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Posts Tagged ‘blue tit’

Today’s guest picture is a break with tradition and is in fact a pair of pictures as Bruce sent me a fairly standard view of the famous ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’ between the mainland and Seil Island…

seil bridge

…but also included his view from the bridge.  He was surprised to find that someone had painted a white line down the middle of the channel, presumably to keep marine traffic on the right track.

seil bridge view

I was listening to a radio programme about the Roman poet Horace today.  One of his most famous phrases was ‘Carpe Diem’ which might be translated as ‘make good use of your day’

We had a beautifully sunny and reasonably warm morning and if there ever was a dies that needing carping, this was it.  Sadly, as my knee still needs cossetting, the dies remained totally uncarped.

I looked at birds instead.

In the dark months, the shadow of our house looms over the bird feeder and so the brighter the sunlight is on the plum tree….

sunny chaffinch

…the darker the shadows are on the feeder…

coal tit profile straight

…though this can produce an interesting silhouette from time to time.

coal tit profile landing

It was about midday when the sun and birds both appeared on the feeder.  Once again there were not many birds about so this gave the blue, coal and great tits plenty of scope for visiting.

blue tit with seedcoal tit with seedgreat tit

A robin popped in and although I took a very poor picture of it just as we were going out, I have put it in for the record.

robin

While I was bird watching, I couldn’t help noticing the berberis….

berberis November

 

…and I went out for a closer look.  One part of the bush has gone bright red while the other remains fairly subdued.

sunny berberis

The perennial wallflower is a marvel.  We have two and the other has now given up but this one looks as though it is ready to go through the winter.

november perennial wallflower

The calendulas are very diminished but they are still trying to produce new flowers.

november calnedula

Apart from the berberis, the brightest thing in the garden was this stone ball wrapped in a blanket of moss.

mossy stone ball

I raised my eyes to the hills and sighed…

cattle on Castle Hill

…and went back inside for lunch.

Then we went to Edinburgh.  Our up train started late from Lockerbie but arrived on time in Edinburgh.  Our down train left Edinburgh on time but arrived ten minutes late at Lockerbie.  Variety is the spice of life!

We found Matilda in very good form and she absolutely trounced me at snap though I held my own in a game of Pelmanism.   We enjoyed other games as well and after an excellent meal, cooked by her father, Matilda ended our visit with a ballet display.  We went home feeling very cheerful.

I just managed to catch today’s flying bird by the merest fraction of a millimetre.

just flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  When he isn’t digging up roots in his garden, he is admiring the many fine views from his front door.

east wemyss view

After yesterday’s incessant rain, we got a kinder day today and I was able to take a walk round the garden after breakfast to see what flowers had survived the cold and the rain.

As the man who sold the evening paper in Carlisle used to shout, there are not many left but there were some whites about…

white flowers november

…although they were not in show condition.

The bird feeder was busy from the start of the day after a very quiet day yesterday.

sparrows and grernfiches

Sparrows and greenfinches made up the bulk of the early visitors.

flying greenfinch

And roses provided some colour in their own way.

rose hips

I didn’t have long to enjoy nature as it was soon time to hobble along the road to sing in the church choir.  After the departure of our regular minister, Scott to a new parish, we got a temporary minister, also called Scott, but he has now been recalled to serve in America so the service was led by a group from the congregation, none of whom are called Scott.  They did an excellent job….and chose cheerful hymns.

The weather was still mellow when we got home after the service and a short choir practice so Mrs Tootlepedal set about some more tidying up work in the garden combined with some bulb planting and I wafted about trying to look like someone who really would be helping if his leg would let him.  I took pictures instead.

We are very near the end of the road

calendula and potentilla november

I filled the feeders and checked how long it would take the jackdaws to notice than I had put out some fat balls.

One minute.

two jackdaws

I don’t know how they do it.

There were ever more members of the tit family flying about the garden today, great tits, blue tits….

perching blue tit

….and enough coal tits  to start an argument.

sparrow coal tits

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a sparrow hawk in the plum tree but the small birds’ early warning system was functioning well and they got away unscathed.  The sparrow hawk flew off before I could pick up my camera.

After lunch we went off to Carlisle to sing with the choir there and during the tea break I was approached by a lady who had just joined the choir.  She told me her name and when and where we had met before and armed with this information, I recognised her immediately.  Everyone should be as helpful as this.

We had a good sing and the day was still dry and warm as we drove home, although the choir ends in darkness now that the clocks have gone back.  We were held up when we got to Langholm by a large procession led by the pipe band which was marching down the High Street.  They were going to the Kilngreen to enjoy a bonfire and a firework display.

I got home, got a couple of cameras out and hobbled back along to the town bridge in time to find that a good blaze had already started on the banks of the Ewes Water.

2018 bonfire

It was soon followed by a firework display which was very satisfactory to watch and to listen to but slightly less good to photograph as the pyrotechnicians had gone for more sound than brightly coloured light.  There were some effects which were new to me like this curling and fizzing white column which made intricate circles.

2018 white firework

There were a lot of silver and white effects….

2018 fireworks

…and the stillness of the evening meant that the smoke from the explosions hung around a lot.

cloudy fireworks 2018

There were very few of the rockets that shoot high into the sky and explode downwards…

traditional forework 2018

…but it was a most enjoyable experience, although it must have frightened the living daylights out of any of the local ducks as it was very, very loud.

I am beginning to realise that I have been much too optimistic about how long it is going to take for my leg to get better so I am going to stop mentioning it and suffer in silence from now on until I am able to get back to cycling.

Well, I may moan a bit from time to time.

The lawn made an excellent background for today’s low flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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My Somerset correspondent, Venetia was intrigued by this curious statue in Marseille on her recent visit.

marseille statue

I think it represents travellers who are just passing through!

The weather gods are rolling on the floor laughing at their own tremendous wit as they provided yet another 100% sunny day while I am still basically confined to barracks.  My leg is steadily progressing but not enough to allow either walking or cycling of more than a few hundred yards at best.   It was a day crying out for a walk in the hills.

As a result I was more than happy to welcome Sandy for a cup of coffee made from Thai coffee beans which he had been kind enough to bring back for me from his recent trip to Thailand.

While we were sipping and chatting, I wondered if I had seen an unusual visitor lurking in the plum tree.  It had gone by the time that we got up for a good look but later in the morning, I saw this…

blue tit with blue flower

…and when I looked again…

two treee sparrows

… it confirmed that we had not one but two tree sparrows in the garden  They are really attractive little birds….

tree sparrow in plum tree

…and I am always pleased to see them on the rare occasions when they visit us. We had one earlier this year and one last year and none (that I saw) in 2016 at all.

There were other small and attractive birds about too…

blue tit close up on fatballs

…and some larger ones.

stern jackdaw

I made lentil soup for lunch using green, brown and red lentils and enjoyed the result.  After lunch, I got the washing in and went for a short and gentle stroll round the garden.

After a genuinely frosty night, some things were looking very droopy…

soggy nasturtiums

…and bent….

collapsing delphinium

…and there wasn’t a leaf left on the walnut tree…

bare walnut tree

…but the daisies were unbowed ….

october daisies 29th

…and the Lilian Austin rose was glorious.

lilian austin 29 Ict

That cheered me up a lot.

Then I spent some unrewarding time at my computer and on the phone trying to contact firms that make it their speciality to be hard to contact.  I found an entirely new form of customer torture when I needed to log into my account for a product that I bought many years ago.  Of course I didn’t know my password and applied for a new one:  “Success!” the website crowed. ” Your link for a new password has been sent to your email address!”

Great…except it hadn’t been sent.

I filled in a contact form to tell them about this. “Thank you for your enquiry, ” the website said, “A copy of your enquiry has been emailed to your email address.”

Except it hadn’t.

I sometimes suspect that the smart people who who design this sort of thing are practising to be weather gods in a later reincarnation.

The day took a turn for the better when Luke appeared for his lesson and showed a big improvement in his counting skills.  Considering that we are doing some quite complicated counting, this was really encouraging.  Basically he doesn’t have a real lesson.  We just play duets and every now and again I say, “Do as I say and not as I do,” and he does it.

After tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and had a very enjoyable time indeed.

It was -1°C as I drove home.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  (The tree sparrows were too quick for me.)

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He was up early today and walking his dogs along Buckhaven beach.

Buckhaven beach

We had a sunny but chilly day here too, with a brisk northerly wind keeping temperatures down to 6°C at their highest.

It didn’t matter to me as I got out of bed but never got dressed.  This was to ensure that I didn’t succumb to temptation and go out for a walk while the sun was shining.

I woke up to find that my leg was a lot less sore and as the day went on, and applications of gentle massage, magic ointment and frozen peas occurred, my leg continued to improve.  Any thoughts of a serious tear have receded and the injury has now been re-categorised as a minor sprain or strain which needs considerate treatment….and a lot less moaning and groaning.

As a result of looking after the sprain, I hardly did anything all day.  I managed lying back in bed in the morning while listening to an interesting programme about Bach’s music, and then making a loaf of bread and putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database in the afternoon.

I did cast the occasional look out of the kitchen window.

Knowing that I was laid up, the weather gods provided a cloudless day to torment me…

sunny garden

…but mother nature laid on a good supply of birds to entertain me.

siskin oct

A siskin

I did go out of the house for about 30 seconds or so to change the feeder and a chaffinch gave the replacement a very quizzical look.

quizzical chaffinch

A blue tit liked it more as it has better perching facilities for  very small birds.

blue tit on clean feeder

It was all the same to the jackdaws.  They only come for the fat balls.

sleek jackdaw

We entertained Mike Tinker to a cup of tea on his return from holiday in Wales.  He came bearing rich gifts of delicious cheese and other delicacies.

We have a heavy day of church singing tomorrow as our church choir is going to sing at a four church choir festival of music in Lochmaben and we will have our own service in the morning, a practice in the afternoon and then the festival in the evening.  I am looking forward to it.

It was a day for sideways looks from flying chaffinches.

sideways flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is the Silk Mill in Derby which was passed by my brother Andrew on a very calm day recently.  He notes that the rowing eight in the background seem to be lacking a sense of direction. Perhaps they are our Brexit negotiation team relaxing.

Silk Mill

We had a very grey and dismal day here today and I made the best of it by having an extremely relaxing morning doing nothing at all.  It was the sort of day that Saturday newspapers, with their endless supplements full of guff, are made for.

Well, to tell the truth, I did do a little as I made a venison stew for the slow cooker and some potato and carrot soup for lunch.  The soup would have tasted better if I had remembered to put some onions in.

I did occasionally glance out of the kitchen window.  A collared dove looked about as fed up as I was…

wet dove in tree

…but a blue tit looked a little perkier…

blue tit on fat balls oct

…and even did some tricks to entertain me.

blue tit on fat balls oct (2)

The chaffinches were confused and flew in all directions at once.

confused flying chaffinches

A jackdaw took a dim view of the whole situation.  I know how it felt.

jackdaw on feeder oct

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I retired to the computer to waste time doing things so badly that they had to be done again.  In this way, I passed the time until I was driven out to stretch my legs by boredom.

I had a look round the garden before setting off on a short three bridges walk.

garden flower panel oct 20

I discovered that I had been underestimating the clematis in the back bed.  I thought that it had only had one flower but not only could I see a new flower coming,  I could clearly see a seed head as well so it may end up with three flowers for the year.

clematis panel oct 20

The autumn colour was not very exciting today….

dull autumn colour park

… but I was excited to see Mrs Tootlepedal driving over the Langholm Bridge on the way home after her meeting.

Mrs T driving home

The Christmas lights have been strung along the bridge already.  We must be the first town on the light erectors’ list this year.

There were almost as many leaves on the ground as there are still on the tree beside the suspension bridge….

fallen leaves beside Esk

…but they make a cheerful sight on the road.

fallen leaves beside Esk on street

Our lone gull was still standing on its rock staring fixedly down the river, presumably with the hope of seeing a friend coming.

lonely gull

It wasn’t a day for views so I noted the variety of lichens on the Sawmill Brig parapet…

lichen on sawmill brig

…the herb robert growing out of the wall opposite the sawmill….

herb robert

…and the water retaining moss on the top of the wall.

moss on sawmill wall

I took the new path round the bottom of the Castleholm…

new path castleholm

…and kept an eye out for fungus.

I didn’t have much luck and when I finally did see a crop on a tree beside the Scholar’s Field, some creature had got there first…

eaten fungus on tree

…and eaten my photo opportunity.

When I got in, I had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal and then went off to practise  music for our Carlisle choir.  The musical director has very kindly made demos of herself singing the various parts for several of the trickier songs and I used these to help learn the tenor parts.  The trouble is that it is quite possible to persuade yourself that you can sing the parts only to find that it isn’t so easy with another eighty people singing different parts at the same time….especially if the composer or arranger has a taste for crunchy chords.  Still, any help is welcome.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some potatoes and marrow to go with the slow cooked venison stew but couldn’t get over the feeling that she was being watched as she prepared to eat her meal.

staring food

The flying bird of the day is a suitably gloomy chaffinch to match the weather.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who came upon a horde of ladybirds on one of her visits.  This picture shows just a few of the insects that she saw.

Ladybirds

It was a bright but chilly morning here and I had to scrape ice off the car windscreen after breakfast before I could drive up to the Moorland bird hide to fill the feeders as a substitute for Sandy who is still on holiday.

There was a lot of mist about along the river and enough of it had spread up the hill to the hide to give me a rare treat when I got out of the car, a mistbow.

mistbow

It soon faded away and I set about filling the feeders and then lurking in the hide to watch the residents emptying them again.

I did a brisk business with tits.  Here are a blue tit and a coal tit taking in some peanuts…

blue tit and coal tit

…and here is a great tit waiting to take its turn.

great tit

I had to wait a while for a greater spotted woodpecker to arrive but when one did, it posed very graciously for me.

woodpecker

There is almost always fungus on the ground near the feeders at this time of year.

Laverock fungus

Coming out of the hide to go home, I found that the hide was in sunshine and the valley below in mist.

mist from Laverock

I plunged bravely into the valley and the mist and headed for home.

mist from laverock 2

Although the temperature was only 3°, the day was very calm and it felt much warmer than it should have done.  In the circumstances, it seemed too good a day to waste indoors so in spite of it being nearly coffee time, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed to come for a drive up the hill road on Whita.

We were soon back above the mist and looking down.

mist from hill road

It was well worth the effort.

misty trees hillhead

We drove up to the White Yett and looked back over the Esk and Ewes valleys.

mist from white yett

We parked in the car park at the MacDiarmid Memorial and  I walked a little further up the hill, passing this delight on the way.

dewy spiders web

From there, I could see the mist lying over the rivers below.

mist from whita

I would have liked to have stayed longer and to have taken innumerable shots in pursuit of the perfect mist picture but it really was coffee time by now so we headed back down the hill.

We stopped for a moment at the Kilngreen where Mrs Tootlepedal had been asked to say what she thought some bright red small fruits were in the garden there (amazingly deep red crab apples most probably was the verdict).

I took the opportunity to look around.  It really was the most perfect day.

kilngrren sunny morning

And we were now….

mist on Timpen

…looking back up at the mist.

mist on Castle Hill

Coffee and ‘things to be done’ called us and all too soon we were back in the car after a light lunch and heading for Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

Matilda, her mother Clare and I went to the Botanical Gardens to feed the ducks…

Matilda feeding ducks

…but we were a bit slow off the mark and bells were ringing for the closure of the park almost as soon as we had got there.

Still the ducks got their rice and we had our fun and it was still a good day for a walk so we weren’t too unhappy.

Alistair, Matilda’s dad, is a dab hand at making tasty pizzas so we had an excellent evening meal before catching the train home with a tricky crossword to while away the time.

In all the going up and down, I had little time for the birds in our own garden but I did catch a flying chaffinch while the feeder was still in the morning shadows.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce’s northern trip.  He had got as far as the Isle of Harris when he took this shot of the  famous beach at Seilebost on a day that was not encouraging any sunbathing…but the view was still good.

Seilebost

It was both less windy and warmer than yesterday here today in spite of the complete absence of any sun.

As I sipped coffee and nibbled scones with Dropscone, who had come in search of a spare mouse for his computer as his had died, Mrs Tootlepedal was clearing off the remaining dahlias from the front beds.

She made short work of the task…

P1140817

…and by the time that Dropscone left, the beds were cleared.  It didn’t take us long to shred  them and add the remains to the green mulch on the back bed.

P1140835

Mrs Tootlepedal has become very fond of green mulching and I have to take care not to to linger for too long in one spot while taking flower photographs for fear of being covered in mulch myself.

I nipped around with the camera just to show that although the dahlias may have gone, there is a good deal still left to delight the eye.

All this….

P1140829

…and these too.

P1140836

We even have what passes for a colourful corner in October…

P1140837

…and of course, there are Special Grandmas.

P1140824

I had a quick check on the birds while we having coffee.  We are getting a steady supply of  greenfinches again though they were rather rude today and turned their backs on me…

_DSC7669

…and a blue tit wasn’t any more helpful.

_DSC7672

Still if the birds won’t ‘watch the birdie’ then there is nothing to be done about it.

After lunch, the warmer weather persuaded me to ignore the possibility of some light rain and go for a cycle ride.  I took the precaution of having my big yellow rain jacket on from the start and a persistent drizzle, which came on almost as soon as I had left the house, made me grateful for the decision.

It was a gloomy day….

P1140845

…with the hills shrouded in clouds and there was quite enough wind to make pedalling into it seem like hard work.

There were reminders along the way of even stronger winds in the recent past.

P1140846

However, as I dropped down into the Esk valley at Canonbie, the rain stopped and the wind became my friend and pushed me back up the hill into Langholm.  The trees along the riverside are among the most colourful around at the moment and the bridges at the Hollows…

hollows bridge view oct 3

Looking north

hollows bridge Oct 3 south

Looking south

And at Skippers…

view from skippers oct 3 2018

Looking north

skippers bridge view south 3 oct 18

Looking south

…gave me the chance to have an uninterrupted view of the colour.

All this tree watching was very tiring and my new bike had to have a short rest on the old A7 between the bridges.

old A7 oct 3

Although it was only my usual 20 mile Canonbie circuit, the ride gave me great pleasure, both because of the views and because my legs had appreciated four days rest since my last cycle outing.

I had a shower and a sit down and then, after a nourishing meal of corned beef hash,  it was time to go out to sing with the Langholm Choir and put my singing lesson to the test.  My teacher, Mary was too busy to take the choir herself this week and sent her husband along to take her place so I don’t know what she would have thought of my efforts but I enjoyed myself a lot so I thought that the lesson had been worthwhile.

I have got several busy days ahead and posts might become a little sketchy or even totally invisible after tomorrow for a while.

Meantime here is a flying goldfinch as a change from the incessant chaffinches.

_DSC7676

 

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