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Posts Tagged ‘dandelion’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who saw this pink elephant but swears that she hadn’t touched a drop of drink all day.  I believe her.

pink elephant

It is going to be a rushed post today as I went to Carlisle to sing with our Carlisle choir at the local music festival in two classes and as there were eight choirs in the first class and seven in the second, it turned into a long evening and I haven’t even had my tea yet.

I had two visitors in the morning, a frog in the pond among potential frogs…

frog and tadpoles

…and Sandy who dropped in for coffee and to give me advice on getting my printer to print satisfactory pictures for the forthcoming exhibition.

His advice was sound and I spent most of the rest of the morning printing out pictures, a very slow business.

I did have time to walk round the garden.  The daffodils are looking better all the time…

clump of daffodils

…and some of the fancy ones are coming out too.

fancy daffodil

There was a brisk traffic at the bird feeder.

busy feeder

After lunch I went for a walk on my slow bike by which I mean that I bicycled slowly along a route which I would normally have walked as I am trying to rest my sore foot.

Signs of spring are all around, with the ducks pairing up…

two ducks

…and daffodils nodding their heads at the vigorous ripples on the Ewes Water.

dafodils beside ewes

It was sunny but windy and there was occasional rain so I thought that this little scene on the Castleholm summed the day up well.

puddle on castleholm

There were more signs of spring as I crossed the Jubilee Bridge and headed home.

tree budsanother dandelion

I liked the way that the shadows of the playing field fence lay so neatly on the path.

scholars fence shadow

When I got home, I had time to cut a couple of mounts for my exhibition pictures before I left for Carlisle and the choir competition.

I had given myself plenty of time and I had a few minutes to walk round the city centre before going to the warm up.

I noted the old town hall, now a tourist information point…

dav

…the old guildhall, now a restaurant….

dig

…and the very old  cathedral which is still a cathedral.

burst

We sang well at the music festival but the competition sang even better so we  we had to relinquish our grip on the trophy that we won last year.  My heart sank a bit at the prospect of sitting through 13 other choir performances but in the event, it was an entertaining evening with lots of variety in the choirs (everything from a male voice choir to several school ensembles) and lots of variety in the musical offerings (everything from Bruckner to ‘Blame it on the Boogie’).

The winning choir, an all ladies ensemble, was sensational and well worth being beaten by.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with its eye on a free perch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our friend Gavin.  Last week when we were enjoying wet and grey conditions here, he was over on the east coast basking in the sun on Tynemouth beach, a mere 80 miles away.   But it was chilly there too in the brisk wind in spite of the sun.

tynemouth beach

We enjoyed a pleasant day of warm spring weather here today.  The shock was so great that I nearly had to go back to bed for a lie down to recover.  In the end though, I pulled myself together, turned down an offer of treacle scones, nodded at the goldfinches on the feeder…

goldfinches

…and set off for a pedal.  I didn’t rush out as it was only 5°C after breakfast and I didn’t want to have to put on a lot of cold weather gear only to have to take it off again as the day warmed up.  I compromised and waited until it hit 8° and only had to shed a few garments as I went round.  (I have a handy pannier to store them in.)

As I was hoping for a longer ride than usual, I stopped from time to time to have a drink and a snack and make sure that my legs got a rest.

I enjoyed this bank of snowdrops near Gair at my first stop.

snopwdrops at gair

I didn’t enjoy having to take my front wheel off and clear a lot of mud from my front mudguard which I had picked up when I cycled past the new windfarm  site entrance on the top of Callister.  The potholes there have been mended but the mud is a continuing problem for cyclists.

The wind was not strong but it was in my face for most of the outward journey so I made slow progress down to the village of Rockcliffe, which sits on the bank of the River Eden.

I parked my bike just before I got to the village and walked down a short track to the riverside and enjoyed the peaceful scene.

rockcliffe and eden

I had just turned away from the river when a loud noise made me look back.

I was amazed to see a tidal bore rolling up the river towards me and struggled to get my phone out to record the scene as my camera was having one of those Lumix moments when the zoom won’t extend.

I have seen bores on the news before but I have never seen one in real life so this was a treat. It was surprisingly loud and although it was only about a foot high, it looked very powerful as it swept past me…

sdr

…with the front of the bore not being a straight line as I expected but an elegant curve.

sdr

My camera started working again at this point and I used it to record the contrast between the calm water ahead of the wave and the turbulent movement behind it.

bore on eden 3

Three canoeists were paddling along behind the bore.  Whether they had been riding it earlier and had got left behind, I don’t know.

canoeists follwoing bore

I reclaimed my bike and went on my way very cheerfully, having seen a sight that I had never expected to see.

As I got back on the road, I enjoyed a black and white view of horses.

rockcliffe horses

The direct route that I wanted to take from Rockcliffe was closed for resurfacing so I had to go round by the cycle lane along the new northern by-pass.  This led me past a newly constructed pond and I was pleased to see that what could just have been a utilitarian run off pool had been carefully sculpted and planted with reeds.

pond near asda

I turned for home and crossed the A7 at Blackdyke, and on my way, I passed this, the first dandelion of spring.

first dandelion of spring

From there I headed onto the Brampton Road, joining it opposite this  fine row of trees..

three trees brampton road

…and then I stopped for a sit on a bench below the Longtown bridge for a final snack and drink.

burst

I was hoping for some waterside bird life but there was none, so I took a shot through one of the arches…

longtown brodge arch

…and, with the wind now behind me,  I cycled home up the hill a good deal faster than I had come down.

The day was so well adjusted for cycling that I might well have gone further but my legs, which are a bit out of practice, objected so I settled for 53 miles at a modest pace and was very pleased to have had the opportunity to do that.

I said a day or two ago that the flowers in the garden were just waiting for a bit of sun to come out.  They got a bit of sun  today and they came out.

clump of blue crocus

single crocus

creamy crocus

I was interested to see a lot of insects about.

pale crocus

 

yellow crocus

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that she had seen a bee early in the afternoon but it had left before I arrived.  We are going to refer to it as Bee A as it is the first that we have seen this year.

She did some gardening while I checked on the frogs….

two frogs in pond

They were not seeing eye to eye today

…and then I went in to make a cup of tea and watch the birds.  There were not many about.

chaffinch head down

A second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie round off a good day very well.  We had some marrow on the side.  We have had a big marrow on the go for several weeks and it has provided many side dishes for meals and shows no sign of going over at all.  It is the only one of our own vegetables left as the fish pie had used the last of our home grown potatoes. Still, we have been eating our own potatoes since August so we can’t complain. They kept very well thanks to the good summer.

Birds were very few and far between when I was watching today but I did find a flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can click on the map below for more details of the ride.
Garmin route 22 Feb 19

A final note: the traction on my back seems to have helped my foot problem a lot and it is much less painful than it has been.  I hope that this progress continues.

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Today’s guest picture comes from  Dropscone’s recent seaside holiday on the east coast.  He climbed a dune to look at the beach and saw five people, two dogs and half a million razor clam shells.

razor clams

We had a third and bonus sunny day as the weather turned out better than expected.  It was frosty again at dawn so I was happy to entertain Dropscone (and scones) for coffee while the temperature climbed slowly up to cycling levels.

Before coffee, I had an early walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal and we saw the first bumblebee of the year.

bumble bee

It was so bright that it was hard to miss.   I think that it is probably a tree bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum.

After coffee, Dropscone went off to play golf and I looked out of the kitchen window while making some carrot and parsnip soup for lunch.  Rather to Mrs Tootlepedal’s surprise, the parsnips came out of the vegetable garden after a hard winter in pretty good condition.

Rather to my surprise, there was a steady supply of flying chaffinches and some convenient sunshine for them to fly in.

We try to run a gender neutral blog so here are male chaffinches, both horizontal and vertical…

flying chaffinches

…and females with wings in and out.

flying chaffinches

Flying birds are like buses, sometimes you don’t see any and sometimes they all come at once.

After lunch, I went out for a pedal.  Because my throat was still a bit rusty, I started carefully but it soon became obvious that cycling was doing no harm so I put a bit of effort in.  For once, the wind was light and I enjoyed every mile of my usual twenty mile trip to Canonbie and back.

There were a few signs of life in the verges at last.

dandelion

I stopped to admire a handsome tree at the Bloch….

bloch tree

…and some cows in a field who were happy to sit for a picture.

cows

This one took her duties very seriously.

cow

In times past, I would have been worried to see cows lying down as this was thought of as a sign of impending rain but this is a myth and the sun stayed out for me, giving me a fine view of the northern English hills in the distance.

view from tarcoon

I took another picture of the lambs at the Hollows.

lambs

Who could resist them?

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been very hard at work in the garden on her new design for the middle lawn and its surrounds.

new garden plan

It takes a lot of skill and energy to lay paving stones.

I had a look round while she toiled.

The winter aconites were soaking up the sun..

winter aconite

…and a welcome hint of a flower or two could be seen on the drumstick primulas.

drumstick primula

Dr Tinker, who was walking his daughter’s dog, Bob arrived in nice time to join us for a cup of tea and half a dainty cake.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we made some progress which was helped when I found out that it wasn’t us but the computer that was making a mistake in one movement of the sonata we were playing.  GIGO.

I was expecting to go and play trios in the evening but the playing was cancelled so I went off with Mrs Tootlepedal to see a screening of Lady Windermere’s Fan at the Buccleuch Centre.  I didn’t know what to expect but in the event, I liked the slightly stylised  production a lot.  The setting, costumes and lighting were unfussy and bright (a very unusual thing in modern productions as far as I can see) and you could hear every word spoken. As the words are by Oscar Wilde this was a Good Thing.  What came over very clearly was the relevance of the play to Wilde’s own life and this gave genuine pathos to a witty production.

The flying bird of the day is one of the busy chaffinches and for once, the photograph has not been cropped at all which shows how favourable conditions were this morning.

flying chaffinch

My twenty miles today got me over three hundred miles for the month of March.  This is as much as I did in the first two months put together so things are looking up a bit. 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by Irving, shows the Black Esk reservoir which provides us with our drinking water.  I have often meant to visit it but never have so perhaps this will spur me into action.

Black Esk reservoir

We had another frosty morning heralding another beautifully calm and sunny day and we tried to make good use of it.   For some mysterious reason, I was feeling a little tired in the morning so I needed a leisurely breakfast which morphed into a leisurely cup of coffee and a look out of the window…

Black Esk reservoir

…before I went off for a little walk while Mrs Tootlepedal put a second coat of paint on the bathroom door.  (It is looking very smart.)

There are no new flowers on the go as the frosty mornings are delaying things a bit but the drumstick primulas are looking finer every day.

drumstick primulas

Taking my walking poles in hand, I left the garden and  walked up onto Meikleholm Hill and then, having found that my legs were in working order, I went through the gate at the top of the hill…

Meikleholm gate

… and  continued to the top of Timpen at which at 326m offers fine views.

Timpen trig point

I was in windmill country and I could see not only the long established Craig turbines but some of the new ones on the Ewe Hill wind farm peeping over the horizon behind.

windmills

To the north I could see the Ettrick Hills….

Ettrick Hills

…and to the south, the same Lake District hills that I had enjoyed on my bike ride yesterday.

Lake District Hills

I was shooting into hazy sun and I liked the resulting interpretation of the scene by my camera.

Down below, on one side of the hill, the Esk river wound through the valley.

Esk at Milnholm

…and on the other, the town lay peacefully in the sun.

Langholm

As I stood there, I was delighted to be serenaded by the constant singing of larks.  It was a privilege to be alive.

On my way down, I noticed a tree which was doing its best to get a little shelter in the lee of a slope….

Meikleholm tree

…and a bright dandelion beside the track into the town.

dandelion

When I got back home, Mrs Tootlepedal had finished her painting and was going three rounds with a overgrown rose that needed pruning.

We retired indoors for lunch and then put her fairly speedy bike and my slow bike into the back of the car and drove off to Longtown.

Our aim was an eleven mile circular drive up the hill behind the town and then back down again.

We hoped for quiet cycling and great views and got both……as a nice little bridge too.

Easton road bridge

We had a bit of work to do to get our views….

Easton road

…but it was worth it.

My camera has many virtues but taking pictures of extensive views is not among them so you will have to take my word for it.  This is the view looking back towards Langholm.

Easton panorama

You can click on this if you want to get the bigger picture.

The view towards the Lake District and the Pennines was magnificent to the eye but rather hazy from a camera’s point of view…

Lake District

…but the prospect to the south and west was enough to take the breath away  (though cycling up the hill may have contributed to this).

Once we had enjoyed the views, we were able to scoot back down to Longtown in a very relaxed way.

We were cycling along without gloves and an indication of just how pleasant the day was can be gained from the fact that Mrs Tootlepedal suddenly exclaimed, “I can smell coconut.”

As we don’t have any palm trees around, it meant that the sunshine was warm enough to get the gorse to release its very coconutty aroma.  Sure enough, there was the gorse in the hedge beside the road.

gorse

It was almost like a summer day by this time and the temperature was in the mid teens.

We thoroughly enjoyed our outing and  and I hope that we get many more cycle rides together as the year goes on.  The cup of tea and a biscuit when we got home went down very well too.

I had enough energy left to do a little lawn mowing  (or moss pressing as we call it at this time of the year) and some compost sieving.   Mrs Tootlepedal’s gardening had left the stock of sieved compost rather low so I will need to get some more done soon.

During the day we had two less common bird visitors, a greenfinch in the bright morning and a coal tit as the light went down in the evening.

greenfinch and coal tit

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to the local operatic society’s performance of Sweet Charity and I had a quiet sit down.

Rather annoyingly, instead of the clear blue sky which we should have enjoyed, the atmospheric conditions revealed just how many aeroplanes fly over us and the the sky was full of drifting con trails all day.  At least the passing pilots had the good manners to sign off in style as the sun went down.

St Andrew's Cross in the sky

I took a closer look.

St Andrew's Cross in the sky

The flower of the day is a daffodil…

daffodil

…and the flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying caffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s picture, sent to me by my friend Bruce, shows the view across the sea to the Mull of Kintyre, with not a mist covered mountain in sight.

Mull of Kintyre

There were no mist covered hills here either today as we enjoyed a cloudless sky from dawn until dusk and beyond.  There was a little more breeze about so I was glad to have got my cycling done yesterday.  Today, I took things more easily.

After a late breakfast, I went out to commune with the tadpoles…

tadpoles

… tidy up a rather ragged blackcurrant bush and pick the first rhubarb of the season.

Then Dropscone and Sandy came and we enjoyed scones and coffee before Sandy went off to do a short spell in the Information Hub and Dropscone retired to get his mental preparations for playing golf in order.

I went out to join Mrs Tootlepedal who had been gardening away all morning.  Together we emptied and moved a long term compost bin.  Mrs Tootlepedal was fettling up the gooseberry bush and its bed so I provided her with a barrow load of rough compost.  Bin D is emptying rapidly and it will soon be time for another burst of compost shifting.

The bright sun had persuaded the tulips to put their whole hearts into opening up to salute it…

tulips

…and it was positively warm outside at last.

After lunch, Sandy came round again and we drove down to Gilnockie Hall…

gilnockie hall

…and embarked on a walk of just under two miles.  Sandy is recovering well from his operation and this was a test for him which he passed with flying colours.

Before we had even got going, we were very interested to see a (very) early small tortoiseshell butterfly visiting a dandelion beside the hall.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

Our walk took us through the North Wood and down onto the old railway line..

Claygate walk

..in delightful conditions.

The old railway line sometimes runs on embankments and sometimes through cuttings…

old railway at Gilnockie

…but we were quite surprised to see that this section…

old railway at Gilnockie

…which looks unremarkable, crosses a handsome bridge which we had never noticed on previous outings.

You wouldn’t think that you could miss a bridge of this size.

old railway bridge at Gilnockie

We had to scramble down the banking to get to the track below but we thought that the effort was worthwhile.

The little tunnel was beautifully constructed….

old railway bridge at Gilnockie

…and is a tribute to the workmen who built the railway line without the aid of modern machinery over 150 years ago.  It was home to a magnificent colony of spleenwort.

There were other things to notice too.

Strange plants were nosing up through the earth.

giant northern horsetail

I think that this is a giant northern horsetail, described as a living fossil as it has been on the go for more than a hundred million years (according to Wikipedia).

Some more modern plants were available too.

willow

We passed interesting equines in a field belonging to a livery stables.

Thorniewhats

Thorniewhats

And there was evidence of the old railway to be seen…

gilnockie station

…as we passed the old platform, the site of the level crossing and the station house, now a private dwelling.

As we walked back along the road to Sandy’s car, we noticed a magnificent dandelion in the verge

dandelion

We felt that, although short, the walk had been very good value.

When I got home, I mowed the greenhouse grass and and put a dose of buck-u-uppo on the middle lawn while Mrs Tootlepedal got the strimmer up and neatened up the edges of everything she could find.

There was time to look at a flower or two.

forsythia and violet

A bold forsythia and a shrinking violet

By the way, did I mention the the tulips were out?  They really were.

tulips

Then it was four o’clock and time for tea and a sit down all round.

In the evening we went to our Langholm Choir and a had a good time singing a madrigal and three songs from the great American songbook.

It was such a glorious and cloudless day that I thought that I ought to show that the sky was still clear at ten o’clock in the evening.

moon

The flying bird of the day is a regulation chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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I apologise for today’s guest picture but it is another from the St Bees Sportive and I have put it in because I paid good money for it so I am going to use it.

St BeesI also apologise for breaking my own rule about how many pictures I should put in a post.  I was surprised by the weather today and took far more photographs than I thought that I would and then had some difficulty in choosing which ones to throw away so if you are pushed for time, look away now.   I will keep the words to a minimum.

I started the day by scarifiying the front lawn.  I did the proposed paths yesterday and the proposed meadow parts today, using a more ferocious blade.

front lawn

There is still any amount of moss left sadly.

After the scarifying, Mrs Tootlepedal and I did a lot of reorganisation in our upstairs rooms following the end wall work.  Mrs Tootlepedal managed to get a saw and resize a desk in no time.  She says she is never going to do a major reorganisation again…ever.

After this the sun came out and I went out too.

tulips

hyacinths  and bees

Some smaller than usual bees were enjoying the grape hyacinths

lawn bird

In spite of my scarifying efforts, there was still enough left on the middle lawn to keep various birds interested.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Embroiders’ Guild meeting and I lounged around.

After she came back, she went into the greenhouse to plant seeds and I went for a walk.  It immediately started to rain.

I kept going regardless and as I walked up the Kirk Wynd past the golf course, I could see distant sunshine.

Distant sunshineI paused in the rain to capture two prickly subjects…

gorse and bramble….had another look at the prospects…..

distant sunshine…took my courage in both hands, ignored the rain and walked up onto the open hill.  As I got there, the rain stopped and the sun came out.

WhitaThe rest of my walk was in perfect sunshine and I will put the pictures in from it without comment for the most part.

Quarry track

Esk valley south of langholm

The view down the Esk valley

WhitaWhitasheepsheeplambIt is a grand walk for views of the town.

LangholmLangholmEven the sheep were looking from the viewpoint.

sheepAs I walked along the track I spotted what I think is a raven circling above my head and giving out discordant calls.

raven

No doubt some kind person will tell me if I am wrong

My immediate target was the wall at the quarry.

wall on whitaI clambered over the wall using a stile and then followed the track down to the path to the Round House.

spring trees

The trees are now coming into leaf

woodI came to the round house.

round house

This was built by a local landowner to be a place to sit and admire the view but it was vandalised many years ago and is now shut up. A bench has been provided for view lovers instead.

Even the walk along the road when I got to it was very pleasant, as it was rich in roadside flowers.nettle and forget me not feverfew and dandelionI walked back along the river hoping to see a goosander.  I did…but it flew past me as such speed that I couldn’t catch it.  I had to make do with more static targets.

Esk at LangholmLangholm Parish ChurchAs you can see, it was a perfect evening by the time that I got home and warm enough to walk without a jacket on.

If you have lasted this long, I hope that you have enjoyed coming along with me on the walk.  You can probably see why I took so many pictures today.

I didn’t have a very good time trying to get a flying bird of the day today but I nearly got a very good one.

pigeon

It had just landed before I got organised.

A regular chaffinch in one of the gloomier moments of the day will have to do.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a view of Buckingham Palace from St James’ Park.  I am going to have a view from my sitting room window like this when I grow up.  My sister Mary took the picture.

Buckingham Palace from St James's ParkAlthough it was a rather cloudy day, the temperature wasn’t too bad and the wind was light so I leapt out of bed determined to go for a morning ride.  I just made it, finally setting off a few minutes before midday.    It wasn’t as though I had done anything more interesting than the crossword in the interim.  I had spent a little time wondering how this goldfinch had contrived to get a seed to fly over its shoulder….

goldfinch and seed

One of the mysteries of life.

…and communing with a jackdaw.

jackdawI had also been amused by a goldfinch shouting so loudly that a siskin had nearly jumped right out of its feathers.

goldfinch and siskinBut I couldn’t find any other reasons for delay and in the end I got going on the 22 mile trip to Gair and back.

I am beginning to feel that I have got a little strength back in my legs but I am far from fit yet.  I did try to press on from time to time but my efforts soon fizzled out and I was back to plodding.  I am going to try to get my average speed for this trip up to 14 mph by the end of the month which will be a start on the road back to full fitness.

The cloud was sitting down so firmly on the top of Callister that I had to stop when I got down the other side and wipe the moisture off my glasses.

When I got home, the cloud was still down on Whita and it looked as though it might be a day for going  up to the monument and getting above the cloud.  I was quite excited by this as it offers good photo opportunities so after a quick lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I jumped into the car and drove up to the Whte Yett.

McDiaramid Memorial

The combination of sunshine and cloud looked promising.

Mrs Tootlepedal stayed at the car and scanned the skies for interesting birds, while I plodded up the track to the monument.

The venture was not very successful for me to say the least.

Instead of burning off the top of the  hill, the cloud stuck around stubbornly.

monumentAs there was a hint of sunshine, I hung around in hope for a while…

lichen

There is always lichen to look at.

but instead of disappearing, the cloud thickened, blowing up the valley from the south.  This was the total view.

View from WhitaConscious of Mrs Tootlepedal waiting for me at the bottom of the track, I walked back down.  It was a curious day.  To one side of the track, blue sky…

View from Whita…and to the other, mist covered hills.  When I got to the bottom, I looked back at the monument.

WhitaA few minutes later, the summit was clear of clouds.

As a consolation I did manage to spot one of the many larks that were singing their heads off in the sky above me as i walked.

lark

Usually they are hard to see at all let alone photograph.

Mrs Tootlepedal had not been bored at all as she had seen a hen harrier, two buzzards and a (possible) kestrel or merlin while I had been away.

We decided to go on over the hill to see if we could see more harriers and owls.

The Tarras valley was a mixture of cloud and sunshine.

Back of WhitaIt was fate, that as soon as we got parked, the cloud swept up the valley and covered the car and the surrounding moor.  We didn’t linger long.

To rub salt in the wound, the rest of the day in the town was absolutely beautiful but I didn’t have the energy left to do more than wander round the garden from time to time…

Bergenia

A bergenia trying hard

tadpoles

Tadpoles about to break free

dandelion

An interloping but very pretty dandelion on the drive.

…and stare out of the kitchen window when I got in.

This time it was a chaffinch with a loud voice.

chaffinch

The other chaffinch was blown away by the sheer force of his argument

The chaffinches were in lively mood.

chaffinchA passing collared dove looked as though it had been in a fight.

doveAfter tea, it was time for me to go to our local camera club meeting.  We had a very reasonable turnout in spite of it being a holiday weekend and although we didn’t have as many photographs to show as we hoped, the meeting was still most enjoyable.  It was helped by the fact that I had remembered biscuits, tea, coffee, milk, a kettle and even some teaspoons so that after we had viewed the images, we had a general discussion and tea break.

This has been an experimental first year but the unanimous feeling was to do it all again next year.

A traditional chaffinch is flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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