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Posts Tagged ‘blue tit’

Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony.  He met this ‘wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie‘ in a field while he was out on a walk.  Whether it had a ‘panic in its breastie’ is not recorded.

wemyss mouse

We had any amount of rain overnight, and when I looked at Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge, it had five inches of rain in it. I think that that was the product of the last two weeks and judging by the forecast, it may not be too long before It fills up again.  September was an unusually wet month and October is no improvement so far.

Still, the other side of the coin has been the generally warm weather which has let Crown Princess Margareta enjoy a late burst of life.  She seems to be pretty waterproof and unfazed by the overnight rain.

princess margareta after rain

Other flowers, like this clematis, are also holding on well and have more buds ready to come out.

purple clematis october

Even Lilian Austin has been tempted into producing a final fling.

lilian austin trying

Mrs Tootlepedal started the day off by taking our guest, Riley, for a walk, and then we went to church to sing in the choir.  We had a visiting minister who radiated a serious cheerfulness (he was serious and cheerful at the same time), a reasonable number of singers in the choir and a selection of good hymns.  I enjoyed the service.

I had forgotten to make a stew for the slow cooker after breakfast so I had to defrost some of the venison that I bought yesterday and make the stew when we got back from church.  It is very good to get back from our Carlisle choir in the evening and find a hot meal waiting for us, so it was worth the effort.

Although it was a very grey day, Mrs Tootlepedal took Riley off for another walk while I was cooking, and I when I had finished, I had time to go out into the garden to do some bird watching.

The lilac tree was very busy with visits from a robin…

robin in lilac

…a blue tit…

blue tit on lilac

…and a dunnock.

`dunnock in lilac

A sparrow, anxious to appear in the post, tried out various poses on the fence for me…

sparrow posing on fence 1

…before we settled…

sparrow posing on fence 2

…on this one as the final product.

sparrow posing on fence 3

There is often a starling to be seen perched on the top of our neighbour Irving’s holly tree and I have sometimes wondered if it is always the same one.  This scruffy bird seemed quite familiar…

rough starling on holly

…but as I watched, it was replaced by this smoother version.  It waved its friend good bye.

smooth starling on holly

There may be those who can’t imagine what a gardener might do with bracken so I have put this picture in to show what happened to yesterday’s crop.  It has already done a good job in keeping last night’s heavy rain from battering the exposed soil where the courgettes were growing.

bracken on veg bed

Another alternative is to plant a covering crop.  Mrs Tootlepedal has used a sowing of grass on this year’s potato bed.

grass sown on potato bed

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle for some shopping and singing.  The shopping was successful but the singing was not as useful as it might have been as once again, our regular conductor had other business.  She had sent down a very competent young man to take her place, but it is not the same as being taken by someone who knows us well.

And the heating was off when we came in so it was a bit chilly too.

Notwithstanding this, we did a lot of singing and that is always a good thing.

We had been threatened with rain but there was only the faintest drizzle on the drive home.  We arrived safely and enjoyed the slow cooked venison stew, followed by tarte tatin for our evening meal.

All in all, a good day in spite of some very gloomy weather.

The flying bird of the day is a starling leaving the holly tree at speed.

flying starling

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s visit to the low countries.  She found herself on a very straight section of an Amsterdam canal where one can see seven bridges in a row….if one has very good eyesight.

Amsterdam canal

It was a still and misty morning when we got up, and when I went to put the wheely bin out, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of web action in the hedge.

webby hedge

A helpful passer by pointed out a near perfect traditional web…

spider web

…but most of the webs were very fine and rather than having jewel like water droplets on them, the droplets were so fine that I had to enlarge the pictures before I could them.

webby wetness

I had hoped to go for  a cycle ride as it was not raining and there was hardly any wind, a perfect day to end September’s cycling, but unfortunately my slight cold had got worse and my chest was suggesting quite forcibly that any great exertion might not be a good thing.

I settled for bird watching…

bird not in hand

…and checking on the flowers.

six garden flowers

As they day warmed up, quite a few butterflies appeared and once again the few remaining buddleia flowers were a great draw.

three butterflies on buddeias

There are hardly any buddleia flowers left though, so other flowers were in use too…

three butterflies on various flowers

…though the sedums were not  popular at all.  This is a bit odd as they look to be in good condition and are usually a great magnet for butterflies.

After a while the mist cleared and the sun came out. It was pleasant enough for me to sit on the new bench for a while.  From it, I could admire the calendulas…

sunny calendula

…and the curly tongue of a butterfly on a rudbeckia…

butter with coiled tongue

…and a bee which didn’t mind sitting right next to me.

bee on rudbeckia close

Sitting on the bench made me think of the state of the lawn.  In spite of the rainy weather, it has been quite warm and the grass has been growing, so I got the mower out and gave the middle lawn a cut.

When I had cut it, I looked back at the bench.

midde lawn from far end

Although the lawn looks pretty good in the picture, it does have a lot of weeds in it…

weeds on lawn

…as I have gone off the idea of using weedkiller on the lawns.  I may have the strength to do some hand weeding over the next few weeks or I may just settle for having a green but weedy lawn.

I made some lentil and carrot soup for our lunch and then went off with Sandy to collect the pictures from the Camera Club’s exhibition at the Hub at Eskdalemuir.

The manager at the Hub was very enthusiastic about the exhibition and told us that it had been well received by visitors.   We had even sold three pictures.

Although the sun had gone in again, it was a fine afternoon with good light so the drive up and down the valley was no hardship at all.  I just wished that I had been able to get out on my bike.

When we got back, I dropped Sandy off at his house and then had a walk round our garden.  The St John’s Wort has got some late flowers and a fine selection of berries.

st john's wort with berries

After the success of mowing the middle lawn, I was going to mow the front lawn too, but when I looked at it, it seemed a bit tired so I got the scarifier out and gave it a light scarifying.  I was extremely pleased to find how little moss the sacrifier brought up, a great tribute to the moss eating lawn treatment.

I mowed off the results of the scarifying and the end result was quite satisfactory.

front lawn scarified

All this was more than enough exercise for the day and I went in and joined Mrs Tootlepedal who was relaxing after a little light gardening.

In the evening, while I played duets with my flute pupil Luke, she made courgette fritters to go with the last of the venison stew and a very successful tarte tatin.  I must say that as a way of eating apples, tarte tatin comes high on my list of good methods.

I think if anything, my cold seems to be getting a little worse so another day of good weather may go to waste tomorrow, but I can always hope for a miracle cure.

The (almost) flying bird of the day is a starling taking off from Irving’s holly tree.

nearly flying starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s recent trip to the central belt of Scotland.  He found a bit of a wall there that wasn’t built by Hadrian.

Antonine wall

There was torrential rain to the south of us today, leading to serious flooding in England but it was warm and dry here when I got up.  There was no sign of any sun though as I walked down the riverside path towards the bottom of the town.

eskside path

Sue, a very thoughtful blog reader, had realised that I was likely to be starved of both scones and coffee-time conversation in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, Dropscone and Sandy, so she had invited me to visit for coffee with the added inducement of a probable nuthatch sighting at her bird feeder.

My route took me past the tall hedge that has been grown to disguise the fact that the sewage works for the town lurks behind it.  It is a hedge chock full of interest.

sewage works flowers

And the river bank itself was quite colourful too.

riverside flowers

When I got to Sue’s, I was enthusiastically welcomed by her three dogs and after they had calmed down, she took me for a tour of her garden.

She keeps hens and ducks as well as dogs (and cats).

Sue's hens

Her garden is mostly built on a broad shelf in the hillside which used to carry the railway line to Langholm.  Now it is a woodland glade with a waterfall….

Sue's waterfall

…views through the trees of more trees across the river…

Sue's view

…with fruits and fungi on every side…

Sue's sloe and fungus

…and more hens…

Sue's chicken

…and a very peaceful air about it.

Sue's garden

It is a garden that will have interest in all four seasons.

After the garden tour, we went in to a busy house where joiners and a plasterer were hard at work on improvements.

Sue provided us all with coffee and instead of scones, I was offered two very tasty Bakewell slices.  These were a very acceptable accompaniment to a good cup of coffee.

Sue has a very well stocked bird table outside her window, with ordinary bird seeds, nyger seed, fat balls and peanuts.  In spite of a good deal of bustle from the work force, the birds were not slow to come to the feeder.

Sparrows were the most frequent visitors…

Sue's sparrow

…and a lone jackdaw dropped in…

Sue's jackdaw

…but it wasn’t long before the promised nuthatch appeared and adopted a characteristic nuthatch pose…

Sue's nuthatch 1

…before getting down to the serious business of eating peanuts.

Sue's nuthatch 2

A blue tit looked on from a neighbouring tree.

Sue's bluetit

As we chatted, another nuthatch, or perhaps the same one again, appeared and tried a different set of nuts.

Sue's nuthatch 3

I was thoroughly entertained by both Sue and the birds but in the end, I left to get home before the rain reached Langholm.

On my way back along the river bank, I came upon these two men with a drilling rig.

drilling for oil Landsend

They are not drilling for oil.  They told me that they were going 10 metres down into the rock as part of the background work for a new flood prevention scheme for the town.

As I walked further along the river, I came across two goosanders.  They sometimes looked one way and sometimes, the other…

two goosanders

…but mostly they looked under the surface of the water.  There must have been good feeding down there because they were both very busy and quite often all I saw of them was a splash as they disappeared.

diving goosander

When I got back home, I had time for a quick look round the garden…

foxglove and creeper

…where I was surprised to find quite a few butterflies and other insects about, in spite of the increasingly grey weather.

four insects

I had my lunch and then the promised rains arrived.  It is still raining as I write this some hours later.  I decided to ignore the outside world for the afternoon and put in time entering the newspaper data into the Archive group database, and practising some flute pieces and singing.

When I did look out of the window, the outside world ignored me.

robin turning back

In the evening, I had another go at making a tarte tatin.  This was not so successful as the last effort with Mrs Tootlepedal’s help but it turned out to be still quite eatable so I ate some of it.

One forecast says that it might stop raining overnight, but that it will start raining again tomorrow.  Another says that it will stop raining overnight and won’t start again tomorrow.  We shall see.  I know which forecast I prefer.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goosanders.  It got fed up with swimming and took to the air.

flying goosander

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He cycled from Derby to Belper (about 10 miles) to enjoy this slice of joy in the book cafe there.  Then he cycled home again.

belper book cafe

We had a generally sunny day today and I tried to make the best of it.

I started off by putting a load of washing on before breakfast and hanging it out before going to church to sing in the choir.  By chance, we had a lot of very sunny hymns to sing so that fitted very well with the day.  There were only five of us in the choir so I don’t suppose that we made a lot of difference but I enjoyed the hymns.

The washing was almost dry by the time  I got home.  I left it on the drier and went for a walk round the garden.

I looked up at the very tall sunflowers and thought that I ought to go and see what they looked like out of an upstairs window, the only way to see them properly.  It was a bit of a disappointment.

taall sunflowers two views

I came back down and had a close look at a geranium and an argyranthemum…

geranium, argyranthemum. mustard nicotiana

…and a wider view of some nicotianas and Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest mustard crop. (She’s very keen on mustard, as I may have mentioned before.)

My favourite was this poppy.

late poppy

In spite of the sunshine, there was a flurry of rain and I worried about the washing.  The flurry came to nothing though and I was able to cut the greenhouse grass and get the washing in without any bother.

In spite of the sun, it was a bit cooler than it has been so the butterflies needed to spend as much time as possible getting some warmth as well as feeding and  they were spread out all over the place on any convenient flat surface.

four butterflies getting warm

I was able to sit out on the garden seat and have my coffee and the last iced bun, but I had to shift the butterfly which is bottom left in the panel above before I could sit down.

Although they are nowhere near fully out, the sedums have enough flowers open to attract traffic already.

forst bee on sedum

It always seemed touch and go as to whether we were going to get wet as you can see from this picture showing sun on the rowan and very dark clouds just behind.

garden weaher contrast

In the end, the wind turned out to be in just the right direction to send the rain clouds past us and not over us, so all was well.

Readers may wonder if I am managing to look after myself in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal who is living the high life in the south, so I thought I would use a picture of my lunch to show that I am not starving. (Home made soup, home made bread, butter from a farm and a cheerful cheese board, with a small side dish of beetroot from the garden.)

lunch alone

I will survive!

After lunch, I checked the forecast and ignored its warnings of the possibility of rain and went out for a walk.  I did take a waterproof jacket with me.

I drove a couple of miles before I started my walk and walked up through some woods just in case it did actually rain.  This chestnut tree, possibly afflicted by a disease of chestnut trees, gave an early warning of the seasonal changes to come.

chestnut turning

The recent rains have brought life back to the mosses and encouraged fungi.

moss and fungus longwood

I walked up through a birch wood…

jenny noble path

…and then came to an oak wood.  The sun persuaded me not to take the short route back to the car through the oak wood…

oak wood jenny noble

…but to walk on past this butterfly enjoying the sunshine…

buttefly on hill

..and take a track along the open hill.  When I looked back along the track, all was fine…

oak on path to Broomholmshiels

…but out of the blue, a shower of rain started up.  I put my rain jacket on but I hardly needed to have bothered as the shower only gave me gentle kiss and didn’t embrace me at all.

I walked on under sunny skies, happy to see a few elderberries and some rose hips.  Hooray.

elderberries and hips

As it looked set fair for a while at least….

road to Hide

…I walked up this road to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland bird feeders…

Laverock hide

…and watched a very busy collection of small birds at the feeders while I rested my feet.

I saw great tits, coal tits, blue tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, a robin, blackbirds and a nuthatch (which unfortunately saw me at the same time as I saw it it, and flew off before I could get the camera up), but no woodpeckers or pheasants today.

four birds laverock hide

A buzzard flew down the clearing and all the little birds disappeared as if by magic so I left the hide and walked back down the road to the car.

The countryside was looking at its best…

view from Bromholmshiels

…and there was a lot to look at as I went along.

wild flowers broomholm road

My route took me down this road which used to be lined by sombre conifers.  They were felled for timber though and the road is now a different place.

broomholm road

Half way down the hill, I came to my favourite mossy wall, home to ferns, mosses and lichens.

moss and lichen broomholm road

I managed to stop taking pictures in the end and arrived back at the car after a walk of under two and a half miles, a short walk but one which had offered enormous variety on my way.

When I got home, i was pleased to find a starling keeping an eye on things.

starling keeping watch

Under its supervision, I mowed the middle lawn, edged the front and middle lawns and trimmed a small hedge.  Then I made a sausage stew and prepared a small loaf for the bread making machine.  While they were cooking, I got out my borrowed bike and cycled to the top of Callister and back.  As I had already taken over seventy pictures, I resolved not to take any more on my cycle ride unless I met something really interesting like, say, a charging rhinoceros.

Rather disappointingly, charging rhinoceroses were thin on the ground so my camera stayed in my pocket while I battled uphill against a brisk wind, and whooshed down the hill back home.

The stew turned out to be OK and I followed with it stewed plums and custard for a pudding so in the end, I probably didn’t take nearly enough exercise during the day to offset all the eating.

There is a genuine flying bird of the day today but not a very good one.

flying rook

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Today’s guest picture features one of our visitors today and just goes to prove that we are not the only recent grandparents about.  This is Dropscone taking the grandparenting business with Emily very seriously.  I am afraid that I don’t know who took the picture.

baby Little

We had a dry but grey morning, rather cooler than it has been, and with the ever present threat of rain and even thunderstorms about.  Like yesterday, if I wanted a dry cycle ride I would have needed to be prompt but unlike yesterday, I was not prompt at all so I didn’t go for a pedal, even though the rain held off for all of the morning and some of the afternoon too.

Luckily, there is always dead heading to be done and the garden to wander around.

The dead heading is keeping a constant flow of poppies on the go…

poppy broadcast

…and the Sweet Williams are lasting very well.

pink sweet william

A new clematis has sprung up along the back fence which is very satisfactory.

new clematis back fence

I had another go at the fancy clover and got a bit more detail without quite getting it right…

better fancy clover

…but the feverfew is easy to catch.  It has done so well that I am thinking of calling it the fevermany.

lots of fever few

I had a close look at a three things.

The back of a fern was packed with interest…

fern sporangia

….there is more to the black dot in the middle of an argyranthemum than first meets the eye….

heart of argyranthemum

…and the salvias have hidden depths too.

close up salvia

The first of the Sunny Reggae dahlias has come out but it is looking as though the slugs have spotted it.  Keen eyed readers will notice the shoe of the photographer at the back of the picture.  Because the dahlia was facing the ‘wrong way’, I had to lean over the top of it and photograph it upside down and then correct the result in the editor later.

sunny reggae dahlia

We had just gone in for coffee, when Scott, our former minister with his finely tuned coffee radar working well, popped in for a visit.  We were pleased to see him and caught with his news and shared ours with him.

After he left, we went back put into the garden to pick sweet peas and look around.  We have a lot of blackbirds, so doesn’t take a lot of looking to see one in the garden at the moment.

blackbird on fence

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a lunch at the Buccleuch Centre with her ex colleagues from the Health Centre and I looked around as the sun made a brief appearance.

The ligularias are attracting bees…

bee on ligularia

…as are the rambler roses.  They have come out in force over the past few days.

swathe of rambler rose

The blackbirds will soon have a fine crop of rowan berries to eat but they will have to wait for a little while before they are ripe.

lots of yellow rowan berries

I went in for a light lunch and then came back out and sieved some compost.  I was still thinking of a bike ride as it hadn’t started raining but I made the mistake of switching on the telly to see how the Tour de France time trial was going and I was still snoozing on the sofa when first Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her lunch and then we were joined by Dropscone.

He had missed coffee in the morning because he had been playing golf.  He had been beaten on the final hole but was remarkably cheerful all the same.  To cheer him up even further, we loaded him down with new potatoes and rhubarb when he left.

After that the sofa called (the time trial was quite exciting to be fair), and apart from picking a few peas, I didn’t go out again.

This did mean that I had some time to watch birds.

Siskins were busy as usual.

siskin st seed

There was hardly a dull moment.

siskins beak to brak

A blue tit was more reflective, perhaps wondering whether the siskins would go away and leave some space for other birds.

blue tit on wire

The blue tit popped up onto the peanuts but before I could record it, a sparrow came and stood in front of the camera.

sparrow on nuts

Later in the afternoon,  a pigeon took a lofty view of life from our new electricity wires.

pigeon on electricity cable

In the evening, our trio of visits was completed by the arrival of Mike and Alison, and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal put the world to rights, Alison and I played music for an hour which was a good way to end the day.

The light was pretty bad by the time that I sat down to watch the birds so this rather fuzzy siskin was the best that I could for a flying bird of the day.

flyimng siskin

 

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Today’s fine guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She was luckier than us and was able to enjoy the eclipse of the moon last night.  We were clouded over.

moon eclipse venetia

Although I had promised myself a bike ride in the morning before forecast rain arrived, I was not at my perkiest when I staggered out of bed this morning, and I allowed myself to be persuaded by the Met Office website that the rain would pass and I would get a cycling opportunity in the early evening instead.

It was all too easy then to waste a lot of time doing the crossword, drinking coffee, making a loaf in the bread maker and wandering aimlessly round the garden.   Though to be fair, I did take aim from time to time.

I couldn’t decide whether this was the poppy of the day…

pale poppy

…or this, so I took them both.

red poppy

The salvias look better every day.salvia clump

I like the stachys which are probably the furriest plants in the garden….

stachys

..and the calendulas which are the sunniest.

calendula

The nectaroscordum is going over in a very dignified way, looking like the ruined turrets on some fairyland castle.

nectaroscordum ruins

On the vegetable garden fence, Bobbie James is flourishing…

bobbie james bunch

…and the first of the Ooh La La clematis flowers has appeared.

ooh la la clematis

My neighbour Liz passed the front gate and while I chatted to her, a blue tit rested on the wire cage that Mrs Tootlepedal has put up to protect her plants from marauding pigeons…

blue tit on wire

…while the delphiniums stood up very straight…

delphiniums standing well

…and a bee visited a hosta.

bee on hosta

Mrs Tootlepedal and I took the pea fortress off one of her rows of peas and picked a good handful for our lunch, and then I checked out the ligularia which was sticking its many tongues out at me…

ligularia close up

…and we went in for lunch with peas, beetroot, lettuce and potatoes from the garden on the menu.

And then it started to rain so I watched the birds.

As soon as I topped up the feeder, siskins started to arrive..

five siskins

…but there was a good selection of other birds too, including this chaffinch which missed its footing as it flew in…

chaffinch missing landing

…and a greenfinch being rather careless with its eating habits.

greenfinch

A blue tit looked down on the feeder from above…

blue tit looking down

…and another youngster tried out the nuts.

fluffy blue tit

I put a wet afternoon to some use by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and practising a song that I am trying to learn for my singing teacher.

Then I gave up any pretence of activity and sat down to watch the last 50km of the Tour de France Stage.  It ended in Toulouse, a city through which Mrs Tootlepedal and I cycled on our way from St Malo to Carcassone about thirteen years ago.

It is surprising how easily a few drops of light rain can persuade you to watch other people cycling rather than actually going out and pedalling yourself when you reach a certain age.

All the same, my plan was to go for a pedal when the rain stopped, but as it didn’t stop, I didn’t go.

Mrs Tootlepedal picked some carrots and I picked some broad beans and we ate them with a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie for our tea.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow. A fortuitous setting of the shutter speed shows just how still a bird can keep its head and body even when its wings are flapping like mad.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan’s old friend Stephen who has been spending a week with his wife in Port Douglas, in Far North Queensland. He tells me that it is mid-winter there, and so the temperature is down to a chilly 25-26 degrees.  He sent me this suitably wintry illustration.

queensland beach

It is summer here of course and it rained all day and the temperature barely crept up to 18 degrees.  As a result, I spent a very quiet day indeed doing nothing more interesting than a little data entering into the Archive Group database and a short shopping trip with Mrs Tootlepedal.

She spent the morning at a meeting regarding the possible community purchase of the Langholm Moor and I sat at my computer.  It was sorry about its bad behaviour last night and worked very competently and quickly today.

I did take time to look out of the window.

siskins in rain 1

…and it is easy to see why I preferred to stay indoors.

The siskins were out in force….

siskins in rain 2

…and spent a lot of time squabbling rather than getting on and eating seed.

siskins beak to beak rain

A sparrow looked disgusted but whether it was because of the weather or the siskins’ behaviour, it is hard to say.

siskins in rain 3

The rain eased off and a blue tit appeared.  The tits prefer the nuts to the seeds…

blur tit on nuts 1

…which ever way they look at it.

blue tit on nuts

We must have a small family of blue tits nearby because several appeared at the same time…

two blue tits

…and unfortunately seemed to have learned from the siskins’ bad habits.

two blue tits arguing

I made some celery and stilton soup for lunch and I enjoyed it in company with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from her meeting.

After lunch I took a quick walk round the garden at a moment when the drizzle had slackened off.

The overnight rain had not been heavy enough to beat down the flowers…

wet red poppy

…but there was a soggy feel about the garden….

wet pick foxgloves

…although some of the effects were quite decorative on leaf…

spirea with raindrop

…and petal.

sweet pea with droplets

Yellow lilies are appearing…

wet yellow lily

…and the ligularia is coming on…

ligularia in flower

…so things were still cheerful in places.

I like the sweet peas that Mrs Tootlepedal has grown this year.

sweet pea with droplet

Then, for the want of anything better to do, we drove down to Gretna to do a little shopping.

Then we drove back again.

That ended any excitement for the day as the Tour de France and Wimbledon combined to provide a lengthy excuse for testing the comfort of the sofa.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a meal of chicken and asparagus for our evening meal and we tried very hard not to think of the political situation as it is even more depressing than the weather.

I had hoped that I had captured one of the blue tits for the flying bird of the day…

flying blue tit

…but it was just too quick for me so a sparrow kindly offered to stand in, beating off a siskin who was trying to get the job.

flying sparrow in rain

 

 

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