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Posts Tagged ‘chaffinch’

Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s Highland tour.  He stopped to take a picture of the Connel Bridge on the Oban road.  He has had lovely weather for his trip.

connel bridge

Our spell of sunny weather came to end today and it was rather chilly and grey with a brisk wind.  I am still looking after my leg so I was very happy to stay out of the wind and entertain Sandy to a cup of coffee.  While we were sipping and chatting, Nancy, our fellow archivist, arrived with the final sheets for 1898.  Every time we embark on recording a new year of the paper, we feel a surge of satisfaction.

When Sandy left, I watched the birds for a bit.  We are still not getting a great deal of traffic but from time to time, the feeder does get busy.

whirlwind at the feeder

Mostly it was pretty quiet and the chaffinches were able to land at their leisure…

landing chaffinch

…though some still needed a steadying wing.

one armed chaffinch

Trying to catch a coal tit in flight was as tricky as ever.

disappearing coal tit

Rather than face the chilly wind, I put some time in on the bike to nowhere in the garage.  It is a little dull but it does have the benefit of allowing me to moderate the effort I put in and keep things smooth.

Then I made some vegetable soup for lunch and was able to use an onion and potatoes from the store in our garage.  The onions will soon run out but there are a fair number of potatoes still to go.  It is doubly warming to eat a soup with home grown veg in it.

While I was making the soup, I kept an eye out.

The best looking chaffinch of the day was loud and proud….

resplendent chaffinch

…but down a below, a blackbird was skulking around.

creeping blackbird

After lunch, I went for a walk and as my leg seemed to have taken no hurt from the morning pedal, I even ventured on a slightly more hilly route and went round Gaskell’s Walk.

By this time of the year the sun is so low by three o’clock that it may shine on the hills…

sun on the hills november

…but it wasn’t shining on me down in the valley below.

There were things by the way to keep my kind off the chill.  The fence post at the Auld Stane Brig was a positive garden of delights today.

auld stane brig fence post

A fallen log was playing host to moss and fungus

fungus and moss

And the back of a fern revealed a delicate tracery.

back of a fern

When I got to the park, I thought that I ought to show the park wall in all its mossy glory…..

park wall overview

…and not just pick out the detail on the way.

park wall moss and lichenpark wall leaves

When I put the pictures from my walk on the computer in the evening, my favourite was this view of Meikleholm Hill, not just because of the sun on the hillside but because of the smoky effect of the willowherb seed heads in the foreground.

sun on the hills with rosebay willowherb

When I got back, I made a cup of tea for Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been busy at her pantomime dressmaking (there will be plackets) and Mike Tinker who called round.

They arranged to go to a public meeting in the evening regarding our local newspaper which is now owned by a community company.  I would have gone too but it was camera club night.

The next business was playing duets with Luke.  I am rather cross with him as it may well turn out that he will be a better player than me.   Ah well.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked me  delicious fry-up for my tea and I went off to the camera club to learn about taking portraits.

Because of the newspaper meeting, our numbers were a bit down but two members had brought lighting equipment and there was lively discussion about lighting kit and exposure meters and members volunteered to be sitters.  I had a go at shooting them.

Stan

Stan without a flash

Andy

Andy with lighting and a reflector.

There is always plenty of discussion at our meetings and Thomas can be seen here showing Stan some of the many capabilities of the camera on a mobile phone while Corrie looks on.

dav

I took this picture with my new mobile phone which arrived today.   I am very pleased that the camera looks to be quite a bit better than the one on my old phone.

I will try to up my exercise a bit tomorrow, either inside or out as the weather permits.

The flying bird of the day is a ‘just-in-time’ chaffinch.

just flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce’s trip to the west coast.  He has acquired a new pocket camera and as well as taking fine scenic pictures (more of them in later posts), he pointed it at a young buzzard on a pole.

Bruce's buzzard

We had another fine and sunny day today, though a bit colder than we have been getting lately.  After yesterday’s successful cycle and walk combination, I was quite happy to have a quiet day of singing today and let things settle down in the leg department in spite of the good weather.

We had one less hymn to sing than usual in church as our visiting minister unexpectedly burst into song himself between the readings. We had a good choir practice after the service to make up for the shortfall though.

When I got home, there was a little sunlight falling on the feeder…

coal tit and goldfinch…but very few birds actually coming to the feeder and those that arrived almost always managed to catch a shadow.

I had to look to the plum tree for clearer shots.

pigeon in plum tree

Some time ago Mrs Tootlepedal cut the head off the sunflower that unexpectedly came up behind the feeders but she left the stalk standing and it acts as a convenient perch for birds waiting to come to the feeder….

unshadowed chaffinch

..and a tweak to the camera settings produced a satisfactory result.

shadowed chaffinch

As the sun moved round, the feeder soon fell back into deep shadow so I went out into the garden for some sunshine.  Once again, the berberis was ablaze but it is beginning to lose its leaves and I fear that fire will soon be out.

blazing berberis

The winter jasmine is doing well.

winter jsmine

In spite of the sun, it was quite chilly outside so I didn’t linger long and went back in.

The bird watching was a wash out.

dark birds at feeder

 

We had another visit from a jackdaw with white feathers.

jackdaw with white

After lunch, it was soon time to combine a little shopping in Carlisle with our Community Choir practice.  Once again, our energetic conductor Ellen gave us plenty of work to do and by the end of the session my voice was feeling the strain a bit.  I must make sure that I do my vocal exercises conscientiously.

As it is now pitch dark by the time that we get back from choir in Carlisle, Sundays have become a short day from a photographic point of view but as I enjoy the singing, I can’t really complain about that.

I couldn’t catch a flying bird today and a visiting jackdaw was most unhappy about this failure.

jackdaw staring

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He visited Ashby de la Zouch  in Leicestershire and admired the castle there.  It reminded him of our prime ministe.  Like her, it is rather battered but still standing.

Ashby de la Zouche castle

In a complete reversal of the normal order of things, Dropscone arrived for coffee this morning but didn’t bring treacle scones with him even though it was Friday.  He had been at a golf meeting up in the borders yesterday and had visited a supermarket on his way home.  Once inside, he had been tempted by a seedy malt loaf which was on display at such a reduced price that it was irresistible and he brought that to coffee today instead of scones,  It was very tasty.

When he left,  I admired a greenfinch taking in the rays on the plum tree…

greenfinch

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal led me out on a cycling expedition round the New Town.  We were tracking the dam from source to outflow.  I recorded our journey.

dam 4

  1. The dam starts at the sluice at Pool Corner, squeezes under the new flood wall just below the sluice and heads off beside the old dump (now covered over and a recreation area).

dam 3

2.  We followed its course and looked back towards Pool Corner and then turned 90 degrees to watch it as it flowed past the edge of Latimer’s shed and burrowed under Caroline Street.

dam 2

3.  It creeps along the road under the pavement here until it takes a sharp left turn  at the green hedge which you can see  and emerges to go through a patch of wild country between Caroline Street and Wauchope Place.  It creeps under the street there by a very plain bridge.

dam 1

4.  Once across Wauchope Place, it enjoys a moment of freedom as it heads between manicured banks towards the spanking new bridge at Wauchope Street and then, after passing our house,  it once more heads underground, this time beneath Walter Street and across Henry Street.

dam 5

5.  Once across Henry Street, it visits the Skinyards and then appears for a brief moment at a sluice in Reid and Taylor’s yard before sinking underground again and passing under Elizabeth Street, where it emerges from a tunnel on the banks of the Esk…

 

Esk with dam outlet

…joins the river and ends up in the sea in the Solway Firth.

The reason for this adventure was to record the dam in its present state as there has been talk of decommissioning the dam when the Reid and Taylor’s site is redeveloped.  Those who live along it would be very sorry to see it go.

While I was at the river side, I took a shot of the willows below the suspension bridge. They have been adding some late colour to the riverside scene but they are fading away now like the year.

Esk with late willows

The gentle flat cycle outing probably did my sore leg some good and I let that be my exercise for the day.

I watched the birds when I got home and once again, it was very quiet for most of the time at the feeder.  We had some busy days when the temperature dropped but it hit 13°C today and most of the birds must be happy to forage for food in the countryside at the moment.

The small flock of goldfinches returned over lunchtime, led by this handsome but slightly ruffled bird.

goldfinch ruffled

At times, there was a great deal of to-ing and  fro-ing and flapping of wings….

goldfinches on feeder

…and some smart one legged landing.

goldfinch arriving

On other occasions the landing had to be one legged as the other leg was being used to kick away the unfortunate occupier of the perch.

goldfinches coming and goin

A lone chaffinch appeared.

chaffinch and goldfinches

We took a walk round the garden and I was impressed by the staying power of the sweet rocket which would be long over by now in a normal year.

sweet rocket mid november

Mrs Tootlepedal liked the strong impression made by these primroses.

white primroses

The hips on the Goldfinch rose are  flourishing thanks to the warm summer.

goldfinch rose hips

And a few of the calendulas have suddenly taken a new lease of life and are looking as good as new.

bright calendula Nov

Not all growth is good.  Mrs Tootlepedal is a bit worried to see spring bulbs showing above ground at this time of year.  These tulips shouldn’t be visible now.

very early tulip shoots

I spent the afternoon doing useful things on my computer and in the evening, Mike and Alison came round as usual on a  Friday and Alison and I rounded off the day with some enjoyable duets.

The forecast is good for tomorrow so I might try another short, flat cycle ride to keep my leg exercised as today’s effort seems to have done no harm.

One of the goldfinches is the flying bird of the day today.

goldfinch nearly arriving

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a break with tradition and is in fact a pair of pictures as Bruce sent me a fairly standard view of the famous ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’ between the mainland and Seil Island…

seil bridge

…but also included his view from the bridge.  He was surprised to find that someone had painted a white line down the middle of the channel, presumably to keep marine traffic on the right track.

seil bridge view

I was listening to a radio programme about the Roman poet Horace today.  One of his most famous phrases was ‘Carpe Diem’ which might be translated as ‘make good use of your day’

We had a beautifully sunny and reasonably warm morning and if there ever was a dies that needing carping, this was it.  Sadly, as my knee still needs cossetting, the dies remained totally uncarped.

I looked at birds instead.

In the dark months, the shadow of our house looms over the bird feeder and so the brighter the sunlight is on the plum tree….

sunny chaffinch

…the darker the shadows are on the feeder…

coal tit profile straight

…though this can produce an interesting silhouette from time to time.

coal tit profile landing

It was about midday when the sun and birds both appeared on the feeder.  Once again there were not many birds about so this gave the blue, coal and great tits plenty of scope for visiting.

blue tit with seedcoal tit with seedgreat tit

A robin popped in and although I took a very poor picture of it just as we were going out, I have put it in for the record.

robin

While I was bird watching, I couldn’t help noticing the berberis….

berberis November

 

…and I went out for a closer look.  One part of the bush has gone bright red while the other remains fairly subdued.

sunny berberis

The perennial wallflower is a marvel.  We have two and the other has now given up but this one looks as though it is ready to go through the winter.

november perennial wallflower

The calendulas are very diminished but they are still trying to produce new flowers.

november calnedula

Apart from the berberis, the brightest thing in the garden was this stone ball wrapped in a blanket of moss.

mossy stone ball

I raised my eyes to the hills and sighed…

cattle on Castle Hill

…and went back inside for lunch.

Then we went to Edinburgh.  Our up train started late from Lockerbie but arrived on time in Edinburgh.  Our down train left Edinburgh on time but arrived ten minutes late at Lockerbie.  Variety is the spice of life!

We found Matilda in very good form and she absolutely trounced me at snap though I held my own in a game of Pelmanism.   We enjoyed other games as well and after an excellent meal, cooked by her father, Matilda ended our visit with a ballet display.  We went home feeling very cheerful.

I just managed to catch today’s flying bird by the merest fraction of a millimetre.

just flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who was heading to Oban on  the west coast today when he came upon this overfull river at Callander.

floods at callander

We got a better day here today with occasional brief sunny spells and no rain so we were grateful for that.  We didn’t make much use of it though as Mrs Tootlepedal had to do a lot of internet research into a costume she is making for our local pantomime and I was resting my leg.

As a result, the morning passed with very little discernible activity and even the birds were pretty quiet in sympathy.

There was a lot of posing from a pigeon…

lofty pigeon

…a blackbird…

blackbird

…and a chaffinch.

sunlit chaffinch

Even the feeding was rather sedate with a chaffinch being at the bottom of the pecking order today.

pecking order

The coal tits were back again…

hungry coal tit

…and rather to my surprise, they tended to chase each other.

sparring coal tits

I made some potato soup for lunch and then decided to test my leg with a short flat walk.

The sun was out when I started and gulls….

lonely gull

…were gleaming in its rays.

two black headed gulls

I crossed the town bridge and met an old friend on the Kilngreen.

standing heron

I don’t blame Mr Grumpy for being well tucked because as soon as the sun went in, a brisk wind made it feel quite chilly.

Among our ordinary mallards, there is one white duck.  I was hoping to shoot a sitting duck but it saw me coming and popped into the water before I could catch it.

sitting duck

The leaves are pretty well off all the trees now and the Lodge Walks are bare.  This does let the sun through to brighten things up though.

Lodge Walks december

With no leaves on the trees, the casual passer by can admire the moss….

moss on tree branch

…and the lichen which festoon many of the branches.

lichen on tree branch

As always, I paid attention to walls on my walk and the one at the head of the Scholars’ Field had wild flowers and ferns growing out of it in a very satisfactory way.

wild corydalis

little wild flower

harts tongue fern

My plan to have a gentle, flat walk and mildly exercise my stiff leg was a complete failure and I was back into heavy limping mode long before I got home.   Considering that I had done this walk a few days ago with no trouble, this was discouraging and tomorrow will have to be a serious day of doing nothing.  I have got plenty of useful things that I can do so I will do them and resist the temptation of a little walk ‘just to see how my leg is’.

I spent quite a lot of time when I got home choosing some pictures for a short presentation of images from Eskdale which I am giving next month.  I limited myself to those that I have taken in the last 12 months and have managed to make a preliminary selection of 100 with no flying chaffinches in at all.  This was quite hard.

The flying bird of the day today isn’t a chaffinch either.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture is another brightener for a gloomy day from Venetia.  She was much struck by the glow from a neighbour’s flame tree in Somerset this morning.

P1000963

There was not much brightness here today at all and it rained sporadically and unpredictably off and on all day.

I started the day by putting another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and felt pretty pleased to be getting very near the bottom of the pile of waiting forms.

Then we entertained Sandy to a cup of coffee and followed that by going off to see an exhibition which he had helped to set up in the Social Club in the town.

It was a worth a visit.

To mark the centenary of the ending of the Great War, local schoolchildren have done an enormous amount of research into how the war had affected Langholm.  They had produced pen portraits and where possible, photographs of the many casualties of the war and it was shocking to see a map of the town with every affected household marked in red.  There were streets where it seemed that almost every house had suffered loss and the exhibition really brought home the extent of the damage to the town and its people.  It affected me more than any other memorial I have seen over recent weeks and made the bellicose posturings of many of today’s politicians even harder to bear.

I turned to the birds when we got home for a bit of cheer.

Goldfinches were back…

_DSC8424

…but not in great numbers so there was plenty of room for chaffinches too.

_DSC8420

Some visitors raised an eyebrow at the quality of the food on offer…

_DSC8423

…but others got stuck right in.

_DSC8426

Once again we were blessed with several coal tits, both in the plum tree…

_DSC8421

…and off the plum tree on their way to the feeder…

_DSC8422

…and having a snack when they got there.

_DSC8428

My joy at getting near to the bottom of my pile of newspaper data sheets was greatly tempered by finding that Nancy, our head data miner, had kindly dropped off another four weeks of the newspaper index to build the pile up again.  Ah well, we are getting near the end of another year (1898) and the 20th century beckons.

I had had a short pedal on the bike to nowhere after breakfast and as it was raining again after lunch, I had another short pedal then too.  Of course it cleared up as soon as I got off the bike so I thought that I would risk a short walk to somewhere to go with the cycling to nowhere.

This was not a great idea as it started to rain again soon after I left home and my leg thought that I had done more than enough already so I turned and came home after only a few hundred yards, walking with a pronounced limp (L.I.M.P….pronounced limp, folks © Spike Milligan).

I passed some points of interest (to me) on my brief outing.

The peltigera lichen is enjoying the weather even if I am not.

P1150534

And having shown the dam along the back of our house a few days ago, I though I might show the sluice which controls the flow into the dam from the pool at Pool Corner.

P1150535

It may not look much but it was doing a good job of holding back the water which was pouring over the caul.

P1150536

Like the photographer, the larches at Pool Corner are showing the passing of time and their golden branches have got thin on top, the gold fading to silver.

 

P1150537

When I got home from my curtailed outing, I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and practised some singing so the day was by no means wasted.

The early evening was improved by the arrival of Luke for our weekly fluting session and we tootled away merrily.

The flying bird of the day is one of the coal tits.  They are very nippy little birds so getting a good flying shot on a gloomy day is very hard and I couldn’t get a better one than this.

_DSC8433

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who was bowled over by this burst of colour as he walked through the Nottingham Arboretum today.

Nottingham Arboretum

I had a good day today.  The weather was kind when I needed it to be kind and it only rained when I was safely back indoors watching rugby.  Even the rugby was kind when after a rather nerve racking first half, Scotland ran away with the game against Fiji.

In addition, I seem to be completely recovered from the minor ailment in the middle of the week and my leg is steadily improving, though it has to be said that it is steadily but slowly improving.

Still, it was well enough for me to set my old fairly speedy bike up on a turbo trainer in the garage and have a couple of careful five minutes of pedalling to nowhere during the day.  Alert readers may recall that the fairly speedy bike has a crack in its frame and worry about my safety but with no potholes to go over and no log lorries to fall off in front of, I am confident that the frame can stand a little light stationary pedalling.  Time will tell though and if you hear a strangled cry, you will know that I was wrong.

I had had quite an energetic day yesterday so I took the morning quietly and spent time watching the birds.

After a bright chaffinch start….

sunlit chaffinch

…things turned gloomier for a while….

grumpy chaffinch

I was reminded of Mrs May greeting the approach of Boris Johnson.

…and I was treated to a spectacular last minute handbrake turn…

handbrake turn chaffinch

Then the chaffinches were superseded by a small flock of goldfinches who showed a regrettable lack of courtesy towards greenfinches…

goldfinch kicking goldfinch

…and towards other goldfinches.

goldfinch kicking greenfinch

I took yet another coal tit picture, partly because I like these little birds…

coal tit with seed

…and partly to record the fact that we seem to have two pairs of regulars in and around the garden at the moment.  I hope that they stay for the winter.

As the forecast was for rain later, I went for a walk in the early afternoon before having a late lunch.

I included a short hill in my walk for the first time since pulling my muscle and was pleased to get to the top without making things worse.  From there I had a gentle stroll along the Stubholm track.

I had chosen a good moment for a November walk…

Easton's Walk November

…and I got an early hint of Christmas from some cheerful holly berries beside the track.

holly

I could look down and see the Community Centre where Mrs Tootlepedal would spend the afternoon with her Embroiderers’ Guild group and beyond it, the suspension bridge, the Langholm bridge and the Sawmill Bridge over the far two of which I had taken my flat walk on Friday.

three bridges

For the most part, leaves are now on the ground rather than on the trees…

Upper road

…though as I looked across the Murtholm fields towards the Round House, a few patches of colour were stubbornly hanging on.

 

roundhouse from Murtholm end

There has been enough rain lately to get the little streams flowing freely off the hill and into the Esk.

little stream

I walked back home across the Beechy Plains beside the river…

Beechy Plains (2)

…were every other tree seemed to have a mysterious message for me written in script lichen.

script lichen

Other lichens were available.  This one was on the cut end of a felled tree trunk  above the path.

lichen by riverside

I was happy to see that keen volunteers have been renewing the route signs on the Langholm Walks posts.  This one is in the park.

Langholm Walks post

It makes the walks look more inviting when the waymarkers are bright and new.

I got back to the house just in time to wave Mrs Tootlepedal goodbye as she went off to embroider.

There are still a few select blooms about in the garden.

garden flowers november

But very few.

Once home, I had scrambled eggs on toast for my lunch and settled down to watch the rugby.  It is a  tribute to the capacity of the Scotland rugby XV to make terrible mistakes that even with a lead of thirty points and only a few minutes to go, I was still feeling slightly nervous that something bad would happen.

It didn’t though and Mrs Tootlepedal came home so all was well with the world (as long as I didn’t watch the news).

I rounded off the day by cooking myself an evening meal of pan fried lamb’s kidneys in a spicy red wine sauce on a bed of rice.  Happy days indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

As a footnote I add the information that Mrs Tootlepedal is worried about the dam that runs behind our house.  There has been a report that there are plans afoot to fill it in.  When it looks as gentle and inviting as it did when I went on my walk today…

dam under threat

…you can see why she would like to stay as it is.

 

 

 

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