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Posts Tagged ‘collared dove’

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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After Ada’s picture of walking in the mountains of Tenerife, I have another mountain scene as guest picture of the day today.  This snowy view from Hoch-Ybrig in Switzerland was sent to me by Dropscone’s niece Hilary, who was skiing there with her family.

Hoch-Ybrig, Switzerland

A click on the pic will spread the picture on a wider scene.

We had a pervasively gloomy day here, a bit warmer but very grey and much windier, not an attractive proposition for cycling or walking.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day with visits to the dentist, the information hub to put up Buccleuch Centre posters and then the Buccleuch Centre itself where she had lunch before doing the front of house for a screening about the Young Picasso.  As she stayed for the screening, I saw very little of her until she came back in time for a cup of tea with me and Mike Tinker who had dropped in later in the day.

While she was out, I tried to avoid walking on my sore foot and passed the time by listening to the radio, doing various puzzles in the paper and of course, watching the birds.

Goldfinches were the flavour of the day.

Sometimes all was calm…

goldfinches quartet

…and at other times it was all go in every direction.

goldfinches coming and going

Occasionally, chaffinches tried to join the fun.

goldfinches and chaffinches

And we have been getting regular visits from collared doves.

doctored collared dove

I used Photoshop to remove a rather messy background from this shot.

I noticed a robin on the arm of the garden chair….

robin on arm of chair

…and then I noticed that there was a robin on the back of the chair…

robin on back of chair

…and then I noticed that there were in fact, two robins, an unusual sight.

two robins

I did have a wander round the garden but there was nothing new to see except a single potential new crocus.

potential crocus

I did pick up a walnut and to my surprise, it was in very good condition and Mike and Mrs T had half each with their cup of tea.

After Mike had left, I got my slow bike out and cycled half a mile round the new town just for sake of getting out of the house.  It had been raining for much of the afternoon, but it had stopped now.  It didn’t make much difference to the gloom though as the clouds were still firmly clamped down over our hills.

clouds over Langholm

A row of ducks were lined up on the edge of the main flow of the river.  They were peering anxiously about and for all the world they looked as though they were waiting for a bus to arrive.

ducks at the waters edge

Since I was having a quiet day in, I got the bread machine to make me some dough and used the result to make 18 rolls.  The bread machine makes a wonderfully elastic dough and the rolls came out well.

bread rools

My flute pupil Luke had missed our Monday meeting because of a cold and although he was hoping to come today, the cold still had him in its grip so we will meet next week instead.  I practised by myself which was no bad thing as I have to work hard to keep up with him as he gets better.

I will get about a bit more tomorrow as I am off to the physio and hope to use the trip to take a picture or two while I am out.

The flying bird of the day is one of those goldfinches, concentrating hard as it comes in to the feeder..

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair and is a result of a recent visit to Edinburgh zoo where Matilda paid close attention to feeding a parrot.

Matilda and a parrot

In the morning, we entertained Sandy to a cup of coffee and got an update on the state of his walking.  He is suffering a lot more than I am and is not getting about much at all on foot just now which he is finding very frustrating.  I don’t blame him.

He can drive though and after coffee, he drove me up to the High Street where we had our picture taken in the newspaper offices (which are also our new Archive Group base). The resulting photograph will be used in an article in our local paper on the work of the Archive Group.

Sandy then drove home while I went for a short and slow walk of under a mile and a half just to have a look around.  The camera club theme for our next meeting is ‘Street Photography’ so I had a little practice on an unsuspecting couple who were walking down to the Buccleuch Centre to meet friends.

As Mike, on the left, is my cello playing friend and Anne, on the right, is a regular blog reader, I don’t think that they will be too cross to have been spied on.

Mike and Anne

They were walking too fast for me to catch them up so I stopped on the town bridge and had a look around.

The gulls were making a point.

gulls make a point

When I got down to the Kilngreen, I could see that the black headed gulls are beginning to develop the colour which gives them their name.

developing black headed gull

The gulls on the posts were busy moving each other up.  A gull would land on an already occupied middle post and set off a chain reaction along the line.

gulls shoving

Across the Ewes water, I could see the remains of Langholm Castle peeping through the trees.

castle from kilngreen

As I crossed the Sawmill Brig, I had to slow down to let a rush of traffic past.

horse and rider lodge gate 2

And then the rush of traffic stopped for  a chat.

horse and rider lodge gate 1

This was lucky as she told me that in spite of a little sunshine, some of the paths that I had intended to use were still covered in ice where trampled snow had not melted.  As she warned me that they were still extremely slippery, I chose another route.

This took me past a mass of lichen on tree branches…

lichen on tree castleholm 2

A recent post from the New Hampshire Gardener made me look more closely at these.

lichen on tree castleholm 1

Nearby a rook was playing ‘I am the king of he castle’ on an old tree stump.

rook on tree stump

There were interesting needles both on a noble fir tree….

noble fir flowers

…and fallen to the ground in one of the recent windy storms.

fallen needles

I finished my walk by calling in at the Buccleuch Centre, passing this patient lion just outside the door.

pump lion

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy inside the centre helping in the coffee shop and I did think of stopping for lunch there but after greeting Mike and Anne, I went home and had a sardine sandwich by myself.  I wanted to watch our birds.

Unlike Matilda, I had no parrots to feed in the garden but I had filled the feeder and as I ate my lunch, there was steady flow of less exotic birds, led by our usual chaffinches.

chaffinch arriving

Collared doves were keen to join in….

collared dove taking off

…and were soon down at ground level scavenging for fallen seeds.

collared dove on ground

They were joined by a robin who ventured into the tray under the feeder.

robin in tray

Up above, chaffinches were deep in conversation.

two chaffinches eyeing

When I looked at the pictures later, I noticed that this chaffinch had been ringed.  It would be nice to know where it had come from.

ringed chaffinch

It was quite a reasonable day at 5°C with not much wind and I fully intended to go for a 20 mile bicycle ride.  The weather looked set fair so I wasted time listening to the radio, watching the birds and doing the crossword and then I remembered that I had promised to send a picture to the newspaper for a ‘snow picture’ compilation they are putting in this week’s edition and by the time that I had finished this, quite a lot more time had passed than I realised.

I should have been paying attention because a quick look at the weather forecast showed that rain was in the offing so I huddled on my cycling gear and set out in hope.

The hope was soon dashed as it began to rain before I had gone three miles and it was the sort of rain that didn’t look as though it was going to stop anytime soon.  I wasn’t anxious to get cold and wet so I turned for home and soothed my troubled soul with some retail therapy at the Gretna Gateway in company with Mrs Tootlepedal who had some shoes to collect from a shop there.

She had ordered them online and was very pleased to find that although they were on a special offer at the shop, they were still quite a bit dearer than the price that she had paid.  The ways of retail are mysterious.

It was pouring with rain by the time we set off home and I was very glad that I wasn’t out on my bicycle.

Once home, we locked the door, shut the curtains and ignored the horrible weather.

I did manage to catch a traditional flying chaffinch of the day today before the weather turned nasty.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows that she was in the right place at the right time to catch the sun illuminating a dogwood in Regents Park.

burning bush

December ended as it has been going on recently with a dry, mostly grey and reasonably warm day.  I was taking a break from cycling so I enjoyed the final coffee and scones of 2018 with Dropscone.  He had not lost any of his scone making skill over the holiday period so this was a good way to end the social year.

Along with Dropscone, we were visited by more birds than we have been seeing lately which was also welcome.

Goldfinches were queuing up to get a seat at the table…

many flying goldfinches

…and competing fiercely for the privilege.

flying goldfinches

Sometimes they let their good manners slip in their anxiety to snatch a sunflower heart from the feeder.

stamping goldfinch

And all too frequently, seeds went flying in the midst of all the excitement.

flying bird seed

Although it was pretty grey, it was a pleasant day so after Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk in the woods.  To give ourselves a good start, we drove a mile or so out of the town and parked next to a large fallen tree that had been sawn up and left beside the road.

Where the trunk had split, it was covered  in white fungus.

rotten tree

We walked up the track past the Longwood fields and passed many trees, some that stood proudly…

Longwood tree

…and some that were curiously knotted and twisted.

twisted tree

When we got to the woods, there was fungus, both big and small to be seen…

fungus in woods

…a dingly dell to cross…

dingly dell

…and a track through the old oak wood to follow.

oak wood

We were only out for a short walk so as soon as we got to the top of the oak wood, we headed back past a river of moss….

river of moss

…and made our return journey downhill through a birch wood that has grown up beside the oaks.

birch wood

We were going to take a diversion on our route back to the car by going along the old railway line, but fallen trees provided an obstacle….

old railway

….that was too low to crawl under and too high to jump over so we retraced our steps and went back by the path along the field.

This gave us the chance to enjoy the sight of a chestnut tree standing in a very neat pool of its own leaves.

chestnut with leaves

When we got back to the road, I took a moment to check out a favourite mossy wall…

mossy wall

…which was rich in interest…

lichen and moss on wall

…for those who like this sort of thing, among whom is numbered yours truly.

We had a walk round our garden when we got home and I was pleased to find that the sweet rocket had managed another flower or two, a single snowdrop was showing a touch of colour and a groundsel was growing in the drive.  The groundsel pleased me for its little patch of colour…

three late flowers

…but Mrs Tootlepedal was not so happy about it and it soon suffered from being comprehensively weeded.

After lunch, the last of the duck soup, a weak sun appeared for a while and illuminated a dove and a pigeon in the plum tree.

dove and pigeon

It also lit up the holly in our neighbour’s garden.

bright holly in garden

I did think of going for another walk to take advantage of the sun but I dithered a bit and by the time that I came to make a decision, the sun had gone and the clouds were grey again.

This was the moment that a robin came out.

robin on chair

I spent so much time thinking of things that I might do in the afternoon and so little time in actually doing anything useful that it was time for the evening meal before I knew it. Still ending the year on a restful note was no bad thing and I should be full of pep when 2019 arrives tomorrow.  Here’s hoping.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the patient and forbearing readers of these posts over the past year for their company which makes writing and taking pictures very rewarding.  I would like also to express special gratitude for those who add their many kind, amusing and useful comments.

The honour of being the final flying bird of the year has fallen to this goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

I don’t usually end with a quote but I think think Robert Burns speaks for many when he wrote to the wee. sleekit, timorous mouse words which apply just as well to the politics of 2018 and 2019:

“But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

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Today’s guest picture from my brother Andrew shows the Christmas skating rink in Derby.  These seasonal rinks have become very popular and we passed one in Edinburgh on Thursday.  I would think that skating on a wet day like this would encourage the skaters to stay upright at all costs.

derby skating rink

It was calm and misty when we got up and the goldfinches on the plum tree were outlined against the greyness.

misty godlfinches

Although we are still short of finches, there are larger birds about all the time.  This collared dove seems to have missed out as it came down with two other doves and they made faces at it and flew off.

collared dove

We flew off ourselves, although it was low level flying by bicycle as we went to church for the Sunday Club’s nativity service.  The mist was lying over the town as we got to the river.

sdr

The nativity service was charming so we enjoyed the service although there was not much for the choir to do.

When we got home, more large birds were about in the shape of a small platoon of jackdaws pecking away at the lawn and making holes in it.

jackdaw right foot up

They were putting their best foot forward.

jackdaw left foot up

I was very happy to see a couple of coal tits back collecting sunflower seeds but there was no sign of blue or great tits about.

coal tit

Mike Tinker tells me that they have had blue tits visiting but they have not had a great number of finches at their feeder.

We had moments of action today but the feeder is still going down very slowly.

busy feeder

After a cheese and tomato toastie for my lunch, courtesy of the George Foreman grill, I left the birds to it and spent an hour on my bike.

It was the first day for sometime with little wind and I enjoyed myself by visiting this tree twice, making for a fourteen mile ride.

Wauchope schoolhouse tree

I was extremely pleased to manage 14 miles in just under an hour but even with only a light wind, I found myself getting chilly and losing feeling in my fingers in spite of my warm gloves so I stopped after two turns up the road and went for a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal instead.  We did three bridges.

The hardy hill cattle weren’t feeling the chill and were chomping away on the very top of Castle Hill.

cows on top of Castle Hill

There was plenty of water coming down the Esk…

ripple in river

…and the black headed gulls were back on their posts at the Kilngreen.  A reader has asked what benefit they get from perching on the posts and I had to admit that I have no idea why they like it there.

Maybe it is just that it gives them a good view of the passers by.

gulls on posts

We had a look for dippers or other birds as we paused on the Sawmill Brig but there were none to be seen so I looked at lichen instead.

lichen on Sawmill Brig

We took the new path round the Castleholm and stopped to looked at the pair of noble firs at the corner of the path.  I have tried to find out about these trees.  One of the pair has a lot of these under every new set of needles…

noble fir flowers

…and I think these are the male strobili.  The other tree seems to bear the female cones and few if any male strobili but I don’t know if this is just an accident or a normal thing when there are two trees close together.

We found a cone that was well past its best.

noble for cone

Following Joe’s very fine picture of our daughter standing in a loch which appeared in yesterday’s post, I tried to encourage Mrs Tootlepedal to stand in the middle of the river today so I could try for a similar shot.

She was not enthusiastic and headed for home.

Mrs T stepping out

The cold was settling down on the Castleholm and a fine mist covered the cricket ground as we headed for our final bridge.

mist on cricket pitch

We were pleased to get into the warmth of the house where our one metre high Christmas tree has been decorated by Mrs Tootlepedal.

christmas tree decorated

I like a reflective bauble.

christmas tree baubles

We discovered that we had missed the delivery of our Christmas fare from the butcher while we were out.  I had got muddled and thought it was due tomorrow.  We were rather alarmed by the thought of just plain bread and butter for Christmas dinner but fortunately a phone call caught the driver before he had left the town and the situation was saved.

Sandra's woodpeckerIn answer to my question as to whether other local bird feeders were short of birds, I was sent this picture of a visitor to her feeder by Sandra who lives on the edge of town and gets regular visits from nuthatchesand the woodpeckers.

Another reader from the country tells me that that they too are getting woodpeckers and nuthatches, while a correspondent from Canonbie says that they have been short of birds this last week.  It seems that though there are plenty of bigger birds about, finches have seriously dropped in numbers for the moment at least.

 

I did manage to find some goldfinches on our feeder today and here is one of them as flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture shows our son Tony’s dogs visiting the castle near his home in Fife.  I may have used this picture before (I can’t remember) but I have put it in regardless to remind myself that Mrs Tootlepedal and I stood in that exact spot last weekend.

dogs at wemyss castle

It was a day of mixed weather but it was dry when I took this shot of a visiting collared dove during coffee and treacle scone time in the company of Dropscone.

collared dove

These may well have been the last treacle scones of 2018 but I hope that there will be many more in 2019.

It had started to drizzle while we were sipping and it was still drizzling when I set off after coffee to put in twenty miles on my bicycle.  By the time that I had gone half a mile, it was raining steadily and I was pleased that I was wearing a peaked cap under my helmet to keep the rain of my glasses.  I persevered though and was rewarded when the rain stopped after twenty minutes.

I had gone out along the Lockerbie road to see if the second of the two repairs to the failing banking had been completed and was happy to find that it had…

second lockerbie road repair

…even if the road patching was a bit rough and ready.   Should we keep on getting inches of rain every week, it will be a tribute to the engineers’ skill if the fence stills looks so regular in the spring.

I went to the top of Callister and then turned back and went through Langholm and out of the other side.  Although the rain had stopped, it was still damp, with wisps of mist rising from little valleys…

misty valley terrona

….and on top of Whita, the monument was swathed in low cloud.

monument in mist

Mrs Tootlepedal was out at a festive lunch with ex work colleagues when I got back so I had a lonely lunch and checked on the bird feeder.

The seed had gone down and there were some lively goldfinches about….

busy goldfinches at feeder

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and set about cooking a plum pudding for our Christmas meal. I saw that the weather had brightened up a bit so I went for a short three bridges walk.

The clouds had lifted from the top of Whita…

whita late december

There are two bridges in this picture, neither of which I crossed.

…and I found a goosander swimming up the fairly turbulent waters of the Esk.

goosander swimming in esk

I love the goosanders’ jagged hair style.

gossander by bank

A gentle sunlight appeared as I walked up to the Town Bridge but I was concerned to see so much debris caught against one of the arches.

trees against langholm Bridge

Once I was on the town bridge, I was able to look up the Ewes Water towards the Sawmill Brig, my next target.  It was hard to remember how gloomy and damp the start of my cycle ride had been, only three hours previously.

Ewes and sawmill brig december

You can see a row of gulls on the posts in the picture above and I was hoping that one would take flight as I walked past them along the Kilngreen so that I could capture a flying bird of the day but they stuck resolutely to their posts.

black headed gull on post

It was really quite a nice day by the time that I had crossed the Sawmill Brig and started walking up the Lodge Walks, admiring this tree on the Castleholm as I went.

Castleholm tree

The little ‘tin church’ was looking very demure behind its picket fence…

Episcopalian church

…and it is just a pity that no use can be found for this charming building.

I continued up the Lodge Walks for a bit..

Lodge walks late december

…and enjoyed the sun picking out some fresh moss…

moss on lodge walks

…and I looked for little splashes of colour on lichen on a gate post.  The spots of red are so tiny that they are hardly visible to the naked eye.

lichen on gate Lodge walks

As I crossed the Castleholm on my way to the Jubilee Bridge, I looked up at my favourite lichen clad tree and wondered once again at the fact that a more or less complete coating of lichen doesn’t seem to affect its ability to produce seeds and new buds.

licheny tree

I didn’t linger too long though as the sun was getting low….

castleholm trees catch late sun

…and the clouds were re-assembling on the top of Whita.

monument in cloud later

Still, considering it is the shortest day of the year, I can’t complain as I had had scones, a cycle ride and a walk.

The only thing missing was a tootle in the evening but Mike Tinker came round to tell us that his wife Alison, my Friday night orchestra, has not sufficiently recovered from dislocating her shoulder to be able to play sonatas yet.  I hope that it will not be too far into 2019 before we can start playing again.

We had a test morsel of Mrs Tootlepedal’s plum pudding in the evening and it was delicious, light, fruity and very tasty.  I am really looking forward to Christmas day.

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

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex-colleague Marjorie who was enjoying the sunny weather at Beadnell Bay on the Northumberland Coast yesterday.  The buildings on the right are old lime kilns.

Beadnell Bay

As it had been only 4°C last night when I left the camera club meeting with Mars shining blood red in a clear sky, I was expecting a cold and frosty morning but it had clouded over and was comfortably warm as I cycled up to the town after breakfast to do some business and sort out a problem at the archive centre.

One of the microfiche readers in the centre had stopped working and things looked ominous as early efforts made no improvement.  In the end, it turned out to be a problem that needed luck rather than expertise to solve and a fortuitous knock in the right place got it back on track again.

I cycled home and got on with the main business of the day which was getting things in order for the return of Mrs Tootlepedal.  This required sweeping, ironing, vacuum cleaning, looking out of the window at the birds…

sunny coal tit

…in my lunch hour…

dunnock on chair

…when the day brightened up by good luck.

Chaffinches were the busiest at the feeder.

chaffinches here and there

Then there was some general tidying up and plumping of cushions and time for another look at the birds where I found that the chaffinches had gone and a great cloud of sparrows had taken over.

sparrows on chair

sparrows on feeder

The weather got greyer and windier as the afternoon went on and two collared doves had to cling to the plum tree and duck into the wind to avoid being shaken off.

two collared doves

When I look out of the kitchen window and there are no birds to be seen, I can always enjoy Mrs Tootlepedal’s flowers round the feeder.

The nerines are flourishing…

nerines

…and so is a small clump of gentians, bought from a garden centre not long ago and still in the garden centre pot.   They will have to find a home soon.

gentians

As  the afternoon wore on, a fine drizzle was blown in by the wind so I was pleased that I had walked round the garden while it was still dry.

The leycesteria is looking at its best in spite of frosty mornings and rainy days..

leycesteria

…and although the yellow potentillas have finished, there are white and orange ones still soldiering on.

two potnetillas

With everything looking as welcoming as I could make it, I set off to Carlisle to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from her train. It was a smooth operation with plenty of parking places free at the station and the train on time to the minute.

I had a moment to look around before the train came.

Carlisle train

This little engine has a flower bed in its tender but the flowers are over for the season.

Carlisle station

The station has a brand new and impressive roof  but is that a puddle on the platform?

Mrs Tootlepedal told me that when the train had left London, the day had been warm and sunny but as she went north, the weather had got steadily worse.  By the time we reached Langholm, it had got very wet and windy but even so, Mrs Tootlepedal was pleased to be home….especially as there was a nice cup of tea and some home made fruity malt loaf to welcome her.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, spotted just before the sun came out at lunchtime.

diagonal flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

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