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Posts Tagged ‘brambling’

Today’s guest picture, the very last from Bruce’s Highland tour shows the photographer and his wife casting long shadows beside the Crinan Canal near Lochgilphead.

Lochgilphead

It was a miserable cold and wet morning about which the less said the better.

Some winter visitors appeared in the shape of a siskin…

december siskin

…and a brambling.

december brambling

Having ignored the morning, we set off for Lockerbie after lunch to catch the train  to Edinburgh and we were very pleased to find the the rain had eased off.  By the time that we got to Edinburgh, the day was dry although the light has already gone by the time we get to Matilda’s house at this time of year..

We had a lot of fun of fun.  Matilda spent a good deal of time shooting me with a bow and arrow and to be fair, I spent some time shooting her too.  She is a better shot than me.  We were well armoured with cushions to avoid any lasting injury.

After the bow and arrow session, Matilda obliged with a short ballet demonstration in front of the splendid Christmas tree which has appeared in her sitting room.

mde

The performance ended with an elegant bow and then we had a nourishing meal of soup and a two bean, pepper and chipotle sauce stew cooked by Matilda’s dad.

Once again a visit to Matilda provided us with first rate entertainment and a quality meal.  Who could ask for anything more?  Trains that run on time perhaps but that may be asking too much.

No flying bird today as it was too gloomy so two sitting chaffinches are standing in.

two chaffinches side by side

We might see a drop of golden sun tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and shows his efforts to teach his dogs to appreciate a fine sunset over the Forth last night.

wemyss dogs at sunset

We got a frosty morning without the benefit of any sunshine here and the temperature hardly rose at all for the rest of the day.  Still, as everyone remarked, at least it wasn’t raining.

The chilly weather was encouraging birds to come to the feeder…

chilly feeder

….and I poked my nose out into the garden after breakfast to enjoy Jack Frost’s work.

garden frost

Sandy came round for coffee and we discussed Archive Group business.  He is busy cleaning and scanning a large set of photographic glass plates which are more than 100 years old and he is finding the results very interesting.  They will appear on our website in due course.

While we were chatting, an unexpected flash of colour caught my eye and I leapt up to see a brambling in the plum tree,

brambling in Plum tree december

This is the second one of the season but like the first, it seemed to be a lone bird and didn’t stay long.

Unlike the brambling, the dunnocks are permanent fixtures at the moment and are obviously managing to avoid the marauding cats which haunt our garden.

dunnock on chair

Otherwise the traffic was much as usual.

chaffinch and goldfinch frosty day

After coffee, I gave my spare laptop and the Archive Group projector a trial run and then went along to the Buccleuch Centre with them where I was able to prove that there is such a thing as a free lunch.  Not only did I get some excellent soup and sandwiches at the patrons’ lunch but I was allowed the privilege of showing the other patrons 100 of my photographs.  They put up with this without any complaint and I enjoyed showing a selection taken from every month from December 2017 to December 2018.

Mrs Tootlepedal was helping with the catering both for our lunch and the other customers in the coffee bar and she had a very busy time.  She was still working hard when I went home.

The afternoon was very still and I would dearly have liked to have gone for a quick cycle ride, as days with little wind are at a premium.  However, the thermometer was still only showing 2 degrees C so I allowed good sense to take control.  I really do not want to hit a patch of ice on my bike this winter and even if the road is 99% ice free, it is the other 1% that can do the damage.

I went for a walk.

It turned out to be a good decision because although the going underfoot was good, not only were there plenty of icy puddles…

icy puddle

…but there was also a rawness in the air that made it feel very cold so cycling would not have been fun at all.

When I got to the park, I found that someone had been improving on nature…

baubles in park tree

…and when I had passed through the park, I found that others had gone to the trouble of sweeping (or blowing) all the leaves off the path through the Beechy Plains.

swept beechy plains

This is the sort of thing that brings a smile to your face even when your nose and ears are tingling with the cold.

I walked along the Murtholm track, looking for points of interest on a grey day, such as a bright bramble leaf

winter bramble leaf

…and drops of water suspended on every square of the sheep fencing the whole way along the track….

droplets on sheep wire

…and evidence of the recent strong winds…

fallen branches

…and a very fresh and green looking shrub.   I am open to suggestions as to what it might be.  Some sort of ivy perhaps?

ivy

I looked up at Warbla where I had been standing in the beautiful sunshine yesterday…

Warbla on a frosty day

…and was very glad that I wasn’t up there today.

It was growing increasingly misty as I went towards Skippers Bridge and when I got to it, the view downstream from the bridge was gloomy.

misty from skippers

Where there is a bridge parapet or a wall, there is always lichen and there was a good selection on the bridge itself and the wall along the main road as I walked back.

skippers brodge lichen

There as lichen of a different sort on a wooden fence beside the path further on and one or two defiant daisies to add a touch of colour to my walk.

lichen adn saisy

I was surprised to see a very healthy looking fungus up a tree outside the back entrance to the Co-op store….

co-op fungus high

…and some more lower down the tree.

co-op fungus low

I was pleased to have managed to get a two mile walk in before the light completely faded but I was even more pleased to get home and into the warmth with a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

Waiting on my doorstep when I got back was a bottle of red wine. It turned out to be a present from Bob, the organiser of the patron’s lunch.  I found a good home for it while I was eating my evening meal and I am writing this post in a consequently very cheerful mood.  (Mrs Tootlepedal had a glass too.)

It is supposed to get progressively warmer over the next two days but as it is going to rain as well, this is not much consolation.

The flying bird of the day is outlined against the frosty lawn.

flying chffinch frosty

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was on my brother Andrew’s birthday trip at the end of last month.  This is the Severn at Worcester.

River Severn at Worcester

We had a beautifully sunny morning here.  There was still a bit of snow around and as I had to go up to the Moorland Feeders to act as a fill-in feeder filler, I was a bit worried about icy roads and parked the car and walked the last section.

I needn’t have worried as the road was pretty clear…

Broomholmshiels road

….but with views like this….

Broomholmshiels view

…it was a pleasure to be on foot anyway.

The bright sunlight brought warmth to a zero degree morning and shone through the window when I sat in the hide after filling the feeders…

moorland feeders

…but it was no help at all for taking photos so I snatched a shot of a blue tit…

blue tit

…and headed home.

It was easier to watch birds there and I was pleased to see the return of a brambling. It conveniently perched in front of a male chaffinch in the plum tree so that readers can get an idea of the similarity and the difference between the two.

brambling

Then it politely moved on for an individual portrait.

brambling

I spent some time taking badly lit pictures of flying chaffinches…

flying chaffinches

…and finally found a chaffinch and (the same?) brambling who were kind enough to find a little sunshine for me.

chaffinch and brambling

The dam bridge repairers had got their pump going and had installed a pipe to take water over the works.

Dam bridge repairs

They have set up a little coffer dam on the upstream side of the ex-bridge and when there is enough water behind it, the pump leaps into action and sends it over the road and on its way.

After lunch, the sun disobligingly went in but Mrs Tootlepedal and I still went out.

We chose a three and a half mile route through the town, up Hallpath past a very mossy wall indeed…

mossy wall

….(where I could happily  spend time poking about on another walk) and then along the path above Skippers Bridge….

Skippers Bridge

…through the oak woods….

Oak trees

….then down through the birch woods…

Birch trees

…past all sorts of exciting things….

hair ice and liverwort

Hair ice and liverwort

…until we got back onto the road beside the Esk.

We passed a gate which has a very ornamental stone surround but no wall at either side of it.   It must have been a meaningful gate at one time as we noticed that it has a benchmark engraved into its surround.

Old gate and benchmark

I took  the inevitable picture….

Skippers Bridge

…and then we crossed the bridge and walked home along the Murtholm track, which is well supplied with catkins.

catkins

Then we took Easton’s walk, which had a small but elegant icicle patch…

icicles

…and finally, we went through the park and got home.

After a cup of tea, we settled down for a quiet time.

When the working party had gone home for the evening, I nipped out to check on the progress on the bridge.

Dam bridge repairs

Bridge?  What bridge?

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre for a screening of Tosca and I went to the Day Centre for the first meeting of the year of Langholm Sings, our community choir.

Another tenor has joined the choir so I took the opportunity to sneak off and join the basses.  I had a good time, particularly because I was sitting next to my cello playing friend Mike.  He is an excellent fellow to sit beside as he is very musical and sings well.  I could relax and follow his lead.

On the minor injuries front, I can report good progress.   My face has healed up enough to let me have a shave today.  This was very welcome.

Through the good graces of Photoshop, I managed to find a bit of colour on one of the chaffinches from this morning and he is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinches

As you can see, the lawn is still covered with snow.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s recent walk.  He met an old quarry.

quarry

It depends on how you look at things.  If you catch my good side, I look pretty well undamaged.  From the other side, I am still a mess but fortunately my good looks seem to be all that has been damaged as I was able to walk up to the town after breakfast and then go to the producers’ market to do some shopping without any trouble.

As far as I can see (which I admit is not very far because my good eye is a bit swollen), the only bad result of my careless moment is a stiff neck and a sore cheek so I count myself very fortunate.

I did think it wise to have a quiet day at home today and in this I was helped by some grey and drizzly weather which didn’t encourage frolicking about outdoors.

It left me with time to watch the birds and there were a lot of birds to watch today.

busy feeder

Chiefly goldfinches and siskins….

siskins

….but we had a visit from a brambling, the first I have seen in the garden this year…

brambling

…though Mrs Tootlepedal saw one earlier in the winter when I was out.  I hope it comes again with some friends as bramblings are very handsome birds.

brambling

I was pleased to see two robins at the same time as they have been a bit scarce lately and I always worry that visiting cats may catch them as they robins seem to like walking about as much as flying.

robin

The constant activity at the feeders led to some head to head confrontations.

chaffinch and siskin

goldfinch and siskin

goldfinch and siskin

I noticed a very brown blackbird….

blackbird

…and in fact it was so pale and brown that I wondered if it really was a blackbird but I think that it is.

My favourite shot of the day was two goldfinches in the plum tree.

goldfinches

My afternoon didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped as I made the mistake of watching Scotland trying to play rugby.  After a very promising autumn series, they reverted to type today and dropped the ball on every possible occasion.

Still, I had been able to purchase ample supplies of cod’s roe at the market in the morning so I cheered myself up with a large plate of my  favourite food for tea. Fried lightly in a bit of butter and sprinkled with a little salt, there is no better meal to be  had than cod’s roe.

Mrs Tootlepedal is bearing up as well as can be expected considering that she is living with a gargoyle and I was reminded of the poem that goes

For beauty I am not a star,

There are others more perfect by far,
But my face I don’t mind it,
For I am behind it,
It is those in front that I jar.

How true.

This poem is often attributed to Woodrow Wilson, who quoted it a lot, but it was written by man called Anthony Euwer.

You can tell that I am bit bored.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is the last from my sister Mary’s visit to Regents Park.  It has been good to have such sunny pictures while we have been rather gloomy up here.

Regents park 15.03.17 007

Being Sunday, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir after breakfast and I set about making a lamb stew for the slow cooker.  I ideally like to go for a pedal on a Sunday if I can because the main roads are free from heavy goods vehicles and it gives me a chance to try different routes.  However I wasn’t sad to be cooking instead of cycling today as it was raining steadily again outside.

soggy chaffinch

I interspersed the cooking with staring and was pleased to see a brambling…

brambling

…although it only paid the feeder one visit before flying off again.

Everything looked rather subdued in the rain…

dunnock

…except some of the chaffinches who were in fine flying form, whether in the form of a direct approach…

flying chaffinches

…or creeping up from behind.

flying chaffinch

Almost exactly at midday, the sun came out much to my surprise so I had a walk round the garden. Although everything was still wet, the sun made the heart sing.

daffodils

We are entering peak daffodil period

chionodoxa and hyacinth

Chionodoxa and grape hyacinth

The one thing you learn about flowers when you have a camera is that the closer you look, the hairier everything is.

pulmonaria

Pulmonaria

After another quick glance at the birds…

singing chaffinch

Obviously the chaffinches have a choir practice on a Sunday too

chaffinch

This one was late

…I went for a stroll down to the river.  In the sunshine, it was just like spring outside although the river was pretty full after several days of gentle rain.

It might have been fine weather for ducks, as they say, but one duck was trying to block the day out completely.

duck

This looked liked a better plan that swimming in the river.

Langholm Parish Church

I walked over the bridge that you can see in the picture above and went past the front door of the church.  It is quite impressive…

Langholm Parish Church

…but the building constitutes a heavy responsibility for its congregation in terms of upkeep.

I went past the church and on into the park where I couldn’t resist an admiring look at the wall beside the river….

Park wall

…which is a flourishing garden in its own right.

Then I walked over the Park Brig,….

Park Brig

…a modern replacement for what was originally a wooden bridge, and made my way home.

In spite of the sunshine, it still looked as though it might rain at any minute so I didn’t dilly-dally but I found a moment to take a photo of the fine flowering currant in our neighbour’s garden…

Currant

..and some new leaves on our elder as I went past.

elder

Mrs Tootlepedal was worried that the orange trumpets on her Jetfire daffodils were rather pale this season but they have brightened up considerably in the last couple of days…

jetfire daffoidils

…and she is quite pleased with them now.

After lunch, we got prepared and set off for our choir practice in Carlisle.  We had our substitute conductor again and she put us through our paces while we made progress on a new song.  It is a setting of a poem by Yeats and it needs very good diction and sensitive singing to bring out the best of it so since neither of these are things that we excel at, we will have to work hard to make it succeed.  Good fun.

For the second week running, the humorous weather gods provided me with a fine sunset just to point out the fine cycling weather that I had been missing while we were singing. How I laughed.

The flying bird of the day is a sunshine chaffinch.

chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Regents Park.

Regents park 15.03.17 001

One absolute certainty of the day was that it was raining. It was raining in the morning, it was raining the afternoon, it was raining at supper time.

As it was quite windy too, the other certainty was that I wasn’t going anywhere further than the corner shop.

I was therefore more than usually pleased to welcome Dropscone with his traditional Friday treacle scones to share a morning cup of coffee or two.

After he left, I found useful things to do like putting another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and catching up on my correspondence.   I also found entertaining things to do like a tricky crossword and looking out of the window. Once again, it would have been all too easy to spend all day looking out of the window as the birds provided a constant source of interest.

It started with chaffinches…..

Chaffinches

The plum tree had about thirty perched on its branches…

plum tree chaffinches

…and there were often over twenty five on the ground under the feeders

ground chaffinches

There were also plenty of goldfinches….

Goldfinches

…and then there were the siskins too.

Siskins

They were very much on the level today

To add a touch of variety, we were visited by a male brambling looking at his very finest.

Brambling

Sadly he didn’t stay long.

We also saw a sparrow on the feeder.

Sparrow

Considering how many sparrows there are about on neighbour’s hedges and feeders and even on bushes in our own garden, it is strange how few come to visit our feeders in early spring.

The action was continuous all day and I filled the feeders twice.

Busy feeder

It wasn’t hard to catch a flying bird today as there were flying birds on all sides.

Flying chaffinch

Chaffinch furled

flying chaffinch

Chaffinch unfurled

Flying siskin

Siskin in between

Sometimes there were too many to take in at once.

Flying siskins

The siskins like to hang upside down while waiting for a spare perch…

hanging siskin

…but they eat a lot when they get the chance.

Eating siskin.

Did I mention that it rained a lot?

When I wasn’t staring out of the window I was practising my flute and putting choir songs on the computer so in spite of the rotten weather, I didn’t entirely waste the day.

In the evening, we were joined by Mike and Alison and a bit more music helped ease the pain of the rain.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinch flock.  This one was the angriest of them all.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was taken by Mike Tinker when he was visiting a zoo in New Zealand.  Neither Mrs Tinker nor Mrs Tootlepedal are flattered in any way.

Mrs T

The day started very grey and drizzly and I was more than happy to spend some of the morning sampling Dropscone’s scones with a bit of Cumbrian honey to add flavour while we drank a cup of coffee or two.

Before he arrived, I had started the day by going up to the Day Centre after breakfast to collect the key for the camera club meeting in the evening.  This required the use of an umbrella and I was surprised when I got back to find that there was enough light to see a bird or two approaching the feeder.

siskin

It was breezy enough to slow down even the siskins as they came in to land which made my job a little easier.

The rain sometimes came with a bit more force but it didn’t discourage the birds today.

flying chaffinch

The day began to brighten up a little after coffee and I arranged with Sandy to go for an excursion in the afternoon.  In the meantime, I cycled round to the shop for some supplies and on my way back I saw this touching scene on our neighbour’s fence.

collared doves

It stayed dry so I was able to wander round the garden, where in spite of the morning rain, there were definite signs of longer days and warmer weather to be seen.

crocuses

_dsc2297

hellebore and rhubarb

I was just daydreaming on the subject of rhubarb crumble when my train of thought was disrupted by loud sounds from the pond.  It was alive with frogs….

frogs

…. literally heaving with them.

frogs

I counted fifteen frogs in our small pond.  It is an annual source of wonder to me that so many frogs return to our pond at the same time as each other.

Now we just have to hope that we don’t get a hard frost to undo all their hard work.

Sandy duly appeared after lunch and we decided to go up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Feeders to see what was going about there.

The sun came out while we there and although there was a strong enough wind blowing to make me very glad that I wasn’t out on my bike, the birds weren’t discouraged and we were treated to a constant stream of visitors to the feeders.  The hide itself was quite busy too and five other people came in and out while we were there.

Between the frogs in the morning and the birds in the afternoon, I managed to take far too many pictures and had a struggle to look through them all later on.  These are just a few from the hide.

I always enjoy watching the greater spotted woodpeckers tuck into the peanuts.  They show great concentration on the task in claw.

woodpecker

Siskins on the other hand, are often distracted by squabbling.

siskins

Some less frequent visitors were to be seen…a couple of greenfinches….

greenfinches

…and a lone brambling.

Brambling and blue tit

Sharing with a blue tit

The largest number of birds on the feeders was made up by coal, blue and great tits which swarmed over the feeders in waves.

great tits

Three great tits

One old friend gave me a sideways look.

pheasant

We left the hide and went down to the river at Hagg-on-Esk to see if there were any waterside birds to be seen but we were disappointed and came away with only a few river views for our trouble.

The sun had gone behind a cloud as we walked up stream…

River Esk

…but it came out again as we walked back down.

River Esk

When we got back to Langholm, Sandy went off to do some decorating and I settled down to practise a song or two for next Sunday’s competition.  Mrs Tootlepedal joined in and we made a merry noise.

In the evening, I met Sandy again at the Camera Club meeting.  Thanks to business commitments, illness and holidays, we had a reduced attendance but once again there were a lot of interesting images to admire.  Our two new members are keen on something a bit different and we have been challenged by them to produce a black and white image of a flower for next month’s meeting, preferably without using any of the automatic features on our cameras.

By chance I took this shot today while I was out in the garden.  It was nearly in black and white…

snowdrops

…but I will have to try to do a bit better to meet the challenge.

The flying bird of the day brings back back memories of a miserable morning after a very pleasant afternoon and evening as far as the weather went..

flying goldfinch

 

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