Posts Tagged ‘curlew’

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba.  It is not a Canadian picture though.  She met this balletic hare on her trip to Londodn last year.

mj 1

It was a thoroughly rotten day here, very windy, very grey and either drizzling or  raining during the hours of daylight.

Even the birds were fed up and largely stayed at home, though a few goldfinches occasionally braved the weather in the slightly drier moments.


I stayed in and did nothing worth recording.  Indeed things were so quiet that we even spent the afternoon watching horse racing from Cheltenham and Doncaster on the telly.  This is an occasional pleasure for us and there is no doubting the superb athleticism of horses and riders.

A lone chaffinch just sneaked in as flying bird of the day….


…but in such  thin photographic times, I am very glad to able to add a couple of birds kindly sent to me by our sons today.

Alistair was at the zoo with Matilda…


…and Tony was on the shore with his dogs.


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No guest picture today as Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge takes pride of place with a measurable amount of rain in when I checked it this morning.

rain gauge 1 cm

1cm may not seem to be that much  but when I looked at it again when we got back home in the evening, it had 3cm in it which is over an inch.  It looks like we chose a good day not to be in Langholm.

We got up early and set off to Edinburgh at 8.30am and returned,  quite tired, at 9.15pm.

We went to help our son Tony and his family move house from Edinburgh to the other side of the Firth of Forth in a little village called East Wemyss.  It was a multi faceted affair with three vans and two cars involved.

Because of my problem with heights, Tony had managed to get his van, which I was to drive to East Wemyss, over the new Forth Crossing and parked it for me on the other side.

The convoy consisted of Tony’s friend Pedro, the man with the big van, leading, followed by Tony and Marianne and three dogs in their car, followed by Marianne’s daughter Tash in her van, followed by Marianne’s son Dylan is his car, followed by us in our car following Dylan as he knew where to go to find Tony’s van.

We set off with Mrs Tootlepedal driving our car and this let me take a couple of pictures of the Queensferry Crossing Bridge from the car as we went along.

It is a spectacular sight as you approach from the south…

Queensferry crossing 1

…and pretty impressive while you are on it.

queensferry crossing 2

In fact, as you can see, there are hefty wind barriers beside the road and it turned out to be easy to drive across and I drove our car across when we went home without any trouble.

Dylan led us to the van and a mini convoy of Dylan, Mrs Tootlepedal and I made its way along the coast road to East Wemyss.  We found Tash and Pedro waiting outside the new house and we all twiddled our thumbs while Tony and Marianne picked up the keys from a solicitor in Kirkcaldy.  Thanks  to a delay in the necessary money transfers, there was quite a lot of thumb twiddling for us  to do.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked along  the road outside the new house.  It has a good view.

Tony’s house is right on the shore of the Firth of Forth and we could look across the firth to the hills of Edinburgh in one direction…

view from east wemyss

…and North Berwick Law, where we had had a holiday with Matilda in May in the other direction.

north berwick from east wemyss

The Fife coastal path goes past his door and we walked along it for a few hundred yards until we came to this splendid sandstone cliff.

east wemyss sandstone

There are some well known and interesting caves nearby but we didn’t see them.  We did see some excellent lichen…

east wemyss lichen

…a boat at anchor out in the middle of the firth…

boat in forth

…and a fine view of the sea front.

east wemyss

We got some binoculars out of the car and did some bird watching while we waited.

There were some indefinite ducks at sea….


…possibly eider ducks but  too far out for us to be sure.  Nearer to hand there were several oyster catchers….

east wemyss oyster catcher

…and a curlew.

east wemyss curlew

Curlews are getting scarce so to see one so close and so clearly was a treat,.

east wemyss curlew close up

There was a noisy gang of sea birds making a terrific racket on the rocks and flying over the sea and diving for food.

east wemyss sandwich terns

It needed a closer look on the computer and some research by Mrs Tootlepedal in her bird book when we got home to tell us that they were Sandwich terns, birds which I have never knowingly seen before.

sandwich terns

Mrs Tootlepedal found a fine feather.

east wemyss feather

Pedro had another job to go to, so he unloaded his van and Tash, Dylan, Mrs Tootlepedal and I distributed the contents outside the front door and in the little  garden at the back of the house.  Then we spent a nervous hour glancing anxiously at any passing clouds hoping that it wouldn’t rain and that the money would come through all right.

The money did eventually arrive and the keys were handed over so Tony and Marianne and the dogs soon appeared and then we all set to and unloaded Tony’s and Tash’s vans and took all that and the stuff from Pedro’s van into the house from the street and the garden.

When everything was inside the house,we still had 110 miles to go to get home so we left them to do the unpacking and headed south.  The traffic across the bridge and round Edinburgh was very slow but once we had cleared the bypass and stopped for a meal, we drove home on very quiet roads.

No flying bird or flower of the day today but one can’t have everything.  It was quite a full day and we are going to bed at the end of it with a feeling of a job well done.









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My sister Susan returned to the UK from NZ this morning but here is a recent picture of her admiring Lake Te Anau to prove that she was there.  It was taken by my brother.

Surveying Lake Te Anau

She has been banned from mentioning what the weather was like while she was in NZ.  At least we had some sunshine today and it was enough to lift our spirits in the face of continuing cold, windy conditions.

I felt quite a bit better today, although not quite up to cycling yet.  Luckily I had other things to do instead.  I looked out of the kitchen window of course.

chaffimch and brambling

great tit

Later on in the morning, Sandy and I went up to the Moorland feeders as it was my turn to fill the feeders up.  We had to watch out that we didn’t step on a pheasant while we were at the feed bins because one was so desperate for food that it was snapping at our ankles.  Sandy tried to persuade it to eat from the hand…

sandy and friend

…but it wasn’t quite that tame.

When we had finished filling up, Sandy took his remote control out and set up his camera to point at a peanut feeder on the left side of the clearing.  He was hoping to get a good clean woodpecker shot as the light was fairly good.  As my battery was low, I kept my camera in hand.  The woodpeckers arrived in force but sadly for Sandy. they all stuck to the right hand side of the clearing.

triple woodpecker

After a while, Sandy got fed up and moved the camera round so that it was pointing at one of the feeders on the right hand side.  The woodpeckers disappeared and didn’t come back.

This is Sandy setting up his woodpecker scaring equipment.  It works very well.

This is Sandy setting up his woodpecker scaring equipment. It works very well.

We sat for quite a time and I watched some blue tits and a robin on a feeder near me….

robin and blue tit

…but in spite of the sun, it was freezing and we got fed up of waiting for the woodpeckers to reappear so we got up and left before we turned into ice statues.  I did get one picture of a woodpecker before Sandy’s camera scared them away.


The ways of weather are obscure.  Last year when we had a lovely spring, the air was always rather murky and the Lake District hills were mostly hidden from us.  This year, the wind has been coming from the same direction and the weather has been worse but the air has been much clearer and we have been able to see the hills frequently.

lake district from feeders

35 miles to the top of the hill as the crow flies.

We got home and went our separate ways for lunch.  After lunch, I had some business to do for the Archive Group and for the choir so I was kept busy at my computer.  When I had finished, I glanced at the weather map and it claimed that soon the coast near Gretna would be bathed in sunshine.  I thought that this would give us a wonderful opportunity to catch some snow capped hills gleaming in the late sunshine so I rang Sandy to see if he would like a trip to the seaside.  He had been gardening and was happy to take a break so we drove off to Gretna.

The hills were clear as a bell in the distance as we drove down the A7 and there were acres of blue sky in the direction that we were heading.  All was good.  As is all too often the case though, clouds had come to cover the snowcapped peaks and the sun had gone in by the time we got to the shore.    It was also very chilly in a strong wind.  Such is life.

There were plenty of curlews whipping along the shore in little flocks…


Too far away and too quick for a proper shot.

…and there was some sun on some of the lower lying hills across the water.  Since we had gone to the trouble of getting there, I took some pictures anyway.

lakeland hills

penine hills

lakeland hills

In the end, Skiddaw did pop its head out of the clouds but didn’t catch any sun.


Not quite the sparkling white set against a blue sea that I had hoped for.  In fact the Solway was a rather sullen grey.


You can see the fast running tide against the sandbanks.

Just as at the Moorland feeders, the cold wind beat any desire to wait for the sun to come out and we were soon in our way home, stopping to shoot a cloud and some of the missing blue sky.

cloud at Longtown

The Solway plain is a splendid place for cloud watching.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been at work in the afternoon but as she had been on a muck collecting excursion and done some gardening in the morning, she wasn’t tempted to do any more gardening in the chilly evening air so we closed the doors, pulled the curtains and shut the cold out.

She settled to her embroidery and I played about with a masking plug in for my photo editor which I have got on a 30 day trial.  I had taken a photo of a crocus in the morning and I used my new toy to play about with it.  The original picture is in the left frame. You can see the result of masking in the middle frame and some footling about with it in the right hand one.

crocus mangling

What fun.  Mrs Tootlepedal asked why I wanted to mess around with a flower that was perfectly pretty as it was.  Good question but a man needs some occupation.   I am impressed by the ease of use of the masking plug in and I will probably buy it when the time comes.

The flying bird of the day was a chaffinch.  It was nice to catch it in the sunshine.


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