Posts Tagged ‘collared dove’

Today’s guest picture is a Paddington Basin sunset captured by my sister Mary.  I don’t usually go for sunsets but this is a cracker.

Paddington Basin

We had another even colder day today, without the benefit of any added sunshine.

Thanks to a very slowly dripping but unnoticed tap in the guest bathroom, it was cold enough to freeze the pipe when the trickle of water got to the outside wall of the house.  In turn this caused the condensate pipe from our boiler to stop working and we woke up to a rather chilly house and no hot water.

We have fires to put on so we were in no danger of freezing ourselves but the lack of hot water and the chill in the unheated rooms was annoying.

After trying and failing to do some ad hoc thawing of pipes with hot water and hair driers, we gave up and I went for a walk. The forecast is for a thaw over night so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

When I looked down the frozen dam at the back of the house, I saw that there was a small unfrozen patch which had attracted a lot of blackbirds.  I counted ten at one time spread along the dam but they didn’t all stay in place for this picture.

blackbirds on dam

They were very busy popping on and off the ice at the water hole and one of them got very indignant when some starlings had the effrontery to want a drink too.

blackbirds on dam

The starlings retreated to a wire and waited for another chance.


There had been a hint of mist about when I got up so I was hoping for some ice covered trees but after a promising start at the park…

frosty trees

…the rest of the walk was a bit disappointing as the taller tree seemed unaffected.  There was plenty of ice about…


…and the view up river at the Meeting of the Waters was very wintery.

meeting of the waters

As I crossed the Sawmill Brig, I could see a little cave of icicles where a small steam joins the Ewes from an underground pipe.


Langholm Castle looked quite forbidding….

Langholm Castle

…and as always, I was keeping an eye out for fence posts.

frosty fencepost

It was too cold to linger for long and I didn’t want my camera to freeze so I didn’t dilly dally and was soon looking over our front hedge into a very frosty garden.

frosty garden

I had stopped to look at the gulls at the Kilngreen on my way round.  There were a lot about today, including a headless gull…


…and the gull (very) close formation flying team.


Although these are black headed gulls, they haven’t got their black heads yet but they do have very decorative feet and beaks.


Once inside, I didn’t go out again but I did keep looking out of the kitchen window when any movement caught my attention.  The sub zero temperatures brought a lot birds to the feeders.

There were siskins…


…and the chaffinch aerial ballet corps…


…which descended into arguments when it was time for a seed break.


The feeder on the left of the pole was busy today and this gave me the chance to get some left to right flying chaffinches instead of my usual right to left shots.


Other flying birds were available.

siskin and goldfinch

As well as flying birds, there was some top quality posing too.



And a collared dove won the trophy for the most fluffed up bird of the day by miles.

collared dove

I could have spent a lot of time enjoying the birds but the kitchen, which has no heater, was rather chilly and as I couldn’t stand the cold, I got out of the kitchen.

I went into the computer room and spent a happy afternoon putting music onto the computer for my flute pupil Luke and doing some flute practice too.

As we can’t leave the fires on overnight, it is going to be very nippy when we get up tomorrow so I hope that the pipes will have taken advantage of the slight lift in the temperature and unfrozen themselves.  If not, we may have to call for assistance.

One of the Kilngreen gulls is the flying bird of the day.



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


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….


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

I checked on the poppies too.


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.


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


Leading to some face to face confrontations

sparrow and goldfinches

A sparrow gives a goldfinch a hard stare


Another one actually assaults a fellow sparrow

There were some peaceful moments though.

A chaffinch tries to remember what he came out for.


A collared dove displays very fashionable bootees.

collared dove

A robin practices his “Rod Steiger as Napoleon”  pose


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…


….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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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She is working in Zurich this week and took a picture of the sunset there this evening.

Zurich sunset

There was no chance of a sunset here today…or a sunrise…or a sun anything as the sun was conspicuous by its absence all day.  The forecast told me that if I was up sharp, I might be able to get up to the Moorland Feeders, where I was filling in for absent friends, before the rain started for the day.

I took them at their word and they were quite right so I filled the feeders and sat in the hide for a while  before the rain started.  It might not have been raining but it was very gloomy so only brightly coloured birds which came close were available to snap.  It was my lucky day.

Greater spotted woodpecker

A greater spotted woodpecker coming close

Greater spotted woodpecker

And a greater spotted woodpecker coming closer…

Greater spotted woodpecker

…and then going away again

When it flew off, I took the hint and went away too.  I was glad to have got a brief glimpse of a goldfinch, the first of the autumn while I was there.


It was still raining when I got home and it rained on and off in a half hearted way for the rest of the day.  It was that annoying sort of rain which kept looking as though it had stopped but by the time that I had got outside to check, it had started again.

Under the circumstances, Mrs Tootlepedal got on with repainting the doors in the hall and I put a week and a bit of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group’s database.

You can learn a lot from the newspaper index.  In 1854 there were only 12 advertisements for food in the whole year but by 1874, there were 116.  There were 140 by 1894 but the biggest item advertised by far was tea, which was obviously a big seller by then.

I went out to our corner shop to buy food (but not tea) and noticed an unusually long array of collared doves on the wire by the dam as I left the house.

collared doves

I don’t know enough about collared doves to say whether this might be one happy family or just a gathering of friends.

At lunch time, I noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal had brought a couple of nasturtium flowers into the kitchen…


Their cheerful colour brightened the day up a bit and made me look closer too.


I did go out to check the rain.  It was light but persistent.  Flowers looked a bit depressed.


mint and chives

There is some colour in the vegetable garden though


and a very low flying clematis

We picked some runner and French beans and ate them for our lunch.  Even if the rain had stopped, it would have been too soggy for gardening.

It was one of those days which felt colder than the thermometer said that it should be so after lunch, I lit a fire in the front room and settled down to put music into the computer for practice purposes.  With about sixteen new songs on hand for Christmas concerts with my two choirs, I have plenty to get on with.

I kept on thinking about going for a walk in the rain but settled for making rolls with the help of the bread making machine instead.  They turned out well.


When they had come out of the oven, I had another look out into the garden at four o’clock.

colourful corner

In spite of the efforts of the flowers to persuade me that it wasn’t too bad….


…I wasn’t tempted to stay out as it was too gloomy for a photographic walk by now so I took a picture of a crow on the roof…


…and came back in and made a sausage stew for my tea.

It too turned out well and I was in a good mood in spite of some heavier rain when I went off for a Langholm Sings choir practice.  The attendance was a bit thin, possibly because of a showing of La La Land at the Buccleuch Centre at the same time.  I was happy to miss the film, which we have already seen and judged pretty dull, and very much enjoyed the practice.  All the songs and carols that we are preparing have their charms.

I am going back to the Moorland Feeders tomorrow morning, this time as a substitute for Sandy, who is sunning himself elsewhere, and I hope for better weather.



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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony, who came across this splendid waterfall while walking the dogs in the Dollar Glen in Clackmannanshire today.  He is having a birthday celebration weekend away.

Dollar Glen

There was nothing much to celebrate about the weather here today.  It was as gloomy as a Washington Democrat (the simile of the day).

It was just above freezing but so raw and grey that although I thought of a walk or even a pedal, in the end I couldn’t persuade myself to leave the warmth of the kitchen.  While I was there, I made a version of a Bolognese sauce for the slow cooker and looked out of the window.

It was so dark that the camera couldn’t believe that I was serious and in the end I went out into the garden for a minute or two to photograph things that stood absolutely still.

The early daffodil is doing its best to ignore the inhospitable weather.

early daffodil

Oddly enough there were some very static birds doing some hard staring while I was out there.


collared doves

I soon went back in and did some necessary business for the Archive Group, looked at songs for the choir later in the day and went back to the kitchen and looked out of the window again.

It was a day for chaffinches.



Although they weren’t always welcome.

siskin and chaffinch

Siskins are small but rude.

Sometimes peaceful co-existence was possible.

siskin and chaffinch

Maybe they had spotted a common enemy.

I was happy to see a blue tit back at the fat balls.  They have been going down very slowly and need eating.  It  might take more than a single blue tit though.

blue tit

There was a moment when I felt so guilty about being idle that I nearly went out for a walk but when I was thinking about what clothes to wear for the outing, I looked out of the window and saw a lady walking up the road with an umbrella up.

I changed my mind.

Mrs Tootlepedal is now having a choir practice straight after the church service so she didn’t get back until nearly lunchtime and it wasn’t long after lunch before it was time to set off to Carlisle for our choir.  Mrs Tootlepedal has a full singing day on a Sunday.

The practice was very enjoyable.  This is a bonus when we are working for a competition.  Our conductor drives us hard but also takes care to praise us whenever he can and only criticises us under the severest provocation.  He has a remarkable well of enthusiastic good humour to draw on.  It is always fun to feel that you personally and the choir in general are improving at a song.

A slight pall was cast over the day by the untimely departure of Andy Murray from the Australian Open but on the up side, this saves us from the possible agony of watching him losing in the final yet again so we must be thankful for small mercies.

The plant of the day is a lilac bud….

lilac bud

…and the flying bird is a murky chaffinch in a shot which shows just how still they keep their heads when they are eyeing up a landing spot.


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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Friday orchestra, Alison and comes from her recent trip to NZ.  It shows the dawn over Nelson.


We certainly had a brighter dawn here than we had yesterday and as a result, I was much cheerier all day.  Sandy came round for coffee and while we were sipping and nibbling tasty biscuits, chaffinches flitted to and fro outside.


There were moments when the sun even threatened to come out.

A look at the weather forecast gave grounds for more optimism in the afternoon so after Sandy left, I pedalled down to the Co-op to do a little shopping, made a light lunch and occasionally looked out of the window at visitors while I waited for the sun to come out.


A starling was easily spotted


There was a dove from above


And a lone greenfinch put in an appearance

A sparrow showed off a nonchalant one handed landing technique….


…and a goldfinch flew in…..

goldfinch flying

…to a most unfriendly reception.


The sparrow did a very passable imitation of Fred Astaire.


The cheerful forecast proved to be a bit of a swindle and if anything, the afternoon became duller rather than brighter.  Still, it was very warm for the time of year at 9°C so I went out for a walk up a hill.

I chose Warbla as my target and my first steps took me along the wall beside the park.

Park Wall

I like this wall a lot as it is always bursting with things to look at.

A single stone may have a whole world of interest on it.

lichen on park wall

There were some surprises as I went up the hill.

December plants

A sign of spring, a reminder of autumn and a very hardy clump of fungus

Why that one tree should have retained its berries when all around were bare is a mystery.  Why a fungus halfway up a tree stump should be thriving after several frosts is another.

I followed the track up the hill as far as this tree….

Warbla track

…and then cut straight up the hill to the left until I came to the summit.  The going underfoot was very good which was lucky as I was only wearing a pair of slip on shoes.

The view from the top however was not very exciting….

View from Warbla

…as the cloud was creeping down onto the surrounding hills.

With no views to capture, I took the opportunity of testing the abilty of my mobile phone to remotely operate the camera.  I connected the camera and phone wirelessly,  put the camera on the trig point, walked away and used my phone to trigger the shutter.

remote camera operation Warbla

It worked.  I shall have to try to find a more productive use for this function.

You can see how warm it was for December.  It won’t be often that you could stand up there with no hat or gloves in a steady breeze at this time of year and not feel the cold.

I took the same route back down to the track and then left the track again after a while and went straight down to the the gate onto the road at the Auld Stane Brig.

gate at Gaskells

I sometimes wonder if the whole world would fall apart if it wasn’t for binder twine.

I took the chance to admire the wonderful complexity of the branch system of a tree on the hill just before the gate as I came down to it.

Tree on Warbla

I was standing on the bridge, trying in vain to spot a very vocal bird when I was joined by an ex work colleague of Mrs Tootlepedal and we walked back along the road together which made a very pleasant end to an enjoyable walk.

It had got quite dark by the time that I got home so I had a cup of tea and then settled down to go through the eleven songs that I will be singing in the Carlisle Community Choir end of term concert tomorrow.    It has been a busy time for song practice lately.

The garden picture of the day is neither flower nor leaf but it does have a bit of colour about it.

Elder lichen

And the flying bird of the day is one of the reliable hovering chaffinches.

flying chaffinch



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Today’s guest picture, sent by Dropscone, shows how the greenkeeping staff at a prestigious golf course still use traditional methods for preparing the ground.  The only thing lacking is that they should have their trouser legs tied up with string.

St Andrews

I had thought of offering to go with Sandy to help fill the Moorland feeders this morning but when I woke to find that it was pouring with rain, I decided that it might be better not to bother him.

I saw him later in the morning anyway, when he came for coffee.  He is hoping to produce a blog or two arising from his recent trip to America and Mexico so I will keep an eye out for it.

The rain had stopped by the time that he had arrived and the light had improved a bit so while we sipped our coffee, I kept an eye on the birds…

…and a chaffinch kept an eye on a blue tit.

Chaffinch and blue tit

We have more tits coming to the feeder this year than ever before as far as I can remember and it is a great pleasure to see them every day.  I saw at least five blue tits at the same time today.  Generally I only see two coal tits at one time but whether the regular coal tit visitors are always the same birds is anyone’s guess.

blue tit and coal tit

We had two less frequent visitors today, a starling….


…and a collared dove.

collared dove

After Sandy left, I had a look at the weather forecast and it suggested that if I waited until midday, any of the forecast snow would be just to the north and the east of the town and there might be a chance of a peaceful pedal here before the temperature dropped again.

I did wait and there was a chance of a pedal. My phone battery was flat and Mrs Tootlepedal was getting ready to go to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh so I settled for an unadventurous 21 miles going up and down the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse three times and I met Mrs Tootlepedal going up the road as I came back down on the last lap.

I had another look at the birds over lunch.

It had been mostly chaffinches so far…


…but there was a sudden influx of greenfinches…



They took over the feeders and were soon coming and going in all directions.


Some goldfinches arrived and tried to stake a claim…

goldfinch and greenfinches

And when the greenfinches left, the goldfinches took to squabbling among themselves.


It was quite a pleasant day and I would like to have gone for a walk but I had to visit the doctor as I am suffering a little discomfort in one eye.   She assured me that there was nothing to worry about and said she would make an appointment for me to see an eye specialist at the hospital.

This might seem a bit contradictory but she explained that the eye trouble should settle down of its own accord  within six weeks or so but if by any chance it didn’t, I would have to see the specialist.  As an appointment will take  at least six weeks to come through, she reckons that I will be able to cancel it before it comes up if the eye is better but if the eye doesn’t clear up,  I would have to wait a further six weeks at least before getting treatment if I didn’t already have an appointment.  It all makes sense in a rather weird way.

I noticed this vivid shrub on a neighbour’s fence beside the road just outside our house on my way home.


It was enough to gladden anyone’s eye.

In the evening, Susan kindly drove me to Carlisle where we enjoyed an excellent evening of playing with our recorder group.  One of our members, Heather, is a music teacher and she told us that she gave a piano lesson this week to a young pupil who has moved to Atlanta.  She used Skype very satisfactorily and has learned that many music teachers are now using Skype for music lessons.  The only downside that she can see at the moment is that it is impossible for her to play duets with her pupil.

The leaf of the day is a combination of spirea and cotoneaster by our back fence….

spirea and cotoneaster

…and the flying bird is one of the chaffinches.


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Today’s guest picture, taken by my sister Mary,  shows a lovely view of the Thames at Richmond.  The sharp-eyed may see the inevitable low flying aircraft in the sky and wonder that people are pushing for an extension to Heathrow which would mean even more of these disturbers of the peace above Londoners’ heads.

The inevetable aeroplane, if you look hard

As she was getting up, Mrs Tootlepedal glanced out of the window and saw a rose collector leaving the garden with another bag full of roses for the crown.  They work hard.

After yesterday’s wall to wall sunshine, we had a day of almost wall to wall drizzle today so it was lucky that I had many mundane but essential tasks to do to fill up my time.

A quick look out of the back door showed me that only the marigolds were likely to bring much sunshine into our lives today.


The rest of scene was hanging heads…

wet poppy

…soggy petals…


…and water, water everywhere.


One of the more pleasant moments of the morning was to test out the newly made wild raspberry jam on some of Dropscone’s drop scones with accompanying coffee.  The jam passed the test.   Dropscone tells me that his golf has been up and down…but not always in the number of strokes that he would wish.

I had photo cards to finish, Heritage DVDs to copy and then cards, postcards and disks to deliver to the High Street .  All this took some time and before I knew it, it was time for lunch.

After lunch I set the breadmaker to make some dough for a dozen rolls.

I was hoping that things might get better in the afternoon but the drizzle persisted.  It was gentle enough to let Mrs Tootlepedal get out and clip the wings of her chicken.

topiary chicken

Over the years, the chicken has got stouter an stouter and a radical re-clip with substantial slimming is in the offing.

I  helped out with a little tidying up and also took the chance for another wander round the garden.

The delphiniums have survived very well even though a lot of them are now nestling in the compost bin.


Of all the flowers in the garden, the nasturtiums seem to be most fond of a drop of rain, hanging on to all they can collect for dear life.


A new fuchsia in a pot was making the most of the shelter of the greenhouse.


Looking up, I could see a collared dove, sitting somewhat morosely on the  wires above the back garden.

collared dove

We didn’t stay out long.

The dough for the rolls came out of the breadmaker so beautifully kneaded and spongy that you could have made a bouncy castle from it.

The rolls themselves looked good when they came out of the oven later in the day but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating tomorrow.

On the evening before the Common Riding, all three of the town’s bands, the brass band, the pipe band and the flute band play in the town at various times but so gloomy was the day by this time that we stayed indoors and waited for better weather tomorrow.

While I was out in the garden, I noticed a small flock of homing pigeons taking their daily exercise nearby so there are a great many flying birds of the day today.

racing pigeons

And a little dahlia, impervious to the rain by some curious chance, is the flower of the day.


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