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Posts Tagged ‘chaffinches’

Today’s guest picture comes from my ex colleague Marjorie who sent me this picture of a misty Schiehallion taken during her highland break over the festive season.

schiehallion

We woke to another chilly grey day here but the weather forecast suggested that a little sunshine might be available in the afternoon.  This turned out to be one of the forecasters little jokes but it didn’t matter as we had our own little ray of sunshine today in the form of a visit from our friend Sue.

She came in time for a coffee and not only were we pleased to see her, but we were pleased to see a small flock of birds at the feeder to entertain us as we sipped and chatted.

busy feeder

There was a constant coming and going for a while…

birds coming and going

…with visits from jackdaws to the fat ball feeder as well.

jackdaws in elder

In order to work up an appetite for lunch, we went for a walk to the top of Whita Hill after coffee.  Well, in fact, we went for a drive up to the White Yett and then walked the three quarters of mile up the easy track…

sue and mrs t on whita

…to the summit.

The track has a fine collection of boulders with colourful lichens at the bottom….

lichen at mcdiarmid memorial

…and an even more colourful set of lichens on the wall at the top.

lichen at whita summit

I took a worm’s eye view of the lightning conductor that is embedded in one side of the monument…

worms eye view of monument

…looked over the wall at the mist shrouded valleys to the south….

view over tarras

…and then we walked gently back down the track and admired the MacDiarmid memorial outlined against the Ewes Valley.

mcdiarmid memorial and ewes valley

The memorial celebrates the life and work of Langholm’s most famous poetical son, Hugh MacDiarmid.

mcdiarmid memorial

The sculpture is in the form of an open book and is constructed in Corten steel and bronze. Corten is a weathering steel which oxidises on the surface; it forms a protective skin and therefore requires no maintenance and to my eye, it looks thoroughly at home among the hills which MacDiarmid loved.

When we got home, Sue tried out our new bench and declared it to be very comfortable even in January.

 

sue and mrs t at bench

We marvelled at the rosemary, which thanks to the protected spot that it lives in, is still in flower…

december rosemary

…and then we went in to a lunch of curried parsnip soup and cheese flan provided by Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sue is one of the recorder group with whom I have played for many years and after lunch, she and I played a selection of duets while Mrs Tootlepedal got on with the crochet blanket she is making.

All too soon, it was time for Sue to head for home and while Mrs Tootlepedal continued with her crochet, I made an unavailing effort to solve the Saturday prize crossword.  Usually these crosswords yield to concentrated effort but today’s one has got me baffled.  I shall sleep on it and try again tomorrow.

All being well, we shall see Sue again tomorrow as she sings in our Carlisle choir and it meets for the first time in 2019 tomorrow afternoon.  I am looking forward to it.

There are not one but two flying birds of the day today which is cheering.

two flying goldfinches

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Today’s guest picture from my brother Andrew shows what was on the other side of the lake at Locko Park.

Locko Park (2)

It was zero degrees when we got up and -1 when I came to write this post.  In between it crept up to +1 in the middle of the day.  I didn’t go cycling.

I thought that the chill might bring in more birds and there were a few chaffinches about..

two chaffinches

..but not many.

straight up chaffinch

For one reason or another, we had a very lazy morning with a late coffee.  Then I made a pot of vegetable soup for lunch and I ate a lunch of soup, bread and cheese.  Then, since the sun was shining, I thought that I ought to go for a short walk just to stretch my legs after yesterday’s hilly effort.

It was almost windless and the pool at Pool Corner was a reflection of that state of affairs.

reflections at Pool Corner

The contrast between the cheerful sun shining through moss on a tree branch…

sunshine through moss

..and a frozen fence post beside the road to the Auld Stane Brig was very marked.

icy fence post

As a result, I thought that it might be just the sort of day to find hair ice  if I knew where to look.

hair ice gaskells (2)

I didn’t find much but there were a couple of really good examples.

hair ice gaskells

I could see the cattle that I had avoided yesterday enjoying the sunshine on Meikleholm Hill across the valley…

cattle on Meikleholm

…but on the whole, it was too chilly to spend a lot of time looking round so I took a picture of some dilapidated fungus on a tree and headed home.

decrepit fungus

The reason for the short walk was to make time for a shopping visit to Carlisle to buy supplies to fill up the serious date and prune gap in our storage cupboard.  Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to acquire some crochet hooks as she is going to learn to crochet this winter.

I took a couple of pictures of chaffinches before we set off to Carlisle and I got my camera setting badly wrong and wasted this rare opportunity to get a respectable flying bird of the day…

noisy flying chaffinch

…but I quite liked the pointillist effect that I got by accident.

misty flying chaffinch

The sun was still shining when we arrived back in Langholm so before we went home, we drove up to the White Yett to see if we could see anything interesting.  The light was pretty mellow as we looked up the Ewes Valley on our way up the hill….

burst

…and it was absolutely gorgeous when we got to the top and looked over the moor towards Tinnis Hill.

dig

We dropped down into the Tarras valley in the hope of seeing some of the wild goats but saw none.  Our reward was to see the sun sinking behind the monument as we drove back home…

dig

…well satisfied with our little excursion in spite of the absence of birds.

Although the setting sun made it feel like evening, it was only mid afternoon when we got in and we sat down to a nice cup of tea and a slice or two of sourdough bread which had fallen into our shopping bag while we were out.

Sandy has been hard at work and I put a couple of 1967 Langholm Parish Church magazines, which he has scanned and formatted, into the Archive Group website.  I note that 448 people attended the communion services in November 1967 and yet the minister was still inclined to complain about poor church attendance from time to time.

It looks as though we are in for a pretty cool spell of weather in the coming days but with little or no rain about,  a good deal more walking than cycling may well occur.

I did manage to get the camera more or less correct on one occasion this morning so there is a flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is from my sister Mary who visited the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.

Tragalgar Square

It was a sunny day here when we got up but far too cold to be able to risk a cycle ride with frost about so I pottered about until Sandy arrived with some Archive Group documents and we had a cup of coffee.  He and Nancy did a great job in moving Archive Group to their new premises with the help of a very obliging pair of ‘moving men’ and we hope that our data miners will soon get used to the new surroundings.

Dropscone has been  our landlord in our old premises for many years and we hope that he will be able find a good use for them now that we are gone.

When Sandy left, he took the sunshine with him and the day got progressively gloomier as it went on.  I decided to cook some tea cakes, using a method that is easy but time consuming in  the preparation of the dough so I had time to look out of the window at the passing show.

It was perching time for the goldfinches.

goldfinches perching

goldfinch on feeder

Once again, the old sunflower stalk was a handy staging post.

goldfinch on sunflower

Sometimes goldfinches waited for sparrows to move….

goldfinch and sparrow

…and sometimes sparrows encouraged goldfinches to move….

goldfinches and sparrow

…and sometimes chaffinches managed to get a look in too.

chaffinces staring at goldfinch

The tea cake method involves very light stretching of the dough rather than heavy kneading but it has gaps of a quarter of an hour between stretches so I had many looks out of the window while waiting for the next stretch and as well as birds at the feeder, I saw a dunnock…

dunnock

…and a blackbird scavenging for fallen seeds on the ground.

blackbird below

After a while, the dough was ready for its first rising so I had lunch and then while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to see a screening of a Degas exhibition at the Buccleuch Centre, I went off to collect my new bicycle from the bike shop where it had been having a service.  Although I had taken it in to the Carlisle branch, they had kindly brought it back to the shop in Longtown for me to collect it so I didn’t have far to go.

When I got home, I divided the tea cake dough into balls for the second rise and considered my options.

The day had got very gloomy by this time, with a brisk breeze and a hint of rain so once again I neither walked nor pedalled but went to work on my computer until Mrs Tootlepedal got back from her screening when we had a cup of tea.

Then it was time to bake the tea cakes and since the recipe is generally fool proof, they came out quite well.

dav

They enlivened with currants and raisins and spiced with cinnamon and ginger.

In the evening, one of the tenors from Langholm Sings came round and we did a little practising.  We shall see if it pays off when we meet tomorrow for our next rehearsal.

The forecast for tomorrow is appalling so I don’t think that there will be any chance of a pedal on my newly serviced bike.

In fact, November has not been kind to me from a cycling point of view recently.  I see that I only did 58 miles last year in the whole month because the weather was very poor and I had a persistent cold and so far I have only done half that distance this year with three days to go.  I might have to take issue with the poet who thought that April is the cruellest month.

The flying bird of the day is two goldfinches showing off their flying skills.

Flying goldfinches

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony.  He took a suitably black and white shot of his black and white dogs.

wemyss dogs

In theory today was very much the same temperature as yesterday but in practice it felt much colder because of a rawness in the air and as a result I was quite happy to have a lot of singing and no cycling to do.

The singing started in church.  The choir had had no notice of the hymns in advance which was unusual but didn’t matter in the case of two of them which had simple harmonies.  One of the others in particular defeated me entirely even though it was sung in unison.  However, we had a enjoyable practice afterwards and in the end, we had a good morning of singing.

While this was going on, Sandy and Nancy were supervising the removal of the Archive Group’s furniture and equipment to the new base for the group.  The removal was in the hands of a couple of every competent fellows and Sandy and Nancy reported that everything had gone smoothly.  I hope to visit the new premises tomorrow and see the results.

When I got home, I had time for a quick walk round the garden with my new phone in hand.

There are still flowers about (just).

In some cases, it is a question of hanging on by the skin of the teeth…

edf

…but others are defiantly still flowering freely…

edf

….even if conditions are a bit soggy.

edh

I can’t get over how cheerful the perennial wallflower still is.

edf

As well as flowers, there is always moss about in the garden and this morning there was some additional fungus among the moss on the elder.

edf

At the bird feeder, it was very much a chaffinch day….

chaffinch activity

…though other birds were about as well.  There were pigeons on the lawn…

pigeon on lawn

…and jackdaws in the elder…

waiting jackdaw

…and one on a chair showing off its white feathers.

white feathers jackdaw

The chaffinches were queuing up to get to the sunflower hearts…

chaffinch queue

…but when they got there, some preferred arguing to eating.  Perhaps they were politicians in a former life.

chaffinch head to head

There was no shortage of pushy behaviour.

chaffinch starmash

After lunch, we went off to sing with our choir in Carlisle.  Ellen, our usual conductor, had other commitments and our accompanist was marooned in Motherwell by a late train cancellation so we had both a substitute conductor from Glasgow and a member of the choir at the keyboard.

As it turned out, they were more than able to provide us with a satisfactory practice and as is so often the case, a new face in front of the choir provided us with fresh insights into performing  better.  As there were only three tenors present this week, our department had to work hard to make itself heard.

When we got home, I made some cauliflower cheese for tea and followed that off with an iced bun so all in all, it was a very satisfactory day.

The flying bird of the day, unsurprisingly, is one of the chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a Nottingham Inn dating from 1493 which my brother Andrew passed on his way to the university there.

Nottingham 1493

It was calm and dry when I got up but it wasn’t warm.  John in the shop called it ‘fresh’ and my neighbour Liz called it ‘snell’ and at a miserly 6°C when I set off on my bicycle, I agreed with both of them and had to be well wrapped up.  I had remembered to pick up the key for the camera club meeting in the evening and this had given me an excuse to let the temperature rise a bit but it was still cold enough to make me glad of every layer that I was wearing.

I had had reports that there had been a landslip along the road to Lockerbie and indeed, I passed a sign saying ‘road closed ahead’ as I left the town.  I went to have a look.

Lockerbie road landslip

Not a pretty sight!

One of our other local roads has been closed for years after a landslip so everyone will hope that there is a bit more action in this case as it is a well used road.

I didn’t go any further along the road but turned back and went over the hill past the Bloch.  I was anxious to see whether there were signs that the sun would come out later in the day so I looked at the clouds ahead of me…

cloudscape

…and behind me…

cloudscape 2

…and wondered if I was going in the right direction.

When I got to the top of the hill, I could look down on the Solway which was the intended destination of my ride.

mist over solway

That wasn’t water that I was looking at, it was a blanket of mist…

mist over solway 2

…shrouding the English shore.

Still, mist rises in my experience so I pedalled on down to Gretna Green where a piper in full rig….

Gretna piper

…was cheerfully waiting to have his picture taken with a happy couple who had been just married at the Old Blacksmith’s Shop and were posing under a handy sculpture nearby.

happy couple

By the time that I got to the English side of the Solway, the mist had disappeared…

Solway moss at Burgh

…but sadly the sea had gone too.

I was puzzled once more by a roadside sign which says: When the water reaches this point maximum depth is 2 feet.

Solway moss at Burgh 2

I have never been able to work out quite what it means but as the tide always seems to be out when I cycle here, it hasn’t mattered.

In the absence of any sea to photograph, I turned inland and circled round to make my way home.  Although I was now heading into the wind, it was so light that I was able to keep my average speed up all the way back to Langholm.

I stopped for a picture or two on the way.  This road near Rockcliffe turns sharply right just ahead so I suppose this qualifies as a colourful corner…

colourful corner rockcliffe

…and although I hadn’t seen any geese in the fields on my way down to the Solway, I saw plenty in the pond at Longtown on my way back.

geese at Lontwon pondgeese at Lontwon pond 2

I took an autumn colour shot at Irvine House…

irvine house

…but resisted the urge to take yet another Skippers Bridge shot and got home after 62 miles feeling tired but happy.

I had time for a quick walk round the garden in the sun…

garden flowers Oct 15

Cheerful survivors

little white flower

A very pretty little white flower in thee back border

BENCH SUBMERGED BY NASTURTIUM

There’s a bench under there somewhere

…and a look at the birds…

CHAFFINCHES ON FEEDER

It was mainly a chaffinch day at the feeder

open and shut chaffinches

They came in open and shut versions.

…before I had to sit down and choose 15 pictures to show at the camera club meeting in the evening.

Then Luke came for his flute lesson and I passed on some of the insights into breathing that I had got from my singing lesson.  They apply to flute playing too.

The camera club meeting went well, with 10 members turning up and some very interesting images to look at.  We are going to try some portrait photography at our next meeting.  I hope to learn a lot as portraits are not my strong point, to say the least.

Mrs Tootlepedal returns tomorrow so whatever the weather holds, it will be a bright, bright day.

The flying chaffinches of the day are once again gender balanced.

FLYING FEMALE CHAFFINCH

flying male chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who walked though five villages the other day and looked at one of them across a valley. This is Holbrook seen from Horsley.

Holbrook from Horsley

I was expecting a wet day today but after some heavy rain overnight, it was quite dry and calm in the morning and Dropscone was able to cycle round with treacle scones at coffee time.

I had a quick look round the garden before he came.

A couple of frosty mornings while I was away have done for a lot of the flowers but the nasturtiums under the protection of the front wall of the house are still looking excellent.

nasturtium

Sadly, only a very few fuchsias are left standing…or more accurately, hanging.

fuchsia

Dropscone has been checking on the well being of his tin knees which are now ten and twelve years old.  He got them put in at different hospitals and as a result, he had to go to two different places to get them x-rayed as one hospital couldn’t possibly x-ray another hospital’s knee.  This was rather annoying but he is pleased that the check has been completed.

I put the camera on its tripod at the kitchen window and took a variety of shots during the morning, while the weather was still dry.

A small flock of goldfinches were keeping the usual chaffinches at bay today…

goldfinch and chaffinch

…although one chaffinch at least made it to the feeder.

landing chaffinch

The birds have been complaining to their agents that I do not do them justice with my obsession with grainy shots of them in flight so I took some grainy head and shoulder shots today instead.

portrait goldfinch

Goldfinch

portrait greenfincj

Greenfinch

portrait sparrow

Sparrow

They are all very handsome.

It was still dry when Dropscone left after coffee so I had another look round the garden…

delphinium october

veg garden flower

…and then I took a chance and went for a short ‘three bridges’ walk to seek out autumn colour.

As I approached my first bridge, the pedestrian suspension bridge across the Esk, I couldn’t fail to be struck by the poplars beside the church.

river esk oct 12

And as I walked along towards my second bridge, this colourful garden hit me in the eye.

bar brae garden

I didn’t cross the town bridge today but I did look back at it from the Kilngreen…

autumn over the town bridge

…and I looked up the Esk from the same point.

esk from meeting of waters

I was pleased to see that for once I had all my ducks in a row.

ducks in a row

The Sawmill Brig over the Ewes Water was my second crossing.

sawmill brig october

And once across, I could admire the Langholm Castle ruins on the Castleholm…

castle in autumn

..and the glow of the trees at the start of the Lodge walks.

lodge walks oct

Across the playing fields, the trees on the far bank of the Esk were well worth a glance…

Castleholm trees oct

…or two.

castleholm trees oct (2)

Although not as brilliant as the maples that draw the tourists to New England in the fall, they give me a lot of quiet pleasure.

As the rain was threatening to come, I crossed the Duchess Bridge as my third bridge…

duchess brig in autumn

…and scuttled home as quickly as I could, propelled onward by a short but sharp little shower that encouraged me not to linger and look for fungi.

I did see this little specimen as I went through a gate on the Castleholm…

fungus on gatepost

…but mostly I had eyes only for yew deciduous trees on my walk today.

I got home in good time for lunch and shortly afterwards, the rain started in earnest….

feeder in the rain

…and kept going for several hours.

It has stopped as I write this but if the forecast is to be believed, it will start again in the early hours of the morning and rain until tea time tomorrow.

I will have a quiet day in.

Mike Tinker braved the rain and dropped in for a cup of tea and he told me that there has been an invasion of chaffinches from the continent.  I should recognise them if they arrive in the garden as they are more colourful than the natives.

Mrs Tootlepedal is doing well in the south but is looking forward to coming home next week and getting to work on preparing the garden for the winter.

I tried to catch a flying goldfinch but only managed another chaffinch today to be the flying bird of the day. They hover very obligingly.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a cheery looking cottage with a rather mournful sign.  My friend Bruce visited it in the village of Eyam in the Derbyshire dales.

plague cottage

Our spell of grey, cold and windy weather continued today and as I woke up with a pain in my side which had come from who knows where and wouldn’t go away, I got progressively gloomier as the day went on.

I started with a stroll round the garden to find the daffodil of the day…

daffodil…and then tested out the ability of the Lumix to take a bird picture through the kitchen window…

goldfinch

…and followed that by brief walk with Patricia to stretch her legs before catching the train back to London.  We walked along the river between the suspension bridge and the town bridge and then walked back along the other side.

I had hoped for some bird life to show our visitor and was pleased to see a dipper flitting about the river.  It did so much flitting that I couldn’t get a picture of it and once again had to settle for a more obliging oyster catcher.

oyster catcher

After coffee, we went off to Carlisle where Patricia caught her London train and Mrs Tootlepedal, after a brief burst of shopping and a light lunch, caught the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  Meanwhile, I visited the bike shop to organise the pedal specification for my new bike (still two weeks away) and then went home, passing the cathedral….

Carlisle cathedral

…and a splendid bank of municipal daffodils on my way back to the car.

carlisle daffs

Once home, I had time for a light lunch of soup and cheese before an old friend came round to get my help in booking flights to and from Barcelona.   As she has no access to a computer, she finds it impossible to do this for herself.   With a bit of a struggle, we managed to find suitable flights and booked them but as I don’t fly, it was all new and sometimes baffling to me.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that it all turns out right.

I gave my friend a lift home and then took a walk round the garden, looking both down…

scilla

…and up…

forsythia

..and managing to avoid the outstretched grasp of the silver pear in between.

silver pear

I did think about a cycle ride but my ribs were sore and the wind was biting so I went back indoors and watched the birds in a glum sort of way.

Once again, there were plenty to watch in spite of occasional (unsuccessful) fly throughs from the sparrowhawk.

busy feeder

The siskins were not here today but there were a lot of goldfinches so the seed still went down at a good speed…

busy feeder

…and the regular chaffinches were as anxious to make their feelings known as ever…

_DSC3173

…either behind the back or face to face.

_DSC3172

We have been getting visits from quite a few pigeons lately.  They always seem to have slightly pursed lips and a disapproving air about them.

pigeon

Having discarded thoughts of cycling, my gloomy mood kept me from walking too and I just slouched about the house looking mean, moody but far from magnificent for the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening, I picked up Susan and we drove to Carlisle where the healing properties of playing recorder music with a sympathetic group came to the fore and cheered me up enormously.

I was cheered even more by going to the station after finishing playing, to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from the Edinburgh train before coming back to Langholm

We are going to have a quiet day tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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