiet night in and the restful evening was very welcome.

No flying bird today, but a rather wary chaffinch from the Moorland Feeders is standing in.

Laverock hide chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was out and about and saw skaters on the temporary ice rink at Somerset House.  It always looks a rather staid way of having fun to me.

Somerset house skating

We had a second sunny day today but the weather gods had another trick up their sleeve and kept the temperature between 0 and 2 degrees all day so when it came to cycling, the best that I could do was forty minutes on the bike to nowhere in the garage, a dull way to start the day.

Before I pedalled, I had a quick look round the garden to admire Jack Frost’s handiwork.

jack frost in garden

The blue pineapple is on the end of the vegetable garden railings and I think the the dangling flower head must be one of the last calendulas.

When I had finished the indoor pedal, Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up to the bird hide at the Moorland Project feeders and while Mrs Tootlepedal sat in the car scanning the hillside for raptors, I sat in the hide watching smaller birds.  I got the best bargain I think because she saw one distant bird and I saw dozens.

There were some blue tits…

blue tit at laverock

..and great tits…

great tit at leaverock

…but there were more coal tits than the others put together.  I only saw this one siskin sharing the peanuts with the coal tits.

busy feeder at laverock

Two chaffinches made a charming tableau on the tree stump outside the hide…

two chaffinches at laverock

…and I was very happy to see a greater spotted woodpecker on the peanuts.

woodpecker at hide

When we got home, I made some lentil soup and looked out of the window from time to time.

A blackbird paused on the edge of the tray under the feeders for a peaceful portrait…

FEMALE BLACKBIRD

…while up above, it was all go for the sparrows with a goldfinch hoping to resist the invasion.

sparrows at feeder

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on a shopping mission and I went for a walk.

I went over the Town Bridge and checked on a pair of black headed gulls who were deep in conversation at the Meeting of the Waters..

two gulls

…passed Santa who is making ends meet by doing a little bus driving until the busy period comes round….

santa busman

…crossed the Sawmill Brig, my second bridge and walked up the track past the Estate offices.

There is a fine row of trees across a field which I think looks like a hedge that got away some time ago.

overgrown hedge

I wasn’t wearing very suitable footwear but I took a chance and set off along a muddy track towards the High Mill Brig.

There were many puddles but luckily, there was enough frost in the ground to make it firm enough for me to make progress and keep my feet dry.

pathead track

And there was plenty of interest along the way.  Looking down, I saw frozen moss and three sorts of lichen within a few feet of each other on a wall,,,,

moss and lichen on wall

…and looking up,  saw about a hundred birds flying overhead.  From their formation, I thought at first that they might be geese…

birds in fligth

…but a closer look makes me think they were gulls….but I am not certain.

possible ducks

At the end of the track, I came to one of the useful gates that the Langholm Walks group have organised for the convenience of walkers following their marked routes.

langholm walks gate

Following the track along the edge of the field, I came down to my third bridge of the day, the High Mill Brig…

high mill bridge

…so called because of the mill which stood nearby for many years.  The mill has gone now but the bridge carries the main road north out of the town and is still busy.

I crossed the bridge and followed the road back towards the town, crossing the Sawmill Brig again and then walking round the Castleholm and crossing the Jubilee Bridge, my fourth and last of the excursion.

There was more interest as I went along.

berry fence laurel and moss

The circular pattern in the top right frame, is the sawn top of a fence post covered with ice.  It was cold but as the day was very still, it was a pleasure to be out and about even if the sun had been overtaken by some low cloud.

On my way back through the New Town, I stopped off at Mike and Alison’s house to enquire about the state of Alison’s recently dislocated shoulder.  This was not entirely a disinterested call as she is my Friday night orchestra and I am hoping that she won’t be out of action too long as I miss the playing.  She was remarkably cheerful and made a cup of tea while I chatted to Mike.  As the tea came with a delicious ginger biscuit, it was doubly welcome.

Alison has tried a little piano playing which is good news.

I didn’t stay long as they told me that Mrs Tootlepedal had called in when she had finished shopping but had not stopped because she didn’t want me not to find her in when I came back from my walk and worry about where she was.

When I got back to the garden, I found evidence that her shopping trip had been successful.  She had bought our Christmas tree for the next four or five years.

CHRISTMAS TREE

My flute pupil Luke sent me a message to say that he couldn’t come for the usual session because of a meeting in Dumfries so I had time for a quiet sit before making the tea and going out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

The playing would have gone better if I had brought the right bag with my flute, music stand and music in it instead of quite a different bag with none of these essentials.  However, Mike and Isabel played some Vivaldi duets while I went off and got the right bag and then we played Quantz, Mozart and Telemann trios so we were all happy.

The flying bird of the day is a black headed gull above the Ewes Water at the Kilngreen.

flying gull

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s archives.  For some reason he came upon the picture from 2004 of certain young(ish) golfers enjoying a break in Majorca to get away from Langholm’s winter weather.  It snowed and I still have the umbrella that I had to buy while we were there.

majorca 2004

I don’t know what the morning was like because I made the mistake of lying down for a moment after breakfast and the next thing that I knew, it was lunch time.

Generally speaking the weather forecast had promised severe gales and rainstorms for Scotland and good weather for the north of England so for once, we were very pleased to considered English and we enjoyed a reasonably dry and warm day, though it was bit windy.

The light was very variable but I could see enough to recognise a great tit on the feeder…

great tit on feeder pole

…watch chaffinches fly in all directions…

chaffinches coming and going

…enjoy a blue tit visit….

blue tit on feeder pole

…and check out the differing styles of a greenfinch and a goldfinch.

greenfinch and goldfinch

The goldfinches gradually took over the feeder over lunch and had to compete among themselves for a place at the table.

goldfinch creeping up

As time went by there was a tiny glimpse of sunshine…

a snatch of sun on the plum tree

…and encouraged by this, I went for a walk in the afternoon.

There are still plenty of  rosebay willowherb seed heads about…

willowherb seeds

…and a lightening of the sky to the west behind this tree on the Becks track made me hopeful for a while…

becks tarck tree

…but things soon reverted to grey.

I had gone along the track in the hope that the forestry works in the Becks wood would have finished and I would be able to use the path down to the bridge across the burn.

When I got to the wood, everything was very neatly tidied up and the machines had disappeared.  I was able to walk through the felled wood upstream of the bridge and see the burn as it hasn’t been seen for many years…

 

becks burn bridge

…with new trees planted on all sides.

I could look down on the little cascade which I have photographed before…

becks burn cascade from above

…and because the trees have gone, there was enough light to let me take a reasonable picture from below the waterfall.

becks burn cascade

Luckily I had my wellies on so that I could stand on the middle of the burn to get the best angle.

I went back to the path and found that it was easy to cross the bridge, walk up the steps on the other side and look downstream towards the Wauchope valley.

 

 

Becks burn above cascade

I followed the road downhill, admiring the fine growth of catkins on every side.  It has been a good month for catkins.

catkins

There is no sign of autumn left now ….

auld stane brig

…but with only two weeks to go until the winter solstice, we are nearly on the way up towards the light again.

Another tree beside the road back to the town caught me eye…

springhill tree

…and as always, moss and lichen provided a bit of interest on a dull day.

moss and lichen

I didn’t have a great deal of time to sit around and think when I got home because it was soon time for an early tea and my second visit to Lockerbie in two days.  On this occasion, I picked up my fellow choir member Mike and we went over to sing in a Langholm Sings concert in the Episcopalian Church there.

It is a snug little church and it was very nearly full for our performance which was very gratifying.  The members of the audience were kind enough to say that they enjoyed the evening but no one could say that we were faultless and we are going to have another practice next week before we have a joint concert with the Parish Church choir in Langholm next Friday.  Practice makes perfect, we hope.

It was windy as we drove home but the threatened rain held off so the evening went as well as we could have expected.

The flying bird of the day, checking out a freshly filled feeder, is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He was surprised to hear gunfire as he came towards the centre of Derby and even more surprised to see this when he got there.

derby marchers

It was a grey day here when we got up and that turned out to be the best of the weather as it had started to rain before we left church and it was still raining when we got back from our Carlisle choir in the early evening.

I made a lamb stew for the slow cooker before we went to church and when we got back from church, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the vegetable garden and dug up a turnip to add it to it.  I had hoped to use the time between church and the Carlisle choir in the afternoon to go for a short bike ride, or at least a walk, but the weather was just too depressing….

chaffinch in rain

…whichever way you looked at it.

goldfinch in rain

For some reason goldfinches always look the most miserable of our birds when it is wet.

damp goldfinches december

I was pleased to see a siskin or two even if they came at the gloomiest part pf the morning.

siskin

A blue tit looked in vain for some shelter in the plum tree.

blue tit among the droplets

Another welcome visitor was a robin.  They are great shape shifters and it is hard to believe that this stubby little bird on the chimney pot…

robin on chimney

…is the same bird as this sleeker model on the feeder but it is.

robin on feeder

As well as birds, I saw a different creature as I looked out of the window.

spide outside the window

Time for a visit from the window cleaners perhaps.

After lunch we set off to Carlisle to combine a little shopping with our singing.  The journey was more exciting than we would have wished because one of those illuminated  spanners appeared in the dashboard display as we left Langholm.  This all too often presages a transfer of money from me to the garage.

Sometimes these dashboard warnings are just false alarms but on this occasion it was obviously more serious as we were greatly lacking in power when it came to going up hill or trying to accelerate.  Against Mrs Tootlepedal’s advice, I pressed on to Carlisle and was very relieved to get there without the engine giving up the ghost.

I was pretty sure that the fault resulted from our very wet drive through puddles when we came back from our visit to Edinburgh on Thursday night and optimistically hoped that when the car was parked at the supermarket, the warmth from the drive in would miraculously cure the problem.

It did.  Phew!  We got safely to the church car park and had a good sing, the last before our concert next Sunday.  Then we had another nervous moment, waiting to see if the car was still working properly when we started it up to go home.

It was.  And even though we drove home through some more torrential rain, it kept working and we arrived safely in Langholm.  Whether it will be working again tomorrow after this second very soggy drive is another question of course.

The lamb stew turned out very well so we were able to relax a bit after all the singing and automotive stress.

I did find one slightly brighter moment in the rain which coincided with an obliging chaffinch so here is the flying bird of the day.

flyingh chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from the seasonal treats offered in Nottingham.  My brother didn’t just have the chance of curry, he could have had Belgian waffles too.

nottingham fun

It was my birthday today but since when you get to a certain age, just arriving at another birthday is a treat and a privilege, we didn’t make a lot of fuss about it and just enjoyed the day as it went along.

It was a colder and greyer day than ever today, with a touch of frost on the lawns when we woke up.  Under the circumstances, a brisk half hour on the bike to nowhere in the garage was the best way to start the day.

The morning was brightened up by the unexpected arrival of the Scott, our former minister, for coffee.  His coffee radar has obviously not been blunted by his weeks in his new parish in Glasgow.  We had a very interesting talk about the challenges his parishioners face  in one of the poorest parts of the city and we wish him well as he plays his part in trying to help people meet these challenges.

When he left, I spent a little wasted time peering out of the window to see if there was enough light to photograph a  bird or two.  There wasn’t really enough but I clicked away regardless.

There were birds to watch if I looked hard.

busy feeder again

And it was good to see a sparrow among the goldfinches.  The chaffinches always seem to be last at the feast when the feeder is busy.

busy feeder

A male blackbird was hard to pick out in the gloom…

male blackbird

…but a female stood out better.

female blackbird

After lunch, we went off to Edinburgh to see Matilda.  She welcomed me with a hug and a handsome handwritten birthday card and showed off a whirling light on a stick which was most impressive.

dav

Matilda treated us to a wonderful dance show to music by Tchaikovsky and Ravel and after tea, we played a family game of hide and seek.  Mrs Tootlepedal was the most successful hider.

The evening meal was worthy of anyone’s birthday.  A dish of crispy onion and mushroom dal with a coriander and ginger chutney, cooked by Alistair, followed by an orange and lemon chiffon pie, cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and brought up on the train with us, provided a meal fit for a king.

On our way back to the station we passed rather bigger set of twirling lights on a stick, part of the Edinburgh Christmas fun.

edinburgh funfair

I was surprised to be able to catch a flying bird of the day at all today and even more surprised that it turned out to be a blue tit and not a chaffinch.

flying blue tit

I should add that Sandy has posted pictures of some of the people that he met on his recent Thai holiday.  You can see them here.

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