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Posts Tagged ‘chaffinch’

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 comes from Bruce who is in the north east of Scotland.  He had a warm and sunny day yesterday when he visited Haddo House, a Scottish stately home located near Tarves in Aberdeenshire.

Haddo House

We had a warm but far from sunny morning here as the rain made its presence felt.

I was happy to stay in out of the rain because I was expecting a call from an engineer who was coming at some time between eight and twelve to install smart meters in the house.  Life likes to play little pranks on unsuspecting old people so when the phone rang and I was expecting the engineer to answer, I was quite surprised to find it was the hospital.  I was even more surprised when after waiting three months for an appointment with the physio, they told me that they had had a cancellation and I could see the physio today.

Oh joy….but then, the appointment was for one o’clock and I couldn’t take it as, with Mrs Tootlepedal away in Edinburgh, I had to be present while the meters were being fitted and I couldn’t guarantee that it would be finished by one o’clock.  The charge for cancelling the meter fitting at short notice was £130.  Oh calamity….and then, the cream of the jest…. when the hospital had rung off, the engineer rang soon afterwards to say that he was on his way and in the end the job was finished before half past ten…but the appointment had gone.  How I laughed.

Still, Dropscone came round for coffee bringing with him a pile of his fine drop scones so life wasn’t all dust and ashes.

After Dropscone left (with added rhubarb), the rain continued and I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group website.  Finally things dried up and after a light lunch, I went up to the Laverock Hide to fill the feeders in my capacity as a fill-in feeder filler for friends who were absent.

I took this shot of the hide with its slightly tousled toupee and its eyes closed as I walked back up to it after filling the feeders.

Laverock Hide

I went in, opened a window and sat down but I might as well have left the window shut for all the birds that I saw.

A blackbird was slipping and sliding about…

blackbird moorland feeders

…and a chaffinch perched for a moment in front of me…

chaffinch moorland feeders

…but that was all the excitement for the day.

A beautiful orchid outside the hide cheered me up as I left.

Orchid laverock Hide

I walked round the garden when I got home, doing a bit of dead heading as I went and enjoying some raindrops caught on a fine web…

droplets on web

…and a very soggy bee hard at work…

soggy bee on knapweed

…and noting that the berries on the tropaeolum are turning blue.

tropaeolum blue berries

It started to rain again, so I went in and watched our own birds.

A greenfinch looked as though it thought very much the same as me about the weather…

glum greenfinch

…while a sparrow just concentrated hard on nailing the landing.

landing concentration

The weather lightened up and a jackdaw arrived to stock of the situation…

jackdaw under feeder

…while I went out into the garden again.

The sweet peas looked…

sweet pea in garden

…very pretty…

looking up to sweet pea

…and the Charles Ross apples are coming on well.

apples getting ready

When the sun came out, I went on a butterfly hunt and spotted a painted lady straight away.

painted lady butterfly on buddleia

If you want to know what a painted lady looks like from straight behind, this is it.

back view of painted lady butterfly

Later on, I had another look and saw a couple more.

painted lady butterfly panel

I even saw a peacock butterfly as well.

peacock butterfly

Then it was time for the main business of the day, a drive to Lockerbie Station to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the Edinburgh train.  My timing was perfect and I walked onto the platform as the train drew in.  Mrs Tootlepedal alighted and we drove home.

She had been watching Matilda dance in a competition in Musselburgh and reported that Matilda had done well.

When we got back, she noticed that the acidanthera which she is growing in pots have also done well and the first flower on one of them had come out while she had been away.  The internet tells me that this delightful flower is also called the Abyssinian gladiolus so it has come a long way.

acidanthera

Our new smart meters seem smart enough to let our electricity and gas keep working so that is a relief.  The little gadget that comes with the meters to let us monitor our consumption in real time doesn’t work yet so they are not that smart.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin threading its way through the rain to the feeder.

flying 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 our friend Bruce who is on the Isle of Arran.  Unlike me, he saw a squirrel at breakfast time.

Arran squirrel

Our spell of good weather continued with a pleasantly warm and often sunny day.  At the moment we are getting some sunny days without it getting too hot for comfort and the only thing lacking to make things perfect is a few overnight showers to save the need for watering the vegetables.

I had time before going to sing in church to have a quick walk round the garden.  It was worth it.

poppy, lily, courgette

Perhaps the biggest and most flamboyant flower in the garden at the moment is in the vegetable patch but the courgette (bottom left in the panel above) looks quite at home.

We have got some very nice white foxgloves on the go among all the colour.

whiute foxglove

The hostas are covered with flowers,  They are doing well this year.

hosta with flowers

Our church organist has been elected cornet so he has been very busy attending common ridings in neighbouring towns lately, but he found time to come and play for us today and it was good to have him at the organ.

After church, there was time for another garden wander and some dead heading.  I noticed the last of our lupins…

new lupin

..and took a general view of the borders on the front lawn.

front lawn border

The front lawn is much better than it was, but it is still a bit patchy.  I did think about photoshopping the brown patches out but restrained myself.

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys a bright red perlagonium which she rescued from a ‘past its best’ tray at a garden centre last year.  It has repaid her care.  I like it too, but it is so bright that it frightens the camera.

geraniums red

I went inside to have coffee and had a look at the birds.

There is a lot of blackbird activity in the garden and this looks like a growing youngster.

young blackbird

A siskin looked as though it was being distracted by an arriving sparrow from the threat from another siskin behind it.

sparrow landing

Later on, two siskins got very up close and personal.

mixed siskins

After lunch, we went off for a cycle ride.

During the ‘sit and stitch’ session at the producers’ market yesterday, Mrs Tootlepedal had been reminded by one of her embroidering friends that members of the Waterbeck village hall committee serve cream teas every Sunday afternoon in July.  Waterbeck is ten miles away from Langholm so a ten mile bike ride seemed a good way to work up an appetite and the ten miles back seemed like a good way to work off the calories acquired.

We went at a leisurely pace and kept an eye out for orchids.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted some on the way out and some more on the way back…

two orchids

…and in the end, she saw so many that she stopped pointing them out.

As well as wild flowers, we saw animals pondering on life…

three bulls

…and a busy sand martins’ nesting site…

sand martin nests

…though my pocket camera couldn’t capture any of the sand martins which were flitting in and out of the nest holes.

The verges have not been mown recently and are very lush with waving grasses.

waving grasses

We encountered a small stream of old cars on a group outing but I only managed to get my camera out of my pocket by the time that they had almost all passed us.  This was the last in the queue (with a modern car behind it).

old car

We arrived safely at the hall and enjoyed an excellent cup of tea, a cream and strawberry scone and a delightful plate of cakes as well.  I would have shown you the scones but they had all mysteriously disappeared in no time at all.

waterbeck cream tea table

There was a light breeze in our faces on the way home and the hills are steeper going towards Langholm than on the way out, so we didn’t rush back in spite of being well fuelled with scones and cake.  We had time to stop and look at more flowers.

The vetch and the yellow bedstraw were very striking…

four wauchope wild flowers

…but the more subdued meadowsweet and two active red soldier beetles also provided photo opportunities.

The most surprising stop of the trip was to photograph a hare on the top of Callister.  It thought that the best way of hiding from me was to stand very still in full view.

hare on Callister

More animals should adopt this scheme.

We made a judicious pause half way up the steepest hill to admire the view.

view from Callister

Mrs Tootlepedal did the trip on her shopping bike.  It is the one that has been recently serviced and now has a fully functioning ‘granny gear’ on it.   The hills gave it a good test and it passed well.

An evening meal consisting of a fry-up of liver, bacon, egg and mushroom rounded off a very satisfactory day and we sat down to watch a recording of the team time trial stage of the Tour de France after we had had one last walk round the garden.

The evening light was delightful.

poppy bobbie james delphinium philadelphus

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that one of the many Iceland poppies which spring up in the garden had developed some rather fancy petals.

ragged iceland poppy

I liked the steely gaze of the delphiniums.

delphinium

According to the forecast, we have one more good day to go before the weather changes and it starts to rain for several days, so I am pleased to have had the opportunity to cycle a few miles and have had so many pretty flowers to look at during this past week.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch heading up to the feeder.

chaffinch flying

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by camera club member Mairi on our Beamish outing last weekend, and shows that there isn’t just light a the end of the tunnel, there is a Tootlepedal too.

beamish pipe dream

Our spell of excellent weather continued today.  We had a sunny day but it wasn’t too hot so that was the best of both worlds.

After breakfast, I wandered round the garden.

There are plenty more poppies to come.

poppy with followers

I took a few general shots of colourful corners as the garden is looking quite bright.

flower bed view july 1

flower bed view july 2

flower bed view July 3

Amongst all the colour, there is plenty of whiteness about.

white flowers

And a steady supply of red admiral butterflies.

red admiral butterfly

We had coffee and then we went down to Longtown to collect Mrs Tootlepedal’s shopping bike from the bike shop.  It has had its granny gear fixed so Mrs Tootlepedal can laugh at hills now.

While we were pottering around the garden when we got back, loud cries made us look up and a small flock of swifts could be seen circling above our heads.   They are very nippy so I was pleased to get this shot even though it is not of the highest quality.

swift in flight

As lunchtime approached, I ran out of excuses to justify any more dawdling, so I had a cheese and tomato sandwich and set out to do some pedalling.

There was enough wind in my face to make the first twenty odd miles hard work and I took care to give myself plenty of short breaks for a rest and a drink.  Although I wasn’t looking for wild flowers on my way round, sometimes my stops coincided with something interesting.

cycle wild flowers

This vivid buttercup meadow just out of Langholm was worth an unscheduled stop for itself.

buttercups bigholms

I came to the Hoddam Bridge across the River Annan at the twenty mile mark…

river Annan at Hoddom

…but I couldn’t get a good picture of the bridge as the sun was straight above it and both sides of the bridge were in shadow.

I crossed the river and headed uphill on the other side towards the Repentance Tower.

repentance tower

The tower, built in 1565, is perched on the very top of the hill but the climb was worth it for the splendid view down over the Solway.

solway view from repentance tower

The masts are the radio station at Anthorn on the English side.

Once I had dropped down the hill towards the coast, I could see the triangular peak of Skiddaw, one of the northern Lake District fells, across the neatly mowed fields.

skiddaw

It was a beautiful day to be out cycling and after the hard work of the first twenty miles followed by the climb up past the tower, a bit of downhill, some very flat roads and a following wind for the next twenty was very welcome.

I stopped for my 30 mile snack in Eastriggs, outside the Devil’s Porridge museum just next to Sir James, a ‘fireless’ engine.  The firelessness was necessary as it worked in an enormous explosive factory where a spark from a fire could have spelled disaster.

sir james devils porridge

(A fireless locomotive is a type of locomotive which uses reciprocating engines powered from a reservoir of compressed air or steam, which is filled at intervals from an external source.)

From Eastriggs I headed on to Gretna and crossed the river Sark by the (fairly) mighty border bridge between England and Scotland…

 

sark bridge

…and from there it was not far to get home.  Since I was now going uphill and the wind wasn’t helping so much, I was happy to stop to admire the orange hawkweed at the Hollows bus stop…

hollows bus stop

…and some very bright knapweed beside the bike route near Langholm.

knapweed

I had hoped to do 50 miles and I actually did 51 so I was very content as I had a cup of tea at home with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had spent more time collecting signatures.

After my refreshing cup of tea, I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn and set the sprinkler on the front lawn…

…and have a last look at the flowers.

There was a lot of yellow (and some dancing feet)  to see…

four yellow flowers

…and the Rozeira de L’Hay had a curiously wriggling centre which turned out to be a bee.

rozeira de l'hay

I can’t get over Mrs Tootlepedal’s new salvia.  It is the flower with everything.

P1030390

I retired indoors for a cool shower and and a nourishing meal of mince and tatties provided by Mrs Tootlepedal.  With Wimbledon and world cup football on the telly, finding an excuse for a quiet sit down after the meal was not hard.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch taking a good look to see of there was a spare perch about.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is a wall which Venetia met on her Highland holiday.  She liked its varied colouring.  I like it too.

Highland wall

After two sunny, dry days with quite brisk breezes, we got a less sunny day with an even brisker breeze and occasional showers.  Under the circumstances, I took the opportunity to have a quiet day with nothing more exciting happening than a visit to the dentist to collect a replacement for my recently extracted tooth in the morning and a trip to do some shopping in the afternoon.

Other than that, I managed to do very little for the rest of the day (but I did it very well).

The birds were a lot busier than I was, with a full of house of siskins occasionally threatened by other siskins…

siskins at feeder

…and horizontal and…

horizontal sparrow

…diagonal sparrows.

hopeful sparrow

But mostly it was other siskins.

fierce siskin

The sun shone and I went out into the garden.

The brisk wind made taking flower pictures tricky so I had to look in sheltered spots.  This rhododendron has outlasted all the other azaleas and rhododendrons but even it is beginning to look a bit part worn.

long ;asting rhododendron

The alliums are over but Mrs Tootlepedal likes to leave them standing until they fall over of their own accord.  They are still quite decorative.

dead allium

The roses are tending to wait for some better weather to appear but some are doing their best…

red rose

…even if they look a little tired.

yellow rose

After lunch, the sun shone again for a while and I had another look round outside.  The little potted fuchsia which had flowered so brilliantly while it was waiting in the greenhouse…

fuchsia out of greenhouse

This was it at the end of May

…lost all its flowers when it was confronted by the outside world.  Mrs Tootlepedal has planted it out in the chimney pot and it is showing signs of coming again.

fuchsia in chimney buds

The hydrangea on the house wall is a mass of flowers and is loud with bees whenever you walk past it.

bees on hydrangea

The surprise yellow iris is doing well, hidden away in the middle of a clump of daisies.  We are interested to see if it is a singleton or whether others will appear to join it.

new yellow iris wet

One of the flowers which has enjoyed the cooler weather is the lamium.  I don’t think that I have seen it doing better than it is this year.

close lamium

The sun went in and shopping looked like a good way to spend some time so we set off to a garden centre and the Gretna Shopping Village.

The shopping was successful and I came home with another bag of the alleged moss eating lawn food and Mrs Tootlepedal acquired some suitable clothing.

When we got  home, I gave the front lawn a dose of the lawn mixture as there is still plenty of moss there waiting to be eaten.  It had rained on us while we were shopping at Gretna and the rain caught up with us again as I was treating the lawn, so I had to scurry to get it done before getting soaked.

After that, I returned to doing nothing, although I did perk up for long enough to watch Andy Murray’s return to competitive tennis.

We are going to London tomorrow for a few days to see family so I am hoping to post a brief phone blog each day while we are away.  It promises to be quite warm while we are down there, and as we are not used to high temperatures, I hope we survive and don’t melt away.

The flying bird of the day is a welcome sighting of a lone chaffinch which paid us a visit.

flying chaffinch June

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my sister Mary.  She was joined by a jackdaw for breakfast at Kenwood House, but it came too late as she had cleared her plate.

jackdaw for breakfast

The forecast was for rain in the afternoon so I might, if I had been energetic and well organised, gone out for an early pedal.  What I managed was a leisurely walk round the garden instead.

Outside, on the front wall of the house, everything was abuzz.  A cotoneaster horizontalis was attracting a lot of bees…

bees on contoneaster horizontalis

…although it hardly looked as though the flowers were open enough to let a bee in.

There was more buzzing at the other end of the middle lawn where the nectaroscordum had attarcted a different set of bees altogether.

bees on nectaroscordum

In fact, wherever we looked, there were more bees on flowers….

four bees on flowers

…and it was very good to see several different types of bumble bee.

Mrs Tootlepedal has some pretty plants which she wants to put out in the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.  Unfortunately, because of the nearby bird feeder, pigeons and other birds tend to come and perch on the chimney pot, crushing any plants there.  We therefore decided to move the feeder pole to outside the dining room window, hoping that the birds would go with it and leave the chimney pot unmolested.

A blackbird soon arrived to check out the situation…

blackbird on hedge

…and it was followed by a siskin…

siskin on new feeder

…and then a goldfinch became the first customer.

goldfinch on new feeder

Soon it was business as usual in the new position.

full new feeder

In between times, I mowed the  front lawn and went up to the the health centre to get my three monthly vitamin top up.

When I got back, I had time to spot a white butterfly

butter white

…before we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to have a light lunch and listen to an illustrated lecture from the interesting young man who is running the Wild Eskdale project.  Kevin, the project leader, has two aims, outdoor education for youngsters and environmental tourism for visitors.  He demonstrated that there is more than enough wild life and scenery around the town to satisfy the most demanding visitor and we hope that his project is a great success. Those interested can see more here.

In spite of a gloomy forecast, it wasn’t raining when we got home and I had time to admire the 20cm flowers on the peony….

big peonies

…and an even bigger bee on the nectaroscordum…

large bee on nectaroscordum

…before I decided to defy the forecast and go for a bike ride.

There are fields of buttercups to be seen…

meadow of buttercups

…and the roads are still lined with cow parsley  in places…

verges of cow parsley callister

….and when I looked down as I took the parsley picture, I saw that there is a lot of English plaintain about too.

english plaintains

It was a much calmer day than yesterday so I cycled to the top of Callister before turning and coming sedately back down the hill back to the town.

I took a turn along the river and saw a lone gull…

gull by Esk

…and pair of oyster catchers along the water’s edge…

oyster catcher by Esk

…before deciding that the weather looked good enough to add another six miles to my total by going back up the road as far as Wauchope Schoolhouse.

I paused to have a look at my favourite little cascade at Bessie Bells on the way…

wauchope cascade june

…and this may have been a mistake because the rain started when I was still two miles from home and I got quite wet in the last ten minutes of my ride.

Still, I was pleased to have got another 20 miles to add to my miles for the week and after a cup of tea and a slice of toast, everything was fine.

Fine indoors that is, because it rained steadily for the rest of the day outside.  I kept an eye on the re-positioned feeder and noted a redpoll…

redpoll on new feeder

…and a mixed bag of chaffinch, siskin and sparrows…

busy new feeder

…so it seems that the new position is going down well with the birds.

We were visited by our friend Bruce who brought with him a bird ringer’s band.  He had recovered it from a siskin which had suffered a fatal accident when it crashed into one of his windows on the 10th May.  I took a picture of the ring beside the tip of a ball point pen to show how tiny the ring has to be to fit on the leg of a siskin, a bird which weighs about 13 grams.

 

siskin bird ring

Bruce had read the number on the ring and had sent it to the BTO, the British Trust for Ornithology, the body responsible for bird ringing volunteers in the UK.  In return he received a note saying that the siskin had been ringed (rung?) in Thetford, Norfolk, 386km away to the south of us.   It had been recorded there on the 9th April so in spite of its diminutive size, it had flown 386km north in a month.  Who knows where the siskin pictured at the top of this post has come from, though it might well be locally born and bred.

The rain is supposed to stop by tomorrow morning so I might get out for a pedal for the third day running.  This would be very welcome, as my feet are still not up to much in the way of walking.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, eyeing up the new feeder site.

flying chaffinch new feeder

 

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