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Posts Tagged ‘crocus’

Today’s guest picture is a follow up to the recent guest picture from Dropscone which showed the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct seen from below.  This is the view from above.  Dropscone walked over the aqueduct.  It would need a team of wild horses to get me across.

Telford aqueduct

We enjoyed a delightfully sunny day today with the only drawback being a frosty morning and a reluctance from the thermometer to rise above 5 degrees.  I would like to have gone for a walk but foot resting is still the order of the day so I spent a quiet morning in waiting for the temperature to rise to safe cycling levels.

I was well entertained by birds while I waited.

Camera shy chaffinches tried to sneak past me undetected….

chaffinch hiding

…while down below, a blackbird eyed up the possibility of fallen seed…

blackbird at feeder

…and a robin took a view from a garden chair.

robin on chair

In the midst of the usual scrum of goldfinches and chaffinches, a splash of yellow caught my eye.  A siskin had arrived, the first for some weeks.

siskin on feeder

It posed for me with a goldfinch to show just how small a siskin is.

siskin and goldfinch

I took a turn round the garden and the sun had encouraged some flowers to do their best, although the first daffodil of the season needed some support to hold its head up.

garden flower feb 11

The garden is amazingly dry considering the amount of rain recorded in  Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge over the past few days.

rain gauge Feb

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and then set off for a short ride on my slow bike.

I stopped a lot to take pictures.

I like this dangly larch branch…

larch in winter

…and there was no shortage of dangly catkins too.

catkins two

The bullocks were taking a rest from playing king of the castle when I first passed them…

sitting bulls

…but ten minutes later, they were full of fun again.

bullock on mound

My trip took me up the valley of the mighty Wauchope Water and to give the reader some context, I include a map of the three mile long river and its tributaries, with some markers to put the pictures in place.

Wauchope catchment

!. This is the spot where the Wauchope Water descends through narrow rocks to make my favourite little cascade.

bessie bells cascade

2. A view of Logan Water….

logan water

…just above where it joins the Bigholms Burn…

bigholms and logan water

…to become the Wauchope.

3.  A view of the junction of Collin Burn and Glentenmont Burn which together make up the Bigholms Burn.

bigholms burn

When you see these small and gentle streams, it is surprising that they can collect enough water between them to make the Wauchope look like this only five miles away.

wauchope in flood

The Wauchope last week as it meets the Esk

I was detained by some lichen on a bridge and more on a concrete fence post on my way home.

lichen on brodge and post

Altogether I managed to pedal twelve and a half miles between taking the pictures so it was a satisfactory outing.  While I was pedalling, Mrs Tootlepedal was doing good work in the garden and greenhouse so we were both pretty cheerful as we sat down for a refreshing cup of tea as the light began to fade.

A second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s excellent fish pie once again rounded off a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life.  I have made an appointment with a physiotherapist for later in the week and as I am expecting a miracle cure, I hope to be back walking very soon.

As the goldfinches were in a co-operative mood, I have gone overboard and used two of them for the flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

flying goldfinch (2)

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by one of my ex teaching colleagues, Ada.  She has been on a walking holiday in Tenerife, which looks from her picture to have been an excellent choice.

Tenerife

I must apologise to regular readers who might justifiably expect a little variety every now and again in my posts but things are conspiring against me to a certain extent and life is a bit dull just now.

I can’t get my foot sorted out so walking is a bit of a pain and the weather has been unhelpful when it come to long cycle rides so there hasn’t been much new in the way of views or even exiting lichens.  On top of that, the supply of birds in the garden has been almost entirely limited to chaffinches…

chaffinches coming and going at feeder

…either at the feeder or approaching it.

flying chaffinch (3)

And although it is mildly amusing to see a chaffinch miss its footing on a perch…

chaffinch missing perch

…one flying chaffinch looks very much like another….

flying chaffinch

…and that was all I saw today.  The goldfinches were hiding behind the feeder when they did arrive.

chaffinches at feeder

There was some excitement when I got a visit in the morning  from Dropscone, bringing treacle scones with him and heard tales of his holiday in Wales.  This was entertaining for me but mostly I looked out of the window and watched chaffinches.

flying chaffinch (2)

After more overnight rain and wind, things calmed down during the day as storm Erik drifted away to the east and although the brisk wind made it feel quite chilly, it was really not a bad day for February.

I am back to trying to rest my foot before going to see a physio as soon as I can next week so my only expedition outside was a tour round the New Town on my slow bike in the hope of seeing something interesting in the way of waterside birds.

There were none about.

Pool Corner was looking peaceful after the storm.

 

pool corner Feb

In the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal had showed me a double snowdrop and I lifted its head to get a better view.  It had been a bit battered by the splash from the rain.

double snowdrop

The crocuses were enjoying the sunshine but they too need a little time to recover.

open crocuses

As I had nothing to better to do, I made the mistake of watching Scotland play Ireland at rugby in the afternoon.  As Scotland played very well intermittently but for the rest of the time ran through their well practised repertoire of forward passes, dropped balls, line out errors and poor choices, this was not the best way to spend time.  We lost.

Still, the days are definitely getting longer and my foot will sort itself out in the course of time so I hope that patient readers will not have to wait too long before something interesting appears in the blog.

In the meantime, here is yet another flying chaffinch of the day.

_DSC9873

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair and shows the indomitable Matilda scootering to infinity and back.

Matilda scootering

It is a rather hasty post tonight as it is late as I write this after a full day.

The weather gods relented and let me get out for a dry cycle ride today.  Perhaps they were fearful that if they rained on me again, I might go over to the dark side and take up cycling indoors.

Two days ago I passed a rook playing king of the castle, today it was bullocks.

cattle king of the mountain

Although I had a good day for a pedal, it was quite chilly and there were still clouds about which led me to having a few nervous backward glances…

Bloch view with cloud

…though the clouds made a good backdrop for my favourite tree…

Bloch tree

…and stayed away fro most of the journey.

As we were going to Edinburgh in the afternoon, I didn’t have time to take many pictures while I went round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit but as I have been short of bridges lately, I stopped for this one at Irvine House.

Irvine Hosue bridge

Mrs Tootlepedal had made soup for lunch and as I waited for it to finish cooking, I noticed a bird showing that I had had to deal with quite a brisk breeze while I had been cycling.

fluffly flying chaffinch

Mostly the birds consisted of chaffinches looking down at other birds.

supervising chaffinch 3supervising chaffinch 2supervising chaffinch 1

In the garden, a bit of sunshine had persuaded a crocus to come out.

early crocus

More colour is provided by cotoneaster berries on the wall of the house.  I don’t know why they aren’t attractive to birds.

cotoneaster berry

After lunch, we drove over to Lockerbie and caught the train (ten minutes late) to Edinburgh.  The weather was lovely as we whizzed along but once again the hills seemed to be attracting the clouds.

Tinto hill from train

When we got to Edinburgh, we caught a bus down to the flat where Matilda and Co are staying until their new house is ready and on the way, we caught a glimpse of a fine rainbow over the Edinburgh rooftops.

rainbow in Edinburgh

Once at Matilda’s, I had a chastening time being thrashed at Pelmanism and Snap by the diminutive demon.  In my defence we were using very small cards with very small pictures on them and her eyesight is much sharper than mine.

We had another excellent Persian meal for our tea and then Matilda demonstrated a dance routine that she is learning for a possible dance school competition.  When I think how hard it is for me to learn new songs, I can only marvel at her ability to remember complicated moves after only one lesson.

I took a picture of the National Gallery in Princes Street when we got off the bus back to the station.  The fine frontage is usually covered with banners advertising exhibitions so it was good to see it almost as the architect intended for once.

National nGallery

The train home was on time and a very tricky crossword meant the the journey flashed by.  The drive home was comfortable with no rain, snow, ice or fog.

As an added bonus, Sandy sent me a message to say that Joe had appeared on a television show talking about his film earlier in the evening and we were able to watch it on catch-up when we got in.

That rounded off a cheerful day.

I have a gender balanced flying bird of the day portfolio today.

Ladies first.

flying chaffinch febflying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday in Wales.  He took the opportunity to see one of the most famous engineering feats of Thomas Telford, a local Eskdale hero.  The picture shows the magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which carries the Langollen canal through the skies over the river Dee.

telford aqueduct

We had a slightly warmer day here today but not much warmer so after having checked the weather forecast (grey but dry) I idled a couple of hours away after breakfast to let the temperature rise before getting out on my bike.

I spent some of the time watching birds.

full feeder

Goldfinches had come back today but my attempts to find a flying bird were generally less than successful with chaffinches either hiding behind the feeder…

chaffinch behind feeder

…or sneaking up before I was ready…

chaffinch approaching feeder

…and the goldfinches weren’t much more helpful.

goldfinch approaching chaffinch

I liked this pair with the sparrow in the role of Esau (my brother Esau is an hairy man…) and the chaffinch posing as Jacob (…but I am a smooth man).

chaffinch and sparrow

I set off on my bike, full of hope and with an ambitious itinerary in mind.  This lasted all of five miles because when I looked down into the Esk valley from the top of the Kerr hill, all I could see was rain, and heavy looking rain at that.

Within a minute, the rain had swept over me too and I was under fire from some painful, sleety raindrops which were being propelled by a strong and gusty wind.

I turned tail and tried to beat the rain.  I succeeded within a mile or so and instead of resting on my laurels and heading for home when I got to the Wauchope road, I set off to the top of Callister instead.  This was a bad mistake and the pedal home back down the hill was a full on experience of getting thoroughly wet.

Still, 17 miles was better than nothing and a hot shower restored my equilibrium.

Of course it had stopped raining by the time that I had got out of my shower so I went for a short walk.

There was even the odd glimpse of sunshine…

Town Bridge wet February

Telford worked on this bridge as an apprentice.

…but everything was very wet…

raindrops on park tree

…wherever you looked…

wet needles

…and as there were ominous clouds building up and my foot was hurting a bit, I took a quick stroll along the park wall where the pixie cup lichens ….

big cup lichen

…were to be seen on every side.

pots of cup lichens

The lichen stained bark of a tree caught my eye…

park tree bark

..but I had got discouraged so I headed home and looked for flowers in the garden.  The crocuses looked a bit discouraged too…

wet crocus buds

…but a hellebore was looking well and even had a fly for company.

hellebore feb

I lifted the head up to show that it was in good health.

hellebore held up

Once I got in, the weather brightened up but I was fed up by then and I did some singing practice, had a cup of tea and a biscuit with Mike Tinker who dropped in and made a beef stew for my evening meal.

While I was doing these things, Mrs Tootlepedal was continuing with her crochet blanket (the end is in sight) and doing some detailed work on the rocking horse as part of the preparations for painting it (a lot of work to go).

After tea, I went off for the first meeting of 2019 for the Langholm Community Choir.  There had been worries that the membership might drop off but there was a very good attendance with a new member on hand.  Mary, our director, in consultation with the committee, has settled on fewer new works this session and as they are fairly easy arrangements, we had a relaxed session.  I think this is a good plan as we ought to be able to sing  the material very well by the time our concert comes round without any stress.

The best flying bird of the day that I could find was this chaffinch, just out of focus.  It matched my efforts to read the weather correctly.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was visiting the Somerset Rural Life Museum with my Somerset correspondent Venetia not long ago when she came across this very patient horse.

mary somerset horse

It was a beautiful day today with not a cloud in the sky but as it was still below zero after breakfast, there was no chance of a cycle ride for me.  Unfortunately my foot was rather sore which was annoying so I didn’t think that a walk up one of our hills was a good idea either.

As a result, I hung around doing nothing much while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle in the bus to do some shopping.  In the end, I pulled myself together and went out to see if I could walk my sore foot off with a nice flat stroll.  I couldn’t but it didn’t get any worse and it was a lovely day for a walk so I wasn’t complaining (too much).

There were gulls dipping their feet in the icy waters of the river at the Kilngreen…

bathing gulls

…with others keen to join them.

gull landing in esk

Meanwhile there was a lot of gulls leaving their posts and flying past me both at low level…

flying gull 1

…and higher up too.

flying gull 2

I pottered on round the Castleholm and pheasant hatchery, enjoying frequent splashes of snowdrops as I went.

lodge gates snowdrops

The last time I walked this way, it was a very grey day and I took a black and white photo of the woods near Holmhead so I thought it only fair to show them in full colour today.

holmhead woods

I would have liked to be on the top of Timpen instead of looking up at it but…

timpen from pheasant hatchery

…there were interesting icy puddles to admire where I was….

frozen puddle mat and clear

…and a delightful view of a characteristic farm cottage…

breckonwrae

…colourful cones, fallen to the ground…

cones

…and quite a bit of hair ice too.

hair ice

The fungus which causes this phenomenon must be spreading as I am seeing more and more hair ice as I walk about.

As long as I was in the sunshine, it was a very kind day for a walk but in the shadows, the ground was still frost covered.

whita in sunshine and shade

The conditions underfoot were perfect, dry and ice free…

castleholm walk

…so I got home very content with my walk.   My foot was a different matter though and as I can’t work out what is wrong with it,  I will seek medical assistance next week unless it has magically cured itself.  Quite often just making an appointment with a doctor or a physio is sufficient to make ailments behave themselves.  I live in hope.

I had some soup for lunch and watched the birds for a while.  The goldfinches were back and I liked the beady eye that this one was casting on proceedings.

wary eyed goldfinch

A brambling appeared in the plum tree…

brambling in sun

…and since this is the third or fourth time that I have seen a single brambling lately, I am beginning to wonder if it always the same bird which has got detached from its friends.  Usually, if you see one brambling, you soon see more.

I had a walk round the garden and was pleased to see more signs of life, both potential….

peony shoots

…and actual.

first crocus

I would like to have made better use of such a fine day but apart from taking the car up to the garage in readiness for its MOT test tomorrow, I spent the rest of this fine day indoors.  At least I got some Archive Group work done so it wasn’t entirely wasted.

My flute pupil Luke came and we did some hard work on reading and playing demi-semi quavers.  They are not intrinsically hard to work out but it can be tricky working out how long you need to hold a crochet for when you have just been playing dozens of these little notes.

The rocking horse is still drying out upstairs and Mrs Tootlepedal has been visiting it and giving it a pat from time to time.

There is not one but two flying birds of the day today as the gulls flew past me in formation on my walk.

two flying gulls

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was visiting Nottingham University when he took this picture of the main buildings in the background behind the lake and a very interesting looking mini golf course with giant acorns.

andrew nottingham

We woke to a sunny day but as the thermometer had dropped several degrees and a very biting northerly wind was blowing, I wasn’t tempted to go further than the garden before church.  In spite of the cold, definite signs of spring are all about.

crocus, daff, sarcococca

The church choir, though small in number, sang away heartily at the hymns and a short anthem and at the practice after the service we agreed to try something a little more ambitious for Easter.  Time will tell if we have bitten off more than we can chew but our organist and choirmaster is so enthusiastic that it will be fun trying.

When we got home, I fortified myself against the chill with a cup of coffee and went for a walk. Yesterday’s day of rest had made my sore foot worse if anything so I thought that perhaps exercise might be a good idea.

I aimed for a route which would have the wind at my back when I was exposed and which would find me in the shelter of hedges and the valley on my way home.    This took me along the track to the Becks Burn and back along the road.  It worked out well.

When I read other people’s blogs, I often long for some context for their pictures and words so I took the chance to show Wauchope Cottage tucked into the heart of the new town of Langholm

wauchope cottage from scotts knowe

Our white front door can be seen in the centre of the picture with the walnut tree in front of the house.

A little further up the hill, I could now see the new town in the foreground with the old town behind and Whita Hill providing the backdrop.

view from scotts knowe

I noticed a healthy looking polypody fern on a wall near Holmwood.

fern front and back

If you could get out of the wind and into the sun, it was a pleasant day for walking.

becks track

Although the fields along the track are still fairly green…

becks track field

…the rough pasture on the hills is losing its colour and we won’t get our green hills fully back now until May.

warbla from becks track

The felled trees in the wood provided some pretty patterns.

felled tree stump

I was passed by a jogger after I had crossed the Becks Burn and was impressed as he sped up the hill on the far side.

jogger in becks wood

The road back down into the valley was richly dressed with catkins in the hedge…

catkin panel

…and when I got down to the Wauchope road, I had a good time looking at various very healthy lichens on the walls.

four lichens

I filled the feeder when I got home and watched the birds for a while.  Two male chaffinches showed off their fine colouring in the sunshine…

two colourful chaffinches

…while a female looked unavailingly for a free perch.

chaffinch approaching goldfinches

This goldfinch had found one and was keeping a close eye on it as he approached.

goldfinch looking for a perch

Another goldfinch had a friend who was kindly keeping the sun off him as he ate.

slave goldfinch

After lunch, we drove down to Carlisle in glorious sunshine to attend our community choir there.  The wind was gusting at 40 mph so for once I wasn’t at all unhappy not to be cycling on a sunny day.

Unlike the church choir, the Carlisle choir was very well attended with about 100 members enjoying an excellent and productive practice.  My time spent trying to learn the songs for our Manchester competition paid off and I found that I was fairly confident in the two that we sang today.  It was lucky that we didn’t sing the third one, as I have a lot of work to do on that still.

We paused outside the chip shop in Langholm on our way home for long enough for a poke of chips to insert itself into the car as if by magic and eating the chips with the last of my tapsi flavoured sausage stew brought a satisfactory day to a close.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, applying the brakes and looking keenly for a free space at the feeder.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s recent trip to America.  As well as wild life in Wyoming, she saw still life in Thousand Oaks.

Thousand Oaks

We had a second fine sunny day today, frosty at dawn but warm enough for the rest of the day to make being outside a pleasure.

So it was a pity that it coincided with the one day of the week where thanks to choirs, we spend a lot of time indoors but these things  can’t be helped so we enjoyed the singing and we enjoyed the sun.

After the church choir, Mrs Tootlepedal made a chicken stew in the slow cooker and then found some time for gardening while I sneaked out for a dozen miles on the slow bike just to keep the miles ticking over while the sun shone.

I stopped for a view at the Bigholms…

view at Bigholms

…and as well as admiring the fine tree in the view…

tree at Bigholms

…I took a picture to show how thin the soil is under our scenery.

peat at Bigholms

The dark layer is peat.

While I was stopped for the view, I looked at a concrete fence post beside the road as I don’t like to waste a stop if I can help it.

lichen at Bigholms

I had a look round the garden when I got in and noted that a little bunch of the miniature Tete a Tete daffodils has come out…

jetfire daffodil

…though we are still waiting for the main daffodils to do their thing.

The crocuses were enjoying the sun…

crocuses

…but there was nothing new to see so I went inside, had a shower and set up the camera at the kitchen window.

The feeder had been unoccupied while Mrs Tootlepedal worked nearby but when she came in, visitors arrived.

chaffinches

They were mostly chaffinches, flying in….

flying chaffinch

…from the plum tree and…

_DSC2560

…sometimes getting into arguments with each other.

flying chaffinch

Sometimes a goldfinch stood in their way…

flying chaffinch

…and sometimes a greenfinch…

flying chaffinch and greenfinch

..but it was good to see the feeder busy.

I didn’t catch a flying greenfinch but I did notice one of the few goldfinches arriving.

flying goldfinch

I didn’t have long to enjoy the birds though as the moment to leave for Carlisle and our choir came all too soon.

We had our substitute conductor again this week as our musical director was busy with one of his many other duties and she gave us a thorough workout.  It was made all the harder from my point of view as my voice, which had been a bit husky in church, took a turn for the worse and I croaked my way inelegantly through the practice.

By the time that we had got home, I was even croakier and wondered whether I had picked up some unhelpful ailment but a couple of paracetamols and a plate of Mrs Tootlepedal’s excellent chicken stew improved things a lot.  I am hoping that all will be well in the morning.

I was even more perked up when I discovered that I had got a worthy contender for the position of flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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