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Posts Tagged ‘coal tit’

Today’s guest picture puts our recent snow here into perspective.  It was sent to me by Lucie from Manitoba and it shows an unwelcome late and heavy fall of snow which was making life hard for birds on her feeder.

snow in manitoba

We had another chilly day today but it didn’t rain and the sun came out for a while so we were quite pleased about that.

As Sandy is a bit poorly at the moment, I took his turn to fill the feeders at the Moorland Project feeder station.  Mrs Tootlepedal came with me and while she sat in the car and scanned the skies in vain for hen harriers, I looked for smaller birds from the hide.

tits at Laverock hide

Great tit, coal tit and blue tit complete a set.

woodpecker

The one glimpse of a woodpecker that I got

_DSC2007

A male chaffinch

chaffinch

And another one

flying chaffinch

And one of a lot of flying chaffinches catching the morning sun

Mrs Tootlepedal may not have seen any raptors but she did get a good view of an impressive cloud behind Whita.

cloud

We got home in good time for a cup of coffee and a slice of walnut and banana loaf and then I did the crossword until the day had got warm enough to make for inviting cycling.

The garden birds were not as co-operative as the moorland birds had been and indeed, some of them indulged in behaviour that can only be described as very, very childish.

birds' bums

There is no need for that sort of thing at all.

I left them to themselves and went to look for frogs.  There were a lot in the pond.

_DSC2019frog_DSC2020

For some reason the light was perfect for reflections today.

Although it wasn’t very warm and the sun wasn’t very bright, the crocuses were responding to the better weather.

crocus
In the end, I ran out of excuses for not cycling and wrapped myself up as warmly as I could and set out to do a thirty mile circle avoiding as many potholes as I could.

I paused for a moment by a bridge not far from home to adjust a wrinkle in my many layers and was impressed by the variety of life to be seen on it.

lichen

There was still a lot of snow beside the back roads….

gair road

…and indeed there is more piled up there than in the neighbouring fields.

tree

But the roads were mostly dry and while the sun was out, it was a pleasure to be cycling.  Once the sun went in before the halfway mark, it was much chillier and I kept going rather than stopping to take a lot of pictures.

At 17 miles, I was thinking that I wasn’t anything like as fit as I would have liked to be but when i turned for home, I discovered that I had been so well wrapped up that I hadn’t realised just how strong the wind was.  It blew me home in a very satisfactory manner.

By the time that I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda.

I made a sausage stew for my tea.  That sounds a bit basic but if you dignify it with the name of sausage casserole or even sausage cassoulet (it had beans in it), it sounds a bit classier.  It tastes just the same though.

The reason that I did not go with Mrs Tootlepedal to Edinburgh was that it was a recorder day and in the evening, Susan came round and she drove us to Carlisle where we enjoyed a good evening of music with our recorder group.

This has been a rather perfunctory description of a very enjoyable day but it was quite late by the time that we got back from Carlisle and I am a bit tired so I apologise.

Because the garden birds were so uncooperative, I did think of using a frog as the flying bird of the day today just to teach them a lesson…

frog

…but I found that I had got a reasonable flying chaffinch from our morning visit to the Laverock Hide.

So here it is, the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who went to Margate to visit the Turner Gallery, which can be seen in the background of her  shot.

Margate sands with Turner Contemporary Art Gallery in the distance

I had the job of being the stand in feeder filler at the Moorland bird hide today and it was dry but chilly when I drove up to the feeding station.  The roads were very icy in places so I went with great care.

I filled the feeders and sat in the hide for a while, enjoying the busy comings and goings of the residents.

The chaffinches went for the tall feeder….

chaffinches

…while blackbirds and siskins preferred a little shelter from possible raptors…

siskins and blackbirds

…and the tits went nuts.

tit collection

I tried to catch one of each of the resident tit varieties.  This is a great tit…

great tit

 

….this is a coal tit…..

coal tit

…and this is a blue tit.

blue tit

We get long tailed tits around the town too but I have never seen any at the Moorland feeders.

As I sat there, I noticed that it had begun to snow and since I thought that the roads were quite tricky enough already, when the snow started to come down more seriously, I upped sticks and went home.

It didn’t take long before we were back to this again…

snowy garden

….so I settled down to work on my computer indoors for the rest of the day.

I put a couple of parish magazines, which Sandy had formatted for me, into the Archive Group website and checked on a couple of other things while I was there.

Then I caught up on my correspondence and turned my attention to hymns.  I have recently joined the church choir and since I don’t know the bass parts, I find it very awkward to put the music and words together for hymns, especially when the music is on one page and the words are on another.  As a result, I am experimenting with producing my own versions with music and words as close together as is possible to see if this helps.

Outside, the workers on the dam bridge seemed to be packing up although the work is by no means complete.  At one stage, a large lorry appeared and removed the container that they had been using as office and canteen.

dam bridge repairs

They were very brisk an efficient and had it swung up and on the back of the truck in no time.  The next time that I looked out, I caught a last glimpse of it as it went off down Henry Street at the bottom of our road.

dam bridge repairs

We are interested to see what is going to happen next.

In the early evening, Peter from our camera club turned up and we spent a frustrating three quarters of an hour unavailingly trying to get one or other of my laptops to talk to his projector via an HDMI cable.  There were plenty of suggested solutions available on the internet but sadly, none of them worked.  Such are the joys of tech.

On a more cheerful note, we switched off the computers and went off to sing with Langholm Sings, our local community choir where Peter is one of the tenors.  We are preparing for a concert with our local orchestra and as a result, we are singing a lot of songs which we know quite well.  This makes for a relaxing evening.

The forecast suggests that we might get a better day after a wet start tomorrow.  I hope so.

There was an almost complete absence of birds in the garden today for some unknown reason so the flying bird(s) of the day come from the Moorland feeders and are the best that I could do on a gloomy day.

Moorland feeder in snow

There was at least one walking bird about in the garden though.

footprints in the snow

It was almost certainly a wood pigeon.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Sue who sent me this shot of a Christmas visitor to her bird feeders.

IMG-20171224-WA0000

Either my eyes are getting dimmer (and my camera’s sensor too) or the cloudy days are getting greyer and greyer.  It was a really miserable day today with very little light filtering through from above so it was just as well that there were things to do indoors while the rain pattered down outside.

Mrs Tootlepedal did some serious clearing out of our utility room and I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

I did look out of the window from time to time but there was not much to see.  Just a lot of raindrops…

raindrops

…a soggy looking siskin…

wet siskin

….and a clueless coal tit.

coal tit

The utility room clear out led to many agonising decisions regarding throwing away things that had sat unused and unloved at the back of the same shelf for thirty years but which were still obviously entirely necessary for the well being of the house and/or far too good to throw away.

We managed to get rid of quite a lot of stuff.

After lunch, the weather improved to the extent that it actually stopped raining but it was still tremendously grey.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping and I got out the slow bike again and set off for a short spin.

Although it looked very gloomy when I started, it improved a little and I got an hour of gentle pedalling in before I thought it was dark enough to come in again.

I did take a camera with me but it wasn’t a day for cheery scenic photographs so I concentrated on some water shots and visited a couple of my favourite little cascades on the mighty Wauchope.

wauchope cascade

After the rain, there was a fair bit of water coming down the river…

wauchope cascade

…with more rushing to join it from across the road.

wauchope cascade

I did basically the same ten mile trip up to Callister and back as I had done yesterday but put in a diversion to Cleuchfoot to add an extra couple of miles.   This took me across the Glencorf Burn…

Glencorf burn

…which has a handy sheep catching gate.

Glencorf burn

There was not much to see today but a couple of well furnished fence post tops caught my eye.

My lichen grip is sketchy but this might be Parmelia sulcata or a similar lichen

lichen on fence post

It looked very striking on a dull day.

The second fence post was more varied and seems to have two different sorts of lichen on it.

lichen on fence post

I put one of these images into the Google image search and it suggested that it might be a lilac!  Maybe AI still has a bit to go.

When I got home, we were visited by Mike Tinker, who had enjoyed his walk yesterday too.  When we told him that Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing some heavy  “spring cleaning” in winter, he told us not to mention it to his wife Alison under any circumstances.  Mike likes a quiet life.

If you read this Alison, it was just a little decluttering, nothing serious at all.

My ambition to eat a bit less has been hampered by the fact that I keep on eating more.  I am afraid that 12 miles on the slow bike won’t do much good but it can’t do any harm so I will continue to take any small window of cycling opportunity that appears in the gloom and hope for some better light to go with it.

No chance at all of a flying bird of the day today so a paddling blackbird will have to do instead.

paddling blackbird

 

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

Red Deer River Valley in Saskatchewan

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

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

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

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

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

dunnock

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

robin and goldfinch

Who was that masked goldfinch?

Another goldfinch visited.

goldfinch

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

goldfinches and chaffinch

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

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

chaffinches landing

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

coal tit

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

robin

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

Callister in mist

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

As I got back to the town again….

Cloud lifting

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

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

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

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

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

flying chaffinch

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

super moon

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who has visited Chatsworth.  I am going to live in a place like that when I grow up.

Chatsworth

We had another fine and sunny day today but once again my stubborn cold refused to give up its grip on me so instead of cycling, I settled for the very agreeable substitute of a cup of coffee with Sandy followed by a walk.

While I was waiting for him to arrive, I looked out of the kitchen window.  The early morning sun is not at all helpful for taking pictures of birds at the feeder is in the shadow of the house and you end up with lots of shots like this.

chaffinch

The rather blue background indicates that we had another frosty morning and the fluffed up robin below the feeder confirmed that it was chilly.

robin

By the time that Sandy and I had had a cup of coffee and arrived at the Moorland bird hide, all trace of the frost had gone and we walked down to the bridge over the Tarras in glorious conditions.

There was not a cloud in the sky.

Cronksbank road

We were able to watch a hen harrier hunting and a heron flying past as we walked along the open part of the walk but soon we were plunging downhill through the woods…

Cronksbank road

…until we reached the river bank.

Tarras at rashiel

It is a peaceful spot….

Tarras Water

…and it still looked very welcoming although the trees on the river bank have shed all their leaves.

We walked over the bridge and checked out the horsetails which grow along the river in abundance there.

horsetail

Although the ones round this tree were still green, most of them were dry and brown.

horsetails

We didn’t see much else of interest…

fungus and fern

…but the walk through the woods was delightful.

Tarras woods

Taken on the way down

Tarras woods

Taken on the way back up

When we got back to the hide, we spent a few minutes inside, in the hope of seeing something interesting but just about the only birds on view were coal tits…

coal tits

…and chaffinches so we didn’t stay for long.

I got home just as Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and choir practice and I set up the camera at the kitchen window in the hope of some more friendly light.

The birds deliberately flew into any shadow they could find just to annoy me…

shadowy flying birds

…although as usual, the camera was recording more information than it was letting on.

_DSC8508 lighter

These are exactly the same pictures lightened up a bit.

Still, it wasn’t very satisfactory so I pointed the camera at the plum tree with better results.

goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and blue tit

Goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and blue tit

The sunflower seeds were drawing most of the business again today…

chaffinch

…but there were occasional visits to the new mixed seeds by coal tits and this blue tit who preferred to remain anonymous.

blue tit

We had quite a good crowd but the attendance is not helped by predatory cats roaming the garden and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted one of the invaders making off with one of our birds.  Our cat scarer is not 100% efficient it would seem.  In fact, as kind readers pointed out when I said that we had got one, they may well be 100% inefficient.

In the afternoon we went to our Carlisle Choir practice.  Once again I was only able to croak my way through the songs and as my breathing was not in peak condition, my brain was subject to a bit of fading and I made several rather glaring mistakes.  In spite of it all, it was worthwhile and I hope to be in  a better place  next week.

The flying bird of the day is the sole chaffinch who wasn’t quick enough to find some shade to hide in.

flying chaffinch

Looking at the picture, I see that I will have to clean the kitchen window.

The moon was out when we got back from choir.  Not quite full.

moon

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo, my Manitoba correspondent, and indicates that perhaps I should stop complaining about the weather here.

manitoba snow

In fact, we had a pretty good day here today with lots of sunshine in the morning and early afternoon.  This left me frustrated again by not being able to cycle on such an eminently suitable day for cycling.  Everyone I meet seems to have the cold too so there really is a lot of it going about.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a whole day embroidery workshop so I was left on my own to go to the Producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre.  To my great joy, a cheese seller has appeared so I was able to add cheese to my purchases of honey, fish, beef and venison.

I had a cup of coffee with Mike Tinker while I was there and he too is finding it hard to throw off a cold so we indulged in a little mutual sympathy.

I got home and downloaded the shopping and seeing that the forecast was for clouds later, I went out for a walk while the going was good.

I keep hoping that a bit of fresh air will blow the cold away but really, I just like taking a bit of exercise on a good day.

I walked along the river and Kilngreen without seeing anything to detain me and when I had crossed the Sawmill Brig, I headed up the hill past the estate offices.  There is a wall beside the road  that almost always has peltigera lichen and there was some there today.

peltigera lichen

Once I got out of the wood, the pattern of sunshine and shadow on a beech hedge made me look twice.

beech hedge

The hedge is completely smooth in spite of appearances.

I followed the track along above the rugby ground and dodged the soggiest bits while enjoying the strong contrast of light and shade.

Pathhead track

It has gates too.

Pathhead track

What I didn’t expect to come across on a sunny and dry day was this.

Rainbow on Pathhead track

It shows just how much moisture there is in the air when you can get half a rainbow without any rain.

Although I miss the autumn colour, I enjoyed the bare trees that I passed on my way.

trees on Pathhead track

There are still needles on the larch trees among the spruces.

Larch and spruces

This track took me about a mile and a half north of the town and when I got to the end of it, I turned back down to the main road, crossed the High Mill Brig…..

High Mill Brig

…and further downstream, I passed the more utilitarian modern bridge to the rugby pitch and caravan site.

Rugby Club Bridge

When I got back to the Sawmill Brig, I made my route into a figure of eight and crossed the bridge again and took the new path across the Castleholm to the Jubilee Bridge.

I looked up as I went.

Noble Fir and fern

Cones and a fern

And across.

ivy

Ivy

And down.

wild flowers on the scholars field

Three wild flowers round the Scholars’ Field.

I got home in time to have a look for garden survivors….

garden flowers november

…and have an excellent pie which I had obtained at the Producers’ Market for my lunch and then I found myself at a bit of a loose end.

I put the camera up and stared out of the kitchen window.

The sun came and went which didn’t help my camera settings but there were plenty of birds about today.

chaffinchpigeonchaffinch and greenfinchrobin

I had bought some mixed seeds as a change from endless sunflower hearts and put them out in a second feeder but there was no demand for them at all until quite late on when a single coal tit arrived and sampled the quality.

coal tit on seed feeder

We will have to wait to see if it tells its friends about this new opportunity or keeps it to itself.

We were threatened with rain showers in the afternoon but when none came. I went out and sieved a little compost and cleared up a pile of nettles on the drying green, the result of some recent garden tidying by Attila the Gardener.

As I was going out in the evening, I went back in and looked at the photographs that I had taken so far and by the time that I had finished doing that, Mrs Tootlepedal was back from a hard day’s embroidering.

We had a cup of tea and watched some rain.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to be a front of house manager at the Buccleuch Centre and I followed on to be a customer.  She went home when the show started but I stayed to enjoy an excellent concert by Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood.  Because we watched a recording of Strictly Come Dancing when I got home, it is too late to put a commentary on the concert here if I am to post before midnight so all I will say is that the programme was varied and enjoyed by a good audience.

The flying bird of the day is two chaffinches.

chaffinches flying

 

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Today’s guest picture is another blast of sunshine from my sister Mary’s visit to Bath.

The river Avon at Pulteney Bridge

We had some sunshine of our own today and very welcome it was.  It was still chilly in the morning in spite of the sun and my cold has not given up yet so I was happy to stay in for a cup of coffee with Sandy.  Later in the morning we got a visit from our old friend Dr Cat Barlow who used to mastermind the Moorland Project and was responsible for the comfortable hide at the Moorland Feeders which I often visit. She is working with golden eagles now.

In this way, the morning passed very sociably and I rounded it off by making some potato and carrot soup for lunch.

I did look out of the window from time to time.

The sparrow with white markings was back.

white headed sparrow

And I had put out some fat balls which attracted a beady eyed jackdaw.

Jackdaw

We have had blue tits and great tits in recent days and today we added a coal tit (or possibly two).

coal tit

I liked this sparrow trying to blend into the background on a bush while waiting for the feeder to be free.

sparrow

On the whole though, there weren’t many birds about again.  There must be plenty of food in the countryside still.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.  I thought it best not to pass on my cold to others and stayed at home and went for a gentle walk in the sun.  It would have been a perfect day for a long cycle ride as it was warm, sunny, dry and almost windless but a rare outbreak of good sense kept me off the bike while my chest was not in good condition.  That and Mrs Tootlepedal  saying, “How many people have said, ‘Oh, I am perfectly fit’ and gone out running or cycling with a cold and dropped dead.”

My walk was a treat so I didn’t mind too much.

I walked through the town and up the Kirk Wynd….

Kirk Wynd gate

When I got to the hill, I turned along the Quarry track which contours along the face of the hill.  It offers lovely views back over the golf course and the town.

Viw of langholm from Whita

You will notice that the windmills on the hill are absolutely stationary, a very rare thing this year and as a result, I had to unbutton my jacket as I walked along as I was too hot.

I like the rolling nature of our hills and the low autumn sun picks the contours out well..

rolling hills

As always, I was observed.

sheep

The track is provided with benches where a man may take his ease for a while and admire the countryside….

whita benches

…but the clocks have gone back and evening comes very early now so I kept going.  I crossed the wall at the quarry by the excellent stile…

quarry stile

This is looking back after I had climbed over the stile.

And followed the path down the open hillside to the woods at the Round House.

oak woods

There is another bench at the Round House….

round house

…and although I didn’t sit on it, I did stop beside it for long enough to enjoy the view over the town that I would have got if I had sat down.

view from Round House

I walked down to the river at Skippers Bridge and in spite of the recent wet weather, the water was low enough to let me get a good look at the bridge from the upstream side….

skippers bridge in shadow

…although the sun had sunk far enough to leave the river in the shade by this time.

There was still a fair bit of water about.

River Esk

I walked home along the Murtholm and saw a dipper on the far bank of the river.  Sadly, the light was too far gone for me to be able to photograph it but it was good to see it all the same.

I did photograph some ivy and the first catkins that I have noticed this autumn.

ivy and catkins

On the bank above the river there was just enough light left to let me have a look back at the Round House, tucked in among the trees.

Round House from Murtholm

On my way home, I dropped in to tell Nancy some archive news and she and Bob kindly invited me in for a cup of tea and a slice of cake so between the views, the gentle exercise and the hospitality, I felt that the afternoon had gone very well.

I was welcomed home by an Icelandic poppy.

icelandic poppy

The hillsides are getting pretty bare now but I had seen two flowers on my walk…

whita flowers

…but these were the only two.  I shall have to look out for others on my next walk.

The espalier apples are the gift that keeps giving and I had stewed apples for my tea. I am determined to eat as many of our apples as I possibly can this year.

As I write this, Mrs Tootlepedal has just arrived back from Edinburgh and that has rounded off a very good day.  I even think that my cold might be a bit better.

A flying chaffinch with a gleam in its eye modestly takes its place as the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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