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Posts Tagged ‘dipper’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  It is a horrible evening here so I was pleased to find his cheerful picture of life on the river at Chester last week.

chester

We were promised a visit from Storm Brendan later in the day so it was good to find a quiet, dry morning when we got up.

The birds didn’t seem very interested in getting some food in before the storm came though and all that was to be seen was a goldfinch on the feeder and a crow in the walnut tree.

goldfinch and crow

I cycled up to the town to do some Archive Group business and called in at our not so near corner shop of the way home to stock up on a few necessities.  Then it was time for a coffee and finally, I got out for a walk.

I did think about a cycle ride but the prospect of a strengthening wind made a 5 mile walk more attractive.

I had only got as far as the back wall of the house when I had to stop to note snowdrops almost out beside the dam.

dam snowdrops

I hadn’t got much further before I was detained by a dipper which was living up to its name by doing some vigorous dipping in the Wauchope above the Kirk Brig.

dipping dipper

They can stay under water for an amazingly long time.

In the end, I had to go on and I walked through the town and along to the track to the oak woods and the Moorland Project bird hide.

It was muddy and slippery, so I had to keep more of an eye on where I was walking than interesting things but this fallen tree was large enough to attract my attention.

felled tree with fungus

And the oak trees are hard to miss when you get to them.

oak tree near jenny noble

I didn’t want to hang about too much in case the threatened rain came in before schedule so I pressed on to the bird hide.  I had heard at second hand that the hide was closed as a result of the larch disease which will lead to the trees at the hide being felled soon.  I wondered if this meant that the trees had already been felled but when I got there, the hide and trees were still there and the notice on the hide door read as follows:

laverock hide notice

I was in time, the hide was still open and the feeders had been filled by one of the volunteers.

I sat in the hide for a few minutes and was rewarded with a good supply of peanut eaters.

Among the crowd, there were two coal tits….

two coal tits

…two blue tits…

two blue tits

…and a great tit with a chaffinch with other things on its mind.

great tit and chaffinch

A green finch arrived and checked to see if the peanuts on the other side of the feeder were any tastier.

inquisitive greenfinch

There were plenty of puddles about and a pheasant was happy to use one as a drinking fountain.

drinking pheasant

There had been some sunshine om my walk out but the clouds were coming up from the west so I didn’t stop long and was soon on my way home along the road.

It is hard to convey the sheer pleasure that can be got from contemplating our hills while out on a walk and I don’t have the camera or the skills to do them full justice but even in the middle of winter, this is a very pleasant prospect.

view from Broomholmshiels

In hot weather, the sheep that you can see in the field in the foreground of the picture above often make use of the shade of a tree beside the road.  Looking at the exposed roots of the tree, I wondered if the sheep were responsible for these scratches.

sheep scraped root

On my side of the fence there was a good show of xanthoria parietina lichen.

xanthoria parietina lichen

I set off down the hill at a good pace and I wasn’t intending to stop again but when a cladonia lichen winks at you from a wall across the road, it would be rude not to stop.  This one was so big and bright that it looked like a flower.

british soldier lichen

The river had dropped enough to let me take a picture of Skippers Bridge when I got there.  As the light was dull, I thought that it would make a change to show the bridge at work instead of the usual still life portrait.

I feel slightly nervous when I see lorries of this size crossing the bridge as they seem vastly too big for it….

skippers bridge with lorry

…but the bridge has stood up well to fairly constant traffic for over 300 years and will doubtless outlast us all.

I got home before the weather broke and had lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She went out on business in the afternoon and was not as lucky as me, as it was raining very heavily by the time that she bicycled home.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and my flute pupil came in the early evening.  Mike got wet but Luke was lucky to find a gap in the rain when he came.

As I write this in the late evening, the wind is soughing round the house but the rain has stopped, temporarily at least.  Weather reports show severe gales on exposed western coasts but we are on the very edge of the storm so we are quite lucky so far.  Long may this continue.

The flying bird of the day is that dipper, pushing off low over the river to find more food.

flying dipper

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was impressed by Mary Sibande’s exhibition ‘I Came Apart at the Seams’ on a visit to Somerset House.  If this picture is anything to go by, I can see why she liked it.

Mary Sibande, Somerset House

We had another grey and drizzly morning here and I had to put my umbrella up as I walked to church.  Mrs Tootlepedal is more carefree than I, so she cycled as usual. I enjoyed singing in the choir as the hymns were provided with nice straightforward bass parts which I could sing without worrying.  We had 10 in the choir today and our organist is hoping to start practising from next week with a view to an anthem or two.

We had coffee when we got home and then I checked on the birds.  Once again, there was very little light but at least there quite a few birds about today, both waiting on the walnut tree….

goldfinches in walnut tree

…and feeding on the feeder. In fact there were enough birds on the feeder for queues to form…

full feeder goldfinches

…though I was often not quite quick enough with my shutter finger to catch them in the air.

goldfinchlanding

I have lent my tripod to a friend who has gone off in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights so I am hand holding the camera.  This means that every time I look up from the viewfinder to see if a bird is coming, I just miss the one that has sneaked in.

late landers

I had more luck with a dunnock on the ground.

dunnock on tray

It was still drizzling and I thought that this pair of slightly bedraggled goldfinches summed up the day well.

two gloomy goldfinches

As regular readers will know, I have got a new coat (with pockets) so I thought that this dreich day might the ideal time to take it for a walk and try it out.

It really was a miserable day with absolutely no gap at all between the clouds and the ground.

mist on the hill scotts knowe

I walked along the track to the Becks Burn and noticed that there was still a lot of fruit on this tree…

fruit on tree january

…while the nearby apples had shed all theirs.

fruit on ground january

The apples must be very sour to have been left in peace by birds and animals.

People in towns and cities are often vexed by CCTV surveillance.  We have other methods of observation in the country.

sheep with horns becks

I was hoping to see fungi but these two small outbreaks on a pile of logs were all that I noticed.

siggy fungus becks

I crossed the Becks Burn by the bridge and took the road home.  In the hedgerow there was any amount of lichen…

mossy hedge

…and some haws as well.

wet hawthorn

As I got near to Pool Corner, the loud singing of a bird made me stop and look at the river.  As I thought, it was a dipper marking out its territory in song.

dipper inw auchope

A little further on, I found a patch of peltigera lichen on the wall looking very healthy.

peltigera lichen

My new coat kept the drizzle out very well and the pockets kept my camera and phone dry, so it passed the test.  In fact its only fault was that, if anything, it was too warm and I got gently cooked on my walk.  That is a fault on the right side, as they say.

After lunch, we set off for Carlisle where the Carlisle community Choir was having its first meeting of 2020.   During the last few months, the committee have been putting a lot of effort into encouraging more men to come and sing, and this paid off today in the shape of two new recruits to the tenor section.  We hope that they both enjoyed themselves enough to keep coming back.

We have a good range of music to sing in the forthcoming months and I am looking forward to learning new songs.

The forecast for the next two days is terrible so patient readers might have to wait a bit for some cheerful pictures.

The flying bird of the day is a  goldfinch battling through wind and rain to get to the feeder.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike and Alison’s recent trip to New Zealand to visit their son and his family.  Knowing that I like a bridge, Alison showed me this picture to prove that they have bridges in New Zealand too.

NX bridge

I am pleased to have a little sunshine in the guest picture because there wasn’t a hint of  sunshine here today.  It was grey, very windy (45 mph gusts) and often very rainy too.

The birds weren’t keen to fly in to the feeder but our resident dunnocks pottered about on the ground in the shelter of the hedge behind the feeder…

dunnock

…and a lone goldfinch appeared.

goldfinch

When I was taking the picture of the goldfinch, I realised that it had stopped raining for a while at least, so I put on every waterproof I could find just in case and went out for a short walk to stretch my legs.

There was a fair bit of water going down the river but that didn’t put off a dipper from doing a little dipping…

dipper in Esk

…and two crows found rocks to stand on as the water rushed by.

two crows in the water

I crossed the Town bridge and went on to the Kilngreen where there were a few gulls about. The wind was so strong that when they tried to fly into it, they went slowly enough for even my pocket camera with the zoom well zoomed to catch them in the air.

flying gull lumix 2

I couldn’t do much about the light though so the results are far from perfect.  I took the pictures  just to show how strong the wind was.

flying gull lumix 3

Looking at the Meeting of the Waters where the Ewes coming from the right joins the Esk, it was easy to see where it had been raining the hardest.

meeting of the waters

The Sawmill Brig was getting its feet wet today.

sawmill brig with water

And I got my feet a bit wet as I puddled along the path round the bottom of the Castleholm.

puddles on path

Sheep were astonished at the sheer beauty of my rainy day get up (woolly hat with cap underneath, scarf, big coat, waterproof trousers and a grumpy expression).

inquisitive sheep castleholm

But it was quite warm and it wasn’t raining so after admiring some artistic lichen on a gate…

lic hen on gate

…and some more on the gatepost..

lichen on gatepost

…I decided not to cross the Jubilee Bridge…

jubilee bridge

…but to walk a little further up river and cross the Duchess Bridge.

I was just admiring a fern garden on a tree and thinking how much rain is needed to get a result like that….

ferns on tree

…when it started to rain very heavily.

I was grateful for my ample clothing and for the shelter from the wind that walking along the river bank provided, but the last few hundred yards of my walk through the town got me and my gear thoroughly soaked.  The wind was so strong at one point that my legs were going  forwards but my body was going backwards.

I got home safely though and enjoyed cold beef and fried bubble and squeak for lunch.

After lunch, the weather settled down to being constantly beastly so I settled down to putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Database.

I then tidied up the front room a bit for the most important gathering of the year, The Langholm Archive Group Annual General Meeting. (Drum roll and fanfare.)

Eight members were present and we congratulated ourselves on having extended the newspaper index from 1848 to 1901 and past the death of Queen Victoria and the end of the South African war.  The photographic collection has increased too, thanks to the work of Sandy and as we get a continuous trickle of inquiries and many remarks about the usefulness and interest of the website, we decided to keep our work going for yet another year.

Thanks go to all the volunteers who make it happen.

In spite of its great importance, the meeting was over in twenty five minutes and I was soon able to sit down to an evening meal of baked potatoes followed by baked apples, a warming treat on a miserable day.

I couldn’t get a flying bird in the garden so the flying bird of the day is one of gulls at the Kilngreen battling into the wind.

flying gull lumix 1

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair who went up on to Calton Hill with his wife and daughter to see the lights of Edinburgh.

edinburgh night

We had another grey and rather miserable day here today but it was dry enough for a while to let my step mother Patricia and me get out for a short three bridges walk while Mrs Tootlepedal was off on a fir cone hunt.

Pictures from the walk follow but news on the fir cones will have to wait for a later date.

Patricia and I crossed the Town Bridge and walked along the Kilngreen, passing this fine tree on the way…

berry at kilngreen

..until we came to the Sawmill Brig…

sawmill brig late november

As we approached the bridge, I said to Patricia that on occasion one could lean on the parapet and watch a dipper on the rocks below.

As it happened, today was one such occasion, although the dipper was on a branch and not a rock.

dipper at sawmill brig 1

As a treat for Patricia, the dipper flew off (to a nearby rock) and was almost immediately replaced by another.

dipper at sawmill brig 2

I felt very sagacious.

There was a very fine drizzle so we didn’t hang around and managed to get home before it started to rain more seriously.

During the morning, I kept an eye on the feeder and was pleased to see that it was quite busy.

A greenfinch took advantage of one of the old sunflower stalks to weigh up the situation.

greenfinch on stalk

A goldfinch was kept waiting by other goldfinches who had got there first.

goldfinches at feeder

A blue tit stood up very straight…

blue tit straight

…but a chaffinch stood up even straighter.

chaffinch straight

Mrs Tootlepedal made some soup (with croutons)  and we enjoyed that with some biscuits and cheese for our lunch.

Then we piled into the car and drove through some steady but light rain to Tweedbank where we caught the train to Edinburgh.  Patricia had organised a get together at a restaurant in Edinburgh to celebrate her recent ninetieth birthday with our two sons and their families and we caught a train which would leave us half an hour to walk down to the restaurant.

And indeed it would have left us half an hour for our walk if it hadn’t been half an hour late.  On a 35 mile journey, this was quite a feat.

Even so, the taxi from the station would have got us there only a moment or two late, if it hadn’t got stuck in desperate traffic several times on the short  journey to the restaurant.  Still we eventually all arrived and met and had our meal.

Tony and Alistair sat beside Patricia…

Pat's party edinburgh

…and unfortunately a party of about twenty cheery people squished onto a rather small space behind them so our meal wasn’t quite as peaceful and orderly as we might have wished.  The party behind had booked as eight people so the restaurant was rather overwhelmed when more than double the number turned up but they battled on and we got our meal.

All  this meant that we were a bit rushed by the end but Tony kindly gave us a lift back to the station and we caught our train back to Tweedbank with minutes to spare.  There were more minutes to spare as the train’s guard and driver spent about ten of them persuading a drunk man to get off (and stay off) the train at a station down the line.  It just wasn’t our day for trains.

Still, we got back to Tweedbank and drove home through a very light drizzle, relieved that forecasts of continuous heavy rain had proved to be alarmist.

These unexpected events were a bit disappointing for Patricia but she took them in a very good spirit.  We hope that her train back to London tomorrow runs smoothly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

I would like to thank all the readers who took the time to wish me a happy birthday.  I did indeed have a happy birthday and would have answered all the comments individually if I hadn’t been quite tired by the time that I came to write this post for some  mysterious reason (perhaps old age).

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my sister Mary.  She went to the Haynes International Motor museum in Yeovil with her friend Venetia, and her eye was caught by this shiny Morris Oxford 6 saloon from 1930.

haynes motor museum

I got up intending to have a quick breakfast and go cycling but like so many of my good intentions, this one was unrealised.  In the end, I had a slow breakfast, did the crossword, waited for a rain shower to pass, checked on the butterflies in the garden…

more butterflies

….and then finally went cycling.  By this time the wind had got up and was blowing pretty forcibly so I reduced my intended route distance from 30 miles to 12 and even then had quite a hard time cycling the six miles up hill and  into the wind to my turning point.

The grass is pointing to my way home.

 

blowing grass

I was freewheeling along a flat section at 25 mph with not a breath of wind in my face at one time on my way home, and that gives some idea of the briskness of the breeze.  Under the circumstances, I was quite pleased to have managed even 12 miles.

While I was out, Mrs Tootlepedal had done some serious lawn edging.

edged lawn

I had another walk round the garden and was pleased to find that lots of flowers had survived the four inches of rain that we have had during the week…

six garden flowers

…and that bees were busy visiting some of our newer blooms.

two bees

After lunch, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal to do some more gardening in the sunshine, I drove down to Canonbie to visit the flower show there.

As well as jams, jellies, needlework, art, flowers and vegetables, there are always other attractions at the show and this year, there was a modest display of falconry.  It was slightly hampered by the very strong winds but a couple of patient birds sat on their perches taking an interest in what was going on.

This is a Harris Hawk..

harris hawk

…but I can’t remember what this striking bird was.

falcon canonbie

There are usually some static engines on display and this fine oil engine was the star of the show this year.

static engine canonbie

Some more mobile vehicles were to be seen as well.

two tractors canonbie

When I went into the hall to see the photographs, I was surprised to find that I had managed to acquire two first prizes and a second ticket from my twelve entries.  Sandy had been in the prizes as well and we shared  a trophy with yet another exhibitor for most points in the coloured photo classes.  We all had had a first and a second.

There were a lot of pictures on display and quite a number of different people had caught the eye of the judge.  This is very satisfactory and should bode well for the entries next year.  I would like to thank Linda for taking my pictures down to show and putting them up for me.

After a tour round the flowers and vegetables, I went for a walk along the river.  As I crossed the bridge, I saw a dipper below.

dipper in esk canonbie

A started my walk at the church and was pleased to find sheep safely grazing in the glebe fields.

sheep canonbie church

I felt that I was being laughed at as I took the path down to the river but it was only a conifer covered in strange fruit.

pine fruit

It was very peaceful walking along the grassy bank of the Esk…

esk at canonbie

…although a little waterfall splashing down the banking further on showed how wet it has been.

waterfall at canonbie

I was going to walk along the river for a good bit but the path became very muddy and as I didn’t have suitable footwear, I had to turn back and go back to the hall by the route that I had taken on the way out.

I met Sandy there and he kindly offered to bring my pictures back after the show had ended, so I was able to drive home and find out what Mrs Tootlepedal had been up to in my absence.

She had lifted the onions.

onions 2019

We had a cup of tea and then we drove up to the White Yett and walked up the track to the monument on Whita Hill.

It was still very breezy but the sun was shining, so I expected to get some good views.  Once again my expectations were unrealised as it was pretty hazy, but when the sun shone in the right place, views of some sort were available.  This is the Ewes valley.

ewes valley august evening

There is a plan to put a lot of exceedingly tall wind turbines on the top of these hills and although I am a supporter of wind power, we think that this is a step too far.  We can already see about 60 turbines from the monument but they don’t impinge on the views too dramatically,  These huge turbines would overwhelm the valley altogether.

They are several times the height of our monument.

monument sugust evening

When we arrived at the monument, we were being buffeted by the wind to such an extent that we didn’t stay for long.  I did look over the wall and down onto the Solway plain which stretches between our hills and the English hills which you can just see though the haze in the distance.

view of Solway plain from whita

When the sun came out from behind the clouds, the monument cast a long shadow over the moor.

shadow of monument

As we turned to go back down the hill, a patch of sunlight played on the top of Castle Hill across the valley.

castle hill august evening

As we went back down the hill to the town in our car, we passed several notices calling for care and warning of sharp bends and sudden steep sections.  When I checked, I found that there is a cycle sportive coming this way tomorrow from Hawick.  I just hope that the wind drops a bit or it will be hard work for the cyclists.

After a busy day for us both, we were refreshed by corned beef hash and rhubarb crumble with custard for our tea.

The falconer at Canonbie was able to fly an owl over a very short distance in spite of the wind so I have got quite an unusual flying bird of the day today.

flying owl canonbie

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Today’s guest picture is another from the camera club visit to Beamish late last month.  Peter took this charming shot.

Peter's Beamish

There was heavy rain overnight but the garden seemed strangely dry when we went out for a look.  Some strong winds had done damage though, and Mrs Tootlepedal had a good deal of propping up and clearing away to do.

I took the opportunity to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive group database and found the first entry regarding a motor car in Langholm that I had come across.  This was 1900 so it must have been an early model.

I went out into the garden to give Mrs Tootlepedal some moral support and the occasional helping hand too.  We picked some peas, beans, turnips and potatoes to make a summer soup and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this moth among the potatoes.

potato moth

She found a home for it and just hoped that it isn’t a dangerous potato eating insect.

I had a look around before going in to cook the soup.  It was rather a dull day and the very brisk wind made getting flower pictures a bit tricky so I was pleased to catch not just one poppy in mid sway…

red poppy grey insides

…but another one as well.

open poppy

I like the different centres that the poppies have just as much as I like the different colours and textures of their petals.

The clematis at the front door is more sheltered and offered less of a problem.  It has come on very well after a slow start and I like its multi coloured petals.

front door clematis lots

While I was in the garden,  I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and got a different angle on the bird feeder.

The siskins were keeping a sharp eye out for competition and a sparrow thought better of trying to get some seed.

siskins keeping eye out

In general, it was a busy scene.

busy feeder from outside

I went down to the river to see if the rain had put some water into it.  It was far from full but there was a lot more flow than we have had recently…

river up

…and all three arches of the Langholm Bridge had been called into action.

three arches Langholm Bridge

The vegetable soup (with added barley) turned out well, with a nice fresh taste.  It went well with some new bread and a selection of cheeses.

I was so perked up by the soup, that after lunch I decided to brave the wind and go off for a cycle ride.  It was tough going into the teeth of a breeze gusting at over 30 mph so I stuck to doing two laps of the seven miles trip to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back, hiding from the wind in the bottom of the valley.  This gave me the chance to visit the little cascade near the schoolhouse…

wauchope schoolhouse cascade

…and to stop and check for riverside birds when I went along the Esk on my way through the town.  There was a small collection of oyster catchers…

Three oyster catchers

…one of whom posed nicely for me…

oyster catcher on rock

…and a dipper living up to its name.

dipper dipping

My legs were quite cheerful so I added a short three mile trip over the bridge and out of the other side of the town after my two laps and ended up with 17 miles more than I had expected to ride when I had read the forecast yesterday.

The seventeen miles were accomplished at a steady pace but they took me up to 270 miles for the month, so although I still can’t walk any distance without upsetting my feet, at least I can keep going on my bike.  Mustn’t grumble.

I  sat down for a cup of tea when I got home and we were joined by Mike Tinker.  Like Mrs Tootlepedal, he had spent quite a bit of time in  his garden repairing the ravages of wind and rain and cutting back excessive growth so we were all pleased to rest a while for refreshment and conversation.

When Mike left, I mowed the two lawns, sieved a bit of compost and had another look round the garden.

I like nasturtiums.

nasturtiums's mouth

This is the very last of the flowers on the rosa complicata.

last rosa complicata

Although some of our heavily petalled roses survived the wind and the rain, like this Wren…

rose Wren

….many were looking rather soggy.  Mrs Tootlepedal gets a bit sad when these roses show the effects of our damp climate and ‘ball up’, so she is thinking of planting more of the simple roses, which are perhaps better suited to our garden.

It was brighter now than it had been earlier in the day, but the sun had not quite come out so I had another go at the white astilbe with better results.

white astilbe

Nearby, a yellow potentilla flower winked at me.

yellow potemtilla

It is impossible to miss the rambler roses which are sensational this year.  We hope that some of them will appear in the rose crown at the Common Riding on Friday but if ours are anything to go by, there should be so many about that the crown builders may not need to come to us at all.

red rambler roses

Later in the evening, I leaned out up of an upstairs window to greet the sun which had finally appeared, and enjoyed a general look over the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been clipping the hedges.

the garden in the evening

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow using every limb available to persuade a siskin to give up its seat at the table.

flying sparrow flailing

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  On his way back from his Welsh outing, he visited Nantwich and had a cup of coffee in this wonderful building next to the Crown Hotel.  As everyone knows, the present Crown Hotel was built on the site of an earlier inn of the same name, destroyed in the Great Fire of Nantwich of 1583.

caffe nero nantwich

We had another dry and sunny day today but it was not of much use as it came with an even meaner wind than recent days and my eyes were running with tears as I cycled up to the town after breakfast to collect the key for the camera club meeting in the evening.

I had a look round the garden when I got back and the tulips had decided to ignore the wind and pay attention to the sunshine…

tulips and narcissus

…and among them, the very last of the daffodils was making an appearance.

There are blossoms on the silver pear tree and it is a pity that it does not produce edible fruits.

pear tree blossom

Sandy came round for coffee and when he left, I checked the birds and found a single siskin on the feeder.   Why he has stayed while the others have gone is a mystery.

lonely siskin

We have a lot of sparrows in the garden but they don’t come to the feeder very much.  Perhaps this hostile stare from a chaffinch gives a clue as to why they stay away.

chaffinch abusing sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree is quite popular with our visitors and thoroughly repays the effort of nailing it together.

chaffunch in fake tree

The chaffinches and goldfinches were very busy again scrapping for seed.

busy feeder

After a morning  spent hammering bits of tack onto the rocking horse, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden and I went out to see what she was up to.

She was mostly hoeing and didn’t need my help so I took a speculative shot of a trout lily, holding the came in my stretched out hand under the flower and hoping for the best.  It came out well. Who needs a mirror?…

trout lily flower

…and then I went off for a walk.  (It was too windy for a comfortable bike ride.)

It was a cap and gloves day but if you could get out of the wind, it was quite pleasant and I even saw a bee visiting some laurel flowers beside the Town Bridge.

bee on laurel

When I got to the Kilngreen, I met Grace, one of our camera club members and taking care to sit on her leeward side, I enjoyed a chat with her on this bench beside the river.

Grace

She told me that she had seen a dipper and when I left her to walk on, I too saw one as I leaned over the parapet of the Sawmill Brig.

dipper above sawmill bridge

I spent so long watching it dip and dive that Grace caught me up and we watched a pair of goosanders cruise up and down…

gossander pair

…before once again, I left her and walked onward.  There was the merest hint of green among the trees on the Lodge walks….

Lodge walks april

…but it didn’t come from leaves.

catkins

The first race meeting of the season will take place next weekend and the course is looking in good condition.

racetrack

Wild flowers are spreading on all sides…

dandelions

…though at the moment, dandelions and celandines are by far the most prominent.

celandines

I crossed the Duchess Bridge…

duchess bridge framed

…and walked back to the town, passing this fine crop of lichen on a tree stump beside the path.

lichen on fallen tree stump

I had a last look at a tulip trying its best to come out in the garden…

yellow tulip

…before I went in to prepare pictures for the camera club meeting in the evening.

Then Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and when he left, Mrs Tootlepedal gave me a hair cut.  To round off a full afternoon, the next visitor was my flute pupil Luke, who has been practising again to good effect.

After tea, I went off to the camera club meeting.  Ten members and a guest turned up and we had a very entertaining selection of pictures to look at.  Of course there were some of Langholm, its surroundings and its wild life but they were mixed in with shots of beautiful highland scenery, amazing wild life from South Africa, shimmering deserts in Australia and hot mud springs in New Zealand.  Come to the camera club and see the world.

There was a slight hiatus while I scurried home to fetch the milk for our half time refreshments but otherwise, everything went very smoothly.

The ruffled feathers of the flying chaffinch of the day, gives an idea of the strength of the wind.

flying chaffinch with ruffles

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