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Posts Tagged ‘Callister’

Today’s guest picture is a weather vane from the Somerset Rural Life Museum sent to me by Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  The weather vane is a memorial to a long serving volunteer at the museum, a nice idea.

weather gauge somerset

The weather here was warm and sunny but not quite as warm and sunny as yesterday as the wind was stronger and the sky a bit hazier.  Nevertheless, it was a great day to be out in the garden, and after an early visit to the town for a bit of business, I spent a lot of the day in the garden.

Before I went out into the garden, I took the advice of a correspondent and tried applying some ice (in this case, a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a  tea towel) to my tender Achilles tendon.  It gave me some relief and I repeated the process a couple more times through the day.

There was plenty to look in the garden as well as to do so in between dead heading daffodils, sawing the sweet pea frame down to fit the new beds, and sieving compost, I admired a small corps de ballet of Ballerina tulips…

ballerina tulips

…and a single in-your-face orange variety of which I do not know the name.

bright orange tulip

Pond skaters have come to the pond in numbers.

three pond sketers

Blossoms have come out on two of the three espalier apples…

two apple blossoms

…and it shouldn’t be long before they are joined by the third one.

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with her trilliums which have just come out too.  They were given to her by Mike Tinker and by coincidence, he passed the garden just as we were looking at them and came in to share the experience.  They are beginning to multiply so we are hoping for more next year.

trillium april

I am noting new things all the time and these tulips, the bluebell, the Solomon’s seal and an alpine clematis have all appeared over the last couple of days.

new flowers april

On top of that, we are getting very excited by the prospect of entering the age of the azalea.

first azalea

If you want eye catching green, then euphorbias are the thing to have.  Mrs Tootlepedal has them in flashy and discreet but they are both very green.

euphorbia panel

We had to stay at home as we  were expecting a visit from an electrical engineer who was going to do interesting things to our meter.  He arrived bang on time, was very polite and efficient, did some extra work beyond the call of duty to make things convenient for another engineer who is coming next week, complimented me on the coffee that I made for him and tidied everything up very neatly before he left.  Not everything in the modern world has gone to pot!

I was interested to see that he took photographs before, during and after he had finished his task as a record of what he had done.   That seemed like a very good idea to me.

While he worked, we stayed out in the garden and I looked at the trout lilies which are enjoying the good weather a lot…

trout lilies

…and the Christmas tree which is growing in every possible direction.

christmas tree busting out

We went in for lunch when the engineer had gone and I saw this blackbird with nesting material on the chimney pot outside.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is nesting in the climbing hydrangea growing on the front wall of the house.

blackbird wirth nest material

On the feeder itself, things were much as normal…

normal feeder

..but we did have visits from too very contrasting birds, a dove and a hawk.

collared dove and sparrowhawk panel

The hawk paid us several visits over the day without catching any of our little birds…

sparrowhawk staring

…and gave us a very exciting chase sequence to watch as it pursued a little bird across and out of the garden with many a squeal of rubber and handbrake turns on the way.

In the afternoon, I looked at the front lawn and felt that this was the day to scarify it.

The panel below shows the unscarified lawn on the left, looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth, and on the right, the very large amounts of moss that the machine lifted as it passed.

lawn scarifying

The bottom panel shows the results of going over the lawn a couple of times with the mower on a high setting to pick up the moss and one of the three wheelbarrow loads of moss that I took away.  Don’t be deceived, there is still a mass of moss in the lawn.  I will scarify it again in a few weeks time.

A poor peacock butterfly was trying to sun itself on the drive and had to keep flying up into the air as I passed with wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow.  It settled down again each time and must have been really fed up by the time that I finished disturbing it.

peacock butterfly sunning

The peacocks are appearing about a week earlier than usual this year.

While I was caring for the lawn, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing her sweet pea fortress for the coming hostilities with the sparrows.  I predict a win for Mrs Tootlepedal this year.

sweet pea cage

As the afternoon wore on, I felt that I should make good use of the day by going for another short cycle ride and went out for fourteen miles at a gentle pace, clad in a T shirt and shorts.

The wind was gusting up to 20 mph and blew me up to the top of Callister.  I stopped on the way down to take in the view.  The garden may be springlike but it will the best part of another month until the hills go green.

callister view

I had to pedal hard just to get down the hill into the wind but I made it back to the town and enjoyed the cherry trees along the banks of the Esk between the bridges.

cherry tree beside esk

Our good spell of weather is coming to an end and it is going to get gradually but steadily cooler over the next few days and we may even see some much needed rain soon.  I just hope that it knows when to stop.  I won’t need my cycling T shirt and shorts again for a while, I fear.

The flying bird of the day was almost a sparrow hawk…

missing sparrowhawk

…but as you can see, I was too slow, so a goldfinch takes over the duty instead (no doubt keeping a sharp eye open for any hawks).

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s Highland Tour.  As well as stunning scenery, he noticed this very curious gate.

IMG_0979

As it happens, Dropscone is exactly half a year older than me to the day so to celebrate my arrival at the same age as he is, he brought round some of his traditional treacle scones to go with coffee this morning.

As there wasn’t room for 77 candles on the scones, we ate them unadorned.

After he left, I got my new bike out for the first time for a month and tested the state of my leg by pedalling the six miles to the top of Callister Hill and back again.  This was my first ride on the new bike for a month.  12 miles may not be very far but it is a lot better than 0 miles…and my leg was quite happy about it all.

I went along the Wauchope road and this meant that I passed no less than three sets of barriers placed to stop motorists driving too close to the edge of the road where the banking has been showing signs of collapse…

P1150671

The bottom of the fence not the top should be at road height!

…and one where the banking has disappeared entirely….

P1150672

…and still hasn’t been repaired.  The lack of repair does not come as a total shock.  A group of enthusiasts is holding a ‘hands over the gap’ birthday party to celebrate the third anniversary of a continuing road closure on another local road which suffered a serious landslip.

My cycling road is still open to traffic but the little burn that runs along side it…..

P1150673

…is not going away and will continue to eat into the banking just as huge and heavy timber and quarry lorries will continue to thunder along above it on a road which is not designed for them.

It is an intractable problem.

I got to the top of Callister Hill and noticed a great number of cars parked on the access road to the proposed new windfarm there.  They are obviously busy preparing the way for the arrival of the turbines so I took this view of the ridge where they will stand and will take the view again as the turbines  are erected over the coming months.

P1150674

I heard an interesting programme on the radio last night as we drove back from Lockerbie.  It was about hope and the question of whether hope is a curse or a blessing.  I thought of it as I started my cycle ride today in a light drizzle because I was hoping that it would stop as I went along.  This hope was based on the weather forecast.  One of the questions raised in the programme was; can faith and hope co-exist?   This seems to be because if you have faith you don’t need hope and if you are merely hoping, you can’t have faith.   Is hope a trap for the unwary and stupid optimist? Is faith a snare for those who don’t learn from experience and keep on believing that something will happen that never happens?

Anyway, I had faith in the forecast and hoped that the rain would stop and it did…

P1150675

…and I had a sunny ride home past the landslide.

I had time for a quick look at the birds over lunch.

The goldfinches were back again…

_DSC8736

…but frequently flew off and let other breeds sample the delights of the sunflower hearts.

_DSC8738

A chaffinch looked askance at a greenfinch heading towards the feeder at a great rate of knots.

_DSC8739

More greenfinches arrived and surveyed the scene briefly…

_DSC8741

…and one came down to the feeder but didn’t look very grateful when it got there.

_DSC8742

After lunch, we went to Carlisle where I put the new bike into the bike shop for its second after-sale free service.  It has done two and half thousand miles now and I am more than happy with it.

Then we went off to a shop in an enormous shed which sells a huge range of goods at a modest price.  Mrs Tootlepedal bought some decorative items which she will add to the pantomime dress that she is making.

I had recently seen pictures of a good murmuration of starlings at Gretna and as it was getting near dusk, we decided to drive home by way of the site to see what we could see.  We saw a fine sunset…

sdr

…but no starlings and got bored and drove on.  We did see some small flocks flying about as we left and wondered if we had been too hasty.  I didn’t have my starling camera with me so I will have to come back another time, equipped with both patience and the right camera to see if the starlings are still around.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played some tricky pieces with varying success but considerable enjoyment.  I am not playing at my best at the moment and will have either to practise harder or try to work out what I am doing technically wrong…or both.

An outstretched chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

_DSC8745

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a fine peacock which my sister Mary saw on a walk in Holland Park. She was with my Somerset correspondent Venetia.

peacock

Thereby hangs a tail, as they say.

We have had to wait a long time but we finally got a warm and pleasant day today, though just to ensure that we didn’t get too uppity, the weather gods provided a stiff breeze, some clouds and an evening rain shower to go with the sunshine.

I was feeling a bit tired after pushing the slow bike around in the wind yesterday so I was more than happy to have a cup of coffee and some treacle scones with Dropscone rather than set out on another long pedal in the morning.

Before he arrived, I cycled round the town doing some business and then walked round the garden.  The gooseberry bush is starting to show signs of life…

gooseberry bud

…among its formidable thorns…

…and a rather cross bee gave me a hard stare when I went into the greenhouse to check on Mrs Tootlepedal’s seedlings.

bee in greenhouse

While Dropscone and I were drinking our coffee, I noticed an unusually marked jackdaw on the lawn.

jackdaw

It was taking a rest from collecting nesting material.

By coincidence, just as Dropscone left and I was checking a freshly out pulmonaria in the garden…

pulmonaria

…this handsome dog….

Vizsla

…brought Dropscone’s sister with one of her daughters and a grandchild in a pushchair to our garden gate.  His sister has sent me a fine view of the town which will appear soon as guest picture of the day.

The dog, for those who are interested in these things, is a Vizsla, a Hungarian breed.

After Elizabeth and Anna went on their way, I took a moment to watch the birds.  The flocks of siskins and goldfinches have vanished like snow off a dyke and our regular crew of chaffinches flew in instead…

flying chaffinch

…doubtless quite pleased to see the coast clear.

They were joined by a greenfinch…

greenfinch

…who as usual didn’t seem to be pleased about anything.

After lunch, I got the slow bike out and set off up the road to see where my tired legs would take me.

They took me to the Cleuchfoot road where I enjoyed the tree beside the Glencorf burn…

tree and glencorf burn

…and these colourful alder catkins….

alder catkin

…and then, with a lot of huffing and puffing, they took me to the top of Callister where they finally gave up the unequal struggle with a strong wind and went on strike.

The view from the top of Callister doesn’t show the 25mph  gusts of wind.

View from Whita

It does show how the long winter and spring have drained all the colour out of our hills and it will be a couple of months before we are living in a green and pleasant land again.

Still, it was genuinely warm at about 10°C so it was nice enough to be out, even with bolshie legs and the brief 14 miles took me over 100 miles for the month.

When I got back to the town, I went along the riverside  before I finished my ride, in the hope of seeing one of these.

oyster catcher

There is nothing like an oyster catcher to make you forget a stiff breeze.

I had a cup of tea and walked round the garden to enjoy the little bits of colour that there are about.

cowslip

Mrs Tootlepedal’s recently purchased fancy daffodil has survived the weather and is looking quite cheerful, though I had to hold its head up to get this shot.

fancy daffodil

A winter aconite had attracted a bee.

bee on aconite

I thought of a walk but the threat of a rain shower sent me back indoors after I had done a bit more work on the new raised beds.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and since Gardener’s World was not on, Mike watched England ladies play Wales ladies at football on the telly while Alison and I played played flute and keyboard duets.  Although the football ended in a goalless draw, Mike said that he had enjoyed it and Alison and I had certainly enjoyed our playing so with added conversation,  it was an evening well spent.

Our spell of warmer weather is set to continue for a while and I hope to get some more useful miles in over the next few days, even if they are slow ones.

The flying bird is one of our loyal band of chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Langholm friends Jim and Sandra.  They are visiting Australia where they met some down under bird life.

australian bird

We enjoyed another chilly but sunny day and if you could keep in the sun and out of a relentlessly nipping wind, it was not too bad at all.

We had a quiet morning, mostly reading newspapers and listening to the radio.  I did a little bird watching every now and again.

The male blackbirds were chasing each other about when they weren’t posing or eating so I think that they must be our native blackbirds claiming their territory.

blackbirds

There were no siskins or goldfinches about today so the chaffinches had a free hand and flew about in every direction.

chaffinches

Dunnocks and robins made occasional appearances.

dunnock and robin

A greenfinch looked relatively happy today (by greenfinch standards).

greenfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal spent some useful time clearing up in the greenhouse getting ready for the new season and I made a pan of vegetable soup for my lunch.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal turned to cooking and made several fish pies and I wrapped up well and went out for a pedal.

I didn’t want to go too far from home as the wind would be against me on the way back and it was very cold so I went five miles up the road and back twice.  This is not as boring as it sounds and I enjoyed myself.

I stopped once or twice.

It was a lovely afternoon when the wind was behind you.

Westwater

I was going to take a picture of the gate at my turning point on Callister when I noticed a movement among the tussocks.  The head of a deer poked up…

gate and deer on callister

…but it sneaked away without letting me get a better shot.

I went along the river on a circuit of the New Town of Langholm as part of my route in the hope of seeing oyster catchers.  There were none about on the first pass but two had arrived by the time I went along the bank for the second go round.

oystercatchers

Good route choice.

And crocuses were almost out in the garden when I got home.

crocus

Mrs Tootlepedal was also out in the garden but she was finding it chilly too and came in.

The sun was still out though and it seemed too good a day to waste indoors watching Scotland getting beaten by England at the rugby (I am never optimistic about Scotland’s rugby chances) so I got changed and went out for a short walk.

I was hoping to see some black headed gulls and I was in luck and saw one straight away when I got to the river.

black headed gull

Then I saw ten more.

black headed gull

It was as good a day for walking as it had been for cycling, especially as I was reasonably sheltered from the wind.

sawmill brig

The sun was dropping in the sky and lit up the moss on the wall after the Sawmill Brig.

mossy wall

It is obviously a good place for  moss…

mossy wall

…which is thriving.

mossy wall

I always like the colour of the bark when low sun strikes a pine tree…

pine tree

…and the trunks looked good too as I went along the new path.

pine tree

An old tree trunk, now used as a bench had an interesting selection of colonists on it. One of the ‘helicopter’ seeds was actually rooting in a crevice in the wood.

moss and seeds

I had noticed that the moon was already high in the sky so I took a hopeful shot as I walked along and after a tweak in the photo editor, it came out surprisingly clearly.

moon

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal told me that against expectations, Scotland were leading in the rugby match.  I watched until half time and then, fearful of causing them any bad luck by showing excessive expectation, I started cooking our evening meal. I received messages of amazement from all of our three children during the half time interval.   Annie, our daughter, was watching the match in Berlin while attending the Berlin Film Festival.

In spite of my best intentions, I kept sneaking back in during the second half and taking a quick look.  England (dropping the ball, giving away penalties and getting a man sent off) were playing like Scotland and Scotland were playing very well.  It was all most unsettling.

In the end, we won.  The first victory over England for ten years.   Our daughter was watching the game with an England supporter in Berlin and he just couldn’t understand why she was still so worried when Scotland were 15 points up with only two minutes to go.  He obviously hasn’t seen what Scotland can do when it comes to losing matches in the last minute that they should have won.

Now that I know that they are going to win, I may well sit down and watch a replay of the whole match in comfort.

All in all, it turned out to be a better day in every way than I had anticipated.

The flying bird of the day is one of the gulls at full stretch.

black headed gull

 

 

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To make a change from endless pictures of moss, my guest picture of the day is a moose The picture came from Venetia, who saw the moose in Grand Teton National Park.

moose, in Grand Teton National Park

The wind is in the east at the moment, which often means sunnier days for us and this was the case today.

It also means cold mornings.

The frogs disappeared because of the cold morning but a daffodil appeared.

daffodil

And we did have wall to wall sunshine so after the frosty start, the temperature went up to a pleasing 7°C and this combined with a very light wind, opened the day to many possibilities.

After breakfast, the light was good enough to encourage bird shooting through the kitchen window.  Not all my efforts were entirely successful…

flying chaffinch

…but some were better than others…

flying chaffinch

…and some were quite action packed.

_DSC1501

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal turned to gardening and I took my walking poles in hand and went to the top of a hill and came down a again.

I had my camera with me for once.

I liked the contrasting colours as I walked up Meikleholm Hill…

View from Meikleholm Hill

…and I was surprised to see how much of the ground that I trod on was made up of mosses.

moss on Meikleholm Hill

You may think that the green hill on the right of the fence is grassy but in fact the pale grey patches are grass and almost all the green is moss.  Far from walking up a grassy hill, I was climbing a moss covered boulder.

moss on Meikleholm Hill

There was even a patch of moss clinging to the side of the concrete trig point on the top of Timpen Hill at 326m.

moss on timpen trig point

The view from the top was good.  That is the River Esk curling up the valley.

Esk from Timpen

On the far side of the Esk, I could see another example of tree felling followed by some very neat tidying up.

tree felling Longfauld

To the north, the Ettrick hills still had a little snow on their tops.

Ettrick Hills in background

Coming back down the hill, I stopped to admire the moss in one of the boggy patches.

bog moss

And of course, it is illegal to be out on the hill on a fine day and not take a picture of the town.

Langholm from Meikleholm

It is a very rewarding route for a walk of well under three miles.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal in delving mode when I got back and while we were chatting, we noticed a bird singing away in a very forceful manner.  We followed its flight on to the silver pear and I was very surprised to see it was a dunnock.

dunnock on pear tree

I usually see these creeping about silently in a very unobtrusive manner under the bottom of hedges so I can only assume that love must be in the air already and either mates are being attracted or rivals discouraged…..or both.

On my way round the garden, looking for exciting mosses, I saw these instead…

liverwort

…and Mrs Tootlepedal told that they are liverworts.

After a pause for recovery and lunch, I got the fairly speedy bike out and set off to see where my legs would take me.

They took me to the top of Callister Hill (223m) and back down again.  I was going to put some additional miles in when I was waved down by a passing motorist who turned out to be a friend who wanted my opinion on the reprehensible behaviour of our local landowner.

This led to an interesting and lively discussion, conducted while aeroplanes overhead combine to drag clouds across the sky….

con trails and cloud

…and left me with just time to get home as the sun went down and the shadows lengthened.

cycling shadow

Secretly, I was not at all upset to lose a mile or two from my trip as the morning’s hill walk had taken a little stuffing out of my legs.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden again when I got back and we went out to admire the work on the dam bridge repair.

dam bridge repairs
It is looking very neat and tidy with a waterproof membrane now stuck on top of the concrete beams and the sides of the bridge completed.   We are waiting for the pavement edge to be re-installed, a bit of fill to be added to each edge of the bridge and then the final tarmac can be laid.

I still haven’t heard from the Queen regarding the Grand Opening.

In the evening, I took my third trip of the day.

Sandy arrived and he drove us down to Canonbie, where he and I delivered an illustrated talk on the work of the Langholm Archive Group to the Canonbie Tractor Club in the Cross Keys Hotel.   We followed the talk by a showing of the Langholm Heritage DVD on the mills and railway in Langholm which members of the group made a few years ago.

This must have gone down quite well as I sold six copies of the DVD (all I had brought with me) to members of the audience after the showing.

Everything went very smoothly.  This was by no means a given considering that we were using a laptop, a projector, a screen, a sound bar and the visitors’ wi-fi connection of the Cross Keys Hotel, any of which might have been in a contrary mood.

It was a day which has been firmly entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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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 comes from my Manitoba correspondent, Mary Jo.  I think she must have been away from home when she took this picture.  She tells me, “It shows the  Red Deer River Valley in Saskatchewan, taken at about 3000 feet above ground from our wee Piper Cherokee 140”.

Red Deer River Valley in Saskatchewan

Mary Jo wouldn’t have been able to anything from 3000ft if she had been above the Esk River here today as the clouds spent quite a lot of the time at about 100ft.

However, the weather gods had a good deal of fun at my expense as the best of the day came in the morning, when I was in the Welcome to Langholm office and in the evening, when it was dark.

My time in the WTL office was well spent as I put a week and a half of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and I was treated to a cup of coffee by our group treasurer Nancy, who dropped in while taking a break from staring at a microfiche reader in the Archive Centre while mining more data.

When I was looking out of the kitchen window at lunchtime, it was very gloomy.

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that we should hear it more for the dunnock which she rates as a very charming bird.  I cannot disagree with that.

dunnock

I like this little action sequence which happened when a robin visited the seed feeder.

robin and goldfinch

Who was that masked goldfinch?

Another goldfinch visited.

goldfinch

It was a day for catching the birds while they were standing still but there were more finches visiting today, which was a relief.

goldfinches and chaffinch

While we are not back to the numbers of a week ago, at least we are getting several at a time.

I spent some time failing to catch a good flying chaffinch, being a little too slow on the draw.

chaffinches landing

I was pleased to see a coal tit back at the feeder…

coal tit

…and robins are still lining up to audition for the coveted Christmas Card slot.

robin

After lunch, I resolved to go for a cycle ride as the temperature had hit 5°C.   Needless to say, it started drizzling as I set out and as I pedalled up the very gentle hill towards Callister, the low clouds and I became as one and it got really quite wet.  There was certainly no chance of photographing any hills today.

Callister in mist

As cycling in the rain while wearing glasses is inconvenient, I resolved to stop when I got back to Langholm after doing ten miles.  Of course, just as I got into the town, the rain stopped and there was even a hint of blue sky so I set out to do another lap of ten miles to Callister and back.  I hadn’t gone more than half a mile out of town before it started to rain but I had started so I finished the ten miles.

As I got back to the town again….

Cloud lifting

…the clouds once again lifted from the hills and  more blue sky appeared.  How I laughed.

Still, I have very good wet weather gear so apart from cold feet and inscrutable spectacles, I was in good condition.  Modern winter cycling tights are a miracle of good design.  However wet they get, they feel to your legs as though they are as dry as a bone.  And they stay warm too unless conditions get very bad.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we played through a movement of our Quantz sonata very smoothly and embarked on a new trio sonata by G Finger which my friend Jenny, one of our recorder group, has kindly given to me to play with Luke.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who is experimenting with some recipes, made a side dish of saag aloo to go with our evening meal and it turned out to be very tasty so I hope to find it on the menu again.

The rather gloomy flying bird of the day is one of the returning chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

When I went to bed last night, I had a quick look out of the window to see how the super moon was getting on.  There was a thin film of cloud in front of it but amazingly, it was still bright enough to let the camera get a good look at it through the cloud.

super moon

 

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