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Posts Tagged ‘chaffinch’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia who got to see the wonderful Mosi-oa-Tunya or ‘The Smoke that Thunders’, better known perhaps as the Victoria Falls, on her African trip.

Victoria Falls

Our spell of very poor cycling and photographing weather continued with yet more rain, accompanied by a chilly wind today to make matters worse.  We had had a clear spell but as it had been over night, all it gave us was an early morning frost and then it went away.

Since it was actually Susan’s birthday today, we pulled out all the stops to celebrate the occasion.

susan's birthday

It could hardly have been grander.

Sadly, the birthday girl didn’t stay long as she had arranged to meet my brother and one of my other sisters in Derby for another celebratory meal so Mrs Tootlepedal took her off to catch the train south from Carlisle.

I stayed at home as I had had enough driving yesterday and went up to theArchive Centre base to put a new ink cartridge in our printer.  To my relief, I had ordered the correct one and the printer worked.

When I got home, I watched the birds for a bit.

The feeder is going down very steadily at the moment and needs to be filled at least once a day.  I put this down to the siskins who are regular visitors and keen eaters…

four siskins

…and keen arguers too.

siskins attack each other

There are still plenty of chaffinches ready to make a dash for the feeder when the siskins go off.

pair of incoming chaffinches

I did go out for a walk round the garden but it was too wet and windy to be fun.

daffodil in wet

I made some soup for my lunch and settled down to a quiet afternoon of doing the crossword and putting music on to the computer.

I did look out of the window at one point and I saw two partridges in the garden (right under the pear tree) so I went out to try to get a picture, but they sloped off before I could shoot them.

Luckily for me, one turned up later just outside the kitchen window and…

partridge head turned

…gave me a hard stare and portrait pose.

partridge

While I was looking at the partridge, I noticed a blackbird so I took a gloomy shot just to record that it had been there….

blackbird

…and then a sparrow popped up too.

sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely, having visited a garden centre where she made many judicious purchases, including a tiny plant just for me. I hope to show pictures of its development if I can mange to keep it alive.

It is an argyranthemum.

Argyranthemum

I have put it in a pot and watered it and it hasn’t died yet.  A good start, I think.

In the evening we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a performance by an enterprising troupe of Japanese style drummers, Mugenkyo Taiko, who are based in southern Scotland, not far from us.  We have seen them before and enjoyed them so we were in optimistic mood as we settled down for the concert.

We were not disappointed and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.   I had a minor grump as they brought fewer drummers with them than before, and so there was more talking this time to allow them to recover between numbers.   The grump was only because, if offered a choice, I would much prefer to hear a Taiko drummer drumming than hear him or her talking.  Still the chat was educational so I shouldn’t grumble.

For those who are interested to find out what a Japanese style drumming group are doing in Scotland, here is a link to their website.

There were five drummers tonight and when they were all busy at the same time knocking six bells out of their instruments, it made a powerful and moving sound.

A stately chaffinch outshone the siskins when it came to the choice of flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who came across this giant nut weevil in his local supermarket.

weevil

After another night of rain here, I went out after breakfast to check on the state of the river and was surprised by how low it was.

fairly full Esk

I was expecting quite a spate but although it had rained steadily for some time, it had obviously not rained very hard and the river drainage system had coped very well.

It kept raining for most of the day so I had another quiet morning indoors, keeping an eye on the goings on at the feeder.

Siskins were very active in the shouting department, most aimed at passing chaffinches.

Sometimes they shouted up….

siskin shout up at a chaffinch

…and sometimes they shouted down…

siskin shout down at a chaffinch

…and sometimes two of them got in on the act and shouted horizontally in unison.

two siskins shout at a chaffinch

All in all, it was quite a busy morning….

very busy feeder

…although there was time for quiet reflection on the weather too.

goldfinch in the rain

In the afternoon, I went down to Carlisle station…

dig

…where I enjoyed the contrast between the wall panels of steam driven giants of the past and the less glamorous diesel railcars in use today.

 

dig

I wasn’t there to train spot though.  We are being visited by my eldest sister Susan who is on a birthday tour of her young relatives in Scotland and will be coming to Edinburgh with us tomorrow to visit our two sons and their families.  I was in Carlisle to collect her from the London train.

Her train arrived on time to the exact minute and we drove back to Langholm where Susan was greeted by some delightful fairy cakes cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal.

In the evening, Susan kindly took us out for a meal at the Douglas Hotel and while she and Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed a leisurely coffee before going home, I scurried off to a Langholm Sings choir practice.

They day ended in quiet conversation centred upon the deplorable state of politics and the country.

I hope that the weather is kind to us as we go to Edinburgh tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin (in the rain).

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who took a trip to the country at the weekend and came upon this delightful scene.

amersham

We had a thoroughly soggy day here today with rain almost uninterrupted from dawn until dusk.

Under the circumstances, a visit from Dropscone for coffee was more than usually welcome.  He has been to the physiotherapist whom I have recently visited in an attempt to get one of his legs working less painfully.  He has exercises to do and I will be interested to see how he goes.

In view of the rain, I spent an idle day indoors, sometimes looking out of the window to check on the birds..

awkward landing for chaffinch

…who came in a steady stream.

two chaffinches approaching

It was mostly a day for chaffinches…

four chaffinches appraching

…with the occasional siskin and the even more occasional goldfinch, one of whom was most indignant to see a chaffinch encroaching on his personal perch space.

goldfinch views chaffinch with suspicion

I did go out in the late afternoon to check on the height of the rivers after several hours of rain but it was not remarkable enough to warrant an illustration.  I will look again tomorrow.

Otherwise I had a desultory sort of day, reading the papers, putting new songs to learn into the computer, practising my flute and singing, and mooching around with the air of a man who would be doing something useful if only he could think what it was.

In the end, I remembered what it was, and put a week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database.

While I had been idle, Mrs Tootlepedal had been hard at work.  She helped out with a very busy lunch service at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop for two hours and spent a lot of time at home working on a patchwork horse rug for you know who.

rocking horse blanket

We are still waiting for the saddle and bridle to arrive from the rocking horse shop.

Unsurprisingly, a chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

horizonal flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture finds my Somerset correspondent, Venetia on the Ovango River.  It looks like a good place to be.

Okavango River

After yesterday’s gadding about all over the country, I planned for a quiet day at home today, starting with a cup of coffee with Sandy.

There was a slight hiccup in the proposed placidity when fellow archivist Nancy phoned me up to say that one of the microfiche readers in the Archive Centre wasn’t working.  I cycled up and after a great deal of head scratching, I took some advice from Sandra, another archivist, searched online for solution and found one.  Phew. I cycled home again.

Sandy was in good form when he arrived and we hope to be able to get out for a walk soon.

When he left, I watched the birds for a bit and once again there was a fair bit of action on the feeder.  Chaffinches flew in double handed…

two chaffinches incoming

…but the siskins were more than up to defending a perch.

chaffinch and siskin arguing

A collared dove was an oasis of peace and quiet in a furiously fluttering feathery world.

collared dove

The snow from last night had disappeared and from time to time the sun came out and shone on the siskins…

siskin posing in sunshine

…and I even thought of a gentle pedal.  However I went out to help Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden instead and trimmed a couple of berberis bushes.  Then I made some soup for lunch and after we had eaten it, I went out to help in the garden again.

Since we are making new soft fruit beds this year, the old ones are being re-purposed so I dug over the old raspberry and strawberry beds…

rasps and strawbs dug up

…and after some work on the gap  between them, they will become the the home for the potatoes this year.

We also put the Christmas tree in its new place…

christmas tree planted out 2019

…where it will sit quietly until next December.  It is looking healthy and sturdy so we have every hope that it will see a bauble or two when the time comes.

It is sitting beside the remains of our rhubarb patch.

early rhubarb

I saw quite a few daffodils on my travels yesterday and we are getting more out here in the garden every day now.

daffodil

I went in for a sit down, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal working away outside and then Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea.  He is much better after having had a chest infection and it is good to see him getting out and about again.

When he left, I went out for a  quick three bridges walk just to stretch my legs.

A dipper stood on a rock in the turbulence of the Meeting of the Waters and showed off the special white nictitating eye membrane which keep its eyes protected when it is dipping.

over the shoulder dipper

A cluster of ducks lurked behind daffodils on the bank at the Kilngreen…

three ducks

…and a bit further upstream, a second dipper was doing some lurking of its own.

hidden dipper

I was hoping to take more pictures but there was a large crowd of children and parents on the Castleholm attending a running event so I passed by and made my way home without lingering, stopping only to record two more signs of spring, a willow at the Jubilee Bridge…

willow bud

…and some blackthorn in bloom beside the Esk.

blackthorn

I got home in time to meet Luke for our regular flute lesson.  We had a hard working half hour, trying to develop the correct style in our playing.

That concluded the excitement for the day.

There are two flying chaffinches of the day today as I couldn’t choose between them.

There is the vertical lady…

flying chaffinch vertical

…and the horizontal gent.

flyimng chaffinch horizontal

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of our son Tony’s walks with his dogs.  He met a fine crop of fungus in a wood.

more fungus from Tony

I had a busy morning which started with a visit to the Buccleuch Centre with Mrs Tootlepedal to attend the producers’ market where stocks of meat, fish, cheese and honey were obtained.  The cheese vendor looked at me as I packed my cheese purchases away and said, “You must eat quite a bit of cheese.”  I thought that he was very perspicacious.

When we got home, I had enough time to notice a redpoll on the feeder, looking rather disapprovingly at a pair of argumentative siskins….

redpol; looks on

…before we had a cup of coffee and then went out to do some useful gardening.  It was very grey but reasonably warm and dry so it was a good day to get some work done.

We are preparing beds for soft fruit so while Mrs Tootlepedal prepared the ground and planted out a new gooseberry bush, I dug up the old autumn fruiting raspberries which have run their course and are being replaced.

It had rained overnight so the ground was soft and relatively easy to dig.

When we had finished with the berries, we turned to pruning a rose….

rose shoots with rain

…which has some promising new shoots.  We took off the old shoots and Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed and organised the new shoots until everything looked very neat and tidy.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the result.

There are signs of growth all round the garden.

spring buds

By the time that we had gone in and had lunch, it had started to rain and I took this as a hint to have a quiet day before going to Manchester tomorrow.

Out in the garden, the idea of a quiet day was alien to the siskins and they continued in full active mode.

siskins threaten siskins

And the chaffinches found time to argue with each other too.

chaffinches squabble

The rain got harder and harder, the wind got stronger and the day got darker so we were happy to sit in front of the telly while the birds got wet outside…

siskins and redpoll in the rain

…and in this way, we passed the rest of the day, though Mrs Tootlepedal found some time to work on a patchwork rug which will cover the rocking horse when it is finished.

The flying bird of the day is a suitably fuzzy siskin to reflect the miserable weather outside.

fuzzy flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s recent walk along the canals of Birmingham.

birmingham canal

We kept our dry weather today but there was no sign of sunshine so the temperature was at a more natural level for the first of March.

Following on the experience of the garden playing host to a partridge (though not in a pear tree), we saw the arrival today of two doves (though collared and not turtle).

two doves

Now we are expecting three foreign hens (though probably not from France).

In the absence of three French hens, I was happy to welcome Dropscone with some of his very best treacle scones at coffee time.  After coffee and conversation, he left to discuss the problems of installing a water meter in premises with no water supply with a man from the water company who wanted to install a water meter in the old Archive premises which don’t have a water supply.   I wished him luck.

Meanwhile, the siskins had got busy back in our garden.

A chaffinch sensibly kept its head done while two siskins squabbled…

siskin and siskin cinfrontation

…and a goldfinch did its best to ignore some challenging behaviour.

siskin and goldfinch confrontation

There were enough birds about to make putting out a second feeder seem like a good idea but in no time at all, both were being monopolised by more siskins.

siskins at both feeders

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre for lunch with two of our neighbours and I made some ginger biscuits to give to a friend of ours as a birthday gift.

Once the biscuits were cooked, I went out and  sieved some compost.  The gentle back exercise involved had a very beneficial effect on my feet.  They had been rather sore after pounding the streets of Edinburgh yesterday.  As a result, when Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her lunch and gave the biscuits the thumbs up, I went out for a short walk.

The pale hellebores in the garden had taken note of my complaints about them hanging their heads down and had made an effort to look up a bit.

pale hellebores

I walked down to the river and was happy to see that the trees along the bank between the bridges were bursting into flower…

riverside blossom

…and below them, the daffodils are starting to make a show.

riverside daffodils

It is beginning to feel like spring.

There were no gulls or oyster catchers about at all but I did see a dipper standing on a rock below the town bridge.

dipper below bridge

And along the Kilngree, a female mallard was doing the same.

duck on a rock

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and was impressed by the fruitful mosses on the wall.

four mosses

Instead of walking along the Lodge Walks, I headed up the hill and walked along the top of the woods, passing this gate on the way….

pathhead gate

…and seeing two unusual sheep in the field behind the gate.

varied sheep

As I walked along the top track, there was a hint of blue sky…

blue sky

…but it was not enough to bring the sun out as the blue sky was over there =>  and the sun was over there <=. along with a lot of clouds.

Although the individual snowdrops are going over fast, there are still enough about at Holmhead to make a delightful scene.

snowdrops Holmhead

There was not a lot of peace and quiet on the walk as the birds are getting the spring spirit and I was serenaded all along my route.

black bird

The many hazels along the river bank as I walked back to the town were dripping with catkins and covered in the tiny red flowers but I resisted the temptation to take yet another hazel flower picture and settled for this white flower growing on the wall at the top of the Scholars’ Field.

wild flower

As I passed my old school, I was saddened to see that the windows are not being maintained.  Although it is unoccupied and unused, it is still sad to see a building going to seed.

school window

I dropped in on Mike and Alison on my way home to enquire about their health and was offered a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit, which I accepted.  When I left, Mike came out into the garden to show me his dog’s tooth violets which are looking very pretty.

dog tooth violet

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off in the car with some of our home cooked ginger biscuits, tastefully wrapped in a special bag which Mrs Tootlepedal had sewn while I was out walking.  They were to be a gift for our recorder playing and choir friend Sue who was having a birthday meal with her daughter.  Her daughter had secretly organised an after meal invasion by Sue’s friends and Sue took it very well when more and more people kept appearing through her daughter’s front door.

We had a very enjoyable and social time talking to Sue and her friends and eating the snacks provided by her daughter.

In a break from the endless line of flying chaffinches, the (only just) flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

just flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s Namibian adventure.  She came across one of their famous two headed giraffes and sent me this shot.  It may have more legs than the usual giraffe too.

giraffe

Our sunny weather came to an end today and we had grey skies and rather chillier temperatures but it remained dry so we didn’t have much to complain about at at all.

After breakfast, I noticed a red poll on our feeder…

redpoll late Feb

…and I also noted that not all the birds who come to our garden visit the feeder.  Some just lurk about on trees and bushes like this blackbird and these starlings.

blackbird and starling

I had to act as fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who was visiting his grandchildren and Mrs Tootlepedal came up to the Moorland Project bird hide with me to help.  We filled the feeders and then, while she scanned the hillside opposite the bird hide for signs of raptors (in vain), I sat in the hide and hoped for woodpeckers (also in vain).

There were a lot of great tits about…

great tits at Laverock

…and colourful pheasants as usual…

pheasant head

…but mostly there were chaffinches in large numbers.

We didn’t stay there long as the light wasn’t very good and it was chilly but instead of going straight home, we parked the car not far away and walked down towards the River Tarras  to see how the repairs to the road were going.

In December 2105, the road suffered from a landslip in a big storm…

tarras road landslip

…and the council has just got round to repairing it three and a bit years later.

It is a big job, requiring endless visits from quarry lorries…

tarras roadworks

…and they are of course damaging the surfaces of many of the roads over which they travel on the way to the site.

In the picture above, the compression of distance caused by the camera lens doesn’t show that the old road stops where the brown surface ends and they have cut away the banking below by a huge amount.

You can see the line of the old road on the right of the picture below and it gives some idea of the scale of the work needed for the repair.

tarras roadworks scene

How they are going to join the road back up to its original course defies my imagination.  I shall be interested to follow the work as it progresses.

While we were walking along  the road to and from the works, we saw a great many hazel catkins and I said to Mrs Tootlepedal that there might be hazel flowers too if we looked closely.

We looked closely.

hazel flower and catkins

They were were hard to see but once we got our eye in, we could see dozens of them.

hazel flower tarras road

As we left the work site, the keen eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted another blotch of red and thought that it was discarded orange peel.  A second look showed that it was a scarlet elf cap (Sarcoscypha coccinea), a fungus that likes damp spots and leaf litter.

Sarcoscypha coccinea

Further up the road, she stopped to look at a tree and I pointed out that if she looked down at her feet she would see another twenty elf cups all around.

Sarcoscypha coccinea elf cup

She was impressed.

What with the excitement of seeing the road works, the elf cups and the hazel flowers, we forgot about the absence of raptors and woodpeckers and arrived home in time for coffee in a very cheerful mood.

The frogs had left the pond so I looked around for flowers.  Some hellebores keep their heads up in a helpful way….

hellebore heads up

…but others call for crouching.

head down hellebore

Fresh primroses are blooming.

new primroses

Once we got inside and started on our coffee, I was able to enjoy some busy scenes at the feeder.

busy feeder

A siskin took a moment to survey the scene from the top of the feeder pole…

siskin on feeder pole

…while down below, it was all action in siskin world.

squalling siskins

It was good to see a dozen siskins at the feeder today, the most we have seen this year.

I made some soup for lunch while Mrs Tootlepedal considered the business of making a patchwork rug for the rocking horse.  She has time to do this because the crochet blanket has now been finished.

finished crochet blanket

It has provided a very welcome distraction during the long winter nights.

Then  it was time to go to Edinburgh and see Matilda.  We had our usual enjoyable time and another good evening meal before catching the train home.  Matilda told us that she would like to come and visit us for a change so I hope that this can be arranged in the not too distant future.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who posed more carefully than any of the siskins.

flying chaffinch

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