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Posts Tagged ‘blue tit’

Today’s guest picture shows a regular visitor to Irving’s feeder.

squirrel

I start today’s post with an item from yesterday.  Just after I had put the blog to bed, there were loud noises outside.  It was a very misty night and the pink footed geese might well have been lost and checking where the rest of the gang was.

It is rather upsetting to hear them as the geese sound really unhappy.  They were still making a noise early in the morning but they had safely gone on their way by breakfast time.

Just to join in with the rest of the town, Mrs Tootlepedal now has a cold so she didn’t come with me when I went up to the Laverock Hide to act as a fill-in feeder filler for the Moorland project.  It was just as well that she didn’t come as she likes to sit and look out for raptors but today all she would have seen today was this….

mist at Laverock

Looking west

…or this.

mist at Laverock

Looking east.

I filled the feeders, fighting off the army of pheasants around my feet, and admired the king of the castle…

pheasant

…before going into the hide to spend a little time watching the birds.

There was plenty of action….

great tit and blue tit

…but not enough light to see all of it very well.   I could see that both the blue tit and the great tit are probably long term residents of the glade as they both have rings and the birds here have been ringed fairly regularly.

great tit

The tits don’t have very large beaks and the great tit picked out a lump of peanut and flew off to a handy branch to deal with it.  It clamped it firmly under one foot and pecked at it until it was small enough to eat in one go.

great tit

I was delighted when a woodpecker arrived at the nuts…

woodpecker

I think this is the same one a little later.

woodpecker

The woodpeckers get ringed as well as the small birds.

woodpecker

I came back into the town and picked up a prescription for puffers which I need a lot in the cold and damp weather which we have been enjoying.

Mrs Tootlepedal cycled up and gave me some much needed guidance in the matter of purchasing her Christmas present and then we went home.

After coffee, we went out to see about digging up the Christmas tree from the garden.

Thanks to Mrs Tootlepedal’s expertise with the spade, it was soon resting in a pot in the garage, waiting to come in to the house  later in the week.

Christmas tree

I had time for a quick look at our own birds…

chaffinch and goldfinch

…before getting the fairly speedy bike out to take advantage of a marked improvement in the weather.  It was warm (9°C) and relatively windless and the mist was beginning to lift so I set off up the Wauchope road hoping to remember how to pedal a bike.  It had been 15 days since I last went cycling.

The legs were soon back in the old routine and as I got to Callister, the last of the mist was clearing away….

Callister mist

…so my timing was perfect.  I wasn’t in a very adventurous mood though and I turned back at the end of the straight and cycled back to Langholm.

It was a lovely day by the time that I got there….

Whita in sun

….so I turned round again and headed back to Callister to do another ten miles.

There were still patches of mist on the way….

mist on Wauchope road

…but the sun was doing its best and lit up this fine Christmas tree which needed no artificial decoration.  At about 30ft high, it might be a little too big for most front rooms though.

conifer with cones

By the time that I was on the last leg, the mist had cleared entirely and it was as nice a day as you could hope for at this time of year.

blochburnfoot

But with the solstice only a day or two away, even a really nice day doesn’t last long and when I got home, I only had time for a quick goldfinch shot….

goldfinches

…and a cup of tea before the light had faded so much that the only thing the camera could see when a blackbird walked past was its beak.

blackbird

The evening was a bit subdued because Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold hadn’t improved at all and I have got a hint of one coming back as well.

We might have gone to a screening of The Nutcracker Suite but the three piece suite seemed a better bet.

(We don’t actually have a three piece suite, just a sofa and two chairs but I couldn’t resist the joke.)

The flying bird of the day is a helicopter which was buzzing around in the afternoon.

helicopter

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Bruce. He found this signpost near Carlisle and thinks that it might be of more interest to cyclists than motorists.

IMG_0668

There had been wild talk of 7°C in the forecasts for today but the reality was 3° when we woke and 4.5° when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to church to sing in the choir and I got my fairly speedy bike out for a Sunday morning ride.

On the plus side, the wind was very light indeed and it was sunny, with scarcely a cloud in the sky.

I like to take advantage of the well surfaced main roads on a Sunday when traffic is light so I set off up the A7 to the north with the idea of going as far as my legs thought prudent.

It was glorious day to be pedalling as long as you were extremely well wrapped up.  I was.

They have felled a wood  a mile or two out of town and as a result, a fine view up the Ewes valley has been unveiled.

P1050871

The valley has a narrow flat bottom and the road winds up the left hand side as we look at it in the picture above.

To my left, on the west side, the hills were bathed in sunshine.

P1050872

To my right, on the east side, things were more shadowy.

P1050873

I was glad that the road was on the sunny side of the valley as on the occasions when I found myself in the shadows, it was definitely chilly.

I stopped to look at Ewes Church and was a bit disappointed to find that some tall trees were casting a shadow on my possible picture….,

P1050874

…but as a consolation, two more trees in the churchyard made a fine frame for the hills behind the church.

P1050875

As you get near the head of the valley, it is possible to wonder how the road is going to thread its way through the hills.  In fact the main road goes up the valley to the left and a minor road to Hermitage Castle takes the right-hand route.

P1050878

Just at the junction, there is a steep ridge, a contrast to our usually smooth summits.

P1050880

I followed the main road.

P1050881

This is the road I followed and I was relieved to find that drainage problems which resulted in the road often being covered with water running off the fields seem to have been solved.  On a morning when temperatures are low, the possibility of hitting a sheet of ice is not attractive.

Things were fine this morning.

For a mile and a half, the roads climbs gently up a dark and narrow ravine between steep hills before arriving at the sunlit uplands at the Mosspaul Hotel.

P1050882

After some discussion with my legs, it was mutually agreed that at ten and a half miles, this would be a good turning point considering that the light wind would be against me on the way home and I needed a rest before going singing after lunch.

I didn’t stop on the way back and got home in a very cheerful mood.

I would have been even more cheerful if there had been any finches in the garden but there were so few that I am beginning to think that I should gave them individual names.

Meet Archibald the chaffinch.

chaffinch

George the goldfinch.

goldfinch

And Evelyn, the young greenfinch.

greenfinch

There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the sunflower seeds because when the few birds settle on the feeder, they tuck in with gusto.

chaffinch

Other birds keep coming.

Blackbird

Blue tit

robin

So the absence of the finches is still a mystery.

Evidence of the low temperature, in spite of the sunshine, can be seen in the roundness of this robin.

robun

In the afternoon, we went off to Carlisle to sing with the choir there.  On our way we picked up a fellow choir member in Canonbie who had injured both her ankles and couldn’t drive.

She told us that she had fallen over at a major roundabout in Carlisle a week or two ago on a very icy morning and found herself lying in the road, unable to get up.  As cars whizzed by without stopping, she understandably feared for her life.  Luckily, the third car to pass her did stop and after halting the traffic, the driver helped her get to her feet and took her off to where she could meet her daughter.

As she remarked, this was the only occasion when an attempt to pick her up by a strange man in Carlisle was welcome.  She was remarkably calm about the whole affair.

We didn’t have our usual conductor today, as he was at a concert with another of his choirs and having a stand-in  leader for the week before our concert wasn’t entirely satisfactory.  However, it couldn’t be helped and we all did the best that we could.

Our way home from the choir was illuminated by a super moon sailing through a clear sky.  As soon as we got back, I rushed up stairs with my camera on a tripod….

…and found the sky covered with clouds.

super moon

What a swizz!

In the continued absence of finches, I am struggling for flying birds of the day.

_DSC9531

Note: I have several vacancies for guest picture of the day.

 

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Today’s guest picture is another antidote to gloom and comes from my sister Mary’s visit to Bath last month.

Bath October 2017 011

After breakfast, I took it easy in an attempt to recover from all the jollifications of my birthday while Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to Longtown to get her eyes tested.

She was very fortunate to get back to Langholm just before the main road was completely closed to allow the recovery of a large vehicle which had slid off the road just to the south of Skippers Bridge last night in the heavy rain.

I watched a few birds while she was out.  The feeder was busy….

busy feeder

…but the gloomy morning made it easier to catch birds when they were standing still.

chaffinch

A chaffinch samples the sunflower seed…

 

blue tit

…while a blue tit examines the mixed seed.

greenfinch

The elegant back of a greenfinch..

pigeon

…and a pigeon shows off its pink feet.

robin

A robin obligingly gave me the full range of poses.

The early rained eased off so I took the opportunity to go for a short walk.

In spite of continuing rain, the river had dropped a bit more and the turtle was back on dry land.

TURTLE

As I looked down on the upstream side of the town bridge, I could see why the spot is called the meeting of the waters.

Meeting of the waters

The Ewes and the Esk were flowing with very different colours.

Meeting of the waters

It always surprises me that the rivers don’t mix more quickly when they meet.   Some knowledgeable reader may be able to tell me if the temperature of the water or the speed of the flow has anything to do with it.  At first sight I would expect the rivers to intermingle as soon as they collide.

I crossed the Ewes by the sawmill Bridge and walked up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge walks

Although the scene is pretty wintery now, there are touches of colour about.

beech tree in November

And plenty of moments of reflection too.

puddle

I was pleased to see a scrap of blue sky above the hills.

Timpen

I crossed the Duchess Bridge on my way home and passed a dripping catkin and another little bunch of leaves hanging on.

catkin and leaves

When i got home, I looked over the hedge from the road into the garden.  Although all the flowers have gone, the neat hedges and box balls still give the garden an ordered look which is pleasing to the eye.

garden in November

After lunch, we took our courage in our hands and set off to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  There had been talk of floods and/or snow but in the end, we had quite a pleasant drive over to Lockerbie and the train arrived only a little late due to speed restrictions because the the bad weather further south.

We arrived safely in Edinburgh and had a very good time playing with Matilda.  She, with a little help from her parents, had prepared me and Mrs Tootlepedal, whose birthday is very soon, a fine chocolate birthday cake….

P1050564

…which tasted even better than it looked.

The cake rounded off an excellent evening meal so we arrived back at Waverley Station in a very cheerful frame of mind.  Our good cheer was slightly moderated by finding that our train was running late due to floods in the south and that we would be sharing it with the passengers of an earlier train which had been cancelled.

There seemed to be huge numbers waiting on the platform for our train to arrive but in the end, we all fitted in very comfortably and since the train made up a little time on its way, we arrived at Lockerbie not long after our scheduled time.

After the satisfactory journey, our cheer factor had once again been raised but it fell back with a thud as we arrived at the car to find snow on the windscreen and the thermometer registering -1C.  It fell even more when we met fog soon after leaving Lockerbie.

However, the fog soon cleared, the roads were free of ice and the only snow we passed was politely sitting by the sides of the road as we went over Callister so the drive home was far less alarming than we had feared.

Once again, we have been lucky with bad weather. Others to the north and the south of us have fared worse.  And of course, Matilda’s smile would brighten any day up.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from my neighbour Liz.  She has been on holiday in Spain but must have strayed into Portugal because she tells me that these are Portuguese fishermen mending their nets.

net mending

It was rather chilly and the cloud was clamped on the hills when I got up.  It was nearly windless so I thought very hard about going for a cycle ride and had to weigh up the damp, cold conditions against the lack of wind.  My cough has not disappeared.  At one stage, I got into quite a heated argument with myself but in the end, sense prevailed and I invited Sandy round for a cup of coffee instead.

After coffee, I checked on the garden birds….

chaffinch

…and then I went out for a short walk with the hope of finding some misty shots involving bare trees for dramatic effect.  I found a dipper, a dripping conifer and some birch leaves….

dipper

…but no dramatic misty treescapes.

However, there was some curiously striped mist about…

misty view

…and a hint of a hilltop above the mist…

misty view

…and this was enough to suggest that a drive up to the White Yett might provide a shot worth taking or two and so, on a whim and a prayer, off I went.

Things looked promising as I went up the hill…

windmills in mist

…and more promising the higher I went…

mist from Whita

…higher and higher…

P1050358

And the promise was fulfilled when I got to the car park.

mist from Whita

I don’t think I have seen mist in such well defined streams before.

mist from Whita

I decided that a walk up to the monument was called for and as I went up, I kept snapping.

Timpen hill was like an island in an icy sea.

 

mist from Whita

The mist was filling the col between Timpen and the windmills on Craig and Ewe Hill

P1050378

On the other side of the town, the mist had smothered the Wauchope valley and I was very glad that I had decided not to cycle there earlier in the day.  It would have been dark and damp.

mist from Whita

The stripes of mist were most unusual and thanks to the cool and very still day, they stayed where they were for long enough for me to enjoy them thoroughly.mist from Whita

Once at the top of the hill, I expected to see the Solway plain full of mist too but it was pretty clear so that I could see the Gretna wind farm on this side of the firth  and the Lake District Hills on the far side. ..

Solway Firth

…but as you can see, they had some low level mist on the English shore too.

I could have sat up there for some time but I had an afternoon appointment so I reluctantly came back down to the car, taking a shot or two on the way of course…

windmills and mist

…including a panorama to try to give an impression of how neatly the mist was wrapped round the hills.  You can click on the panorama for a closer look.

mist panorama

As I came down, I saw two things of interest.  The first was a bird perched on a snow pole.  When I looked at the picture for the first time, I thought that it was only a stray chaffinch but a closer look tells me that it is something else.

bird on pole

(Helpful readers have told me that it is a stonechat,  I am grateful to them.)

The other interesting sight was Sandy.  I had sent him a  text to say that there was interesting mist and he had come up for a look for himself.

I didn’t have time to stay and chat as that afternoon appointment was looming up and I needed to have lunch before I went.

I combined lunch with staring out of the window.

There was the usual charm offensive…

blue tit and robin

….and an offensive charm too (goldfinch flocks are called charms)…

goldfinch and siskin

…but the siskins can more than hold their own when it comes to being offensive.

siskin and goldfinch

I couldn’t stay for long as I had to drive over to Powfoot on the Scottish side of the Solway shore to visit my physiotherapist.

The local health authorities have made it almost impossible to see an NHS physio so it was lucky that I know and have used the services of an excellent private physio, even though it costs me money.

A few weeks ago, I injured my left bicep by reaching gently behind me to pick something off a shelf and in the process, damaged my long head tendon.  Two visits to the doctor hadn’t provided me with either much information or a referral to an NHS physio so I was in search of good advice and, if possible, a miracle cure.

I purposely arrived in enough time to go down to the Solway shore.

The tide was out, there was no wind and the scene was eerily quiet.

solway and lake district

I don’t think that I have ever been able to see the reflections of the Anthorn radio masts in the sea before and may well never see them again.

Anthorn

It was hard to choose whether the views from the hill or the shore were better but it was a great privilege to have been able to see them both in one day.

I went to my appointment and discovered that the tendon was irreparably burst and wasn’t going to miraculously join up again so that my bicep would never recover its natural good looks.  This dashed my hopes of appearing in the Mr Universe competition.

On the up side, it turns out that as there are other tendons about, the  loss of one is not a disaster and I should, with care and attention, not do any further damage and be able to gradually improve the situation with judicious light exercise.

As the physio then eased my arthritic shoulder and freed up my neck so that I can actually turn my head now, I considered it money well spent and drove back very cheerfully.

I might have stopped on the way and waved at the starlings at Gretna but I hadn’t brought the right lens with me so I went straight home.

In the evening, I went out to the Langholm Sings choir practice and got shouted at by the pianist.  Deservedly.   But I was tired and my cough hasn’t gone away so I felt a bit hard done by.

I did get a flying goldfinch of the day before I went to Powfoot.

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another visit to Irene’s sunny garden in South Africa.  Since they have been suffering from a drought, the colour is very commendable.

south african garden

There was no sign of frost here this morning and there was a little sunshine to warm things up so I decided to ignore the ongoing coughing and try out a short cycle ride.  It took me quite a lot of time to make up my mind to give it a go but I finally got on the road and clocked up a sensibly brief and gentle ten miles, turning when I got to the bottom slopes of Callister.

Callister in November

While the ride didn’t do me any good, it didn’t seem to do me much harm so I may try again if the weather stays kind.  It was good to be back on the bike and to find that I remembered how to pedal after two weeks of walking.

I had to fill up the sunflower seed feeder when I got home as it had been well used.

chaffinch and goldfinch

Additional visitors not welcome.

Luckily Mrs Tootlepedal had a visitor before lunch so after my ride, I had a good excuse to retire to my bed and have a snooze for half an hour or so..

After lunch, in a rare outbreak of usefulness, I helped Mrs Tootlepedal plant tulips as she has a lot to put in.  I managed to sink fifteen red ones into this bed….

tulip bed

…and now I will have to wait several months to see if I put them in the right way up.

I found two survivors when I looked around.

clematis and marigold

How the middle calendula survived when its two friends collapsed is a mystery.

More specialised skills in the gardening department were required than I could offer so while Mrs Tootlepedal toiled away, I went off for a walk.

I started along the river where the usual suspects posed for pictures….

gull and ducks

There was a hint of Noah’s Ark about the ducks, I thought.

…and then I followed the main road out of town and took the Newcastleton road up the hill.

There were neat hedges to admire…

Newcastleton road

…abundant lichen on the stone walls….

Newcastleton road lichen

…amusing fence posts….

Newcastleton road fencepost

…and fine views up the Ewes valley to enjoy.Newcastleton road view up Ewes

When I got to the quarry, I turned on to the lower slopes of Whita and walked along to Whita Well.

Here there were rather monochrome trees silhouetted against the weak sun….

Whita trees

..although the sky was still quite blue if you looked in the right direction.

Monument

Added colour was provided by gorse flowers.  Gorse is an indiscriminate flowerer and all seasons seem to suit it.

gorse

I ended my walk by coming down the Kirk Wynd and looking over the Town Hall to Warbla in the background.

View over the town

As you can see, it was only just past three o’clock by this time but already the day was growing darker and Mrs Tootlepedal came in from the garden when I got home.

During the  morning and early afternoon, I spent a moment here and there staring out of the kitchen window.  My new mixed seed feeder is doing no business but the suet balls are proving attractive…

dunnock and blue tit

…so I have taken the seeds down and hung the fat balls up instead.  I will have to put some more out at low level for the dunnocks because they won’t fly up to the feeder.

I have got some pink pellets out too and they are proving quite popular.  A starling was tempted down from  its high wire for a visit today.

starling

I am particularly pleased to see regular visits from several blue tits as numbers were reported to be in a bad state after a couple of poor springs so it is a treat to see them looking well.

blue tit

The sunflower seeds are the main draw though and we had good numbers of chaffinches, goldfinches and greenfinches again today.

Sometimes the greenfinches dominated the feeder….

greenfinches

…and got quite ratty if anyone else pushed in.

greenfinch and goldfinch

Sometimes things were quieter….

chaffinches

…and, as usual, I was always looking for a flying bird picture opportunity.  Such was the traffic today that on many occasions I didn’t know where to look….

flying birds

…and missed them all.

It was easier to spot a static blackbird, one of many still in and around the garden.

blackbird

I wondered if this one had been a lawyer in a previous life.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to see the local dramatic society’s annual play in the Buccleuch Centre while I stayed at home to nurse my cough and make a dozen bread rolls.

I did find one chaffinch who kept out of the general hurly-burly for long enough to be the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who popped over to Paris for some culture.  She bravely used that external escalator.

The excalators snaking up outside the Pompidou building

It was frosty again when we got up and I recorded the fact with the aid of a spirea.

frozen spirea

frozen spirea

My recovery from the cold has been delayed again and so I took advantage of a cancellation at the Health Centre to get a check on my chest from a doctor this morning.  It’s just a cold and will go away in its own sweet time.  He didn’t have much of a view about when and suggested sticking my head over a bowl of boiling water three times a day for a week.  I think he said ‘over’ and not ‘in’.

I was wasting another day of very light winds but as the temperature never got much above 5°C, I wasn’t as distraught about this as I might have been on a warmer day.

I looked out of the window as the morning went on.

I couldn’t see much because flying chaffinches kept getting in the way.

flying chaffinches

There were other birds about….some cute…

robin

…some stern…

blackbird

…and some that I may have seen at Gretna yesterday evening.

starlings

After a nourishing lunch of sombre looking but quite tasty soup, I went for a short walk just to stretch the legs.  When it is not windy, even 5°C seems pleasantly warm for a walk if you are properly dressed.

I walked through the park to the Stubholm and then followed track through the Kernigal wood and down to Skipperscleuch and came back along the river.

There was lichen and fungus to be seen as I went along.

fungus

And I liked the way that two leaves had become imprinted on a rock much in the way that we used to press leaves when we were in the infant school.

lichen and leaves

Although I was among trees for a lot of the walk, there were occasional views.

mist in the hills

Hillside

And even a little late autumn colour.

late autumn colour

Most of the colour from my walk was in the form of larches, which looked golden to my eye from a distance….

larches

…but not quite as pretty to my camera’s sensor.

The actual needles were mostly brownish yellow but still surprisingly green in places.

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There were plenty of bare trees to enjoy.

bare tree

And when I got down to Skippers Bridge, I went down to the waterside and took the obligatory shot.  For some reason Roy Orbison came to mind.

skippers bridge

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepdal had been very busy doing another section of her path and clearing the nasturtiums from around the front door,

nasturtiums

It was sad to see them go as they had done very well in resisting the early frosts but the last one had been too much for them.

I lent a hand on some more tidying up.

There are still a few survivors about.

sweet rocket and clematis in november

It was too cold and gloomy to linger in the garden for long so we came in for a cup of tea and a slice or two of a Selkirk bannock.  In this we had a lot in common with Queen Victoria who is said to have been very partial to a slice or two of a Selkirk bannock with her afternoon cup of tea.

In the evening, I went off to do some more croaking with Langholm Sings, our local choir.  There were only two tenors there tonight and so we enjoyed a very quiet and peaceful evening and were modestly pleased with our efforts.

In spite of all the flying chaffinches, the flying bird of the day is a blue tit.  It not the best picture but it makes a change.

flying blue tit

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s recent peregrinations.  He passed the south door of York Minster on his travels.

York Minster

I was slightly annoyed to find that I was no better when I woke up this morning.  If anything, I was a little worse.  My throat was better and I had stopped sounding like a disgruntled frog but my cough was a bit worse so another possible cycling day went by without a foot on the pedal.

The weather was rather dull in the morning but, as so often, my day was brightened by the arrival of Dropscone and scones to go with coffee.

After he went on his way, I mooched around feeling a bit depressed by my everlasting cold.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help with at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop and I made some rather sombre brown lentil soup for my lunch.

In between times, I looked out of the window.

A dunnock was back on the chimney pot under the feeder.

dunnock

We have a group of dunnocks lurking in our hedges at the moment.

Some of the birds looked a bit cross like me.

goldfinches

And some looked even crosser.

greenfinch and sparrow

I kept on thinking that I might go for a bike ride after lunch when the weather brightened up but I never quite managed to be able to ignore my chest which was saying, “Don’t cycle, ” in quite a loud though somewhat wheezy voice.

I looked out of the window again.  There were small birds…

blue tit siskin and great tit

…birds with a point of view…

greenfinch, chaffinch and robin

…and, in the end, a sunny bird.

sparrow

I still couldn’t quite make up my mind whether to go for a quick but gentle pedal and in the end, I went for another walk just to stretch my legs.

I had a look at the garden survivors before I left.

november flowers

You can probably see why I like to walk along the river between the bridges even though the sun had gone back in by this time.

Esk and George Street

The little white dot that you can see in the middle of the river is our resident big gull.

Gull in Esk

I didn’t see much while I was walking, partly because there wasn’t much to see and partly because I was walking fairly briskly for a reason which will become plain later in the post.

I could see that the leaves are nearly all off the trees now….

Castleholm trees

…and I could see where they have gone.

fallen leaves

The path along the river bank was covered with them and I felt like royalty walking along a red carpet.

fallen leaves

When I got home, I admired the work that Mrs Tootlepedal is doing on her new path.  It shouldn’t be too long before I can show you the finished article.

Seeing the starlings on the feeder in the last couple of days had made me think of Gretna and the annual murmuration there.  Although it was rather cloudy, it wasn’t a bad afternoon so I suggested to Mrs Tootlepedal that  this might be a good moment to see if the starlings were actually murmuring.  She agreed that it might be and we got in the car and drove to Gretna.

The starlings don’t always congregate in the same spot every year so we thought that we had better try the place where we had seen them last year first.  As it turned out, we had made a good decision and our timing was perfect.

The clouds had left a gap for the evening sun over the Solway and we could see a gang of starlings perched on electricity wires not far from where we were parked.

starlings at Gretna

More starlings arrived and they shifted along the wires until they were directly in front of the setting sun.

starlings at Gretna

This was spectacular but not very promising for photography so I was pleased when they moved back up and flew past in front of us.

starlings at Gretna

For the next 25 minutes we were treated to a most enjoyable close formation flying display as more and more small birds flew in to join the flock.

starlings at Gretna

Sometimes they came very close…

_DSC8666

…and sometimes they filled the sky above our heads.

starlings at Gretna

I took a detail from that last picture just to show the individual birds.

starlings at Gretna

From time to time, I tore my eyes off the birds to admire the sky…

Gretna sunset

…which was sensational.  Unfortunately, I had brought the wrong lens with me and couldn’t do full justice to the sky or the starlings.  The sunset was as much of a treat as the murmuration.

All too soon, as the light faded, the starlings got ready for bed and started to fly lower in the sky….

Gretna starlings

…until a corporate thumb pointed to the chosen roosting spot….

Gretna starlings

…and in the twinkling of an eye, the whole flock had subsided into the trees and bushes for the night.

We drove home in a very happy state of mind, admiring the sunset as we went.  The sky which had been pink and red in Gretna….

sunset

….was purple by the time that we got back.

sunset

We will probably go back to see the starlings again and there may be more next time as starlings migrate here from Europe as the winter goes on.

In spite of the thousands of flying birds we saw at Gretna, the flying bird of the day is still a local chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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