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Posts Tagged ‘coal tit’

Today’s guest picture comes from our older son and shows a pleasant reservoir near Edinburgh round which he walks his dogs.

reservoir

After yesterday’s warm, calm and sunny weather, today was rather chilly, always grey and sometimes rainy.  It came after yet more heavy rain overnight so everything is decidedly damp.  It got me down a bit and I had a indifferent day, largely wasted.

I did make some soup for lunch but that was the only noticeable activity of the morning apart from a dahlia census….

dahlias

…which I conducted because Attila the Gardener is threatening to have them all up any day now.

I checked on the poppies too.

poppies

Alert readers will realise that one of the poppies is a rose but five is an awkward number for a frame so it got included to make up numbers.

It has been so frost free that odd unseasonal flowers keep on appearing.  Today I noticed two blooms on the Weigela.

weigela

I did put the camera up at the kitchen window and there was continuous activity at the seed feeder.

busy feeder

Sparrows, chaffinches and goldfinches competed for spare places at the feeder

goldfinch

Leading to some face to face confrontations

sparrow and goldfinches

A sparrow gives a goldfinch a hard stare

sparrows

Another one actually assaults a fellow sparrow

There were some peaceful moments though.

A chaffinch tries to remember what he came out for.

chaffinch

A collared dove displays very fashionable bootees.

collared dove

A robin practices his “Rod Steiger as Napoleon”  pose

robin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal, who is pretty well recovered now, went off for an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I sieved a bit of compost and mowed the drying green.  Both these tasks were made tricky because of the general sogginess so I stopped gardening and rang Sandy to see if he fancied an outing.

He did.

It was really too grey for a proper walk so we went to the bird hide at the Moorland Feeders for a while.  I saw coal tits, blue tits and great tits….

coal tit, blue tit and great tit

…sometimes at the same time.

coal tit and great tit

There were lots and lots of chaffinches too…

chaffinch

….but it was chilly sitting in the hide and no unusual birds turned up so we drove back down the hill, stopping at my favourite spot…

Skippers Bridge

….which was also looking rather grey today.

There is a bit of colour in the trees along the river here….

River Esk at Skippers

…but in general, the trees seem to be losing their leaves without putting on much of a display for us.

We drove on down the river and stopped again.  There were spots of colour to be seen…

autumn colour

…and some impressive roots on a river side tree….

riverside roots

…but there seem to be as many bare trees about as trees with leaves on.faded autumn colour

We might have explored a bit more, as it was the sort of day when fungus might be found but some persistent rain persuaded us that home was the place to be.

Sandy dropped me off and I spent some useful time practising songs for tomorrow’s rehearsal with our Carlisle choir.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her meeting which had been very successful (and well supplied with delicious cakes) and we settled down for a quiet evening at home.

In spite of the much heralded arrival in Britain of Storm Brian, the forecast for Langholm tomorrow is quite cheerful.   I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is two goldfinches having an argument.

flying goldfinches

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from a visit to Wakefield that my brother made a few weeks ago.   The theatre there is a  handsome but modest building as befits a down to earth town.

Opera House Wakefield

After some quite heavy rain overnight and a rather misty, murky morning,  today turned into a very pleasant day.  I might well have gone cycling after breakfast but I decided to postpone any decision about that until I had gone up to the Moorland Feeders where I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who is basking in the sun somewhere in the far south.

I was greeted by a rather grumpy pheasant who only got off the gate to let me through with the greatest reluctance.

pheasant

I filled the feeders and found that it was warm enough to sit in the hide without a coat (which was just as well as I hadn’t bought one) and so I sat for a while and enjoyed the birds.

There were the usual suspects both big….

woodepecker and pheasant

…and small.

Greenfinch and coal tit

Greenfinch and coal tit

Great tit and blue tit

Great tit and blue tit

And one or two less usual things as well.

one legged chaffinch

A one legged chaffinch looking fit and well

blackbird

A blackbird on top of the tall feeder

squabbling chaffinches

And the first squabbling chaffinches of the season

There was also a major fungus outbreak at the foot of a tree near the hide.

feeder furngus

I made it home perfectly in time for coffee and then I decided not to go cycling again.

It was a great day to be out in the garden though so I went out into the garden.

I was pleased to see, along with the usual red admirals….

red admirals

Ten a penny this year

…that we had a small tortoiseshell in the garden as well.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

These have been very scarce this year.

There was no shortage of bees and hoverflies (and smaller flies too) once again.

cornflower with hoverfly

icelandic poppy with hoverfly

bee on dahlia

It is very gratifying to find that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted so many attractive flowers   that the garden is filled with flight and sound on any vaguely sunny day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy developing her new plans for the middle lawn and flower beds and while she was working, she noticed that our silver pear tree had actually produced a few silver pears.

silver pear

They are very small.

Nearby, a cotoneaster was much brighter.

cotoneaster

The walnuts keep falling off the walnut tree, some of them assisted by jackdaws and crows like this one which was perched on the very top of the tree this morning.

crow

I think that there may be a walnut just to the right of the bird.

Soon it was time for lunch and I decided not to go to Edinburgh with Mrs Tootlepedal to see Matilda this week.

After Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to catch the train at Lockerbie, I decided not to go cycling once again but I did get the slow bike out to deliver a message to Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer, with more cash from the Welcome to Langholm sales desk.  They sell postcards, local history books and DVDs on our behalf.

Since I was on my bike, I continued along the waterside in the hope of seeing the dipper.  It was not there but a goosander kindly took its place and posed for me.

Goosander

It really was a lovely afternoon so I pedalled gently on across the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge Walks

My intention was to take another picture of the tiny fungi on a tree stump which I had seen on a recent walk but they had faded away almost to dust.  I looked around and saw a wonderful display of more conventional fungi on a tree stump on the other side of the road.

tree stump fungus

A veritable feast of fungus

tree stump fungus

A close up

I cycled gently home across the Castleholm and even on such a warm and sunny day, I could easily see why they had had to cancel our local agricultural show while we were away in Marseille.  Putting my foot down incautiously while pausing to admire the view  all too easily led to my whole foot and ankle disappearing into the glaur.  It has rained a lot recently.

When I got home, there was still plenty of time for a trip to Canonbie (or even further afield) but once again I decided not to cycle.

Instead, I retired indoors, practised the awkward song for our concert on Saturday (and all the easier ones a swell) and then had a long relaxing bath followed by a snooze.

It had been hard making so many decisions during the day and I needed a rest.

However, I have got my asthma medicine properly organised again and hope to be a great deal perkier tomorrow.

At last, a traditional flying bird of the day.  This was at the Moorland Feeders.  I am looking  forward to getting the garden feeders up again in the not too distant future.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Wirksworth.  As well as the train to the museum, there was another connection to Derby and Sheffield by the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.

Wirksworth

We had been expecting a very rainy day today but it was surprisingly dry if rather chilly when we got up.

The day continued dry and got quite warm and although the sun was mostly absent and a few individual drops of rain fell from time to time, it ranks as one of the better days of the summer.  It would have been a great day for a good long pedal but I had been so adjusted to the possibility of rain and a day indoors that it took me ages to realise that I should be outside.

In the end, I had a look round the garden.

A lot of the dahlias are very spiky this year.

dahlias

The poppies are not.

poppies with no pollen

Many poppies had been visited by bees and abandoned.

poppies with bees

And bees were flying around looking for fresh pollen

Occasionally a poppy was to be found with pollen but no bees.  This was my favourite.

poppy

There were butterflies to be seen too.  We have two buddleias and both were in the butterfly business today.

peacock butterfly

Red Admiral butterfly

I did get my act together in the end and after coffee, I went off down to Canonbie on my customary 20 mile route.  There was only a light wind today and my legs felt quite cheerful so I applied myself to bicycling and only stopped for one cow…

horn cow

…which was too busy chewing to pose for a proper picture.

I got back at a good speed and had a quick look for butterflies on the Michaelmas daises….

bee on Michaelmas daisy

…but there was only a bee

I noticed that the Virginia creeper has some little flowers…

fox and cubs virginia creeper

…and the cubs have come to join the fox in the orange hawkweed.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hosting a committee meeting of her Embroiderers’ Guild group in the afternoon so after a quick lunch and a shower, I packed myself and my new lens into the car and went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Project bird feeders to see what I could see, although the day had got a bit gloomy by this time.

The first thing that I saw was two other other enthusiasts already ensconced in the hide with big lenses at the ready.  I filled an empty feeder and sat down beside them as they clicked away furiously.

There were a lot of small birds to see…

chaffinch

Chaffinch

Great tit

Great tit

Siskin

Siskin

Coal tit

Coal tit

Blue tit

Blue tit

…and some bigger ones too.

Greenfinches

Greenfinches looking as fierce as ever

pheasant

A pheasant not in full feather yet

woodpecker

And a greater spotted woodpecker

The other two bird watchers had left before the woodpeckers came so I sat quietly and enjoyed three woodpeckers chasing each other about the trees.

I had thought of a walk while I was up there but a spell of very light rain for a while persuaded me that a cup of tea at home would be the best thing.

It had got quite warm enough by this time to make it feel quite like summer so Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out into the garden.  She did some heavy tidying up and mulching while I sieved some compost and trimmed one more of the box balls…and admired the combination of crocosmia, cornflower and poppies which the gardener had planned and which has finally arrived.  The camera can’t do it justice.

poppies, crocosmia and cornflower

I’ll try again if we get some sunshine.

I had a look for late butterflies or bees on the daisies again but there were none to be seen. The daisies were quite attractive in their own right though.

Michaelmas Daisies

I have pulled a muscle (even though I didn’t know that I had any) in my left arm and that combined with a nagging back is making me feel my age a bit at the moment so I went in and had a sit down before my flute pupil Luke came.

He tells me that he has passed his Higher music exam which involved  playing two instruments  and written work.  He didn’t get any help from me with his exam pieces so I can’t take any credit for this. He just worked very hard with his grandad and the teachers at the school.  I am very proud of him.

I tried very hard to get a flying bird this afternoon but the light wasn’t good enough so a head and shoulders of a woodpecker will have to do instead.

greater spotted woodpecker

 

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Today’s guest picture of helmet hair was sent to me by my Maine correspondent.  She had been for a 13 mile cycle ride and tells me that she, Laurie is in the picture  with her husband Clif . They live in Winthrop, Maine, and that picture was taken at Norcross Point, which is by Maranacook Lake in Winthrop.

Helmet heads

There was  no chance of me getting a helmet hair shot today as I woke up with a very bad back and struggled to walk let alone cycle.   I have had long standing back problems but today’s trouble was a nasty surprise as I have been quite pain free and flexible for some time.  It was probably caused by something as simple as sitting in an unaccustomed chair and will soon go away with careful use.  Still, it wasted a genuinely warm and sunny day which was a pity.

poppies

I staggered out into the garden after breakfast just to record the sunshine.

I really liked this crumpled paper poppy with a bee flying in.

poppies

That completed my activity for the morning.

The other surprise of the day was a triumph of good service.

A few days ago I decided to take advantage of a part exchange offer from WEX, a photographic supplier.  I sent off the details of the the lens I wanted to exchange and got a very good offer which I accepted. The firm sent me prepaid labels and I posted off my lens on the understanding that they might well alter their offer when they had examined the lens closely.

I thought that the offer was a bit too good to be true and wondered whether my description of the lens as ‘lightly used’ might be a bit optimistic.  The firm rang me and told me that their examiner had indeed downgraded my view of the state of the lens by a grade and naturally, I feared the worst.  Would the offer be halved?  It had seemed too good to be true.  I held my breath.

The price will have to be reduced they said.  Then they told me by how much and I breathed out.  Since the reduction was only about 8% of the total this was but a trifle and I accepted the new valuation with alacrity.

When I rang up the sales team half an hour later, my trade in was safely credited to my account and I was able to purchase not only the new lens that I wanted but a new photo printer to go with it.

This was yesterday.  The printer and the lens arrived today! I don’t believe that I have ever received such prompt, fair and reliable service.

To add to my happiness, the printer was soon set up and worked well.

As far as the lens went, Mrs Tootlepedal drove me up to the Moorland Feeders and I pointed it at some birds.  It is early days but it looks quite promising to me.  Here is a selection of the results.

blue titcoal titcoal titgreat titblue tittree creeperwoodpeckerwoodpeckergreefinchchaffinch

For the technically minded, the new lens is a Sigma 150-600mm and it should let me improve the quality of my bird pictures when I have mastered it.

On our way home, Mrs Tootlepedal first stopped to buy a battery for a humane cat scarer which she recently purchased as she is fed up with cats making a mess of her flower and vegetable beds and then stopped again at the Kilngreen.

I was hoping for a flying gull to test the new lens but instead I found Mr Grumpy sitting down, a most unusual sight indeed.

Heron

Perhaps he had a bad back too.

When  we got home, my back was eased enough to let me mow the middle and front lawns although my mower pushing style was a bit inelegant.

Then I took a picture or two.

Cat scarer

The cat scarer in position. It works with ultrasonic noise.

The handbook says darkly that it doesn’t work at all on deaf cats….or white cats…or very old cats…or perhaps any cats.  They offer no guarantees.  We shall see.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hanging the onions up to dry in the greenhouse.

onions

The last of the rambler roses.

rambler rose

Then I went in and sat down for the rest of the day.

There have been quite enough birds already in the post so no flying bird of the day in any shape or form.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony.  He thought he saw a Mad March Hare when he was out walking his dogs this morning.  When he looked again, he realised that he had been stumped.

Hare stump

We had another springlike day today and once again, I was rather regretful because my fairly speedy bike was still at the bike menders.

Still, I cheered myself up by making some dropped scones and then entertaining both Dropscone and Sandy to coffee and scones. The scones weren’t as professional as Dropscone’s scones would have been but they were voted, “No too bad,” so that was praise indeed.

Our neighbour Hector, is going to build a fence between our properties as the present hedge requires a lot of clipping.  He is a hard worker and set about removing the hedge first thing in the morning and he was finished in no time at all.

No hedge

Mrs Tootlepedal was not unhappy to see the hedge go as it had a lot of holly in it and was very hard to handle.  I was a bit sorry because it means less places for birds to lurk before visiting the feeder but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that she will grow all sorts of good things against the new fence.

With all this activity, there weren’t many birds at all in the garden in the morning and this coal tit was the only one that I caught on camera.

Coal Tit

At midday, I got out the slow bike and set out on a 15 mile circular ride down to Canonbie and back with photographic stops in mind.

I had hardly left the town when I made my first stop for a shy tree peeping over a hill.

Harry's hounds field

I took a few more before I got to Canonbie but they didn’t come out well so the next one shows my route home up the Esk valley taken from the road down to The Hollows.

View of Esk valley from Hollows

I usually use the old A7 rather than the main road to get home and  my next picture literally shows the end of the road.

Old A7

Luckily, as you can see,  they have left a gap for a small cycle path to take us round the corner before we join the main road for the last mile down to Skippers Bridge.

I stopped on the cycle path and walked down to the river bank.

Fisherman's Hut

I take it that this elegant hut is for the convenience of fishermen

Broomholm Island Bridge

This is the Broomholm Island bridge

I liked it so much that I took another picture.

Broomholm Island bridge

The island is on the left.

As I walked back up to the road, I noticed this little bridge…

Gaber Gill bridge

…which takes the Gaber Gill under the main road.  I have cycled over this bridge hundreds of times without ever noticing that I was doing so.  I was pleased to add it to my collection of bridge images.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden.  After a light lunch, I came out to join her.  While I had been out cycling, she had made me a set of mandarin jellies….

compost and jelly

…so I was happy to be able to sieve some well rotted kitchen waste and fill up the compost bucket for her.

I am getting a bit addicted to crocuses…

crocus

…which are really enjoying our spell of good weather.

As are the bees which like the crocuses too.

crocus with bee

Crocuses are available in other colours.

cream and white crocus

The white crocuses are so white that they posed quite a problem for the camera.

As the afternoon went on, the birds began to return to the garden and as I was a bit tired after cycling and composting, I was happy to spend a while inside looking out.

To begin with, there were  a few siskins hanging about…

siskins

…but they and some greenfinches were soon heading for the seed…

greenfinches

…while a pair of goldfinches held a watching brief.

goldfinches

They were followed by chaffinches flying in all directions simultaneously.

chaffinches

I had planned to go for a walk with Sandy later in the afternoon but I was quite pleased when he rang up and called off and I took the opportunity to do some serious sitting down with the feet up.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we did some work on breathing.  I have been doing a lot of singing lately and it has helped my flute playing  quite noticeably so I was trying to pass on some of the breathing tips that I have learned to Luke.  Whether I was successful, only time will tell.

Once again the garden was full of the sound of frogs all day so here is the frog of the day….

frog

…and here is the flying goldfinch of the day.

flying goldfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal is off to visit her mother for a week tomorrow so my posts make take on a slightly doleful air for a while.

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Today’s guest picture is the biggest fungus on the tree stump that my son Al saw in Leith recently.  I think it is impressive to say the least.  If I have the identification right, it rejoices in the name Auricularia auricula or jelly ear.

Auricularia auricula

It wasn’t frosty this morning but it was exceedingly misty so I was quite happy to have got up late as I hadn’t missed any good cycling weather.  There  was no sign of the snow from last night and once the mist cleared, it was quite a pleasant and calm day but with no glimpse of any sun.

When I went outside, it was obvious that the frogs were enjoying the slightly warmer weather as the garden was full of the sound of croaking.  The pond was full of frogs…

frogs

…some of whom were very close friends indeed.

frogs

There were quite a few visitors to the feeders and they were in feisty form today.

chaffinches

…with a good deal of pushing and shouting going on.

One goldfinch shouted so loudly that it nearly blew the feathers clean off a passing chaffinch.

goldfinch and chaffinch

I was just trying to catch a flying chaffinch of the day….

flying chaffinch

…when my eye was drawn to strange happenings on the lawn.  Mrs Tootlepedal had brought some sheep’s wool into the garden with some manure at some stage and a couple of jackdaws had discovered it and were making off with it…

jackdaws with wool

…in a rather guilty way.

I think we can definitely say that the nest building or repairing season has begun.

When I turned back to the feeder, I was happy to see a coal tit among our visitors.

coal tit

The chaffinch in the background shows just how tiny the coal tits are.

About midday,  I finally got organised and got my cycling gear on.  I had in mind a 35 mile ride which would give me a total of 100 miles in three days, very respectable for this early in the year.  I have been having a little trouble with my chain jumping off the cogs in the rear cassette lately so I cleaned and oiled it before setting out.

I might have saved myself the trouble as I hadn’t gone much more than two miles before a serious clunk told me that something had gone badly wrong.  When I looked, I found that my rear gear changing mechanism had broken fatally and pedalling any further was impossible.  Appropriately enough, this disaster happened just opposite a ruined cottage…

Blochburnfoot cottage

I had my phone with me so I called up the MTRS and she kindly agreed to come to the rescue immediately.  While I was waiting I had time to take a closer look at the ruin…

Blochburnfoot cottage

…before the MTRS came driving down the road towards me.

MTRS

We packed the bike in the back and went home.  The MTRS is an excellent service.  Not only is it prompt and courteous but it is very reasonably priced too.

I had some thoughts of taking the slow bike for a short ride or even going for a walk when I got home but I felt a bit depressed by the gear failure and didn’t do either.

Instead, I looked out of the window and took some close ups with my Lumix.

coal tit

The coal tit again

siskin

A rather worried looking siskin

greeenfinch

A typically grumpy looking greenfinch

And then Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to Gretna Gateway retail village for some shopping therapy. On our way we dropped the (no longer) fairly speedy bike off at the bike shop in Longtown and the mechanic there confirmed the demise of the gear mechanism and sucked his teeth.  New parts will be required.

There were a number of things in stock in Gretna, including a nice fleecy jacket, that exactly matched our needs so we came away well therapised if a little poorer.

It was very gloomy by the time that we got home so all thoughts of a walk were put aside and we found things to do until the Tinkers arrived in the evening, as is customary on a Friday.

Alison and I played some old favourites, one entirely new sonata and one pair of Couperin miniatures which we hadn’t played for many years.  These were quite testing and will need another go before we will be able to  claim to be doing them anything like justice.

I hope that my bike doesn’t need to spend too long in the bike shop as I am already quite a bit behind my mileage schedule for the year but we can only wait and see.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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There is no guest picture today because I do not have one and so a gallery from the Moorland Feeders will take top billing instead.

coal, blue and great tit

We were threatened with wind, rain and snow as storm Doris came to visit us today but after a night of rain, we were largely untroubled by her  during the day.  Since there was heavy snow to our north and gales and flooding to our west and south, once again we seem to have got off lightly.

It was quite wet when I went up with Sandy to help him fill the Moorland Feeders but in spite of the rain, we spent a little time on the hide.  We weren’t rewarded with anything special in the way of interesting birds but there was constant activity so we weren’t bored.

Among the throngs of great, blue and coal tits, siskins and chaffinches, we noticed a greenfinch and a woodpecker or two…

woodpecker and greenfinch

…but this bedraggled pheasant really summed up our visit.

soggy pheasant

Sandy stayed for a cup of coffee when we got back and when he went off, I spent a moment or two looking at our own birds….

blue tit

…and was pleased to see that some pink pellets had tempted a blue tit to come to the feeders.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent quite a lot of time considering whether it was a good idea for Mrs Tootlepedal to brave the floods and snow and travel to Edinburgh to see Matilda but as the Edinburgh train service was disrupted by floods between Carlisle and Lockerbie, we thought that it would be wise not to risk it and she went off to Carlisle in the car to do some useful shopping instead.

While she was out, I went for a short walk to check whether the repair at Skippers Bridge had survived its first angry river test.

It had.

Skippers Bridge repair

I am sorry about the branches in front of the bridge but it wasn’t a day to get too close to the water’s edge!

Skippers Bridge

Seen from the downriver side, you realise how much of the force of the river hits the central pillar when the water is high.

On my way down to the bridge, I kept my eyes open.  I usually look at walls and rocks for my lichen shots but today I was looking at trees and saw both script lichen, probably on a beech…

script lichen

…and this fine colourful selection on a silver birch tree trunk.

lichen on birch

There was plenty of water that was not going down the rover.

flooded gate

On my way back from the bridge, I walked up through the oak and birch wood…

oak tree

…and this gave me the chance to look back down on the bridge from above….

skippers bridge

…and it also took me past a wall where I could be sure of seeing some blue green algae (which is often yellow).

The New Hampshire Gardener had a wonderful picture on his most recent post showing how unexpectedly fluffy this algae is and I wanted to check this out.  Although it was very damp, our algae looked quite fluffy too….

blue green algae

…though my pictures weren’t very good.   I will come back on a better day and have another look.   It is very educational reading other people’s blogs and I learn something on most days.

After playing about with the buttons on my camera on my last walk, I met another wall further on today on which gave me the same colour effect but without any pressing of buttons on my part.  The wall really does look like this.

red brick

My walk had been remarkably pleasant in spite of a light drizzle and I took a last look at the river before I crossed the suspension bridge…

River esk in flood

…and went home for a nice cup of tea and a slice of toast and marmite….and a final look out of the kitchen window.

goldfinch and chaffinch

Mrs Tootlepedal got back safely from Carlisle which was encouraging as later in the day, Susan arrived to take me down to the city  to play with our recorder group.  The day had calmed down completely by this time and there was even the odd star to be seen.

We had a good play, followed by an excellent biscuit with our tea and drove home thoroughly relieved to have avoided any of the scenes of storm related accidents and disasters being shown on the news programmes.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in the drizzle.

flying goldfinch

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