Posts Tagged ‘cormorant’

Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s who visited Oslo on his Scandinavian  cruise.  He tells me that She Lies (Norwegian: hun ligger) is a public sculpture by Monica Bonvicini made of stainless steel and glass panels.  It is a permanent installation, floating on the water in the fjord and turns on its axis in line with the tide and wind, offering changing experiences through reflections from the water and its transparent surfaces.  I would add that it is not often that you see a window cleaner at work on a sculpture.


I had a quiet morning in as although it was dry again, I wasn’t attracted to the idea of going for a cycle ride in very strong winds.  I did walk round the garden where thanks to the continuing mild mornings, there are plenty of flowers still blooming.  The panel below doesn’t show everything that’s out by any means.

garden flowers late october

Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious ginger biscuits and then we cracked open some of our walnut crop and she made a walnut and banana loaf.  The biscuits have been well tested but the loaf is waiting for tomorrow for a try out.

After lunch, I practised songs for our Glasgow trip and then went off for a walk. Mrs Tootlepedal, having checked my proposed route and tested the wind, decided that gardening would be more fun.

I walked up through the town and onto the golf course.  My plan was to look for toadstools which often flourish there.

I think that i was too late this year and most of the fungus has flown.  What was left was a bit tattered.

golf course fungus

Still, it was a pleasure to be on the well maintained course and the views always are available to console a golfer after a poor shot and me after a fruitless fungus hunt.

golf course

This was my favourite view from the course today.

trees from golf course

I walked up to the top of the course and took the track onto the open hill, passing this fine wall…

whita wall

…which was rich with interest.

whita moss amnd lichen

I was soon high enough up to get good views back down over the town…Langholm from whita

….and away to the south over the Gretna windmills and the Solway Firth to the Lake District Hills which were nudging the clouds as they passed over.

skiddaw from whita

I took closer looks at the town…

dye house chimney

…where the poplars beside the church was very prominent…

poplars from whita

…and looking at the New Town, I could see our walnut tree in the middle of the picture.  (It is behind the much darker tree.)

new town from whita

I walked along the old track towards the quarry and leapt nimbly over the stile at the wall (that might not be an entirely true statement) before going down the hill on the far side of the wall.

The hill is not grazed intensively these days and young trees are able to grow without being nibbled before they can established themselves.

birch on whita

Going down the hill on a rough path requires all my concentration these days and if I try to look at the views as I descend, I am likely to fall over.  I didn’t fall over today but I had to stop if I wanted to look at the river below.

river esk from whita

The sun came out as I  walked through a newly established birch thicket…

new wood on whita

…and I had one last stop for a view…

looking over langholm

…before I came to the woods on the lower slopes of the hill and walked down to the river to take the obligatory shot of Skippers Bridge.

skippers arch in autumn

This shot had added interest today, because when I looked at the picture later, I noticed something which  I hadn’t seen at the time, a cormorant doing a little fishing under the bridge.

cormorant at skippers

I crossed the bridge, clambered down the bank on the far side and looked back.

skppers from up river

A quick check on the camera at this point showed me that I had already taken over 100 pictures, so I stuck it firmly in my pocket and resolved to take no more before I got home….

…but who can resist a goosander?


My walk was about three and a half miles long and I was very pleased with the co-operation that my feet offered as I went along. My new insoles are doing a good job.

Mrs Tootlepedal had just finished her gardening when I arrived back but she had enough energy left to cook a dish of smoked sausage and spinach with a cream cheese sauce served with penne.  I needed it to give me strength as it was soon time to go out to my Langholm choir practice.

Our regular conductor was not there but our accompanist did a very good job of directing us and playing at the same time so we had a useful session.

On my way home from my walk in the afternoon, I came across a gang of jackdaws finding something interesting to do in the middle of  Henry Street.  They wisely took off when a vehicle approached, allowing me to capture a double (low) flying bird of the day.

two flying jackdaws

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Camera Club member Simon who was at work in Winson in Germany when he found himself being observed.

simons caterpillar

After a rather wild and wet night while Storm Dorian had its last faint fling over Scotland, we had a generally dry and occasionally sunny day today so we got off pretty lightly.

It was still breezy but that didn’t discourage the birds and the garden was fully occupied by feathered friends all day.

When I went out to have a look around in the morning, I spotted this little dunnock looking askance at a blackbird which was stretching its wings in a flowerbed.

dunnock and blackbird

As well as birds, there was a considerable number of red admiral butterflies about too, and I found one on Michaelmas daisy.  I got too close to it though and it flew off, leaving a bee to enjoy some peace and quiet.

butterfly and bee on daisy

I stood for some time watching stream of blackbirds and some starlings feeding on the rowan berries.

Unlike Mrs Tootlepedal who has picked all the low hanging fruit from the plum tree…

plums in bowl

…the birds have eaten all the topmost berries from the rowan and are now having to look at lower fruit, often on the end of branches.

stretching for a berry

I was surprised to see how often the birds dropped a berry before being able to swallow it, but all the same, a lot of berries went down a lot of throats today.

A starling posed for me…

blackbird and rown berry

…and any number of blackbirds were too busy eating to mind me pointing a cameras at them.

four berry and blackbird panel

Sometimes when they had pecked a berry off the very end of the branch, gravity was too much for them and they had to fly off with the berry or risk being pushed off by the  next customer.

three blackbirds on rowan

Underneath the rowan tree, a snowberry was a haven of peace for a visiting insect.


In the garden, many flowers had survived the night of wind and rain.  Mrs Tootlepedal wishes to point out that all the sunflowers in the shot below came from the same packet of seeds, advertised as short sunflowers.  Quality control at the seed merchants looks a bit lax.

contrasting sunflowers

The Japanese anemones are not discouraged by anything.

japanese anemones bunch

In the middle of the day, I made some plum jam with some of the plums that we have picked.  A number of things conspired to make the result unsatisfactory.  The plums were too ripe, it has been raining a lot recently, I didn’t have proper jam sugar, and I was probably too impatient.  As a result, the jam didn’t set properly and I had to give it a squoosh of lemon juice and a second boil later in the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal stewed a lot of the rest of the plums.  They will be frozen.   There may well be more chutney in the offing too.

In the afternoon, I got my bike out, and after having another look at blackbirds in the rowan tree…

shady blackbird in rowan

… I went for a short ride.  There was evidence of the recent rain.

water running on Wauchope road

We had a very good dry spell earlier in the year but the persistent rain has finally got things soggy again and the water is running off the hills and onto the roads in several places.

A cow kept an eye on me as I photographed the puddles.

cow spectator

The forecast was for a gusty wind.  Usually round here it is hard to tell if the wind is gusty because it just blows all the time, but today it really was gusty.  One minute I would be pedalling along merrily, whistling a happy tune, and the next minute I would have my head down, battling to make any progress at all.

Still, I got to the top of Callister and back and stopped as I pedalled through the town to salute our lonely gull on its regular rock.

gull on rock

Although it was not in flood, there was enough water coming down the Esk to create a fine back ripple.

big ripples in Esk

As I crossed the Langholm Bridge, I could see that the cormorant was back at the Meeting of the Waters, so I parked my bike at the Kilngreen and walked along to get a closer look.  It was drying its wings.

cormorant at meeting of the waters

I looked up from watching the cormorant and enjoyed the view of the hills.  The mixture of blue skies and heavy clouds summed up the day.

view of timpen and esk

I only got rained on for a very short time during the ride and got home after 15 miles in good order.  I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn.  For the first time for a few months, I thought that the rate of growth in the grass had slowed down.  It has stayed quite warm recently, around 15°C most days, but the shorter days are getting noticeable now.  We are only ten days away from the autumn equinox and facts are facts.

As the flowers and leaves are showing.

creeper and sedum

The starlings were lined up on the electricity wire as I went in to have my evening meal.

starlings on wire

As well as plums, we are beginning to get quite a lot of apples from our espalier trees.  I have been picking up the windfalls and we decided to take a step into the unknown and convert some of them into a Tarte Tatin.  We were handicapped by not having a suitable pan for the job but we battled on and the result was good enough to eat even if it definitely would not have won even second prize in a beauty pageant.  I am going to try again soon.

As the blackbirds had taken my advice to try to pick berries from above their heads rather than below their feet, there was no shortage of flying birds today so here is the genuine flying bird of the day.

flying blackbird

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend and horticultural adviser Liz.  She went for a paddle on the Union Canal, and knowing that I like bridges, she sent me this.

union canal

After two sunny day, we reverted to a grey and drizzly day again today.  It was an ideal morning for staying indoors so I did just that…

…though I did poke my nose outside in a less drizzly moment to see what was going on.

A bee was trying on a dashing pink hat…

bee on lamium

…and in spite of the gloomy weather, there were quite a few red admiral butterflies around.  I caught one on the buddleia and another one flat out on the sedum, having a snooze.

butterfly on sedum

I checked to see if there were any blackbirds in the rowan tree.  You might think that it would be easier to stand on a twig and peck upwards, but the general trend seems to be to balance carefully and peck downwards.

balckbird diving for berry

I did actually see a blackbird fall off its twig trying this method.   It steadied itself though  and chose a safer spot.

blackbird in rowan tree

After lunch, the drizzle cleared up and the forecast offered some hours of dryish weather in spite of still having quite a lot of rain on its weather map.  I got my bike out and set off to see how far I could get before it started to  rain again.

Farmers have been making good use of the recent sunny days and the number of bales of silage in this field shows just how well the grass has been growing this summer.


I looked down at the wall which you can see at the bottom of the picture above and saw a veritable feast of lichens.

four lichens on wauchope road wall

All these were within a few feet of each other.

I took a little diversion up to Cleuchfoot, and stopped to admire the autumn fruits, sloes and brambles, beside the road.  It looks like being a fruitful season.

sloe and bramble

I got to the top of Callister and as it began to rain lightly, I turned for home.  There was almost no wind today, a very rare thing these days, and it was warm so in spite of the light rain, it was enjoyable to be out and about.

By the time that I had got back to Langholm after 14 miles, the rain had stopped so I didn’t.  I went through the town and out of the other side.  I had to wait at the junction at the bridge to let a small convoy of MGBs through.  They were obviously on a tour and perhaps a reader, looking at the number plate, can tell me where they come from.


When I had crossed the bridge, I had to stop again on the Kilngreen, because not only could I see Mr Grumpy crouching beside the river…

crouching heron

…but there was a cormorant perched on a rock at the Meeting of the Waters.


Local fishermen will not be happy.

I pedalled on up the main road for three miles, stopped to admire the view…

near Hoghill

…and pedalled back home again, pleased to have got 21 miles in on a day that had started so miserably.

After a cup of tea (and a biscuit) with Mrs Tootlepedal and our friend Mike who had dropped in, I was sufficiently revived to go out into the garden and mow the front lawn. The grass is growing well in our garden too and the lawns are needing to be mowed every two or three days.

While I was out, I had a look round and was delighted to see a robin.  I hadn’t seen one for some time.

robin on fence

While I was tracking the robin, I nearly trod on this blackbird.  It was very reluctant to move from a spot where it had obviously found something interesting to eat.

young blackbird on ground

When I looked up at the rowan tree, more blackbirds were finding things to eat.

After a good look round, this one….

blackbird eyeing up beries

…took the plunge, grabbed a berry and swallowed it whole.

blackbird eating berries

Berries were going down well…

berry in blackbird beak

…though some were harder to grasp than others.

close up balckbird with berry

The berries will not last long if the blackbirds keep going at this rate.

I left the blackbirds to it, and walked around looking for flowers.  The honeysuckle on the fence is flowering well and still has plenty to come…


…and Crown Princess Margareta is making a plucky effort to have a late show.

crown princess margareta rose

Then my flute pupil Luke came and showed evidence of practice.  This can only be a good thing.  Both he and I are working on improving our breathing skills and are trying hard to avoid heaving up our shoulders when breathing in, a very bad habit.  Getting rid of bad habits is a lot harder than acquiring good habits so we have some way to go.

I made some cauliflower cheese for our evening meal and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I settled down to the double delight of watching the highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.

I didn’t quite catch a flying bird of the day, but this blackbird had to use its wings a lot to steady itself so it gets the title today, whether it was actually flying or not.

flying berry blackbird

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows a smart locomotive seen by Dropscone, who is visiting friends on the continent.


After two sunny days, it was too much to hope for another one and we duly got a dull, occasionally drizzly but still very warm day for the time of year.

After wasting two good mowing days by cycling and sight seeing, I had hoped to get some serious grass cutting done today but things were so soggy that I only managed the drying green.

I was cheered up by the robin….


… and the number of flowers that had a friend.

flowers and insects

The fat balls continue to attract small birds and I even saw a young dunnock have a go at clinging onto the feeder but it was not a skill it had mastered so it retreated to a nearby bench.


I went up to the Archive Centre and collected some weeks of the newspaper index which I will enter into the database.    There were two data miners hard at work at the microfiche readers producing more stuff so I will have to buckle down and help Sandy who has been doing most of the work recently.

Sandy came round for coffee  and we made arrangements for the  first camera club meeting of the season.  Sadly I will have to miss it as I will be on holiday.

I had one of those rare moments after coffee when I rang up a computer service provider, got connected after only a short delay and was provided with exactly the service that I needed promptly and courteously.    I had to have a little sit down to recover.

I had arranged with Sandy to do some bird food shopping after lunch and to combine this with a walk along the river at Longtown if the weather permitted.  The weather did permit so we bought some bird food and we went for our walk.

We weren’t short of things to eat oursleves on the way.

ripe blackberries

We saw some late summer colour….

Longtown flowers

….but the path we walked along was mostly lined with Himalayan Balsam, which is very pretty but a great pest.  It was attracting a good deal of insect interest and whatever the insects were, they seemed unusually white.

White insects

We got to the open ground round the ponds and looked around hopefully.

Longtown ponds

Longtown ponds

There are ponds the other side of the river which are covered in swans and geese and ducks but for some reason these ponds are always very quiet.  They are very peaceful and charming to look at at so the circular walk round them was a pleasure even if it didn’t provide much photo fodder.

Though I did like this colour combination beside one of the ponds.

Longtown berries

When we got back to the river, I was hoping to be able to spot some wagtails but a party of very noisy fisherman put paid to that and we had a last look back at one of the ponds instead.  There was some life there.

two herons

Not one but two herons crouched in the distance

And a family of swans a bit nearer to us.

And a family of swans a bit nearer to us.

When we got to the balsam lined path, we had a closer look at the flowers….

balsam and lasybird

That might be a 24 spot ladybird on the left

Looking at the right hand picture, we thought that perhaps the white insects were just ordinary bees or wasps covered with white pollen from the balsam flowers.  The insects certainly dived right into the hollow in the centre of the petals and there seems to be a bit pointing down which might deposit white powder on the backs of the insects.  I have never seen this before so I don’t know if I am right.

The balsam has exploding seed pods and Sandy and I amused ourselves by touching them very gently and watching them shoot out seeds in all directions.  It is no wonder that the plants are such a pest.  Sandy gave me a hand in trying to catch a seed explosion.

Balsam seed pod

When we got back to the town, we spent a little time on the banks of the Esk near the fine bridge which carries the main road across it.

Esk bridge at Longtown

The bridge, like our own bridge at Skippers, has been widened to allow two way traffic.

Longtown bridge

We walked under it on a handy path and came up to the main road on the other side.

Longtown bridge

Although it was overcast, it was a very warm and muggy day so I was pleased to get a blast of cool air from the car’s air conditioning as we drove home.  They say that it will be even warmer tomorrow but I hope that it will be a little less humid.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and showed the results of doing some practising. This was encouraging for both him and me.

After tea, I went off to play with Mike and Isabel and we had quite a struggle to get to grips with some new music which I had recently bought so it was a relief to finish the evening with a little tried and tested Mozart.

The flower of the day is one of the smallest of Mrs Tootlepedal’s dahlias….


…and the flying bird of the day is an obliging cormorant which flew up and down the river in front of us at the Longtown bridge until it was certain that I had got a reasonable shot of it.




Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by Dropscone, shows the flood on the road south to Carlisle that our bus had to get through to deliver us safely to the train yesterday.

A 7 flood

After yesterday’s experience of trying out the free Wi-fi in the hotel, I put my hand in my pocket and paid for a faster connection today.  It worked a lot better.

We are in London to celebrate Susan, my eldest sister’s eightieth birthday and we had a coffee with her and Mary, my middle sister when we arrived in London.  The family had turned out in force and Mary took this picture of my younger son and me while we were having our coffee.

Me and Alistair

My older son meanwhile had met A P McCoy, one of his heroes, while walking along the street and had his photograph taken with him as one does.

A P McCoy

We went on to have an excellent tapas meal with assorted young members of the extended family at a restaurant near to our hotel before passing through the colourfully lit Kings Cross Station….

kings cross

…on our way back to the hotel to get ready for the big day.

The weather this morning was kind and after breakfast with my nephew Dan at the ornate  St Pancras Station…..

St Pancras

…Mrs Tootlepedal,  Dan and I visited the nearby London Canal Museum  while we had some time to spare before the party.   This museum had been recommended to me by my sister Susan and had featured on her own blog a few weeks ago.  It is situated on a basin of the Regent’s canal.

canal basin


A cormorant was resting there

The museum was very interesting and had several historic pictures of a grim and derelict appearance which were obviously of scenes from many years ago but which turned out to have been taken well into my own lifetime.

The party took the form of an extended lunch in a pub attached to St Pancras Station and there was a good deal of snapping going on while we ate.  I hope to have some good pictures taken by others to show in the course of time but here are a few of mine meanwhile.

Susan and cake

The birthday girl failing to blow out the candles on her cake by some distance.

The younger generation

Susan’s many nephews and sole niece


The group of those whose lives have been immeasurably enriched by becoming entangled with our family….and who have immeasurable enriched our lives in the process.

After a fine meal, we left St Pancras, passed Kings Cross….

Kings Cross

A superbly simple but elegant facade

…and went back for a little lie down to recover.

In the evening, a small party of us went to the cinema to see Grand Budapest Hotel, a Wes Anderson movie of great charm and that rounded off a good day (apart from the absence of any flying birds).




Read Full Post »

Today’s picture shows a rather selective burst of autumn colour seen by my daughter.


The weather here recently has remained very reasonable, except for the strong winds.  Luckily for my plans, the wind had dropped this morning and I was feeling well enough for a tentative pedal with Dropscone.  We set off round the morning run and my idea was to peel off and head for home after a few miles, leaving Dropscone to go round the rest of the circle by himself.   As it turned out, Dropscone set such a forgiving pace that I was able to go round the whole twenty miles with him.  This cheered me up immensely.   I was even able to ignore some annoying drizzle that followed us round.

This was very satisfactory indeed and I can report that I felt no ill effects later in the day so I think that I can officially say that I am cured  (though it might be better to wait to see how I feel tomorrow just in case).

On our return, I discovered that Dropscone had baked such an enormous pile of drop scones that I had to ring up Arthur and get him to come round to help dispose of them all.  With the aid of some good coffee and fresh raspberry jam, we managed to scoff the lot with surprisingly little difficulty.

All in all, it was an excellent start to the day.  To make things better, the rain had stopped by the time that we had finished our snack.

After lunch, I had a moment to walk round the garden….


A lone philadelphus blossom in October. Amazing.

Shirley poppy

A shy retiring Shirley poppy

Shirley poppy

Three more assertive ones snake their way upwards.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work in the afternoon and I went off to Longtown.  I needed to buy a new track pump for the bicycles as the old one has started letting more air out of the tyres than it was putting in which is not helpful.  I added a  mini pump which will fit onto my speedy bike frame.  It has a little gauge on it which is useful when you are inflating a tube after a puncture as it is difficlut to tell how much air these mini pumps have put in.

I combined the trip to the bike shop with some photograph opportunities. It was sunny when I set out and  I was hoping for some autumn colour but in spite of some changse, the trees are staying obstinately green for the most part.  I stopped at Gilnockie Bridge on my way down to Longtown and looked north and south over the bridge.  The sun popped behind the clouds while I was there.


Looking north


Looking south…a canyon of trees.

I took these two using the tripod but they didn’t look much different from this one which I took hand held with a lighter lens on board.


I parked the car in Longtown after I had been to the bike shop and walked along the banks of the Esk towards the ponds.  The sun was shining brightly as I started my walk and the bridge over the Esk looked very fine.

Longtown Bridge

By the time that I had got to the ponds, the sun was behind the clouds again….

Longtown ponds

…and it stayed there while I walked past the ponds….

Longtown ponds

…and only came out when I was beside the river on my way back.


The camera on the phone enjoyed the sunshine a lot

The last two pictures were only taken half an hour apart but it felt like a different day.

As I walked along the river, I saw a large black bird swimming.  My approach alarmed it and it took off.

black bird at Longtown

I am pretty sure that it was a cormorant.  It flapped up the river and settled down again and then played ‘dodge the photographer’ with me for the next ten minutes before turning and flying off over my head.


I like bridges in general but I like the bridge at Longtown in particular because it shows such a different aspect of itself as you walk towards it.  Although it is a busy bridge with six arches, on a main road and sitting between the an industrial estate and the town itself, it might as well be in the heart of the country when you first see it.

Longtown Bridge

It looks quite different as you get nearer.   The sun was shining with great vigour by the time I got closer to it and it looked gorgeous.

Longtown bridge

I took a final close up.

Longtown bridge

I noticed a fisherman making good use of the bridge for comfortable fishing.

Longtown bridge

A duck nearby was doing some fishing of its own.


The whole visit to Longtown was most enjoyable in spite of both the cormorant and the sunshine playing hide and seek.

I made a loaf of bread when I got home and had time to look out of the kitchen window while i was doing it.

goldfinch and chaffinch

A goldfinch and a chaffinch exchange views

The goldfinches seem to have come out on top because the next time I looked, I saw this.


I was feeling very virtuous because I had taken the feeder to pieces in the morning and given it a thorough clean.

Mrs Tootlepedal came home from work and we had tea together before she went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a film and I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with the recorder group for the first time for what seems like ages.  We remembered how to play however and enjoyed a good evening of music both ancient and modern.  Sandy and I had seen an impressive shooting star on our way home from the camera club last night and as it was a very clear night tonight, Susan and I kept our eyes out for another one but saw nothing.

Among the excitements of cormorants, swans, ducks and goldfinches, a traditional chaffinch still made the position of flying bird of the day his own.















Read Full Post »