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Posts Tagged ‘compost sieving’

Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  It shows some early peach blossom.

annie's peach blossom

We were promised wall to wall sunshine today by the forecasters with some confidence so it was disappointing to get up to a cloudy day with the standard chilly wind.  Still, it didn’t rain and I was able not only to have a walk round the garden, after coffee with our Archive Group treasurer Nancy, where I could enjoy the first tulip bulb of spring…

first tulip bud

…but I was also able to get the mower out, and while Mrs Tootlepedal slaved over a hot computer again, I gently pressed the moss on the middle lawn.

first pressing of moss

Grass had been growing through the moss though and I took quite a lot off.  This should encourage more grass growth, I hope.  The light green patch at the far end of the ‘lawn’ is solid moss.

As well as the mowing, I did some more compost sieving and when Mrs Tootlepedal came out and attacked a buddleia….

buddleia compst

…we shredded the cuttings and I put my share into compost Bin A and Mrs Tootlepedal used her share as mulch for one of her hedges.

I noted that we are at the start of the days of the daffodils now.

daffodil panel

After lunch, we drove up on to the Langholm Moor.

Mrs Tootlepedal hoped to see a hen harrier and we did see one.  It was hovering over the hill rather too far away for even my long lens to get a good shot of it.

hen harrier march

I hoped to see goats and we saw lots.  In fact we had to be careful not to run them over as they were right beside the road.

A little kid had a drink…

goat kid having milk

…and a bigger kid gave me a look…

large kid goat

…and an older goat with a stunning kiss curl gave me a profile.

goat close up

Some of the wild goats looked wilder than others.

bedraggled goat

Although these are genuinely feral goats, they are neither aggressive or afraid and they munched away quite happily as I took my pictures.

We left the goats and motored on across the Tarras Water and up to the county boundary.

Looking back I could see the monument….

 

monument from county boundary

…and looking down to the Solway, shining in the distance, I could see the past and present of power generation.  On the near shore, I could see the now defunct Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station which I passed on my bike a couple of days ago, and very faintly behind the chimneys in the middle of the firth, I could just make out the rows of turbines of the Robin Rigg wind farm, currently making power in the brisk wind.

Chapelcross and Solway array from moor

We didn’t stop at 1000ft for long as the wind was chilly and we soon headed back down to the shelter of the Tarras valley, where we parked the car and went for a walk.

I checked out the wall behind the car park and found that it was rich with lichen.

tarras car park lichen

We had been along this road not long ago in a howling gale so it was a big improvement to walk along it today, well sheltered from the breeze.

There was less water running down the Tarras and this suited the little cascades down which the river proceeds in leaps and bounds.

tarras cascade hdrtarras cascade light flow

We strolled along, serenaded at times by flocks of meadow pipits, for about a mile and a half until,we came to this point, where after a look further up the valley…

view towards cooms

…we turned for home.  We had the breeze behind us now, and as the sun came out, it felt positively spring-like as we went back down the valley to the car, passing little gullies…

tarras gulch

…and tenacious trees.

tarras tree

When we got back to the car park, I went forward to take a picture of the road bridge that we would cross to get home…

tarras bridge

…and as I looked at the bridge, I could see that the goats were still on the road beyond it.

Once again, they were happy to hang about for a photo opportunity….

twogoat pairs on road

…which I took.

goat looking up

Although it was only a short drive and a short walk, it had been a very satisfactory outing and we were well satisfied as we sat down for a cup of tea when we got home.

Mrs Tootlepedal prepared a chicken cacciatore for our tea and while it was cooking, Evie and her mother Annie gave us a video call.  If the world had been better organised, we would have been going to London by train today to visit them, so this was a welcome substitute for a real meeting.

The chicken turned out very well and we felt that with a good gardening morning and a successful outing in the afternoon,  we hadn’t done too badly at all in spite of not going to London.

There were very few garden birds about and I was lucky to find this chaffinch willing to be the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s walk at Ashbourne.  When he had crossed that narrow bridge featured as guest picture a couple of days ago, he found that an earlier landowner had dammed the little river and produced a big lake.

ashbourne lake

We had a surprise today when we woke up.  We found that it wasn’t raining.  Indeed, it was the first time that we could really appreciate how far the year has moved on since the winter solstice as it was already a bright day at breakfast.

The day was made brighter still by an early appearance from the robin.  It popped up, took a seed, went off to eat it, had a look round and came back for another.

four robin panel

I went out with my camera just to prove that the sun was out in case it disappeared and didn’t come back again.  The forecast had been terrible so the good day was a surprise.

I took a look at the garden from the road outside…

sunny morning

…and enjoyed the sun shining on the moss on the back path when I went back into the garden..

mossy path

It has been so damp in recent years that the garden is gradually sinking under the weight of the moss.

I went back indoors and spent a little time watching the birds.  Goldfinches and chaffinches got in early before the siskins took over.

full feeder

But it didn’t take many siskins before a chaffinch had second thoughts  about flying in.

chaffinch thinking better of it

And when one was brave enough to come close..

chaffinch approaching siskin

…it got a warm welcome…

siskin rebuffinh chaffinch

…and went away again.

The day got brighter still when Sandy appeared for coffee.  He is going off for an operation on his foot tomorrow, so this will be his last visit for some time.  The operation should be quite quick but the recovery will not be.  I will have to stir my stumps and go and have coffee with him as he sits with his foot up.

When Sandy left, it was such a nice day that Mrs Tootlepedal was tempted out to do some gardening and I went with her.

The first task was to put the Christmas tree back in its bed.  It had been sitting in a pot at the back door until a dry day came but seems to have taken no hurt.

christmas Feb 2020

The snow drops were enjoying the sunshine too.

snowdrops in flower

I got so excited that I sieved some compost…

compost in barow

…while Mrs Tootlepedal cut back a dogwood.

dogwood pruning

I shredded the prunings and added them to the compost bin.

Then I dug up a leek and made some soup with it for lunch.

leek ready fr soup

While the soup was cooking, I went back out and noted a tree peony and some tulips reminding us that spring will come.

tree peony and crocus

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal had some work connected to the possible community land purchase to do (it is a very complicated matter) so I did the crossword and put a fruity malt loaf into the breadmaker.

When Mrs Tootlepedal had finished her work, we went for a walk.  There had been a terrific shower of rain while she was working but it had passed, and the day was once again inviting us to go outside.

I chose a route which I hoped would give us sightings of interesting birds and I was pleased to see my first posing oyster catcher since last July standing on a rock in the Esk…

oyster catcher and goosander

…and the first goosander since Christmas swimming in the Ewes.

There was a good sighting of the white duck at the Kilngreen which I couldn’t miss  but I didn’t see the most interesting bird of the day, a tree creeper on the Castleholm, at all.

tree creeper and duck

You can see it in the panel above.  Mrs Tootlepedal, who had just been lamenting not seeing any tree creepers for a while, spotted the bird and pointed it out to me.  I couldn’t make it out, however hard I looked.  Luckily, I pointed my camera in hope in the general direction that  Mrs Tootlepedal was pointing, and it did the seeing for me.

It was a short walk but we were both delighted to be out in the sunshine.  I loved the low winter sun catching the moss on the wall beside the estate offices…

moss on wall

…and it picked out the mossy branches on this tree too.

castleholm tree

Talking of moss, Mrs Tootlepedal was rather taken by the very neat division between moss and lichen on this tree further along the path.

tree with moss and fungus

On a nice day, there is always something to look at on a tree or a branch on the ground.

lichen and buds

Although we peered up into a lot of other trees…

treescape

…we didn’t see another interesting bird.

We had a cup of tea when we got home and not long afterwards, my friend Luke appeared and we played a trio sonata by Godfrey Finger, with the computer and my Roland keyboard providing the accompaniment.  The sonata is really for two oboes but it suits us very well on our flutes.  We would like to have a real, live pianist but they are hard to find these days.

After Luke left, the slow cooked lamb stew provided another meal and we followed that with a slice of the freshly made fruity malt loaf.

The BBC weather forecast on the TV for tomorrow has been full of foreboding, talking of gales and even snow in the offing.  The Norwegian weather forecast for our area is much more benign and offers another day of sunshine with brisk but not silly winds, so unlike the keen Brexiteers, I am hoping to take the Norwegian option tomorrow.

A hopeful chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

Footnote:  Alert readers will have noted that I haven’t mentioned being dizzy today.  This is because I wasn’t dizzy.  I didn’t mention a sore foot either for the same reason.  If this goes on, I will have nothing to complain about and may even be back on my bike again.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is visiting the Glasgow area and found himself at the start of the West Highland way in Milngavie.  He is not going to walk it though as it is 96 miles long.

west highland way start

I have always believed that the autumn equinox came on the 21st of September so it was rather a disappointment to find that this year, it will not arrive until Monday 23rd.  Today would have been a wonderful day to mark the end of summer, as the sun shone from dawn till dusk and there was not a cloud in the sky all day.

It was quite windy though so I was more than happy when Mrs Tootlepedal suggested an outing and this gave me a good excuse to leave my bike in the garage.

After a quick look at a couple of sunny flowers in the garden…

nastutium and gladiolus

…we set off in the Zoe to go to the ‘Hidden River Cafe’.

We had only quite recently heard about this place although it has been open for some years, so it has definitely been quite well hidden.

It  is not far from Longtown but the last few miles were done at a stately pace as we got behind a tractor on a very narrow road.  This was not as troublesome as it would have been if we were still in our old car.  One of the benefits of the electric car is that it is a pleasure to drive at any pace.

We found the cafe and enjoyed a coffee and a delicious slice of cake while sitting in the sunshine on their outdoor terrace.  We asked if we might take a walk round after we had finished and they were happy to let us explore.  Basically the the site is home to six log cabins for holiday lets.  They are well spread out on  the bank of the River Lyne and we walked along the access road.

hidden log cabins

If you want a holiday with full time peace and quiet, this is the place to go.

The cabins are substantial and made of big logs!

log cabin

One of the staff kindly showed us round a cabin and it was impressive inside.

This was the view from its patio.

river lyne

The site is part of a working farm and although we were serenaded by buzzards as we went along, and passed an oak tree laden with acorns…

log cabin wild life

…there were no wild flower meadows and no birds singing, just an occasional fungus and some straggly ragwort.

The lack of flying insects all around our area is getting worrying, perhaps caused by the the lack of wild flower .  This in turn may be causing a shortage of birds.  I wish that I knew more about what is going on.

Still, it was a beautiful spot and we are told that the cooking at the cafe is very good so we were pleased to have finally discovered it.

We took a diversion on the way home to visit a garden centre where Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a painted lady on the merchandise and I bought some sand to treat the lawns at home.

garden centre butterfly

We got home in time for lunch and then we went out into the garden to make some use of the good weather.

We had plenty of butterflies about but oddly enough, there were no peacock butterflies to be seen today when I was looking.

three butterflies

The sedums are the centre of attention just now as the buddleias are almost over.

bees in sedum

The orange hawkweed is in fine fettle…

orange hawkweed sept

…and the mountain of sunflowers seems to be getting bigger every day.

massed sunflowers

I did some more dead heading but my chief business was getting the grass cut before the rains come next week.    It was time to raise the cutters to their autumn height but looking at my records, this is easily the best the lawns have looked so late in September.

middle lawn equinox

I may have mentioned before that though it has been a funny year for weather, it has undoubtedly been a very good year for grass,

front lawn equinox

I take my hat off to the makers of the moss eating lawn fertiliser too as it has worked very well.

I mowed the green house grass but it has a different mower and is cut to a rougher standard.

green house grass equinox

The  I sieved a little compost from Bin D…

compost sieving

…and then, because it was really quite hot in the sun, I went in and had a sit down.

After a cup of tea and two iced buns, I had got enough strength back to try out my new shoes on a walk up a hill.

Once again, there was not much in the way of things to look at beside the track but I did see a pale fungus on a moss covered tree trunk and a lonely scabious.

fungus and scabious

I chose the track up Warbla for my walk as it has a gentle gradient and a good walking surface on a dry day…

Warbla track

…and some splendid views.  This one is looking up the Esk valley towards the Gates of Eden

warbla view gates of eden

…and this one, from the summit, is looking over the Solway plain towards the English hills in the distance.

solway plain from warbla

As Mrs Tootlepedal was busy cooking our evening meal, I didn’t hang about on the summit and after a look down over the town…

Warbla view of town

…I took the track back down the hill, turning off to cut down to the road at the Auld Stane Brig and passing this fine burst of haws on a hawthorn tree just before the gate onto the road.

hawrthorn berries

It was a three mile walk and my new shoes worked very well and my feet gave me little trouble.

I met my occasional neighbour Ken as I got home.  He is the same age as me and has at least as many, if not more, medical problems than I have, but all the same he tells me that he is getting near to 5000 cycling miles for the year so far, twice as many as me.  I shall have to stop complaining  all the time and get working.  He is an example to us all.

I forgot about a flying bird of the day while I was preparing this post so there isn’t one.  It has flown.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s meal was worth hurrying down the hill for.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker who is on holiday in Oban.  He found a sunny moment among the clouds to visit Dunstaffnage Castle.

Dunstaffnage Castle

We had a reasonable day today, breezy at times but with no rain until late in the evening.  However, we were not able to make the best use of it as Mrs Tootlepedal was struck down by a bug and had to spend the day in bed.

This meant that I thought it best to spend quite a lot of time hovering about trying to look as though I might be useful.

I did get out for a short pedal in the morning and because of a combination of the brisk wind and a desire not to get too far away from the patient, I stuck to my outdoor gym and went three times up and down the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse. This gave me an undemanding twenty one miles without ever being more than three and a bit miles from home.

A break in the clouds let the sun light up a green field as I got near to Wauchope School.

green field

I  kept a fungus eye out as I pedalled and looking at the verges, I saw these…

fungus

fungus

…and these…

fungus

…and this…

fungus

…and this…

fungus

…and these

They were hard to miss.

On my third go up, I stopped to look at some fence posts, as one does.

fence post lichen

There seemed a lot of interest (to me) on the first one that I looked at so I looked at the next one along too.

fence post lichen

Those little spots of red caught my eye so I looked at the next one along….

fence post lichen

…and it was covered in them.

British soldiers lichen

They look like British soldiers lichen to me, an army of them.

The next post didn’t have any of them on it at all…

fence post lichen

…and the last post was mainly moss.

fence post moss

All this was within ten yards.

I must stop and look at fence post more often.

I was joined by the minister on my second run back to the town.  He had done a longer, hillier circuit and had found the wind very hard work so I was pleased to be skulking about in the valley bottom where the wind was quite strong enough for me.

I made some soup when I got home and had to eat it by myself as Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t in eating mode.

I hung around in the afternoon in case I was needed and fitted in the crossword, some dead heading, some compost sieving and a little bit of Archive database work, topped off with a look at a couple of choir songs.

I did take the camera out into the garden but the wind had got up a bit and it made taking pictures quite tricky.

There was colour to be seen…

rudbeckia, buddleia and orange hawkweed

The last of the rudbeckia, a second bloom on a buddleia and the second flowering of the orange hawkweed

…and the temptation of another fuchsia shot was too great to resist.

fuchsia

The sharp eyed will see a bee on the right hand flower.

It went up there.

bee in fuchsia

There were plenty of poppies to deadhead but there are still many, many more waiting to come out.

poppy

They may look a bit fragile but they are obviously pretty tough.

Sadly, the bug meant that Mrs Tootlepdal could not go off to see Matilda, as her custom is on a Thursday but she was well enough to be happy to snooze in bed while I went off to play recorders in Carlisle in the evening.

Susan drove me down and all six of the group were present tonight.  Roy, our librarian, had put together a really good set of six part pieces from his extensive library and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The good weather couldn’t last and it was raining heavily again as Susan drove me home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was slightly better which was heartening although I don’t think she will be running a marathon tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a hoverfly, helophilus pendulus (as far as I can see), on a daisy.

hoverfly

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by Thomas, one of our new members, and shows the Camera Club  group posing for a picture at the meeting on Monday.

Camera Club 2017

The forecast was quite correct and we got a dry day today which was welcome but our rapture was modified by a brisk and chilly east wind which kept the temperature down and held any thoughts of spring at bay for the time being.

Sandy came round for coffee after he had gone to top up the Moorland bird feeders.  He was going off to Carlisle so sadly there was no chance of a walk later in the day.

When he left, I took a turn round the garden and tried to photograph the Forsythia again. The light was better but the flowers were still swaying wildly in the wind.

Forsythia

It is a cheerful sight.

The birds were not very cheerful.  They are ready to start a fight at the least provocation. The fact that there were perches freely available didn’t stop this siskin abusing an innocent chaffinch…

siskin and chaffinch

I don’t know what impulse drives the birds to be so aggressive when it would be better to take the time eating the seeds.

siskins

There was no shortage of perches during this spat either. The chaffinch top left has the right idea.

siskin

This siskin took off before any arguments could start

goldfinches and siskins

This determined looking goldfinch needed to shift an incumbent

A dunnock made an appearance under the feeders.

dunnock

It should have been a good day for flying bird pictures but the strong wind made approaching the feeders tricky and there was no gentle hovering to help me out today.

I had some homemade sardine pate for my lunch but the regular consumption of oily fish doesn’t seem to be having much beneficial effect on my brain power.  Luckily, I like sardines so I shall keep eating them regardless.  I even have allegedly beneficial grains and seeds in my bread recipe (the wonderfully named ‘Oh-My Megamix’) but they don’t seem to improve my crossword solving skills either.  Ah well, I live in hope.

I spent some time in the garden sieving a little compost.  The material in Bin D is in good condition and I hope to have it all sieved soon.  I filled Mrs Tootlepedal’s big red bucket of compost and then set about sawing up some more of the logs which Dropscone brought from his garden.  I like to do these jobs a little at a time and keep my back in reasonable condition.  It is tempting to do too much on a dry day.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I put on many, many layers of cycling gear and braved the east wind for 21 miles.

When I went out a couple of days ago, there was a strong wind from the west and I went up the hill at 10mph and came back at 20mph.  Today, with the wind in the opposite direction, I went up the hill at over 13mph and came back at under 14 mph.   It can be a bit depressing to find yourself pedalling more slowly down a section of gentle gradient on your way home than you cycled up it on the way out.  The net result of the two days was an almost identical average speed.

I stopped for a tree picture…

Glencorf burn

Taken more for the position of the trees than their stature.

…and to admire the daffodils beside the road as I left the town.

Springhill Daffodils

I had a look at my bike when I got home and decided that it needed a good clean after some riding on wet and dirty roads so I set about it with soapy water, de-greaser and cloths and toothbrushes.  I won’t say that it was shining when I finished but it was a good deal cleaner.

I had another look round the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal had remarked to me in the morning that it is very surprising to her that although she really only  likes daffodils that look yellow like this…

Daffodils

…or this…

Daffodils

…she has a lot of daffodils in the garden that look like this.

 Daffodils

I am not complaining though because I like both sorts.

There are a number of these cowslippy things coming out around the garden…

cowslips

… but the present chilly spell has slowed spring’s progress down to a crawl.

I made myself a sausage stew for my tea and then Susan arrived to give me a lift to Carlisle where we played quartets with our recorder group.  We had a fine variety of music to play and excellent tea and biscuits to follow so I enjoyed the evening.

We passed the lorry gritting the main road as we drove home.  Another cold night is in prospect.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, taken during the cloudy morning.

chaffinch

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Today’ guest picture comes from another stroll along the Regent’s Canal in London by my sister Mary.

Canalside walk to Little Venice 12.09.14 003Langholm was the birthplace of the Scottish poet Hugh McDiarmid and some enterprising local people had organised a walk today with stops at appropriate spots around the town where readings of his poetry took place.  It started at his memorial on the hill at the White Yett and descended into the streets of the town thereafter.  It had many stops and I was very surprised when I went to check its progress in Henry Street  to find it bang on schedule.

This was important to me because although my knee wasn’t up to joining the walk, I had been asked to read one of the poems outside the Langholm Library.  I cycled up in plenty of time and had a few minutes to enjoy an exhibition in the Town Hall gallery of fashion hats, pottery and textile art.  I read my allotted poem to a small gathering of walkers and as they went on their way….

walkers and talkers….I went round to the front of the Town Hall where a group of enthusiastic campaigners were trying to whip up support for the Yes side in the forthcoming referendum.

Yes campaignersWhile I was doing this, Mrs Tootlepedal was getting organised for a meeting of her embroiderers’ group in the afternoon which was getting a talk from one of the organisers of the Great Tapestry of Scotland.  She told me later that this was one of the best talks the group had ever had. They are going to visit the Tapestry later in the year.

Sandy had told me that he had seen some fine toadstools when he had been out cycling yesterday so I resolved to go and see them for myself while Mrs Tootlepedal was at her talk.  I had to wait for a while to get my phone charged up and this gave me time to mow the front lawn and take a picture or two.

A Japanese anemone in the shade and a Shirley poppy  in the weak sunshine.

A Japanese anemone in the shade and a Shirley poppy in the weak sunshine.

I was very pleased to see a flower on a fuchsia bush which I feared had given up the ghost and I thought it went well with nerine.

fuchsia and nerineWith the phone partly charged, I set off on a toadstool hunt.  As this involved a 25 mile fairly hilly, circular ride, I was hoping that my legs and breathing would be in a co-operative mood.

garmin 13 Sept 14As it turned out, they were both in excellent form and I thoroughly enjoyed my pedal in perfect conditions, warm and with a light wind in the best possible direction.

Sandy had told me that I would find the toadstools after about nine miles of pedalling, halfway up a hill and just past a quarry.   This seemed pretty specific to me and I hoped that I would be able to find them.

I passed the quarry and kept a beady eye out for fungi and was just getting the feeling that they might have grown and disappeared in a day when a flash of colour in the grass beside the road brought me to a halt.  I was rather disappointed.

fungi at BailliehillIt was a toadstool but no one could honestly describe it as fine and I was wondering as I pedalled on whether Sandy had been hallucinating from the effort of pedalling up the long hill.  Round the next corner though, it was clear that he had been perfectly sane.

fungi at Bailliehill (4)I couldn’t miss these.

fungi at Bailliehill (2)fungi at Bailliehill (3)There must have been about thirty or forty of them in a flat, open part of the grassy verge.  Why they should grow there and nowhere else along the road is a mystery to me.

fungi at Bailliehill (5)It looked as though they were a source of food to some animal or other.

I pedalled on even more cheerfully than before.  Once over the hill, I stopped to take a picture or two of my favourite little valley where the Water of Milk starts its journey to the sea by passing Craighousteads Farm.

Craighousteads Farm

Craighousteads Farm

Looking upstream

Looking upstream

Looking downstream

Looking downstream

It was another hazy day and in spite of a hint of blue sky straight above, it wasn’t a good day for taking pictures of views.

When I reached Paddockhole, with eleven miles to go, I found that I had cycled along very comfortably so far because the light breeze had been at my back.  From this point on, I had to make a rather more determined effort to keep my speed up but the wind was so light that the Minsca windmills were only just turning and I got home in very good order.

In the garden, it was a day of compost interest.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy sieving last autumn’s compost and putting the result onto the flower beds.  She has been so busy that she has emptied a bay in the compost area.  As a result, we have started turning the next batch of compost into the empty bay.  It is amazing how just one or two turnings can speed up the composting process.  She has also been pruning a large philadelphus and we have been shredding the cuttings from that so there will be no shortage of compost next year.

For once, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a quiet night in and we were able to enjoy highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain after tea.

All this pedalling and poetry left me with little time to watch the bird feeder and a flying chaffinch looking at me with suspicion from under its wing was the best that I could do for flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch (10)

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